180mm f/2.8 AF
Nikon 180mm f/2.8 AF-D (FX, DX and 35mm coverage, 72mm filters, 27 oz./750 g, 5'/1.5 m close focus, about $900 new or as little as $300 used). enlarge. My biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link to them at Adorama, at Amazon, and this link directly to them used at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Please always use these links when getting any of your gear so I can continue to share what I know. It helps me keep adding to this free website when you get yours through these links — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you buy elsewhere. Thanks for your support! Ken.
Green, Montaña de Oro, 3:23 PM, 12 April 2013. bigger, (1977 Nikon EL2, 1986 Nikon 180mm f/2.8 AF, Nikon A2 (81A) filter, Fuji Velvia 50, f/2.8 at 1/90 hand-held from bridge, process and scan at NCPS, Perfectly Clear.)
Sunset, Cambria, 7:28 PM, 12 April 2013. bigger. (1977 Nikon EL2, 1986 Nikon 180mm f/2.8 AF, Nikon A2 (81A) filter, Fuji Velvia 50, f/8 at 1/60 (set manually to ignore the sun's bright disk), process and scan at NCPS, Perfectly Clear.)
Red Storm Grate, Ragged Point, 3:50 PM, 13 April 2013. bigger. (1977 Nikon EL2, 1986 Nikon 180mm f/2.8 AF, Nikon A2 (81A) filter, Fuji Velvia 50, f/5 at 1/180, process and scan at NCPS, Perfectly Clear.)
Nikon has many numerous 180mm lenses since 1970. See Nikon 180mm History to read about what versions came out when. They are all excellent.
The current model, made since 1993, is this 180mm f/2.8 AF-D. It has the same optics and AF performance as the other versions of AF lens made since 1986. The only difference is the outer barrel covering (plastic or metal) and the manual focus ring and the presence or absence of an A/M switch. Therefore this review applies to all Nikon autofocus 180mm lenses.
The reason to get one of these 180mm lenses is because not only are its optics superior to any of Nikon's f/2.8 tele zooms, these fixed lenses are smaller and much lighter than any of the zooms.
8 elements in 6 groups.
It focuses by moving the internal elements (IF).
9 straight blades stopping down to f/22.
3.1" (78mm) around by 5.7" (145mm) long.
AF (all plastic exterior): 25.935 oz. (735.25g)
AF-n (metal exterior): 26.470 (750.5g)
AF-D (current model, metal exterior): 27.040 oz (766.6g).
AF-D: 27 oz (750g).
5 feet (1.5m).
Works great, unless you are using a step-up ring.
You can use a 72 -> 77mm step-up ring with no problem, other than it renders the built-in telescoping hood useless.
CL-38 (180 AF)
Nikon Product Number
AF speed is good, it's about 60% as fast as the 80-200/2.8 AF-S. Just make sure to have the lens' selector set to AF, otherwise you will slow down the entire system while the camera tries to drive the damped manual focus ring at the same time. The 70-210/4-5.6 AF-D is a little faster than the AF 180/2.8 and a little slower than the 80-200/2.8 AF-S.
One full turn of the AF screw focuses the lens from infinity to 35 feet. This is the same with all the AF versions (AF, AF-n and AF-D) of this lens.
It is a pain to switch between AF and manual focusing: you need to move the switch on both your camera body and the lens itself just like the original AF 300mm f/4.
Manual focusing is uniquely good among Nikkor AF lenses. The manual focus is actually damped as it ought to be, and does not run free and dry as the other AF lenses do. This is a particularly good choice if you only want to run in manual focus mode. It also screws up the AF action if you forget to disengage the manual focus ring with the A/M switch!
It has very little light falloff at f/2.8, which is much, much better than the 80-200/2.8 AF-S or other 80-200 f/2.8 zooms.
It is free from ghosts, again better than the 80-200/2.8 AF-S.
Distortion is just about invisible. If you look too hard at a photo of a wall you can almost convince yourself that there is a little pincushion distortion, but it really is just about invisible.
On my F100 there is a little AF error at closer than about 40 feet. AF is fine beyond 40 feet. However, if your subject is closer than 40 feet the camera tends to focus a little bit closer than it should, lowering sharpness when shooting at f/2.8.
This is the most compact f/2.8 lens in its focal length. Choose it if you need a fast, compact lens with swell optical and mechanical quality and if focus accuracy isn't too important to you at close distances. That accuracy is important to me, so I returned this lens.
If buying used, watch out for filthy rear aperture blades. This lens has no glass behind the diaphragm, so if you are buying a lens from a professional photographer he probably got all sorts of crap on those blades that he cannot clean off. Have a close look; if they are filthy they can get stuck and give overexposures that will ruin your photos.
For about the same amount of money you can get the 80-200 AF, which I would suggest for convenience's sake for most people.
If you've found all the time, effort and expense I put into researching and sharing all this, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.
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