Xitek interview with Nikon Z designers

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Andre Yew Contributing Member • Posts: 885
Xitek interview with Nikon Z designers

Here's an interesting 2-part interview with some of the Nikon Z designers. The first part is about the philosophy of the Z mount, and the second part gets into nitty-gritty details on the Noct. It's worth reading the whole thing and the Google translation from Chinese to English is actually very readable unlike their usually terrible Japanese translations.


There are way too many interesting things in it to summarize, but the highlights for me include:

- the 3 different Z-mount parameters they considered and their tradeoffs. They picked the one that would highlight Nikon's history as an optical company, so the one that's best for making great lenses. This is why the lens caps also say Nikkor instead of Nikon.

- some design details on the Noct, including putting a new designer on it so he wouldn't be working with preconceived ideas about lens design. There's another well known, extremely high performing lens from another company that was designed this way BTW so it's not a crazy idea.

- why the Noct couldn't have AF

- why the Noct needs the Z-mount to do f/0.95 despite the availability of f/0.95 lenses on other smaller mounts. They repeat the statement that the Z-mount was designed to make good f/0.95 lenses possible.

- why the Noct is so hard to make and why it needs that giant case: it's basically handmade, but the aspheric elements are ground by machine and the mechanical design is highest precision they've ever put into production because of the lens's optical requirements.

- future plans for making much smaller lenses, as well as a discussion on the origin of the  idea of a folding lens like the 24-70/4 (it came from a lens they had on the Nikon 1 system). No specific lenses were mentioned, but it's clear they are going to make much smaller lenses in the future.

- the physical design of the lens also comes up with the alternative viewpoints being it's too boring and the F-mount lenses being decorated with all sorts of silly badges and flair (cf. Office Space)

The interviewer does a good job asking questions many here have wondered about, and sometimes gets a corporate answer, but also surprisingly often gets a straightforward answer. I think it's interesting to see the extent to which the Nikon engineers thought about alternatives because from an outsider's POV, it's often easy to engage in armchair quarterbacking without knowing all the constraints and compromises certain choices have.

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