What's the difference between Nikon PF and FL lenses?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Butlerkid, Jun 14, 2018 at 12:38 PM.

  1. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    Karen
    OK. Educate me. In addition to the technical differences, please indicate pro's and con's of each.

    Thanks!
     
  2. RoyC01

    RoyC01

    Jan 6, 2011
    SE USA
    In summary, the Nikon PF or Canon DO are shorter, lighter and less expensive. The image resolution from the PF design is significantly behind what we have seen from 300mm f2.8 G and what we would expect from a 300mm f2.8 FL lens. That is not to say the PF is bad by any means, it is just not Nikon super telephoto sharp. Nikon engineers stated so when the 300 PF was released.
     
  3. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    Karen
    Thanks, Roy. I have the 300 PF and must say the IQ is very, very good.....but not as good as the 300/2.8 I sold because I seldom used it!

    So we probably won't see an f4 lens @ 500mm or 600mm in PF, right? Only FL's........
     
  4. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    Karen
    Thanks, but I knew that. I was looking for more than a technical definition and wanted to hear user experiences and thoughts about these lenses.
     
  5. JustEd

    JustEd

    Jul 21, 2008
    Sacramento, CA
    Having used two different iterations of the Canon DO lenses be aware that this is a very different technology. Not just shorter and lighter but a different way of gathering light. Optically there are minuses such as resolution, cromatic abberation and flare. Mechanically you get a more portable lens. Suggest you rent one and shoot the heck out of it before dumping money that way. My experience with the Canon DO lenses is that they are a bit hard to resell.
     
  6. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    Karen
    Thanks. I'm not familiar with Canon "DO" lenses....are they similar to Nikon "PF" lenses?
     
  7. JustEd

    JustEd

    Jul 21, 2008
    Sacramento, CA
    Hating to just quote someone else, but here goes:

    Nikon PF vs Canon DO: Nikon SLR Lens Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review (I disagree with the conclusion that this technology my replace existing)

    Have used the 400 DO original version a fair amount and it is a decent compromise in size and focal length but sometimes is a "bit" soft at times, imo. For birding it was not a bad choice but you still need a support for it, too big to hand hold much. My sister was an avid birder and got the version II which I never had the opportunity to use, sadly she didn't get to use before passing. The Canon zoom 100-400 was just an highly overpriced mediocre quality kit lens, imo. Still, it was useful for trips.

    As you might get my sentiment that they are a love hate affair. Love the size, hate the optical compromises.

    What's the Nikon like....tell me after you rent one ;-)

    edit: yes they are similar. Think Canon had theirs out first for what that is worth.
     
  8. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    Karen
    Thanks Ed. I just wanted to make sure they were simply different names for similar technologies. I have the Nikon 300 PF and find the image quality very good to excellent. Just a wee bit under the 300/2.8 I used to own.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. Just for comparison, Canon has had Flourite coated lenses much longer than Nikon, and the big benefit as I see it is that I hardly ever have to clean my canon super teles (600 F4 IS II and 400mm DO II F4 ). Canon has also been using Diffractive Optics (Canons version of Fresnel lens technology) for much longer, and agreed the first version where not that great,how the new Canon 400mm DO II is fabulous so they must have made big strides improving the technology between version one and two of the 400mm DO.

    Since I have the Canon 400mm DO II (and the 100-400mm II as well), maybe I can give some feedback on them.

    • The II version of the 400mm DO II F4 is MUCH improved over the I version, it is really sharp, and takes Tele Extenders well, at least the 1.4, but works with the 2.0 as well AF slows down with the 2.0 but works ok but not the greatest IQ. I havent tried the Canon 400mm F2.8 but find it hard to believe that the 400mm DO II would be as sharp as the 400 F2.8 but cant better by much, I have never been disappointed by it. Flare is well controlled, only two things to note is that minimum focus range is not that great and that you can get fairly odd OOF rendered items if they are in the foreground of the subject like for example small branches. If one knows it one can avoid it, or PP can deal with it. The real advantage with the 400mm DO II F4 is that on a crop factor camera like the 7DMKII you are at 640mm equivalent and with a TE1.4 you are at 900mm equivalent Focal lenght. It is hand holdable for a while and much shorter than any other Canon supertele.
    • The 100-400mm II is a great lens, really sharp, and tracks really well, with fast auto focus, it is light and focuses down to say 3 feet or so. Hard to find anything to complain about I just love it.
     
  10. billg71

    billg71

    715
    May 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Technically, the question should have been about comparing Fresnel lens design to conventional lens design, since all the FL lenses do is substitute flourite for optical glass in the largest and heaviest elements. You save weight but everything else is pretty much conventional optical physics, you have a lens that is a little shorter than the focal length. The Fresnel design allows you to reduce the length so you reduce the amount of material in the body and end up with less weight. Weight reduction in a flourite lens is mostly reduced by element weight but you still have to have enough material in the lens body to make it almost as long as the focal length.

    Pro's and cons: Compare the 300/4 AF-S and the 300/4 PF, the only Fresnel lens design Nikon offers: The AF-S lens is 3.5" x 8.8" and weighs 50.8 oz(90mm x 222.5mm, 1440g), the 300 PF is 3.5" x 5.8" and 26.6 oz(89mm x 147.5mm, 755g), so in a package that's 2/3 the length and roughly half the weight you get equivalent performance. But you have to subtract the weight of the tripod collar and foot from the AF-S version since Nikon doesn't include that in the PF lens specs so call it 4 oz(112g) worst case. You still wind up with a lens that's 40% lighter and has VR thrown in as a bonus. Yes, it costs $500 US more but you get a smaller, lighter package with VR. That's worth something, right?

    Unfortunately, the TANSTAAFL principal rears it's ugly head: The Fresnel design is subject to the onion-ring effect when the image has a bright light source in the frame. If there's a specular highlight or the sun in the frame you can get some really nasty artifacts in your image. And it looks like Nikon didn't do the best job of correcting astigmatism in meridional sharpness, the 30 lp/mm curve on the MTF takes a big dip at 15-20mm off center and oddly recovers in the extreme corner, so there's some astigmatism they couldn't correct for in the design. Other than that, the contrast and sagittal sharpness curves are pretty good, better than the AF-S version and slightly lower than the 300/2.8.

    Personally I've been very happy with the 300 PF, it's been pretty much married to the D500 since I walked out of the store with them. For my use, the difference in conventional and Fresnel design doesn't really matter but weight and VR do. I mostly shoot wildlife and I'm just as happy with the images i get from the 300PF as I am with those from the 400E and 800E and it's a heckuva walk-around combo. Take into account that I don't do prints measured in feet and I don't look at files at 200% magnification. Horses for courses and all that, right?

    Maybe Nikon will do better with their next-gen 500/5.6 PF just like Canon did with their 400/4 DO. It's not something I'd be interested in but a 400/4 PF might tempt me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018 at 8:48 PM
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