Medium Long Lenses For Nikon 'F' Mount

Evaluations By Bjrn Rrslett


For rating criteria, please see the Lens Survey Page

[test lens version(s) given]

Lens Rating Comments
AF-Nikkor 80 mm f/2.8

[AF/AIS]

4.5
(F5)

4.5-5
(FX: D3, D3X)

 

IR:
4.5-5
(DX: D200 modified)

This lens, together with its stablemate AF 200/3.5 ED-IF, constituted Nikon's first offerings in the AF field back in 1983. Both lenses were designed for use on a special camera model, F3AF, and had their own focusing motors. By today's standards, AF operation of the 80 mm lens is painfully slow and it will only autofocus on F3AF (of course), and on F4 (not so obvious). Nikon warn that it will not fit newer bodies, such as F5 and D1. The AF 80 mm lens however can be mounted to operate in MF mode on these cameras, but will drain the battery of the attached camera in a short while. Thus, in order for this lens to be used on D1 and F5, you must disable its CPU circuit, which is easily done with a screwdriver and a small knife - so what, you won't miss that lousy AF performance anyway, and lenses are intended for taking pictures, not for being stood on a collector's shelf.

With the F5, the optical quality of the AF 80 is quite soft at f/2.8 (a little better on the FX camera), to improve to a very high level indeed when the lens is stopped down. Set to f/8, the AF 80 is in fact a stunning performer. With this lens, geometric distortion is insignificant and corner fall-off is minimal. Likewise, lens flare and ghosting are well controlled. MF operation is slowed down by the narrow focusing collar and the residual drag of the AF motor, so this isn't a lens for capturing fast events. Put this venerable old-timer on your Nikon when events move more slowly, and enjoy its top-notch pictorial potential. That is, if you succeed in locating one of them, because they tend to be scarce these days.

IR: this lens has excellent IR performance and no hot-spot tendency was noted. Even wide open the lens delivers in IR.

85 mm f/1.8 Nikkor-HC

[C, non-AI]

4
(F2, F3)
This fast short telephoto was a favourite for Nikon users in the early days, and stayed basically unchanged in the lens line for nearly 15 years. People will recognise this lens as the one featured in the famous classic movie, "Blow-Up". It rendered sharp images with just a trace of detail roundness (that's currently called 'bokeh') and a pleasing colour saturation. The latest multi-coated version (designated HC along the lens front) was the best of all. Acceptably sharp even wide open, it got really into its stride around f/4 and exhibited excellent image quality and contrast up to f/8 or so. Due to its high speed it flared quite easily. It was replaced by the much softer 85 mm f/2 in 1977.
85 mm f/2 Nikkor [AI, AIS]

3
(F4)

3-3.5
(DX: D2X)

 

IR:
3.5-4
(DX: D200 modified)

The replacement for the venerable f/1.8 lens was much smaller and very compact, but unfortunately the optical quality is nowhere in the league of its predecessor. In particular I found pictures taken with the 85/2 to be dull and life-less, and images took on a greyish cast as well. I'm aware of reports claiming this lens is an excellent perfomer and am at a loss to explain this discrepancy in opinions (I've tried several 85/2's and they all behaved in a similar manner).

IR: better than the visible-light performance in fact unless the wide settings are used, and no hot spots observed. The IR focus moves a bit around when you stop down the lens and when it is used at the widest apertures, you must focus significantly closer than the "red dot" indicates (stopped well down, the engraved IR dot seems to work good enough).

AF 85 mm f/1.8 Nikkor

4
(F4)

This lens is unusual in having focusing carried out by the rear lens group, hence its RF (rear-focusing) designation. RF is a variant of the IF principle that combines features from the floating element approach (CRC) known from wide-angle designs. This helps give the lens good optical quality even up close. The 85/1.8 is a nice lens despite its awful cheap-looking plastic exterior, and capable of producing sharp and contrasty images from f/4 to f/11.
85 mm f/1.4 Nikkor
AIS
5
(F5)

4.5-5
(D2X)

5
(FX: D3, D3X)

 

IR:
5
(D1, D200 modified)

A truly professional lens with an impressive front element and a rock-solid mechanical construction to match, this is a perfect choice for photogs loving MF lenses and available-light photography. It delivers outstandingly sharp images stopped down a few stops, to f/2.8-f/4, and keeps the excellent image quality all the way down to f/16. Some people criticise the out-of-focus rendition of the MF lens, and I for one think they have a small point here, witnessed by a possible encroaching harshness of the non-focused highlights. With its big front element, flare is a potential problem and the huge hood HN-20 should always be mounted. Ghosting does occur but rarely is critical for image quality. The 85 MF, although having a 72 mm filter size, works perfectly with the 6T close-up lens mounted in a 62-72 mm step-down ring.

On the D2X, the softness of the image at f/1.4 was much more evident and you need to stop down to f/2.8 to get details crisp and sharply rendered. On the other hand, the ability to keep the image coherent at f/11 - f/16 is also quite evident on this camera. Tentatively, I rate this lens a little under the "top" rating because of its wide-open behaviour. If that's not an important issue, put the 85/1.4 on your D2X and enjoy its image quality.

On the bigger FX format cameras (D3, D3X), the 85 really shines and shots appeared crisp and sharp, but with a lower contrast at f/1.4.

IR performance: So far I haven't seen any hot-spot and this is a little unexpected given the large rear element.

AF-Nikkor 85 mm f/1.4 D IF 5
(F5)

5
(D1)

5
(D1X, D2X)

5
(FX: D3, D3X)

IR:
5
(D200 modified)

A superb chunk of glass, the AF lens outperforms its MF 85/1.4 predecessor by a comfortable margin at wide apertures, equals the MF lens at f/5.6 and is less sharp in the f/8-f/16 range. Since most people would buy an 85/1.4 for low-light photography potential, the choice of the AF lens vs. the MF is easy: Go for the AF. I have shot many pictures with it using it wide open and the results are simply stunning. The image rendition improves up to the peak performance at f/2.8-f/4. Its IF construction makes focusing it manually a breeze and its AF action is very fast on the F5 or D1/D2 models, but not entirely noise-free.

Images are rendered with acute sharpness, very high contrast and vivid colour saturation. The aperture is controlled by 9 blades and is nicely rounded, thus ensuring good 'bokeh' and a pleasing rendition of the out-of-focus areas. In this respect it surpasses the MF version by a comfortable margin.

Due to its large front element, the AF 85 flares quite easily and the substantial lens hood should always be used. By the way, although it sports a 77 mm filter thread, the 6T close-up lens can be used on the AF 85 without vignetting and gives very good results.

The only criticism of this lens, apart from its elevated price, is the possible presence of a slight colour fringing in high-contrast objects that are out of focus, given the lens is stopped well down. This results from the IF design used and the same problem occurs to a greater or lesser extent for all IF lenses. Occasionally, if you shoot test charts with the lens wide open, you can observe a reddish tinge to black objects immediately in front of the focus plane, with a greenish cast just behind it. The 200/2 behaves similar.

The D3 adverts depict the D3 with the 85/1.4 AFD and the same lens is used for illustrations in the D3 manual. No wonder, since the 85/1.4 AFD performs superbly on this camera. Even the wide-open captures are as good as anything I ever seen before.

IR performance: Similar to the MF version, this fast lens is - rather unexpectedly - a good IR performer and there are no evident hot spots.

105 mm f/1.8 Nikkor
[AIS]
4.5
(F4)

4.5-5
(D2X)

IR:

4.5-5
(Fuji S3 UVIR, D200 modified)

A nicely balancing lens that is sturdily built and fairly heavy. It produces very sharp and contrasty images within its optimal range from f/4 to f/11. Wide open, image contrast is lowered by internal flare, so the f/1.8 setting shouldn't be used indiscriminately. It is moderately resistant to flare and ghosts under normal shooting conditions. Set it to f/5.6 if you are keen on getting the maximum quality from this lens.

On the D2X, the flare at f/1.8 is even more prominent and it looks more like residual spherical aberration to me. Anyway, image detail is very good at f/1.8 despite the lowered contrast, and by stopping down to f/2.8 you do get very high contrast, and superb image sharpness. The excellent image quality holds up surprisingly well to near f/16, but from here you do get some softening mediated by diffraction effects. There is virtually no chromatic aberration (CA) to be seen at the normal aperture settings, but a tiny amount of CA begins to creep in when the lens is stopped down beyond f/11.

IR: No issues were detected when using this lens for IR work on my Fuji S3Pro UVIR camera. Testing with the D200 (modified) confirms this information.

AF Nikkor 105 mm f/2 DC

5
(D1X, D70)

5
(D2X)

4.5-5
(FX: D3X)

The 105/2 is the shortest of the two Nikkors offering a defocus control (DC) feature, and possibly a better performer than the longer 135/2 DC. In fact, the 105 DC gives a true stellar optical performance and is one of the finest Nikkors ever made. It comes in a professional-looking crinkle finish and the construction is metal rather than plastics - thank you, Nikon. However, all numerals and lettering on its barrel are just printed, not engraved, which is a pity considering the elevated price this lens commands.

Its optical design includes rear element (RF) focusing, which is a special case of internal (IF) focusing, so the length of the lens won't change while it is focused. The near limit is 0.9 m, which allows for tightly composed shots. AF operation is fairly quick but not noise-free. As manual focusing is fast and easy thanks to a generously-sized focusing collar, the AF performance isn't an issue at all and focusing the lens manually probably will be the preferred option (at least, for me). In common with other high-speed lenses, the 105/2 DC snaps positively into focus. You can be assured of high-quality imagery even at f/2, and from f/2.8-f/4 picture quality is stunning. Beyond f/5.6 performance begins to decline, so this is clearly a lens built for speed. Across the entire aperture range, image contrast is high and colours are vividly rendered. The RF system, however, may introduce slight colour fringing in highlights outside the focused zone. Many IF lenses exhibit this trait.

There is a sliding-out sunshade which, fortunately, can be screwed firmly into place. Be aware though that the threads are finely pitched and the hood occasionally gets stuck in the locked position. The lens has a 72 mm filter size which is at variance with the current 77 mm standard for the Nikon professional lens line, but the smaller size does keep the lens more compact. The front element is deeply recessed and the propensitiy for lens flare is low. Even under adverse light situations there is virtually no ghosting either, so this is a perfect lens for available-light shooting. The superb optical performance at wide aperture settings helps in this respect, too. Geometric distortion is virtually non-existent, a desirable trait if you are into architectural photography or suchlike applications.

The DC feature actually is a user-controllable over- or undercorrection of residual spherical aberration in the out-of-focus zones. A rotating collar adjacent to the focusing ring allows setting DC to operate in front of, or to the rear of, the plane on which the lens is focused. In conjunction with a nicely rounded aperture opening, this allows the bokeh of the image to be precisely managed. If the DC setting coincides with the selected aperture, nicely glowing highlights and pleasingly smooth images are obtained, but still a biting sharpness is present in the image. You can go one further by maxing out the DC setting to get very visible softening of the non-focused areas. This depends on using quite wide apertures because the deliberately introduced spherical aberration is largely eliminated when the lens is stopped well down. The best effects are obtained in the f/2 to f/5.6 range. It is difficult to envision the optical effects from defocusing the image unless you practice this for a while. Each alteration of the DC setting demands refocusing the lens so operating the 105/2 in DC mode can be cumbersome for the novice user.

I just recently acquired this lens, but it has quickly become one of my favourite lenses on D1X. For my own shooting with the 105/2, I tend to work with the defocus control switched off. However, DC is a nifty feature when the need for it arises, such as in portraiture, and being incorporated in the lens design, DC is literally at your fingertips, with no extras needed.

On the super-high resolution D3X, you need to get he focus perfect otherwise you'll see a lot of red or green fringing. I've downrated this lens a little with this camera saince its flaws are more visible and you really need to stop down to f/4-f/5.6 to get bitingly sharp images.

105 mm f/2.5 Nikkor-P (Sonnar Type)

[non-AI]

4.5

(F2, F3)

This portrait Nikkor inherited the Sonnar optical formula (5 elements in 3 groups) of the legendary rangefinder 'S' version from 1953. The Sonnar is easily identified by its smallish rear element compared to more recent versions. It was an extremely sharp lens for its time and the optical quality still surpasses that of many modern lenses. It underwent cosmetic changes of the exterior only and stayed in production until 1971. It is a great performer at f/5.6 and provides for good performance even wide open, but flare could be a problem here.
105 mm f/2.5 Nikkor-PC (Gauss Type)

[lenses labelled PC are non-AI,
otherwise AI, AIS ]

5
(F2, F4, F5)

5
(D2X)

5
(FX: D3, D3X)

 

IR:

5
(D200 modified, S3Pro UVIR)

Nikon redesigned the popular 105 mm in 1972 and choose to use a new Gauss-type design (5 elements in 4 groups) instead of the earlier tested and tried Sonnar formula. Probably they did this because of the 105 mm's growing popularity as a portrait lens. Since the Gauss formula gave better performance towards the near focusing limit this seems a wise move. The first batch evidently were released without multi-coating and carried the 'P' designation (I own one of them), but these were quickly replaced by multicoated 'PC'-labelled lenses.

Current versions are outfitted with rubberised focusing collars and the lens data are removed. Compared to the earlier type of the 105/2.5 Nikkor, the new formula offered even better image definition, enhanced close-range performance, and a much improved colour saturation for the multi-coated versions. It performed better than its predecessor wide open, and delivered tremendously sharp images from f/4 onwards. Flare is only a problem under the most extreme of adverse light conditions and ghosting is rarely a threat to image quality.

During the years, it has undergone some external changes, but the optical formula survived to this day. This is one of the truly great lenses of all times and a definite Nikon classic. It easily holds its own again any modern lens - what a pity that this prime lens lost its popularity during the onslaught of low-speed, medium-quality AF zooms. Oh well, the general public always get what they want - don't they.

The 105/2.5 is a killer combination on the D3. Even set wide open, high-contrast. bitingly sharp images result. At f/2.5, the extreme corners are a little soft, mainly due to field curvature, but at f/4 and beyond the entire frame is crisp and clear. Image quality holds up well to beyond f/16 where diffraction rears its fuzzy head.

IR: excellent performance, no hot spots.

Added note: My 105/2.5 PC finally underwent CPU-matrix surgery and now works on all my digital cameras. This was a test project of mine. While the maximum aperture of the chip doesn't match the lens (2.8 vs 2.5), so far metering seems little affected by this discrepancy. Later, I replaced the first chip with a custom-programmed CPU so as to have the true f/2.5 reading. Metering is still spot-on.

105 mm f/4 Nikkor-T [non-AI]

3.5
(DX: D1X)

UV:

3.5
(DX: D1H)

This petite and cute lens is an enigmatic left-over from the transition period between Nikon "S" rangefinder and "F" SLR cameras of the late 1950's. The construction is a simple triplet resulting in a very small, featherweight lens with 34.5 mm filter threads. Although by definition a non-AI type, it mounts without problem on all Nikon SLRs. There is no aperture linkage and thus metering is done by the stop-down method.

Images are quite sharp, with medium contrast and colour saturation. There is only single coating on the glass, of course. Geometric distortion and vignetting is non-existent on my D1-series cameras. Definition is good at f/4 and very good-excellent at f/8-11.

The 105/4 Nikkor-T is scarce and frequently regarded only as a collector's item. Stiil, it is a capable performer which should not be doomed to spend its life standing on a collector's shelf.

135 mm f/2 Nikkor
[AIS]
3 - 3.5
(F5)

4
(DX:D2X)

A hefty piece of glass, this superfast portrait telephoto offers a brilliant view through the camera's finder. It renders distant images with good contrast and image clarity, but the two samples I've tried have had very disappointing performance at closer range. Flare possibly caused by undercorrected coma softens the images when the lens is used wide open, this improves upon stopping down to f/5.6 which is the optimum aperture.

The optics of the 135/2 AI are identical, whilst the lens barrels are slightly different, the AI having a much shorter sliding lens shade and (in common with many other AI lenses) stiffer focusing operation.

I recently reran tests with the 135/2 on my D2X and was actually quite surprised and pleased by the results. Image sharpness at closer range still needed some stopping down (to f/4) to get really crisp, but for distant subjects, I found the 135/2 capable of delivering quite sharp images even set wide open. There is a slight bluish veil over the image that disappears from f/2.8 onwards. At f/5.6 either for near og far subjects, the images had excellent quality.

AF Nikkor 135 mm f/2 DC

4

(F4)

This lens is unique in having a control for manipulating the degree of residual spherical aberration. This feature allows over- or undercorrection so as to give softness of the image either in front of, or backwards of, the plane of focus. The corrective control is quite subtle in its effect and you need to experiment a lot to get the system to work to your advantage.

The DC 135 mm f/2 is a beefy lens and sturdily built. It derives from the 'normal' 135/2 in scope and size (optics differ though), but tend to perform better at larger aperture settings. I used it for getting attractively blurred shots of larger plants. At f/2.8 to f/4, image sharpness was excellent.

135 mm f/2.8 Nikkor-Q

[non-AI]

3.5 (single-coated version)

4
(latest version, with multi-coating, labelled QC)

4
(late model, DX:D1X)

 

IR:

3.5-4
(DX: D200 modified)

This is a beautifully designed lens with a workmanship many contemporary lenses only may dream about and never attain. My sample is from 1973 and still focuses with a silky-smooth feeling. The 135 features a broad silver ring which gives excellent handling when the lens is mounted or removed from the camera, and there is a slide-out lens shade which, given some user persistence, may be locked into position.

Images delivered by this fast 135 mm have excellent sharpness and surprisingly high contrast, provided the lens is stopped 1-2 stops down. Even wide open very useful results are obtained. On D1X, I observed very high contrast for the images shot at f/2.8. A propensity of flaring occurs for the single-coated version, but the last model with multi-coated elements shows less of this problem. Ghosting is kept well under control.

The 135/2.8 Q can be chip-modified to meter perfectly with all newer Nikon cameras, but the conversion is quite tricky because of its internal design.

IR: No signs of hot spots. The readjustment of focus using the red dot works well. You do have to stop down a few stops to get decent image quality in IR, though. Hence the reduced rating.

135 mm f/3.5 Nikkor-Q

[non-AI]

3.5

(F2, F4)

The venerable old-timer from the Nikon 'F' epoch can still be used on modern Nikon bodies (that's lens continuity), and is capable of giving quite sharp images from f/5.6 onwards. There is a roundness of detail rendition that suits many scenes quite well. Image contrast isn't extremely high by modern standards and the lens flares quite easily since it is single-coated. These lenses can be picked up second-hand for next to nothing. I use mine mainly as the the relay lens for an anamorphic add-on device (see here).
180 mm f/2.8 Nikkor ED

[AIS]

5
(F4)

4.5
(DX:D2X)

4.5
(FX: D3X)

 

IR:

2-
(DX: D200 modified)

This fast medium telephoto lens has, thanks to its ED element and modern optical formula, a superb optical quality. Images are rendered with high sharpness, contrast and vivid colour saturation. Even wide open quality images are produced, and stopped down to f/5.6 it's hardly possible to better the image quality. Beyond f/16 there is a noticeable decline in quality so these small f-numbers shouldn't be used unless absolutely necessary. Flare and ghosts can be a problem under high-contrast conditions. It performs marvellously with an extension ring added. The PN-11 tube is the best choice and brings with it a tripod collar to help the 180 ED give 1:3 close-ups with tremendous quality. I often use the 180 ED with my F2 Titan.

Be aware that the pre-ED versions (engraved Nikkor P) of the 180/2.8 are inferior in image quality in comparison with the ED 180. Not a bad lens, but the standard of the ED is a tall order to meet.

On the D2X, image clarity is excellent, but as the lens is stopped down, small traces of chromatic aberration (CA) detract from the purity of the image. The amount of CA is by no means excessive, and for many subject and shooting conditions would go undetected. However, to demonstrate I for one noticed this slight deviation from perfection, I have downrated the 180ED for D2X a wee bit.

IR: Unfortunately, there is a severe hot spot issue with this lens. So it should not be deployed for critical IR work.

AF-Nikkor 180 mm f/2.8 ED-IF 5
(DX:D1X)
The AF versions of the 180 mm lens introduced internal focusing (IF) with corresponding change in optical formula. IF makes for effortless focusing, but tends to give some residual colour fringing in the out-of-focus areas. Image sharpness and contrast of the AF lens is excellent, but the plastic barrel makes the lens feel cheap, this in particular holds for the first release of the AF 180 that had an inconveniently narrow focusing ring. The next version came with a hammered surface finish and improved focusing action. Both version carry a sliding sun shade of questionable length and usefulness.

This lens operates quite sluggish in AF mode, so is difficult to apply to shooting situations in which fast focusing is demanded. In addition, its AF action never is entirely decoupled even when the lens is set to "M", so there is a perceptible drag on the focusing collar at all times. Apart from such caveats it handles nicely, with truly impressive pictorial results in the f/4-f/11 range. Wide open the image is ever so slightly soft, but stopping down helps to improve the image quality to high standards. Contrast and colour saturation are superb. It manages slightly better than the MF180 ED on all scores except for the occasional trace of colour fringing in the out-of-focus areas. This 180 must be ranked among the finest Nikkors of all times in terms of its optics, but on handling criteria alone it never will go into the Hall of Fame.

200 mm f/2 Nikkor ED IF

[AI, AIS]

5
(F4, F5)

4
(DX: D2X)

IR:

4*
(DX: Fuji S3 UVIR, see text)

A superlative super-fast design, this is one of Nikon's least known lenses. It is big, heavy and very bulky given its medium focal length. Many will mistake it for a 300/2.8 in particular when the impressive lens hood is attached. If you are willing to part with the substantial amount of money needed to purchase it, you will get an outstanding performer. Peak results are attained nearly wide open, at aperture settings close to f/2.8. By the way, I tend to use mine set at f/2 all the time. Wide open, images are very sharp but contrast is moderate. Contrast does increase up to f/5.6, but a concomitant loss of image sharpness negates the benefit of stopping the lens down. Beyond f/5.6 there is a rapid decline of image detail and the results at f/22 are definitively poor. That doesn't matter much because you have to be stupid to buy and use such a super-speed lens at small apertures anyway, when any ordinary lens would do the job much better. The 200 f/2 is designed for the ultimate performance under low light situations and here it reigns supreme. Indoors I often use it mounted on a monopod and have been able to get terrific shots at f/2@1/4-1/8 sec. with 100 ISO film. It flares easily so keeping the hood on at all times is mandatory. Even with the big hood clamped onto it, ugly ghosts can occur so pay some attention to the position of the light sources when you shoot with this lens. It works very well when the TC14C converter is added to it, but please refrain from using other converters, as they will significantly degrade the optical quality. The current TC-14E might also work, but this combination is not tested in detail.

On D2X, the presence of CA is quite visible and detracts from overall quality. Not all subjects will show this issue, but at least you are warned.

*IR: no problems as such detected. However, since the lens doesn't accept ordinary filters, you will have to use an IR gel filter in the rear drawer which is very impractical.

AFS 200 mm f/2 ED IF G VR

5
(DX:D2H,
D2X)

5
(FX: D3, D3X see text)

IR:

5
(DX:D1, D70)

This is the logical evolution from the venerable 200/2 MF Nikkor, and a firm demonstration of what today's state-of-the-art lens is capable of. It is a stunning performer in all areas and manages to combine fast AF speed, tremendous sharpness, nice handling whether run on automatic or in manual modes, a responsive and non-obtrusive VR action, and all of this in a package even smaller than its predecessor. Even the resistance to ghosting has been improved compared to the old 200/2, but obviously with all that glass inside (no less than 13 elements, 3 of which are ED besides a "Super ED" element), the lens will be heavy and some residual ghosting cannot entirely be avoided if you shoot directly into the sun.

I already know this is one of the finest lenses ever produced by Nikon. I also know that VR can adversely impact sharpness when the lens is tripod mounted, despite Nikon's claims to the contrary. The tripod collar design is, as common with recent long Nikkors, inefficient and suprisingly flexing. Still the stunning performance of this lens has overcome my objections, so not only do I have my own copy, it is one of my most used lenses. It continues to deliver its magic on the D3, too.

A separate review of the 200 AFS can be found here.

On the FX cameras, the 200 VR delivers excellent image quality if you can avoid the "danger" zone typically from 2 secs to 1/60 sec. The D3X demonstrates very clearly that the so-called "long lens technique", by some claimed to solve issues with poor tripod mounts, will lead to image blurring and loss of detail. So the only approach to geting sharp images at slow shutter speeds is using a sturdy tripod, mirror lockup, and a cable rlease. You must avoid touching either lens or camera when the shutter speeds drop into the danger zone.

200 mm f/4 Nikkor

[non-AI, AI, AIS]

5
(F5)

4.5
(DX:D1X)

4-4.5
(DX:D2X)

IR:
2-3
(DX: D200 modified)

The latest versions (AI & AIS) of this slender, nicely-handling and unobtrusive telephoto are optical gems. It's impressively sharp even wide open and attains peak performance already from f/5.6 onwards. Beyond f/16 the quality gracefully declines. It works great with extension tubes and also with close-up lenses great results can be achieved. As common with true telephoto designs it is susceptible to flare, but ghosting rarely is a problem with it. The AIS version which is the slimmest of the two focuses most smoothly, whilst the AI lens has a markedly stiffer focusing action. They both share the same optical formula, though.

On the D2X, images are stunningly contrasty and sharp at f/4 to f/8, but from there on, detail sharpness starts to decline, contrast gets progressively lower, and chromatic aberration (CA) becomes visible. The amount of CA is not excessive and judicious post-processing can largely eliminate it, but since I foresee situations in which stopping down beyond f/8 is necessary, I have to downrate this nice lens just a fraction for D2X applications.

IR: the lens does not like IR too much, since there is a drop in image quality and an IR hot spot can be troublesome.

200 mm f/4 Nikkor-Q

[Non-AI, AI-modified]

2.5
(F2, F3)

 

IR:

4
(DX: D200 modified)

UV:
3.5
(DX: D200 modified)

Nikon delivered this 4-element design early in the 60's for the Nikon F and kept it in production for 2 decades. For its time it was a popular and well-regarded lens, but really the optical quality isn't that impressive by modern standards. It needs stopping down a bit to give good performance and f/8 would be a wise starting-point. Getting the successor to this 200 lens (described above) instead is yet another prudent move.

IR: Surprisingly, the IR performance of this old-timer is very good. No hot spots occur, and if you stop down to f/11, excellent results can be achieved. The red dot found on the lens barrel serves well to adjust focus for IR.

UV: Even more surprisingly, this old single-coated lens can be used for UV photography too. While the UV transmission compared to the reference lens, UV-Nikkor 105 mm f/4.5, isn't bad (-2 EV), you do need to stop down to get good sharpness and there is a signficant focus shift, more than in IR. If you don't expect miracles, this lens can be a cheap way of getting into UV photography.

 

 

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Last Update 15 January, 2009