View Full Version : Nikon to quit LF lenses

11-Jan-2006, 09:47
A friend in Japan sent this announcement dated Jan. 11.

www.nikon-image.com/jpn/news/info/info060111.htm (http://www.nikon-image.com/jpn/news/info/info060111.htm)

It's in Japanese, but the gist of it is...

"Given the rapid contraction of the film camera market and the growth in digital, Nikon will focus its resources on digital camera business and will re-assess film camera product lines. NIKON WILL CEASE PRODUCTION OF ALL LARGE FORMAT LENSES AND ENLARGING LENSES, as well as most film SLR bodies and manual-focus lenses. Sales of these products will continue until the inventory is cleared...We sincerely hope your continued support...blah, blah..."

There is no exact date for the end of production. The bottom chart of the linked page shows SLR bodies and manual focus lenses that will continue to be produced.

The day was to come, and it's certainly not the end of the world. Also it will likely be some time before we actually feel it, given the fact that the 450mm Nikkor M is still available new month after the production ended. But I feel sad.

Bruce Watson
11-Jan-2006, 09:55
There's always Cooke. Them seem perfectly willing to make small runs of LF lenses. And there's also the hundreds of thousands of older lenses on the used market - that's where I picked up my 80mm SS-XL about18 months ago ;-)

How long has it been since either Nikon or Fuji released a new lens design anyway? 20 years?

Kerry L. Thalmann
11-Jan-2006, 10:51
How long has it been since either Nikon or Fuji released a new lens design anyway? 20 years?

It's been at least 20 years since Nikon introduced any new large format lenses.

A little less than 11 years for Fujinon. In spite of the popular misconception, other than Schneider, Fujinon has the newest large format lens designs of any of the major LF lens suppliers (I didn't include Cooke as they are a specialty supplier in this market whose entire LF product line consists of two lenses). The current Fujinon CM-W line was introduced in spring of 1994 (300mm, 360mm and 450mm focal lengths) and spring of 1995 (105mm, 125mm, 135mm, 150mm, 180mm, 210mm, 250mm).

By comparison, Rodenstock's last new general purpose lens for sheet film users, the 55mm APO Grandagon, was introduced at Photokina in September 1994. Rodenstock has introduced several new lines of digital lenses since that time, as well a the 100mm APO Sironar-S at Photokina 2004 for roll film users, but no new general purpose large format (4x5 or larger) lenses since 1994.

It is sad to see Nikkor formally announce their exit from this market. Some of the lenses will still be avilable from existing inventories for a while, and there is always the used market, but it's a shame to see someone else giving up on film shooters. Nikon made some great large format lenses. Snap 'em up while you can.


Michael Chmilar
11-Jan-2006, 11:56
This reminds me of the story, two or three years ago, about Olympus shutting down the OM production plant.

The manufacturing equipment was long since paid for, and there was no R&D going on, but the cost of operating and maintaining the production line was too high for the low sales volume.

Nikon might be seeing the same trend with their LF lenses. Just maintaining production is not worth the cost, even though there is no R&D expense.

Nikon could consider manufacturing and warehousing lenses for future sales (say 10 years), but they would have to put up the money for the materials and storage. Or maybe they could sell the production lines to someone in China (or any place where it is economically feasible to continue production).

John C Murphy
11-Jan-2006, 12:26
here's the English version. (http://www.nikon.co.uk/press_room/releases/show.aspx?rid=201)

Ron Marshall
11-Jan-2006, 12:33
Nikon could warehouse current production for future sales, but the potential sales may not be there. Comercial LF has/will move to digital, using smaller sensors than 4x5 and requiring higher lens quality. Lens sales will consist of the Schneider and Rodenstock "digital" lenses.

Ted Harris
11-Jan-2006, 13:23
Let's not blame this one on the increasing popularity and ability of digital technology. Note Kerry's statement, "It's been at least 20 years since Nikon introduced any new large format lenses." This indictes, to me at least, that they have had only a small committment to the large format market for a very very long time, for at least several years before the first digital solutions reached commercialization. It is probably safe to say that Nikon's large format capability has been a 'legacy business" for a long time. Wrapping the annoouncement into a positive PR about their continued committment to and developments in the digital market was just a convenient way to state the obvious.

A commenet on Cooke, remember that their two large format lenses are something of a tour d'force and offered to us at a rather high price. The company's mainstay is cinema lenses and will likely remain so.

Scott Fleming
11-Jan-2006, 14:55
I'm surprised they even bothered to make a statement. When someone mentioned 'production line' I had a mental picture of two or three old guys with lupe glasses sitting hunched over green felt covered benches ... picking screws and bushings out of drawers in front of them ... assembling one or two complete lenses every day or so. They probably were down to a four day week and were finally laid off or moved along when Nikon's 6' by 6' LF lens stockroom was filled up.

John Kasaian
11-Jan-2006, 15:35
They made some great LF lenses---The 450M, 300M and 120SW come to mind. Even though they're old designs (btw, how "old" is old in LF years?) I think of them as modern mc optics---and always good values too when compared with thier german competitors. Its sad to see 'em go---I wonder if prices will drop or if they'll achieve cult status(which the 450 M certainly deserves!) and also what this spells for other japanese manufacturers? Will Fuji and Osaka make the effort to create a stronger presences in the US market, for example, now that the Big "N" is officially out of the biz? Or have they been playing the 'legacy" game as well?

Bruce Watson
11-Jan-2006, 16:34
I thought Cooke had four LF lens out there. The 229mm portrait lens, the XVa triple convertable, and the two ULF lenses - 550mm and 1100mm???

My point about Cooke is that they will listen to you and at least make some estimates for design and manufacture of short runs of lenses. But make no mistake - short runs equal high purchase prices. That's exactly what the ULF lenses illustrate.

Cooke seems to do LF as a reward for their designers. A new challange, something to make them stretch and grow. It's not like they're betting the farm on it - they instead bet the farm on their cinema lenses.

Cooke and companies like Cooke are our best bet going forward, and I applaud their efforts. Even most of Schneider's work is outside of LF lenses. I'm just glad they continue to dabble in our market.

Ted Harris
11-Jan-2006, 16:37
Bruce the 550 XXL and 1100 XXL are new Schneider lenses. Michael Mutmansky just reviewed the 1100 in View Camera.

Bruce Watson
11-Jan-2006, 16:56
Oh. Duh. I knew that.

Guess this cold is doing more to me than I thought! I wondered why I was surfing the 'net instead of making another film run in the darkroom like I should be doing. A case of mind fog would explain it. Thanks for that correction. Think I'll go read some fiction since I'm clearly in a fiction sort of mood ;-)

Mark Sampson
11-Jan-2006, 17:05
I'm sad to see them go. I have four of their LF lenses and I've always thought it was money well spent. Wait, counting enlarging lenses, seven... They sure didn't ever spend any money trying to sell them though. Luckily, if I don't drop any of them, they'll still last the rest of my life. But now I guess I'll really have to bite the financial bullet if I want a 500/11T...

Ben Calwell
11-Jan-2006, 17:16
I'll be treasuring my Nikkor 90mm F8.

Daniel Geiger
11-Jan-2006, 19:36
I used to shoot with OM, then OM discontinued. Switched for SLR to Contax a couple of years ago. Contax ceased to exist. Beat my head whether I should have gone the solid Nikon route. Well, I have the answer now. Bought an Arca 4x5; am I cursing Arca as well? At least I got the Nikor-T 360/500/720.

neil poulsen
12-Jan-2006, 22:05
I'm curious, what's going on with Arca? The last I heard, they were doing well with their medium format 2x3.

Spencer Cliss
13-Jan-2006, 05:02
Just the other day I phoned (in Swiss German :-) with Martin Vogt, the de facto boss of Arca. As usual, I asked him when they will have a web site. And just as usual, I got the reply that everyone was too busy making product to fulfil high demand and that a website wasn't high priority. So it seems Arca are doing fine, although I don't know which products they sell most.

Tom Westbrook
13-Jan-2006, 06:29
> that a website wasn't high priority.

I would be nice, though, if they could at least find the time to put out a new catalog (in PDF preferably) for the new and updated products.

tim atherton
14-Jan-2006, 10:32
well - China seems to think there is still a market for LF

check out this puppy:


there seem to be more of these kind of things (and more "new" trad cameras) coming out every week).

I'm so glad China has come to see the value of the free market... ;-)