Since it was announced, the Nikon 58mm Noct lens has drawn its share of criticism. Earlier this year, Alex Coleman at Fstoppers said “Besides trying to grab headlines, I can’t figure out who this lens is aimed at.”
Well, I can tell you who (or what) it is aimed at.
Plenty of companies do stuff like this. Show cars, hot models of some cars that come in at prices even more ridiculous than the $8000 the Noct cost. This lens exists to prove that it can be done, and to get people talking about it. And they are talking, a lot.
Arguably the promotional value is not needed now, since the other new lenses are already getting plenty of press, but it is a headline grabbing lens, and it’s doing that job well. If I was in charge of such things, I would have announced it early, but not bothered to put it into production until near the end of the current roadmap. I am guessing that the the lens was mostly developed early on in Z-series development, so there wasn’t as much to finish on it, so it was easy enough to release relatively early.
The images I have seen from it look amazing, so it appears they did a great job on it, although I do think they should have made it autofocus.
In short, I doubt they are going to sell a ton of these, but I doubt they ever planned to. It is a lens most people don’t need, but so was the 6mm f/2.8 Fisheye, and we are still talking about that. This is a proof of concept that you can buy (Amazon or Adorama, affiliate links,) not a mass market lens. It is a lens to get people talking, and it has already been quite successful at that.