Nikon's macro lenses have always been known for excellent optical performance
and the new multi-platform AF-S
Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED model ($549 MSRP) should be equally impressive.
The optics include two aspherical and one ED glass element as well as Nano Crystal
and Super Integrated Coating to provide superior image quality at any focused
distance. Engineered specifically for extreme close-up photography (to 0.6 ft),
this 1:1 macro lens features a rounded nine-blade diaphragm, internal focusing,
Nikon's ultrasonic Silent Wave AF Motor and manual focus override in AF
Pentax has also introduced a new macro lens, the digital-only 35mm f/2.8 Macro
Limited that's surprisingly small (49mm) and lightweight (7.6 oz). This
1:1 macro lens is not inexpensive ($699 MSRP) because it features high-grade
aluminum construction and premium-grade optical elements with multilayered Super
Protect coatings. Very useful for many purposes, this 52.5mm equivalent "normal"
lens features a Quick-shift Focus System that allows for instant switching from
AF to manual focus.
60mm f/2.8G ED Macro
Tokina is also making a similar digital-only 35mm f/2.8 Macro lens, designated
as the AT-X M35 PRO DX in Canon and Nikon AF mounts. (Autofocus does not operate
when used with the D40/D40X or D60.) This one is equipped with a similar One-Touch
Focus Clutch Mechanism, for quickly changing between AF to manual focus simply
by shifting the AF ring forward or backward. Note, too, that the front element
is covered with a waterproof multilayered coating that makes it easy to remove
spots left by water spray or fingerprints.
At one time, Nikon made several perspective control lenses that were very
popular among landscape and architectural photographers. Those were discontinued,
but the new multi-platform PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED model ($1929 MSRP) may
be even better thanks to closer focusing (0.7 ft), a rounded nine-blade diaphragm
opening, and a new optical formula. That includes three ED glass elements, Super
Integrated Coating for superior color reproduction plus Nano Crystal Coat to
virtually eliminate any flare. The PC mechanism provides up to +/- 11.5mm shift
and +/- 8.5° tilt for control in small increments. Two additional Nikon
perspective control lenses will be available by this summer, the PC-E Nikkor
45mm f/2.8D ED and PC-E Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/2.8D ED models; all three are compatible
with Nikon 35mm or D-SLRs but only with manual focusing since AF is not available.
Other Noteworthy Lenses
Because the Sony Alpha and current Pentax and Samsung D-SLRs are equipped with
built-in stabilizers, the lenses for these cameras do not require an Anti-Shake
device. Several new lenses are available for those bodies, including the multi-platform
Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G model. This is a sturdy but compact (28 oz, 62mm filter
size) premium-grade zoom ($799 MSRP) with one ED element, an ultrasonic SSM
autofocus system, a focus range limiter option, a nine-blade diaphragm for a
circular opening, internal focusing, and a short minimum focus distance of 47".
The latest digital-only entries from Pentax include an upgraded version of
their kit lens, the DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AL II with aspherical and super low
dispersion elements and the affordable ($399 MSRP) DA 55-300mm f/4-5.8 ED with
low dispersion glass. Both benefit from SP multilayered coating and employ a
conventional (not ultrasonic) focus motor. Samsung offers a similar 18-55mm
f/3.5-5.6 II lens for their GX system and has also introduced a very portable
(16 oz, 62mm filter size) D-XENON 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 multi-purpose zoom ($500
estimated MSRP) with internal focusing, two ED and two aspherical elements.
Although specifics were not yet available, Samsung is adding several other
digital-only lenses to their GX system: the D-XENON 100mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1, D-XENON
12-24mm f/4 ED, and D-XENOGON FISH-EYE 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 ED; these appear similar
to the Pentax versions. Later in 2008, Pentax will expand its own digital-only
system with a DA* 55mm f/1.4 lens and a DA* 60-250mm f/4 zoom, both with ultrasonic
SDM focusing. A DA 17-70mm f/4 zoom with a conventional AF drive motor will
also be released before year's end.
Tamron is developing an entirely new digital-only ultra-wide zoom, the SP
AF10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II LD Aspherical (IF); this one that will eventually
replace the current 11-18mm F/4.5-5.6 model. The more versatile, internally-focusing
zoom will feature wider apertures, closer focusing, and a more exotic optical
formula with a high index/high dispersion glass element, two LD elements, a
glass-molded aspherical element plus three hybrid aspherical elements. That
combination should effectively correct distortion and all types of aberrations.
The engineers also specified a new type of optical system to optimize the angle
of incidence of light rays for superior edge sharpness/brightness plus new multilayered
coatings for maximum flare control. (Availability and price have not yet been