New Nikkor AF-S Silent Wave Pro Zoom Lenses
Although most autofocus Nikkor lenses employ a focus motor in the camera body, Nikon was actually the first manufacturer to build a motor into the lens barrel. In 1983, they unveiled two such AF lenses--the 80mm f/2.8 and 200mm f/3.5ED, both for the F3AF. That system did not prove to be a stellar success commercially, but the AF-I series of pro telephotos (introduced in '92) with integral AF motor became best sellers. Since then Nikon has upgraded the technology and now offers some AF-S lenses containing a more advanced Silent Wave motor.
During March '99, I
had the opportunity to test the first two AF-S zooms while shooting
stock photography in Southern California, Mexico and for spring skiing
activities in Canada. This was a very positive experience, since both
lenses proved to be superb performers. Anyone who wonders whether Nikon
has perfected autofocus will be quickly satisfied as I was. Particularly
with the advanced AF system of the F5 and the F100, the AF-S zooms will
convince the most cynical photographer.
Both lenses are designed with
a nine blade diaphragm that produces a more circular aperture at any f/stop.
Consequently, out of focus highlights in the background are reproduced
as pleasing round blobs, and not octagons as with many other lenses. Zooming
operation is rotary (not push/pull) assuring precise control of focal
lengths. A distance scale (under glass) is provided, but there's
no depth of field scale; use the camera's stop-down control to assess
the range of sharpness at any aperture. Naturally, these are D-type lenses,
including the Distance Signal chip for optimum results in Matrix metering
with recent Nikon cameras, especially when flash is used.
The minimum focusing distance
of 4.9' remains constant throughout the zoom range. Three Focus
Lock buttons are provided, useful in continuous AF Servo focus when the
photographer wants to stop tracking. These are well placed and at least
one is always near a finger when the lens is handheld. The Focus Range
Limiter can be set to restrict focus to the 8' to infinity range
when desired; this speeds up focus acquisition, as the system is not required
to search the entire range.
Short Zoom Characteristics.
Another large, heavy, and solid lens, the AF-S 28-70mm f/2.8D
IF-ED is an entirely new model, without a counterpart in the conventional
AF Nikkor line. (Nikon does offer lightweight AF 28-70mm, AF 28-80mm,
and AF 28-85mm zooms but all with a maximum aperture of only f/3.5-4.5.)
This new lens will appeal most to photographers who considered the AF
35-70mm f/2.8D too restrictive in terms of the limited focal length range.
The wide f/2.8 constant maximum aperture will also maximize its value
in low-light conditions. Zooming is not internal, but the length of the
barrel increases by only about an inch when shifted to the 28mm focal
AF-S Technology At A Glance
Nikon has been producing AF-S
Nikkor lenses--with the integral Silent Wave motor since 1996, starting
with the fast telephotos from 300-600mm, and adding the two AF-S zooms
in 1999. The following technical information and AF-S advantages are worth
considering; they are common to all AF-S models produced to date.
AF-S 80-200mm f/2.8D
AF-S 28-70mm f/2.8D
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