Additional Information on
Nikkor 500mm Super telephoto lense

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Nikkor 500mm f/4.0P IF ED (03/1988 ~ 02/2002)

Most Nikon users would interrelate Nikkor lenses at 500mm to
Reflex-Nikkor lenses. But Nikon surprised everyone with the debut and continual support for this focal length at various lens development stages over the years. Introduced in March, 1988, strangely this Nikkor 500mm f/4.0P ED-IF lens was the ONLY manual focus Nikkor lens introduced among many AF-Nikkor lenses (AF Nikkor 35mm f/2.0, AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8, AF Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED-IF, AF Zoom-Nikkor 24-50mm f/3.3-4.5, AF Zoom-Nikkor 35-70mm f/2.8, AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-210mm f/4-5.6 and AF Zoom-Nikkor 80-2000mm f/2.8 ED). When the Nikon F4 and Nikon F801 (N8008) were introduced, the longest AF Nikkor lens was confined to only 300mm with both the original AF Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 ED-IF and AF Nikkor 300mm f/4.0 ED-IF. Although Nikon had announced availability of a possible AF-Nikkor 600mm f/4.0 ED-IF during Photokina, 1987 but it was never being released and marketed until a subsequent update of the AF-I Nikkor 600mm f/4.0 ED-IF super telephoto lens in 1993. That partly explained why the manual focus Nikkor 500mm f/4.0P ED-IF lens was introduced, instead of an AF version, which obviously Nikon had some difficulty sourcing a workable solution to Canon EF Ultrasonic technology, the Nikkor 500mm seemed more like an interim solution to have a super-telephoto lens which also can capitalize on the superior Matrix Metering found on those prevailing AF SLR bodies.

The lens was among two manual focus super telephoto lenses that has the "P" designation (Another was a special order super Zoom-Nikkor 1200-1700 f/5.6-8P ED-IF). The 'P' indicates that the lens has embodied a CPU (central processing unit) in its design. When used with appropriate Nikon AF SLR cameras such as Nikon F4, F801(s) or the F90(x) etc., the lens will completely integrate with the camera's complex matrix metering system via electronic data transfer between camera and the lens. Anyway, although it was not an autofocus lens, but this light weight 3kg super-telephoto lens has many reasons to be a good alternative to the 5.15kg Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 ED-IF and the 5.2kg Nikkor 600mm f/4.0 ED-IF.

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Credit: ALL Images of the Nikkor 500mm f/4.0P ED-IF lens displayed in this site courtesy of Mr. Bill Hardie® <> copyright © 2003.

While this category of exotic price and lens specification usually belongs to professional usage, the Nikkor 500mm prime telephoto lens has proved to be very popular among those often engaged in sports, news and wildlife photographers. Primarily because when the lens combines to used with a working teleconverter such as TC-14B or a TC-301, it will transform into a awesome 800mm f/5.6 or 1000mm f/8.0 super-telephoto lens. The two main key reasons contribute to its popularity is the maximum lens speed at f/4.0 which is very practical for such possible combination and naturally, the moderate weight of just 3 kg provides versatile portability and mobility to any photographers.

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Credit: Picture courtesy of Mr Dave Master® < > Image Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual Property of the photograper.

The lens has an aperture range from f/4.0 to f/22, it has three ED glass lens elements in its optical construction which comprised of 8 elements in 6 groups and contributes to its exceptional image quality. There was also a replaceable dust-proof optical UV filter at the front section to protect the large ED glass lens element. The front filter thread is 122mm but it accepts 39mm drop-in filters at the special filter drawer at the rear section. A special extra long extension dedicated carbon-fibred strengthened HK-17 lens hood was a standard accessory The 360° rotatable tripod collar ring can be removable.

Like any of the exotic series of high speed Nikkor super telephoto lenses, this lens does not come in a cheap price tag and could have limited its wide spread popularity among serious amateurs who have turned to other alternatives of varying focal lengths from third party lens manufacturers such as those offered by Sigma, Tamron and Tokina etc. Anyway, other than serving those full time professionals who never have to worry about cost factors, Nikon does offering a few solutions for the cost conscious minded users with lenses such as the compact Nikkor 400mm f/5.6s ED-IF, a longer focal length option in the Nikkor 600mm f/5.6s ED-IF or even a highly portable Reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8.0s (or even with the old Reflex-Nikkor 50cm f/5.0) - one may able to get a compromise working on the best price/performance ratio.

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Credit: All Images of this Nikkor super telephoto lense are contributed by All Images apeared herein this site Copyright © 2004. Mr. Shu also operates an Ebay Store where ocaationally he sells some unique photo products. Please respect the visual property of the owner.
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Whatever it is, this remarkable lens was very well received among specific users at the professional users market, and it was eventually upgraded to an equivalent autofocus version in AF-I 500mm f/4.0D ED-IF lens sometime around 1993 with a different optical construction in 9 elements in 7 groups. Subsequently, it was again being revised as an AF-S 500mm f/4.0D ED-IF in 1996 with a revision to its optical formula to a very complex 11 elements in 9 groups design, naturally, the sophisticated AF-S version of this lens provides more features with Silent-Wave Motor technology topping its features-list.

Credit: Image downloaded from Nikon USA website.
The current version is an 500mm f/4D IF-ED AF-S II Nikkor which has a 11 elements in 9 groups (3 ED Elements) design (No. of diaphragm blades: 9 blades fro more natural out of focus blur) and uses lightweight Magnesium die-cast construction body which contributes to its weight at approx. 7.6lbs and dimensions of 5.5 in. x 15.6 in. Nikon Silent Wave Motor was used for high-speed autofocus along with a claimed more quiet AF operation.

Another main feature is the M/A mode provides instant switching from autofocus to manual focus with virtually no time lag, even during AF servo operation. Closest focusing distance during AF operation is approx. 16.01feet but provides an impressive reproduction ratio of 0.12. so, dramatic close-up portraits that reveal details and textures are within this lens close-up range. The current version is also available in light gray on a special order basis.

Specifications of 500mm f/4.0P IF-ED

Focal length/Aperture: 500mm f/4.0
Lens construction: 8 elements in 6 groups (3 x EDs - G1.2.8) and a protective optical glass
Picture angle: 5°
Diaphragm: Automatic
Aperture scale: f/4.0 -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, CPU integrated for Matrix Metering with suitable Nikon SLRs
Maximum Reproduction ratio: 1:9.1
Distance scale: Graduated in meters and feet from 5m (16.4ft.) to infinity (
Weight: 3,000g; Tripod Mount: Fixed type
Dimensions: 138mm dia. x 384mm long (overall)
Filters (Rear/Front): 39mm slip-in via special slip-in filter holder/122mm optical protective UV filter
Front lens cap: Slip-on; Lens hood: HE-17 Extension Hood as standard accessory
Lens case: CT-500 hard leatherette or No. 59 soft pouch; Usable teleconverter:
TC-300*, TC-301s** or TC-14B** * Usable, certain exposure control mode will not work. ** Usable, at aperture smaller than f/11 with high shutter speeds, there may be occasionally uneven exposure.

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Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
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Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

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Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E

Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

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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.