Lens Manufacturing Limits: Nikon 18-200mm FX Full Frame

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by josh_edelman, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. Wandering over to NikonRumors recently, I saw that there was possibly a full-frame 18-200mm in the works. Obviously I will refrain from discussing the rumor (I don't care about such a lens anyway), but rather I would like to know if this lens could even be produced without being plagued by aberrations. Many of the people commenting on the post brought up the point; this lens would be tremendously large and to make it full-frame with minimal optical defects seems like a quite a feat.
    So to the point, I guess:
    Is a full-frame mega-zoom possible to manufacture (well enough for the average FX user)? What are the actual limits on a such a piece of glass?
    I for one would rather have a 200-600 super zoom, but that's another story...
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    So far in 2010, Nikon has announced exactly zero new DSLRs (absolutely none) and 3 new SLR lenses. Since there is not much real news, the rumor sites have to manufacture news, especially controversial ones, to keep themselves relevant. I was just discussing this topic with a well known Nikon guru this morning, and we agree that this "rumor" about an FX (full 35mm frame) 18-200mm zoom is deliberately fabricated. I would take everything on those rumor sites with a grain of salt.

    The DX version of Nikon's 18-200 is a relatively expensive lens that provides mediocre performance; its main advantage is convenience. Moving to FX, 18mm is in the super-wide range; to make a 18-200 for FX, it will involve so many optical and mechanical compromises that it makes no sense for FX users, most of whom want high quality.

    P.S. Photokina will begin on September 21. I am sure all camera manufacturers will announce new products in August and September to be showcased at Photokina. Stay tuned.
  3. The manufacturers create lenses people want--and they can sell. This lens would have to be popular with the tourist and lower end amateur because they wouldn't have to change lenses--or positions. The attitude would be "what defects, what are defects?". If their only concern was putting out quality, the lens selections we see would be far smaller than what they are.
  4. But surely lens design and production capabilities get better and better as time goes on; do you think an FX lens like that would ever be possible? Or is there some sort of cap on what glass can do?
    Shun, I knew something was fishy with that rumor!
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Josh, if you look at Nikon's wide zooms for the FX format, there have been:
    • 20-35mm/f2.8
    • 17-35mm/f2.8
    • 18-35mm/f3.5-4.5
    • 14-24mm/f2.8
    • 16-35mm/f4
    For something that starts from 20mm or wider on the wide end, the long end has never exceeded 35mm.
    Every time you see a 17-50, 18-55 type lens, be it from Canon, Sigma, Tamron, Nikon ..., they are always DX type lenses for APS-C size small sensor.
    To create a 18-200mm for FX, it will involve some very very serious optical compromises.
  6. I would expect Nikon to resurrect the short lived but quite well rated AF 28~200mm f/3.5-5.6 G IF-ED lens as an AF-S VR update longgggg before any fantasy 18~200mm FX lens. Sure such a lens is theoretically possible, but it's unlikely to be practical (or even affordable).
    NikonRumors (and their other associated sites) is the National Enquirer of the photo press. If you believe the moon landing was faked or that aliens live among us, then it's the perfect site for all your Nikon news. Otherwise it's suitable for entertainment purposes only or for wrapping fish entrails (if they printed it). :)
  7. "Wandering over to NikonRumors recently, I saw that there was an unsubstantiated rumor designed to drive web traffic and generate ad revenue..."
    Fixed that for you.
  8. Can it be done? Probably. There are already some 28-300mm full-frame lenses for some cameras.
    Will it be done? Almost certainly not, but people seem to be mad for really long-range zooms these days. So I guess never say never.
    But such a lens is likely to be slow, have problems with distortion and aberrations, weigh enough to be a health hazard to the integrity of your inguinal canal, and thereby sort of defeat the point of having an all in one "walk-around" lens.
  9. Just about anything is theoretically possible, but I seriously doubt that anyone is likely to come out with an 18-200 full frame lens. It's relatively easy to do it for a crop sensor, but a lot harder for full frame. Just look at the current full frame zooms that start shorter than 20mm. There aren't too many of them and they tend to be something like 16-35 or 17-40. The leap to 18-200 is just too big unless image quality is of secondary importance or price is no object.
    The sites which are dedicated to rumors aren't very reliable. They have to post rumors or they have nothing to say and if they have nothing to say their visitor count will drop along with their advertising revenue. If there is no news and there are no reasonable and reliable rumors, the temptation to make something up must be pretty strong!
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Bob, as I pointed out earlier, I think that rumor site knows which lens Nikon will release, but instead of pointing out what is expected, they deliberately inserted a lens that will never be introduced to generate controversy. For example, every Nikon user with some knowledge about Nikon SLR lenses knows that their 80-400mm VR lens is way overdue for an update to AF-S and the latest improved version of VR. If they post a rumor about a new 80-400, people will act like "yawn." However, a rumor about the 18-200 FX generates all sorts of debates and that is why Josh Edleman started this thread here.

    Those rumors sites will milk this false information for a few days and then they'll post a "rumor busted" correction. We have seen that over and over.
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Now a month later, Nikon has announced four new lenses, including a 28-300 super zoom for FX and of course there is no 18-200mm FX super zoom: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00X6PA
    When this thread was started a month ago, photo.net already had advanced information from Nikon about those four lenses. Clearly somebody violated the non-disclosure agreement with Nikon and provided the information to those rumor sites. In fact, in this particular case the rumor was mostly correct about the other three lenses. Therefore, there is absolutely no reason that they got the 4th one so wrong. My conclusion was that they deliberately provided wrong information for that lens to generate controversy so that they could keep the discussion and debate going.

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