Additional Information on
Nikkor 600mm super-telephoto lenses - Part I

 
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Manual Focus Ai-S Nikkor 600mm f/4.0s IF ED Super Telephoto lens

The narrow angle of view, weight, size and great magnifications of the 600mm lenses restrict the number of places where you can use them effectively. However, their optical characteristic is particularly suited for sports and wildlife photography or for capturing inaccessible events or places, these super telephotos are good optic often used by photojournalists in tough shooting situations where they just can't get close enough to the places where the action takes place. Neither the 600mm lenses are simple to use or handle. Although considered lighter and smaller than one might expect, they may still can be handheld but always advisable to use some form of support. The 600mm has half the angle of view of a 300mm. More important, the 600mm lenses have four times the magnifications of the 300mm and so do with magnification of even slight movement during shooting. With these lenses, you definitely would require a monopod/tripod or any other form of steady support. One considerate feature found in these lenses were, they were built with revolving mechanisms in their tripod ring so you can instantly change from horizontal to vertical format with exceptional ease.

Nikon's Nikkor 600mm f/4.0s IF-ED Super telephoto lens side view
In most cases, these lenses will be used at their maximum apertures because most of the time, one would need the fastest possible shutter speed to stop the action. Photos such as this one below was shot with the lens fitted to monopod and the highest shutter speed possible at f/5.6 on ISO 880 film was 1/125 sec., hence the motion effect from the hands. You can consider using it with high-speed color or black-and-white film to solve part of the problem or a compromise by using smaller apertures for greater depth of field control.

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Use of automatic film advance devices like a motor drive or power winder whenever possible to transport film or a cable release to release the shutter. Furthermore, depth of field for the 600rnm lenses are extremely shallow.

A common trick to use this kind of lenses is : Pre focus as precisely as you can and release the shutter just soon enough to catch the subject at the point of sharpest focus. The MF Nikon lens family has many versions of the Nikkor super telephoto lenses at this specific focal length of 600mm being introduced over the years. But strangely, even up to this modern AF era, the main emphasis on lens development was centered entirely on two lens speed of f/4.0 and f/5.6. The last of the MF Nikkor 600mm were employed with Ai-S lens coupling system in a Nikkor 600mm f/4.0s ED-IF and Nikkor 600mm f/5.6s ED-IF.

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The Nikkor 600mm f/4.0s ED-IF was the fastest MF 600 mm super-telephoto lens on the market today.

It has an impressive 12X magnification from that of a comparing 50mm standard lens that lets you fill up the frame with distant subjects. The bright f/4 maximum aperture with Full-aperture TTL metering makes focusing and shooting in dim light a breeze which is an important element in handling such kind of heavy optic. As using the maximum aperture to achieve higher shutter speed is almost a frequent affair, the maximum aperture of f/4.0 permits even handheld shooting in many situations, especially when combining the extraordinary lens speed with modern high speed fine grained film types..One main feature was its silky-smooth focusing without any extension in the lens barrel which is provided by Nikon's Internal Focusing (IF) system employed in the optical construction and the use of Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass insures unprecedented image quality and correction of secondary colour spectrum. The optical construction is consisted of an optical formula of 8 elements in 6 groups design with the front two large pieces using ED glasses.
Nikon's Nikkor 600mm f/4.0s IF-ED Super telephoto lens Nikon's Nikkor 600mm f/4.0s IF-ED Super telephoto lens REAR Section view

Nikon's Nikkor 600mm f/4.0s IF-ED Super telephoto lens Full SET UP and accessories
Its list of impressive features also include a presattable focusing ring provided for rapid refocusing at a specific distance. where most sport and wildlife photographers will find it indispensable. The lens is also equipped with a built-in telescopic lens hood and an additional HE-5 Hood Extension that helps reduces ghost images and flare; besides, a 360° rotatable tripod socket collar which also facilitates ease in shooting horizontal and vertical can also be removable.

Credit: Image(s) courtesy of 'Shutterblade team' (e-mail)who specialises trading of new, used collectable cameras. The Company also operates a popular Ebay Store. All image(s) appeared herein are Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.


The front filter thread is a large 160mm but it also provides a convenient slip-in filter holder that accepts 39mm screw-in filters, further, a dedicated gelatin filter holder also provided. Although this lens is immensely heavy, weighing at a massive 5.65kg but with adequate of support, choice of right film types, this lens is an Ideal lens for sports, wildlife, and available-light shooting as when combining its exceptional lens speed with a workable 2X or 1.4X teleconverter(s), it can transform into a super telephoto lens as 840mm f/5.6 or a 1200mm f/8 monster !

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The Ai-S second revision has a protective optical UV filter as illustrated from the diaphragm at left. Compared this to the previous version marketed during early '80.

The Ai-S version (1985 and a minor revision in 1987) of this lens has a dust proof protective UV filter at its front with no front axillary filter thread. Despite with such inclusion, Nikon engineers managed to trim its weight from the AI-Nikkor's 6,300g down to 5,600g with a marginally smaller diameter of 173mm as compared to 177mm. The lens is supplied with a huge CT-602 metal case.

Specification for MF Nikkor 600mm f/4.0 ED-IF

Picture angle: 4°10
Diaphragm: automatic; Aperture scale: f/4-f/22 on both standard and aperture-direct-readout scales
Exposure measurement: Via full aperture method, meter coupling ridge provided for Al cameras and meter coupling shoe for non-AI cameras
Distance scale: Graduated in meters and feet from 6.5m (21.3ft ) to infinity (
OO); Weight: 6,300g
Dimension: 177mm dia. x 460mm long (overall) 452mm extension from lens flange

Filters: (Rear/ Front) 39mm screw-in via slip-in filter holder/160mm front screw-in: dedicated gelatin filter holder; Front lens cap: Screw-in; Lens hood: Built-in screw-in with HE-5 Extension Hood
Lens case: CT-602 trunk case; Usable teleconverter: TC-200
* , TC-201*, TC-300** , TC-301** TC-14A* or TC-14B**

Credit: Predator ... (71k Jpeg) Copyright © images 2000. Don Ferrario, Creator of the Nikon PhotoLinks


* Not usable ** Usable, at aperture smaller than f/11 there may be occasionally uneven exposure. Warning: Certain AE modes (Programmed AE and Shutter Priority AE) on selective Nikon SLRs will not work efficiently with older TC devices. Use an Ai-S version for better compatibility, read the respective Tele-Extender(s) sections.; Note: Serial Number for Nikkor Ai-S f/4.0 ED-IF started from 178801 and 176121 for the earlier AI version.

What is next ? Oh ...

Something that only Nikon can explain - The MF super-telephoto lens survived for a long period of time because although initially Nikon has announced a possible AF Nikkor 600mm f/4.0 ED IF for the autofocus SLRs but it has never hit the market until 1992 that saw the debut of the AF-I Nikkor 600mm f/4.0 ED-IF. During its time, beyond the 300mm focal length, only a MF Nikkor 500mm f/4.0P ED-IF with an CPU chipset was offered to to many AF Nikon SLRs to utilize the Matrix Metering. The AF-I series Nikkor lenses has a built-in DC motor and a distance chip which made it focuses faster than normal AF Nikkor lenses and provides a more sophisticated 3rd generation Matrix Metering system found on newer series of Nikon AF SLRs. The 600mm AF-I has a 9 elements in 7 groups design and improved the lens close focusing capability to a closer 19.7 ft. In 1996, the AF-I Nikkor was upgraded to a AF-S 600mm f/4D ED-IF telephoto lens. It was claimed to provides an even faster, more quiet lens operation attributed from the use of Nikon's Silent Wave motor technology. A M/A switch is provided for fast transitions from AF to manual focus and see it having little power drain when manually focusing Lens.

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The optical construction was a revised 10 elements in 7 groups (3ED) design with minimum focus distance not improving too much at 20 ft . However, the maximum Reproduction Ratio (Macro Setting) is an impressive 1:9.1 and uses an attachment/ Filter size of 52mm. The dimensions (diameter x length - in.) of the original AF-S lens is 6.5 x 17.5 in. with a weight (lbs.): of 12.8 lbs. Included Accessories: CT-605 case, HK-23 Hood, Rear and front lens caps.

Credit: Image downloaded from Nikon USA website

The current version is a second generation AF-S lens. AF-S II Nikkor 600mm f/4D IF-ED has a very lightweight Magnesium die-cast construction body design which reduces the weight factor to approx. 10.7lbs with tripod mounting foot. Nikon Silent Wave Motor provides improved high-speed and accurate autofocus along with an even more quiet lens operation. A M/A mode provides instant switching from autofocus to manual focus with virtually no time lag, even during AF servo operation without delay or slack response can make the difference between crisp sharpness, or just slightly out. The optical design features three Extra Low (ED) Dispersion optical glass elements to control secondary chromatic aberrations. The closest focusing distance during AF operation has improved to approx. 18.4 feet; but provides an even more impressive reproduction ratio of 0.12. so, dramatic close-up portraits that reveal details and textures are within this lens close-up range. The lens is also available in light gray based on special order

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Credit: Image downloaded from Nikon USA website.
Specification: Maximum aperture: f/4 Lens construction: 10 Elements in 7 Groups (3 ED Elements); Focus distance: Approx. 18.4 feet; Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.12; No. of diaphragm blades: 9 blades Aperture: f/4~f22; Filter attachment size: 52mm; Hood: HK-28 Included Accessories: CT-606 Trunk Case, HK-28 Hood, 52mm NC Filter; Dimensions: 6.6 in. x 17.0 in.; Weight: 10.7 lbs

| NEXT | Nikkor 600mm f/5.6s ED-IF Telephoto Lens

Nikkor 600mm f/4.0s ED-IF | Nikkor 600mm f/5.6s ED-IF | Nikkor 600mm f/4.0 ED-IF | Nikkor 600mm f/5.6 ED-IF | Nikkor 600mm f5.6 | Pre-Ai Nikkor 600mm f5.6 ED | Non-Ai 600mm f/5.6 Nikkor-P Auto | Focusing Units

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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm by: Hansen, Lars Holst
http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/nikonfmount/lens2.htm
http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html

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Credit: MCLau®, who has helped to rewrite some of the content appeared this site. Chuck Hester® who has been helping me all along with the development of all these Nikon websites; Lars Holst Hansen, 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion I have; Ms Rissa, Sales manager from Nikon Corporation Malaysia for granting permission to use some of the official content; Ted Wengelaar, Holland who has helped to provide many useful input relating to older Nikkor lenses; Some of the references on production serial numbers used in this site were extracted from Roland Vink's website; Hiura Shinsaku from Nikomat Club Japan. Lastly, to all the good people who has contributed their own expeience, resources or kind enough granted permission to use their images of their respective optic in this site. It is also a site to remember a long lost friend on the Net. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets & brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for may discrepancies arise from such dispute except rectifying them after verification. "Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Site made with an Apple IMac.