Celebrating 90 Years of Nikkor Lenses

From the secrets of the solar system to precious family moments, Nikon lenses have captured some of the most important images of our time.

The legacy of Nikon is one of constant innovation. As we mark the 90th anniversary of the Nikkor brand, we’re celebrating our history, and looking ahead to the future.

A History in 18 Iconic Lenses

Discover the incredible legacy of Nikon optics. Check back for new stories over the coming weeks.

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  • NIKKOR Z 135mm f/1.8 S Plena (2023)

    Stunning wide-aperture performance.

    The Plena takes full advantage of the unique dimensions of the mirrorless Nikon Z mount to deliver superb image quality for portraiture and low-light imaging. The Plena takes its name from the Latin word plenum, meaning full or complete. It offers excellent peripheral illumination, which ensures beautiful near-circular bokeh across the frame. The Plena also delivers excellent edge-to-edge sharpness, even wide open at f/1.8.

  • NIKKOR-P.C 8.5cm f/2 (1948)

    The lens that put Nikkor on the map.

    The P.C 8.5cm (85mm) f/2 was one of several lenses designed by famed Nikon optical engineer Saburo Murakami in the late 1940s. As well as offering excellent image quality to photographers of the time, it also played an important role in popularizing Nikkor lenses outside of Japan. On a visit to Nikon headquarters in 1950, American photojournalist David Douglas Duncan was shown photographs shot with the NIKKOR-P.C 8.5cm f/2 and was so impressed that he adopted Nikkor lenses for use on his cameras.

  • AF Zoom-Micro Nikkor ED 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6D (1997)

    High-performance macro meets zoom.

    The AF Zoom-Micro Nikkor ED 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6D was a combination general-purpose telezoom and dedicated macro lens. It offered macro reproduction at all focal lengths, with a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:1.32 possible at the 180mm end of the zoom. This enabled fans of closeup photography to shoot high-quality images in the macro range while retaining the convenience of zoom for quick reframing. Another benefit of its advanced design compared to traditional macro prime lenses was that the effective maximum aperture didn’t decrease at close distances.

  • PC-Nikkor 35mm f/3.5 (1962)

    A world’s first solution for architectural photographers.

    The PC-Nikkor 35mm f/3.5 was the world’s first-ever interchangeable perspective control lens for 35mm film cameras, enabling photographers to correct for converging verticals in-camera. To do this, the optical assembly could be shifted by up to 11 millimeters in 12 positions. The ability to correct perspective distortion in-camera is incredibly useful for applications like architectural photography, especially in the film era, where digital post-processing wasn’t an option.

  • Micro-NIKKOR Auto 55mm f/3.5 (1963)

    A macro lens that stood the test of time.

    The development of Micro-NIKKOR lenses was initially requested for the purpose of copying documents onto microfilm. Compared to Roman characters, the fine strokes of Japanese kanji required a particularly high-resolution lens to reproduce them clearly. The Micro-NIKKOR Auto 55mm f/3.5 evolved from a lens originally created for Nikon’s S-series rangefinder cameras, and the resulting F mount version was so successful that its optical design remained virtually unchanged for almost 20 years.

  • AI NIKKOR 400mm f/3.5S ED-IF (1977)

    Designed for action.

    Nikon developed the AI Nikkor 400mm f/3.5S ED-IF for the specific needs of professionals, especially sports photographers. It was Nikon’s first internal focus (IF) lens, and included an ED (Extra-low Dispersion) element to reduce chromatic aberration. The development of IF transformed the handling of long telephoto prime Nikkor lenses, and in 1994, the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation awarded the Chairman’s Prize to designers Soichi Nakamura, Kazuo Arashida, and Kiyoshi Hayashi, who worked on several IF telephoto designs, including the AI Nikkor 400mm f/3.5S ED-IF.

  • Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct (2019)

    A landmark lens for mirrorless.

    The Nikon Z mirrorless lens mount is the largest and shallowest of any comparable full-frame lens mount. This enables Nikon's optical engineers to design wider aperture lenses than ever before, without the traditional compromises imposed by SLR-era designs. This is exemplified by the manual focus Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct. The name Noct comes from the French word nocturne, meaning “night scene.” The Noct has the largest maximum aperture of any Nikkor Z or F mount lens and is specifically optimized for shooting wide open, at or close to f/0.95.

  • OP Fisheye-Nikkor 10mm f/5.6 (1968)

    The first Nikkor lens with an aspherical element.

    Originally developed for scientific applications, the OP (Orthographic Projection) 10mm f/5.6 had more distortion than conventional fisheye designs, making it popular for some types of creative as well as technical photography. To achieve the desired image quality, it featured a large, aspherical front element—the world’s first in an interchangeable lens. Aspherical elements help control spherical aberration, ensuring that light rays converge at the same point. Nowadays, many high-performance Nikkor lenses use one or multiple aspherical elements in their designs, including the ultra-wide-angle zoom Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S (which has three!)

  • Nikkor-N Auto 35mm f/1.4 (1971)

    A world’s first wide-angle prime lens for SLR.

    When it was released, the Nikkor-N Auto 35mm f/1.4 was the world's fastest wide-angle lens for a single-lens reflex system. A favorite of film-era Nikon photographers, the fast, bright 35mm f/1.4 was the first Nikkor lens to feature multicoating for better contrast and superior control over internal reflections. The 35mm f/1.4 offered excellent sharpness at all apertures, making it a versatile lens in various shooting situations, including low light.

  • Nikkor 13mm f/5.6 (1976)

    The lens they said was impossible.

    Achieving “rectilinear” (undistorted) images from ultra-wide-angle lenses is among the most challenging tasks in optics. Reportedly, some within Nikon considered the specifications of the Nikkor 13mm f/5.6 to be impossible, but famed designer Ikuo Mori presented a working prototype in 1973. The finished lens became available to photographers as a special-order item three years later, offering a field of view previously only possible with fisheye optics—a position it held for more than 20 years. The Nikkor 13mm f/5.6 features a large 4.5-in (115mm) diameter front element and was manufactured in very small numbers, making it highly collectible today.

  • AF DC-Nikkor 135mm f/2 (1991)

    A portrait photographer’s dream.

    Portrait photographers love the 135mm focal length because of its flattering perspective, but the AF DC-Nikkor 135mm f/2 took things to the next level. As well as being a high-performance prime lens for general use, it incorporated a portraiture-oriented “Defocus Control” feature, accessed from a dedicated dial around the lens barrel. Defocus Control works by adjusting the amount of spherical aberration at a given shooting aperture, which changes the quality of the bokeh either in front (F) or to the rear (R) of a subject. This world’s first feature was also included in the later AF DC-Nikkor 105mm f/2.

  • Nikkor Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S (2022)

    A high-performance telephoto for the mirrorless era.

    The Nikkor Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S incorporates a 1.4X teleconverter and is the first Nikkor lens to use Meso Amorphous Coat, which achieves the highest-ever anti-reflection performance of any NIKKOR lens coating. In addition to its stunning image quality, it is 20% lighter than its F mount equivalent and offers up to 5.5 stops of Vibration Reduction image stabilization, setting a new standard for performance and usability.

  • NIKKOR-H C 5cm f/2 (1937)

    The original “standard” Nikkor lens for rangefinder cameras.

    The 5cm (50mm) f/2 was among the first Nikkor lenses to be produced for L and S mount rangefinder cameras when Nikon pivoted to consumer imaging in the late 1940s. Its elegant optical design, consisting of six elements in three groups, helped deliver very good sharpness and contrast in an era before advanced lens coatings were possible. The NIKKOR-H C 5cm f/2 became a standout lens of the immediate post-war era and a mainstay of the early Nikkor lineup.

  • Zoom-NIKKOR Auto 43-86mm f/3.5 (1963)

    The original Nikkor standard zoom.

    The Zoom Nikkor Auto 43-86mm f/3.5 was Nikon’s first zoom lens to offer a focal length range suited to everyday photography and portraiture. Astonishingly small and lightweight for its time, the 43-86mm was developed to give Nikon photographers an affordable and convenient “do it all” lens option. Despite being built with budget-conscious photographers in mind, the 43-86mm offered an excellent combination of performance and price and helped to popularize the now-common concept of a “standard zoom.”

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  • Milestones

    Explore the history of Nikon lenses from 1933 to the present day.

  • 1933

    The first Aero-Nikkor lenses are released, marking the birth of the Nikkor brand.

  • 1948

    The Nikkor P.C 8.5cm f/2 impresses American photojournalist David Douglas Duncan, who becomes a passionate evangelist for Nikkor optics, bringing Nikon lenses to international attention.

  • 1956

    Nikon introduces the fastest wide-angle interchangeable lens in the world, the W-NIKKOR 3.5cm f/1.8.

  • 1959

    The F mount Auto-NIKKOR Telephoto-Zoom 8.5-25cm (85-250mm) f/4-4.5 becomes the world’s first telephoto zoom lens for still cameras.

  • 1971

    The Nikkor-H 300mm f/2.8 ED is the world’s first photographic lens to use extra-low dispersion (ED) glass to reduce chromatic aberrations and increase contrast.

  • 1972

    The Fisheye-NIKKOR 6mm f/2.8 has a viewing angle of 220 degrees, meaning that it can actually see behind itself. The 11.5 lb (5.2 kg) lens has its own built-in tripod mount.

  • 1977

    The iconic Noct-NIKKOR 58mm f/1.2 is designed specifically for open-aperture photography in extreme low light conditions. The optical design of the “Noct” includes an aspherical front element.

  • 1988

    The first use of rear focusing elements (RF) appears in the AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D to make autofocusing operation smoother and faster.

  • 1991

    The AF DC-NIKKOR 135mm f/2 introduces photographers to “Defocus Control,” enabling precise control over spherical aberration for optimal background and foreground blur.

  • 2004

    Nano Crystal Coat is introduced in the AF-S VR Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G IF-ED to reduce internal and external flare and increase contrast.

  • 2007

    Nikon releases the AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, which offers the convenience of a zoom with the optical quality of a high-end prime lens.

  • 2015

    The AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF ED VR is the first Nikkor lens to feature a PF (Phase Fresnel) lens element, making it (at the time) the world’s lightest 300mm lens of its type.

  • 2019

    Nikon unveils the Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct, designed to take full advantage of the Z mount’s unique dimensions. Nikon’s fastest-ever lens, the Noct is a flagship lens for a new era of imaging.

  • 2023

    Nikon releases the Nikkor Z 135mm f/1.8 S Plena. The Plena offers unrivaled peripheral illumination for beautiful, circular bokeh across the frame.

A World-class Lineup

Discover the huge range of Nikkor lenses for Nikon Z series mirrorless cameras and DSLRs.

Mirrorless Z Lenses

High-performance optics designed for a new mirrorless era.

Explore Mirrorless Z Lenses

DSLR Lenses

Lenses for every shooting situation, from ultra-wide fish-eye to extreme telephoto.

Explore DSLR Lenses