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Some time ago I saw the Nikon's roadmap for new S-Line lenses and today I found an update to this roadmap.

I am wondering why Nikon is building lenses with those apertures first, is it a market strategy or is there a reason behind of this?

Here is what I saw on the roadmap:

  • 24-70mm f/4 comes first (2018) and then 24-70mm f/2.8 (2019)
  • 50mm f/1.8 (2018) and then 50mm f/1.2 (2020)
  • A lot of f/1.8 lenses annunced for the 3 first years (35mm, 50mm, 20mm, 85mm, 24mm) and probably we will se wider apertures for those lenses on the future.

Of course there are some exceptions to this behavior, like the 70-200mm f/2.8 and the astonishing 58mm f/0.95 (sadly this last one will be only manual focus).

  • Guess: To get people to more quickly adopt the new system, it needs mass appeal. The price point for the faster lenses is probably too high. Early adopters who need fast lenses are probably using adapters with equivalent F-mount lenses they already own. They can also drive cost of common components down so the average release price with the current schedule would be lower. – xiota Jan 9 at 21:46
  • What would you say is the difference between a marketing strategy and a reason? – mattdm Jan 10 at 4:03
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It is more difficult to make highly corrected wide aperture lenses. Perhaps it is additionally complicated by the shorter flange distance of the Z-mount.

  • The shorter flange distance makes wider aperture wide angle lenses easier, because they don't need to be retrofocus designs until much shorter, and even then they don't need to be as strongly retrofocus. The back part of a retrofocus lens is a telephoto lens turned backwards. Just as it is cheaper to make a 100mm or 200mm f/2.8 lens than it is to make a 300mm or 400mm f/2.8 lens, it's cheaper to make a 10mm retrofocus lens for a 16mm registration distance than to make a 10mm retrofocus lens for a 44mm registration distance. And that's before you consider no mirror clearance issue with MILCs. – Michael C Jan 10 at 3:50
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With that lineup, they cover two thirds of the "holy trinity" before the end of 2020 (the 3 zooms everybody consider to be the most important to own), AND they cover the most popular prime lenses (50mm 1.8 is usually an absolute must for pro-sumers + 24 and 85 are highly regarded).

According to this list, I guess they will announce more extra wide lenses (14-24, 14 or similar) this year for either 2020 or 2021.

Late edit (on the same day) : Nikon just announced a 14-30mm f4 for the Z series !

  • 14-24 is already in the road map. Holy trinity will be complete by end of 2019 – NoahL Jan 10 at 4:40
  • @NoahL Nikon's roadmap says the 12-24 ƒ/2.8 will be introduced in 2020. – scottbb Jan 10 at 13:55
  • @scottbb I stand corrected. It turns out I cannot read. – NoahL Jan 10 at 14:16
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    @NoahL some days are like that. =) – scottbb Jan 10 at 14:17
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My guess (and I stress this is a guess) is that smaller max. apertures equate to lower costing/smaller lenses. Most folks go mirrorless to get a smaller setup (Sony's e-mount first full-frame 24-70 is also an f/4). You start with big honking lenses the same size as dSLR lenses, and folks may wonder why they bothered. And a lower pricetag generally means higher volume of sales.

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Another likely factor is demand can directly affect supply. Lenses with wider aperture can be 2-5 times as expensive as their dimmer counterparts due to both lower volume produced and higher precision needed in the components.

One result of this is that they will sell a lot more f2.8 lenses at $900 than they will f2 lenses at $1200 and many more f2 lenses than f1.4 lenses at $2100 because fewer photographers will have enough need for an extra stop to justify the added cost. As a result, releasing a more economic lens that meet the needs of 95% of their customers before the more specialized lens for the other 5% will result is more sales, happier customers, and a much better overall return.

They will likely also have considered the probability that the majority of those who need the brighter lenses already have equipment of that caliber and with either wait to go mirrorless until the equipment they want is available or use an adapter mount in the mean time.

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Everyone talks a lot more about the premium, widest aperture lenses.

But a lot more folks buy the lower priced, narrower aperture lenses.

I think that is the primary strategy: To sell as many lenses in as short a time as is possible to get users anchored in the new system.

Those who tend to buy more expensive premium lenses also tend to use more than one body, so they're probably going to be straddling the fence for a while longer. They likely already have premium lenses in the old mount that they can adapt to their new mirrorless body. So it will take a greater performance boost to convince those buyers that the new expensive lenses that don't work on their older, DSLR backup bodies are worth the price.

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