Nikon has announced the Nikkor Z 135mm F1.8 S Plena lens, which is said to be optimised for out-of-focus highlights, after teasing the new model on YouTube.
The Plena lens adopts 16 elements in 14 groups and includes one element using a relatively new type of glass from Nikon called an SR (Short-wavelength Refractive) element:
“Nikon’s original SR (Short-wavelength Refractive) lens is a high- and specialized-dispersion glass lens featuring characteristics to greatly refract light with wavelengths shorter than that of blue. By controlling short-wavelength light that is difficult to compensate, light of various specific wavelengths can be more effectively collected achieving highly precise chromatic aberration compensation. Because this lens can be used in the same way as normal glass lenses, more flexible optical design is attained without limitations in lens layout. While realizing high optical performance, a compact and light lens can be designed.”
This new glass type from Nikon (first seen in the AF-S Nikkor 120-300mm F2.8E FL ED SR VR) has been designed to mitigate not only axial and lateral chromatic aberration but perhaps also spherochromatism, judging by the results. Made within the Nikon group of companies, which includes a company called Hikari Glass, if memory serves, which is known for its expertise in moulding complex aspherical elements, especially double-sided, but is likely the source of this new SR glass.
In ambition, it is not unlike the BR (Blue Refractive) optics from Canon. The BR component in Canon’s design is thought not to be glass but a balsam-like material sandwiched between glass elements, and, intriguingly, the soundbite above appears to take a slight sideways swipe at that tech.
Note that no less than four ED elements are used in combination with the SR glass. I would expect the optical performance to be at Zeiss Otus level, or even above.
Although the Plena name uses the same coloured and cursive script as the Nikon 58mm F0.95 Noct lens aimed at cinematographers mainly as well as occasional stills use, the lens has much more in-keeping with the Nikkor Z 85mm F1.2S. Like that model, the Plena is an AF lens which uses two STM lenses to focus elements/groups independently. It has a shorter than typical 0.85m MFD.
As a rule of thumb, MFDs are typically 10x the focal length or just slightly less. In this instance, though, 0.85m is average or even a bit high compared to modern-day rivals. For example, the earlier AF DC-Nikkor 135mm f/2D from the 90s has an MFD of 1.1m.
External dimensions are approximately 98 x 139.5mm and the weight is just under a kilo or 2lbs at 995g.
The new lens will be available in October and is priced at £2699 inc VAT.
Pre-orders now open at the following:
Read earlier mentions here.