AF-S lens: What type of focus motor in which lens?

Started May 11, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Peter Jonas Veteran Member • Posts: 3,273
AF-S lens: What type of focus motor in which lens?

There are two types of Silent Wave Motors ( SWM ) Nikon uses in their AF-S lenses.

  • There is the ring type motor, which in my opinion is the real deal. As the name suggests this motor fts over the focusing mechanism and directly drives it. This was the original SWM by Nikon, and well before then introduced by Canon as the USM . Lenses using this type of motor are fast and virtually silent to focus. These are mostly used in higher grade lenses as they are fairly expensive.

  • Then, there are what some term as the Micro Motor. These look much more like a conventional little electric motor. They sit inside the lens and drive the focusing mechanism by a pinion/tooth ring drive line. Lenses using this type of motor are slower to focus and make some whirring noise in doing so. These lenses are generally also larger in diameter than they would normally be, as the little motor sits beside the lens elements and focusing/zoom mechanism, and to cover it up, the lens needs an outer barrel of a relatively large diameter. This kind of motor was introduced by Nikon somewhat later in an attempt to lower the cost of consumer AF-S lenses as this motor is much cheaper to make. Unfortunately, Nikon also call this an SWM

I know some, or perhaps many of you are not interested in what's inside your lenses, but I am. And I feel somewhat disappointed that Nikon does not state in their lens specifications which type of AF motor that particuar lens uses.

I suspect the top of the line pro lenses all use the ring motor, and the bottom of the line cheap consumer lenses all use the micro motor.

But what I am interested to know is what type of motor the middle of the road lenses use?

Although I have many of the lenses in this list, my information is not authentic at all. It's only what I suspect based on my personal experience, lens reviews and user reports about AF behaviour of a particular lens. Here is what I think the various lenses have:

10-24/3.5-4.5G DX - Ring Motor
16-35/4.0G VR - Ring Motor ???
16-85/3.5-5.6G VR DX - Ring Motor
18-105/3.5-5.6G VR DX - Micro Motor
18-200/3.5-5.6G DX - Ring Motor
24/1.4G - Ring motor
24-120/4.0G VR - Ring Motor ???
28/1.8G - Micro motor
28-300/3.5-5.6G VR - Ring Motor ???
35/1.4G - Ring Motor
35/1.8G DX - Micro Motor
40/2.8G DX Micro - Micro Motor
50/1.4G - Micro Motor ???
50/1.8G - Micro Motor ???
70-300/3.5-5.6G VR - Rng Motor
85/1.8G - Micro Motor ???
85/1.4G - Ring Motor ???
85/3.5G DX Micro - Micro Motor
105/2.8G VR Micro - Ring Motor

Do you have any reliable info to confirm or deny items in the above list? Or do you have other items to add?

Please do not attempt to dismatle your lenses to verify this!


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Peter Jonas

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