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58mm f/1.2 Nikon "Noct-Nikkor", re-birth of the legend to come
  • Good news for low-light videographers and photographers:
    Nikon's optical wizzards have lately obviously been quite busy with creation of the successor for legendary "Noct-Nikkor" lens. After endless rumors and over 15 years of waiting, it seems to finally enter its final stage these days.

    Late in 2012 two different patents by Nikon have been filed in Japan (numbers 2012-230133 and 2012-230340) for a new 58mm f/1.2 lens:
    * Patent release date: November 22, 2012
    * Patent filing date: April 4, 2011
    * Focal length: 58.0220mm
    * Aperture: 1.210
    * Half angle of view: 20.81°
    * Image height: 21.6mm
    * Lens length: 108.8935mm
    * Back focus: 38.0120mm

    Nikon 58mm 1.2 Patent 2012-230133.gif
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    Nikon 58mm 1.2 Patent 2012-230340.gif
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  • 7 Replies sorted by
  • The legendary bokeh-beast Nikon Ai 58mm f/1.2 was introduced in 1977 and discontinued in 1997. This lens was optimized to give its best optical performance by using its widest appertures.

    It was a pricey lens so only ca 2600 samples of the Ai version (with 7 blades) have been sold between February 1977 and November 1981

    Introduction of the Ai-S version of this lens in late 1981 (where the same optical formula was used, accomplished with much nicer looking performance of its 9 blades diaphragm) also didn't bring any of the expected success: the sales numbers were not any better, so less than 9000 Ai-S samples have been sold until end of 1997 when the lens was finally discontinued for bad sale rates.

    However, little mirracle has happend indeed, but after its discontinuation: the prices for used samples have climbed up and reached meanwhile over $4000 mark which is about trice its original price while it was still in production (inflation accounted).

    As you can see, its optical formula was quite similar to one (first file in opening post) of the new patents by Nikon:

    Nikon Ai Noct-NIKKOR 58mm 1.2 1977-1997.gif
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  • What to expect regarding release date, price and optical performance?

    Still hard to say.... drawback example could be the only f/1.2 Nikon lens which is still in production: it is a manual focus lens Ai-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.2. It is surprizingly cheap for such a fast lens (and for Nikon brand). Its optical performance is however not nearly as good as legendary Noct-Nikkor's was, save for really sharp image centre at f/2.0. Its bokeh, contrasts and color reproduction are not as good and from f/2.8 onwards it gets even beaten by many other slower 50mm Nikkors.

    But this MF lens was a sale success. Probably for its considerably lower price than the "Noct-Nikkor" (prices for brand new 50mm f/1.2 sample vary today between $ 650-700 in the US and bit more in the EU) more than 150.000 samples of its Ai-S version have been sold so far, added to more than 70.000 sold examples of its first, Ai version.

    However, many have hoped to see this lens in the new AF design and improved optical formula. The hope was bigger than ever in 2010, when Nikon indeed published its back in 2008 filed patent for an AF-S G version of the 50mm f/1.2 but we are waiting for its release in vain until today:

    (Patent No: JP,2010-014895,A- attached on the bottom of this post)

    The price? Hopefully Nikon has learned a lesson from the sale rates of their f/1.2 lenses (50mm vs 58mm one), so they will keep the price of their new 58mm affordable for many.
    In my own opinion it will have AF-S and unfortunatelly "gelded" apperture control to maximize win. I suppose second plan in my first post ( will be the one Nikon will use, and another plan which is very similar to the optical formula of the old "Noct" (attached on the bottom of my second post) could be just the protection of Nikon's own old formula, whose patent maybe expired meanwhile (who knows the patent laws... could it have expired 10years after the discontinuation of the production or 30 years after the old patent was filed??).

    The new plan No 2 looks like improving the performance in the corners could have been main task for the "Noct" successor (the corners of the old Noct-Nikkor were always out of focus due to the field curvature). If the price of the new Noct won't be really very high, I am quite sure the new lens won't have VR.

    Patent Nikon AF-SNikkor 50mm 1.2.png
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  • And at the end: as an example of hope for quick release of the new Noct-Nikkor I will mention Nikon's patent for its power-zoom lens 28-300 f/3.5-5.6 G VR:

    Its patent was filed in 2008, introduced in February 2010 and only six months later it was already available in the stores :-)

  • If they do re-release it, I bet a lot of people who just bought one on ebay for over $3,000 would be pretty upset.

  • Ha, ha, could be.....


    Another new patent by Nikon for the 58mm f/1.2 full frame lens is filed...

  • Nikon has taken first step in the re-birth of the "Noct". The new f/1.4 release costs some $1700 so let us guess that the price of the upcomming new f/1.2 version might reach the eBay price of the old "Noct" that moves around $3000

    Nikon may wait until all the fast lenses freaks spend their money on the f/1.4 baby to release the f/1.2 version, LOL :-)

    Now here is a nearly useless comparison between freshly released Nikon AF-S 58mm f/1.4G and the "Noct" (this never-ending-talking guy speaks only about the sharpness)

    The new lens has evidently less coma that the "Noct" and it is clearly no more "vintage" look of the image. You can see it just a bit better here: