Additional Information on
Nikkor AI 800mm and 1200mm Telephoto lenses

 

800mmf56ed1stversion.jpg
First announced during Photokina 1976 that Nikon will be introducing an all new lens design which also uses ED glass that does not need a Focusing Unit but it was not until 1978 that the long awaited Nikkor 800mm f/8.0 ED super telephoto was delivered to the market place. This lens also replaced the earlier ED version in the two parts Nikkor 800mm f/8.0 ED telephoto lens.

The eventual production unit of the 800mm Nikkor lens has a common AI lens coupling system. The main difference between the early version and the later version are the location of the focusing ring which had the main lens handling section (focusing ring, tripod mounting ring and the carrying eyelet) located quite far out towards the large front lens elements and lens hood section; while the 39mm slip-in filter holder is located at the rear section just outside the focusing ring. The lens data was imprinted just inside the outer rim of the lens hood. The front filter attachment size is 122mm. ED glasses was used in its optical design which comprised of a rather complex 9 elements in 7 groups arrangement for a telephoto lens during its time. The lens was not indicated whether it has a Internal Focus design but only mentioned ED lens elements were being used. However, the lens stops down to f/32 which provides useful additional depth of field control. It weighs a heavy 3.8kg where the revised Ai-S version with Internal Focusing mechanism that followed in 1982 has trimmed that weight down to 3.3kg.

Despite the improvement made to the design, one main drawback of this lens is the slow lens speed it presents (which in turns requires the use of fast film types) and the dimmer viewfinder which needs some special focusing screen types to focus and compose pictures effectively, this could have often limiting for its popularity. However, for those who may require such kind of long reachness in their photography, this lens provides a good solution as it packs some of the very fine optical innovations within to enable the user to be more easier in handling the lens during assignment while top rated performance from its superior optical design and use of rare earth glass insures images are crispy and sharp yet be able to maintain natural colour rendition. Whatever it is, lenses at this focal length are no means easy to handle and not to mention the price tag that it comes along.

800mmf8side.jpg
Comparing both the Ai-S series of the Nikkor 800mm f/8.0 ED-IF and the earlier version with ED designation at the top will show its differences in its overall lens design.

Specifications of 800mm f/8 ED

Focal length/Aperture: 800mm f/8.0
Lens construction: 9 elements in 7 groups*
Picture angle: 3°; Diaphragm: Automatic
Aperture scale: f/8~f/32 on both standard and aperture-direct-readout scales
Exposure measurement: Via full aperture method; meter coupling ridge provided for Al cameras
Distance scale: Graduated in meters and feet from 10m (35 ft,) to infinity (
OO); Weight: 3,800g
Filters (Rear/Front): 39mm screw-in via slip-in filter holder/ 122mm front screw-in; dedicated gelatine filter holder
Front lens cap: Slip-on; Lens hood: Built-in telescopic type, removable
Usable Teleconverter: Not sure;
Note: Serial Number for this Ai-S version Nikkor 800mm lens may has been started from 178041


1200mmf2a.jpg
This Nikkor lens that does not require the focusing mount was produced in 1978/79. Major improvement was done to its lens handling where the one piece optic was comprised with an optical design of a rather complex 9 elements in 8 groups arrangement. The aperture ring was an extra extended type of grip, with an equally large tripod plate which made the lens weighs almost 4kg. There was a slide-in filter holder which accepts 39mm filters.

Many would believe the Nikkor 1200mm f/11 ED-IF super-telephoto lens was produced after the Ai-S lens coupling system was implemented. But a unit of the prototype of this super-long-reaching telephoto lens was already being display at Photokina back in 1978. But in 1982, the same lens was upgraded to an Ai-S version which can be accessed by clicking here.

1200mmf11optic.jpg
This super-telephoto lens can focus down to 14m (50 ft.) but one can still use an extension tube to narrow its closest focusing distance down to 30 ft. The front two lens elements are ED glasses. Further, the f/64 minimum aperture found on older version of the pre-AI Nikkor 1200mm f/11 ED was replaced with a larger maximum aperture at f/32.

Specifications of 1200mm f/11 ED-IF

Focal length/Aperture: 1200mm f/11.0
Lens construction: 9 elements in 8 groups
Picture angle: 2°; Diaphragm: Automatic
Aperture scale: f/1~f/32 on both standard and aperture-direct-readout scales
Exposure measurement: Via full aperture method; meter coupling ridge provided for Al cameras
Distance scale: Graduated in meters and feet from 14m (50ft,) to infinity (
OO); Weight: 3,800g
Filters (Rear/Front): 39mm screw-in via slip-in filter holder/ 122mm front screw-in
Front lens cap: Slip-on; Lens hood: Built-in telescopic type
Usable Teleconverter: Not sure;
Note: Serial Number for this AI version Nikkor 1200mm lens may was unknown (according to The Nikon Year Book by Peter Braczko, he stated the serial number may have been started from 178051, which you may used it as a reading reference).

| Nikkor 800mm f/5.6s ED-IF | Nikkor 800mm f/8.0s ED-IF | Nikkor 800mm f/8.0 ED | Non-Ai Nikkor 800mm f/8.0 ED | Non-Ai Nikkor-P 800mm f/8.0 Auto | | Nikkor 1,200mm f/11s ED-IF | Nikkor 1,200mm f/11 ED-IF | Non-Ai Nikkor 1200mm f/11 ED | Non-Ai Nikkor1200mm f/11 Nikkor-P Auto | Focusing Unit

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MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

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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.