LEICA SL-KITS - Unlock Your Creativity Today: Discover More

The Origins Of Nikon's 'Three Big Dragons'

What are the '3 Big Dragons' and how did they come to be known as this? We find out.

| Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II in Interchangeable Lenses
BUY NOW NIKON AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

The Origins Of Nikon's 'Three Big Dragons': Nikkor 3 big dragons

The '3 Big Dragons' is a term that's used for 3 key Nikon Nikkor lenses - a fixed wide angle zoom, standard zoom and telephoto zoom. 

This combination was known as the mahjong hand, or '3 big dragons'. With this combination, photographing most subjects would be possible, guaranteeing the best image quality, too. All 3 original 'dragons' had a fixed f/2.8 aperture.

The Origins Of Nikon's 'Three Big Dragons': Nikkor wide angle

The Wide Angle Zoom

The AF Zoom Nikkor 20-35mm f/2.8D(IF) was released in 1993. It featured the ability to zoom without complex inner cam mechanisms. This minimised movement of the point of focus. 

The next generation of this lens incorporated an ultrasonic motorised SWM, and the AF-S Zoom NIKKOR ED 17-35mm f/2.8D(IF) along with the AF-S Zoom NIKKOR ED 28-70mm f/2.8D (IF) launched in 1999.  

For the third generation of the lenses a Nano Crystal Coat was added to help with rapidly growing high pixel counts in DSLRs. The third generation were created with greater form and accuracy than the older lenses. 

The latest wide angle zoom to be included in the 3 big dragons line up is the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, which produces such amazing images that many didn't believe it was a zoom lens. This was released in 2007.

The Origins Of Nikon's 'Three Big Dragons': Nikon Nikkor 35-70mm lenses

The Standard Zoom Lens 

The AF Zoom NIKKOR 35-70mm f/2.8S is the original fixed aperture standard zoom. It was unique because of a concave-convex-concave combo of lens elements instead of using ED glass. 

This lens evolved into the 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, setting the standard for ultra high performance. 


The Origins Of Nikon's 'Three Big Dragons': Nikkor 80-200mm zoom

The Telephoto Zoom Lens

The AF Zoom NIKKOR ED 80-200mm f/2.8S zoom lens, the final member of the 3 dragons family, went on to become the best-selling normal telephoto zoom lens. 

This 4-group zoom lens had a convex-led group that followed in the footsteps of manual focus telephoto zooms. The third generation of this lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II was launched in 2009.


Buy Now


Sell or trade used photo and video kit with MPB

With MPB you can get a free instant quote for the kit you want to sell, including a trade-in all-in-one transaction - no need for callbacks or waiting for an email quote. Then, if you decide to sell, MPB will pick up your kit with a free insured DPD collection and you’ll get paid cash into your account within days. MPB will also keep you informed about the status of your gear at every step of the way and the whole process is carbon neutral.

Sell your unwanted gear with MPB

Amazon UK Logo

We don't have the latest price however the link below will take you to the most relevant items.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II SEARCH
Amazon US Logo

We don't have the latest price however the link below will take you to the most relevant items.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II SEARCH
MPB Logo

We transform the way that people buy, sell and trade in photo and video kit.


Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, ebay UK, MPB. It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

View Directory Page : Nikon

Other articles you might find interesting...

NIKKOR Z 135mm f/1.8 S Plena Lens Announced
Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II Lens Review
Sigma AF 23mm f/1.4 Lens Review - X Mount
Sigma AF 100-400mm f/5-6.3 Lens Review - X Mount
Nikon Z 70-180mm f/2.8 Lens Review
Nikkor Z DX 24mm F/1.7 Lens Review
Fujifilm XF 8mm F/3.5 Review
Best Third Party Nikon F Lenses (DSLR)

There are no comments here! Be the first!


You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join for free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.