Since its release in August 2018, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm F5.6 PF ED VR lens has been perpetually out of stock. In past apologies, Nikon has said demand for the 500mm F5.6 lens has exceeded supply, but now we know just how limited supply is.

Almost immediately after launching the 500mm F5.6 PF lens, Nikon Japan issued an apology [Japanese], stating it wouldn’t be able to deliver all 500mm F5.6 pre-orders in September, as it had hoped to do. Six months later, it issued another apology, stating orders had exceeded expectations and they were working to deliver units as soon as possible.

Screenshot used with permission from Nikon Rumors.

Now, Nikon Rumors has shared a screenshot of the German Nikon Professional Service website noting only 1,000 units are able to be produced each month. The text in the screenshot, seen above, translates (via DeepL) to:

‘Delivery currently uncertain, since only about 1,000 copies are produced per month. We apologize for any inconvenience and will accept any pre-order.’

A screenshot from the current product page on Adorama showing the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm F5.6 PF ED VR lens is ‘On Backorder.’

We contacted Nikon USA to check in on the current pre-order status and clarify whether or not production is at 1,000 units per month and received the following response:

‘Orders of the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens have exceeded our expectations. We appreciate our customers' patience as we work to fulfill orders as quickly as possible.’

In other words, Nikon isn’t confirming the 1,000 unit per month limit, but it isn’t denying it either. Whatever the case is, it doesn’t look like the backorders are slowing down anytime soon, so don’t get your hopes up that you'll have Nikon's compact telephoto lens anytime soon.