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What does f/0.98 look like? The Nikon Noct is a monstrous lens you can’t afford

Nikon’s enormously popular f/1.4 lenses may look dim next to the company’s latest lens. On Thursday, October 10, Nikon unveiled its brightest lens yet, the Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct. The lens, originally teased with the launch of the Z system, uses a bright f/0.95 aperture mixed with optics designed to combat some of the distortions common in night photography.

The brightness alone isn’t the only remarkable thing about this gargantuan beast: The lens is set to sell for about $8,000, with availability beginning October 31. That price brings it into line with some of the most expensive cameras and lenses in the world.

Named after the 1977 Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2, the lens is designed to perform even for nocturnal photographers. The ultra-wide aperture will let in more light in dim conditions, while the lens is also designed to fight the sagittal coma flare. With the new lens, Nikon says, points of light are rendered as, well, points of light without flaring out, a common issue with some lenses.

Of course, bright lenses are noted for their bokeh, and Nikon says the Noct is no exception. Along with night and astrophotography, Nikon says the lens is also designed for portraits. The company says the depth of field creates more dramatic, dimensional images, while also blurring out backgrounds even when close to the subject.

Nikon says the f/0.95 aperture wouldn’t be possible with the F-mount — it’s the larger size of the Z mount that enables the brighter aperture, along with the enhanced sharpness of Nikon’s pro-level S line. The lens is also manual focus only — and with the extremely narrow depth of field a f/0.95 aperture will produce, the focus peaking available in the mirrorless system is likely also a must for getting good results with the lens.

The lens is designed from 17 elements in 10 groups, including a ground aspherical lens element. To fight reflections, the lens uses Nikon’s new coating called ARNEO along with a Nano Crystal Coat. The two coatings, Nikon says, works to fight flare and ghosting in backlit shots.

The optics necessary for that wide aperture put the lens on the heavy side, to say the least — the lens weighs more than four pounds. The lens will take up about a six-inch slot in the camera bag. The lens also houses an info panel, which displays the focus distance and depth of field information, and a custom control ring.

Along with the new Noct lens, Nikon also announced the MB-N10 battery pack for the Nikon Z 7 and Z 6. The pack uses two batteries for about 1.8x the battery life of the camera body alone, while also adding an additional grip and the same weather-sealing as the Z 6 and Z 7. The battery pack will be available next month, listing for about $200.

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