Nikon designs new Phase Fresnel lenses – including a 1000mm f/8

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens
(Image credit: Nikon)

The trend for telephoto and super telephoto lenses with more conservative apertures continues, as Nikon has designed a trio of tele lenses including a 1000mm f/8 for its Z system.

Patents have been uncovered for a total of three new PF lenses that might be in the pipeline soon: a 400mm f/4.5, 600mm f/5.6 and 1000mm f/8. All of which seem destined to join the best Nikon Z lenses (opens in new tab), which the Big N has expanded considerably in the past year.

As always take these patents (uncovered by Digital Camera Info (opens in new tab)) with a grain of salt, as the majority of them never make it to final products, but it is a great insight into where Nikon might be going with its future lens design.

Patent drawing for a Nikon 600mm F5.6 PF lens (Image credit: Digital Camera Info)
(opens in new tab)

But what is a PF lens, you might ask. It stands for Phase Fresnel, which is an element Nikon introduced to its lens design to compensate for chromatic aberration and ghosting. Using a Phase Fresnel lens allows for fewer complex elements, which can effectively mean a more compact and lighter lens. For those that want to get really nerdy, Nikon Rumors has a great in-depth post (opens in new tab) on PF lens elements.

Nikon has used PF elements in previous lenses such as the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR (opens in new tab) lens to great effect; in our review we praised how the PF element made what would have been a very large lens much more light and compact.

Compact telephoto prime lenses are a growing trend in lens design, with Canon having a huge hit with critics and consumers alike with its range of super compact, light, and affordable telephoto prime lenses including the Canon RF 600mm f/11 IS STM (opens in new tab) and Canon RF 800mm f/11 IS STM (opens in new tab).

Recent patents have also uncovered how Fujifilm might be looking into (opens in new tab) competing compact telephoto primes, as well as Canon exploring mirrored lenses (opens in new tab) as a way to cut down the size and weight of its offerings even more.

Nikon's PF lens designs offer significantly wider apertures than Canon's current compact telephotos, but this is likely to come with significantly higher costs – with historically Nikon reserving its PF lenses exclusively for professional applications with professional prices. So these lenses from Nikon might be more suitable challengers to Canon's giant monster lenses like the Canon RF 600mm f/4 L IS USM (opens in new tab), which also has a monstrous price tag.

Whatever comes from these rumors it is great to see Nikon pushing the boundaries of lens design, with lighter and more compact lenses having a benefit for lots of photographers who have to lug around kit all day long.

For more on the most recent rumblings around Nikon, check out the latest Nikon rumors (opens in new tab). You can also read more about the best Nikon cameras (opens in new tab) and the best Nikon lenses (opens in new tab).

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.