The Insane Zoom Powers Of The $75,000 Zoom-Nikkor 1200-1700mm Lens

Look at the insane zoom that $US75,000 worth of glass got you in the 1990s. It's the work of the Zoom-Nikkor 1200-1700mm f/5.6-8P IF-ED lens, 18 elements assembled in a body that looked like a shoulder-mounted missile launcher.

This thing was almost 35 inches long (888mm), had a 9.33-inch (237mm) maximum diameter, and it weighed 16 kg!

When it was first used in 1990, at the Koshien Stadium, the Zoom-Nikkor 1200-1700mm had "the longest focal length of any zoom lens for 35mm-format cameras".

In the photo above you can see the same scene taken with 50mm (top left) and the 1200-1700mm lens, all placed 130 metres away from those two women.

Here's the story of its genesis, according to Nikon:

At Koshien Stadium the photographers' seats are situated next to the center-field back screen so as to enable news photographers to shoot the home plate, which is over 130 meters away. From this position it requires a focal length of 1200mm to capture the pitcher, the catcher, and the batter in frame, and a focal length of 1700mm to shoot a full-frame vertical photograph of the batter. In short, the 1200-1700mm was developed for shooting pictures from the photographers' seats at Koshien Stadium.

In 1980s, a rival company was making a 1200mm f/5.6 super telephoto lens. The newspapers were beginning to switch over to cameras made by this company in order to use the lens in their coverage of baseball at Koshien Stadium.

In May 1989, Nikon rushed to begin development of its own super telephoto lens for Koshien Stadium. The company resolved to complete the prototype by March 1990, in response to the fervent wishes of the newspapers.

Nikon says that this lens "restored the reputation of the Nikon brand in terms of news photography". What is even more interesting, however, is its claim that DSLR cameras killed these lenses because the images could be easily cropped and "image quality is high, even with a high ISO setting". [Nikon via Photography Bay]



    WTF why oh why! is this really necessary? Im a professional toggy and cannot see any use for such a big me old school but really.....

      Im not even a photographer and I can?

      1. Nature shots. Wildlife far away that would normally be disturbed by man...

      2. Stalking..... I mean.... erm.....

      oh wow why is this really necessary? perhaps the article has a clue as to why it was developed!

    Now that is a canon! Get it? cannon / canon ahehehejeeehee im so pun-ny

    I use this awesome zooming technique that equals that zoom!

    I call it "walking closer". It's absolutely FREE... But hurry, while stocks last!

      try doing that of the side of a cliff

      Obviously you've never done sports photography.

        lol...and what type of sport are you referring to exactly?

          Sport where you have to stand in the sidelines or similar and the action moves about regularly from near to far. Try zooming with your feet at an Aussies rules match, a good zoom can keep you on the action most if not all the time; though this particular zoom lens is extreme. However, the OP appeared to be referring to all zoom lenses.

          Hey, did you get those Nick Cage pics I emailed you?

          How about baseball... like it says in the article!??!

      something most people don't understand.

      walking closer to subject =/= zooming.

      walking closer changes the frame of your picture, the size of the objects, and their relation to each other. in other words, vertigo effect.

      sometimes the best way to compose a photo is to use a zoom so that all the objects are perfect inside.

        Obviously not bedroom sports... that... you can get really close too! ;o

      Actually that's trucking not zooming :P

        WOW! I've gone from taking photos to driving a truck!

        All this from the luxury of my comfy chair! Maybe by tomorrow I'll become an astronaut!

      Didja read the article? You can't walk onto the baseball diamond.

        I'm pretty sue you can. Otherwise, the players would have a hell of a time getting on there! ;)

    I want one for my next work function. I also want a big car.

    That's nothing:

    I like how they refer to a rival company - gosh, I wonder who it could be.

    Ted... don't start measuring games, that was probably the "Competitor"
    (cannon 1200mm f/5.6 )

    With google one can always go one better...
    Then again, many astronomers have attached cameras to many telescopes over the years...

    The difference is not all of them have the range of focal length with high quality imaging at all intermediate focal lengths...

    Karl Zeiss have an f/4 1700mm lens.... If you have to ask, you can't afford it....
    and it weighs 256kg, this little baby is less than 20 kg.) oh and the KZ lens is for medium format, 6x6 inch... so that is a whole lot more resolution.

    that makes the light capabilities of this little baby look pathetic.... (but it appears the KZ huge mother lens is fixed length not so good at close-up unless you want to see the flea on the neck of that antelope.. (more likely it was used for more covert uses)

    Also, there are surveillance systems using variable focal length Cassegrain collectors with 2400mm focal lengths they are built into custom video cameras, so not interchangeable with your SLR...... once we start looking at telescopes, the range is endless... (These are SLR compatible)

    BUT, what is the need, for most people, this systems was developed for a specific task, and the people using it were making enough money out of it to warrant the cost.

    I could just image what other creative uses people can do with this lens.

    If I used this, the ladies would think I was over-compensating for something.

    Coming from battlefield 3 game, the glint on that must be like a flash bang.

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