Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N
Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI (FX, DX and 35mm coverage, metal 52mm filter threads, 26.145 oz./741.2g, 6'/1.8m close focus, about $50 used). enlarge. I got mine at this direct link to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay).
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Sample Images (more in the review) top
See it in Full 36 MP resolution. Not bad for a $50 lens? It's spectacular for any lens!
Crop from above at 100%. If this is 6" on your screen, the full image would print at 50 x 75" (1.2 x 1.9 meters)!
Look at the detail in the glass; and this is with a $50 lens. Nikon never made any junk back in the old days, and today, their manual-focus Nikkors still turn out professional-level work.
I love the way this old sign captures the feeling of clean morning light draping across it.
This Zoom-NIKKOR 80-200mm f/4.5 N is one of Nikon's 10 Best Lenses because it's super sharp, made better than any other Nikon lens today and sells for only about $50 used. It is Nikon's lightest professional telephoto zoom of all time.
As Nikon's top professional zoom from 1977-1981, it sold for more than the equivalent of $1,800 — at full NYC discount!
It's as sharp as one of the world's best lens makers can possibly make it.
If you know how to focus, this is a spectacular lens for any professional assignment. Newer zooms cost more, but all they do is add autofocus and vibration reduction.
The "N" stands for "New." This is an improved version of the older 80-200mm f/4.5. This N lens is identified by the black rectangular rear baffle, not present in the older lens.
This manual-focus Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI works great with most Nikon cameras, 35mm and digital.
On DSLRs and the F6, use the "Non-CPU Lens Data" menu option to set f/4.5 and your choice of focal length to get full color matrix metering, EXIF data and finder read-out of set aperture. It works great in aperture-preferred as well as manual modes on these cameras. I set and use four profiles, one each for 80mm, 105mm, 135mm and 200mm, but that's just me.
The meters of cheaper digital (D3300, D90, D5500 and below) and cheaper 35mm AF cameras (N80 and below) will not couple (or work at all) with this lens, so you'll be on your own guessing exposure using the rear LCD, or get a tiny Gossen Digisix meter and hotshoe adapter, or use an app to meter manually.
See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details on your camera. Read down the "AI, AI-s" column for this lens.
1959 - 1961
Nikon's first zoom of any kind was the 85-250 mm f/4-4.5.
It weighed 71 oz., (2.01 kg), was a foot long, took 82mm/series 9 filters, had 16 elements in 9 groups and was only single coated. f/16 minimum aperture. It had a bizarre two-ring system: one push-pull for focal length and another ring for focus. Close focus was only 13' (4m) so it came with a close up lens to bring it to 8' (2.5m).
1959 - 1969
The 85-250 mm f/4-4.5, with one combined push-pull focus and zoom ring rules SLRdom.
It had a finger-operated lock to prevent the focal length from changing. It weighed 70 oz. (2 kg), took 82mm/series 9 filters, was a foot long, had 16 elements in 9 groups, and was only single coated. f/16 minimum aperture.
Close focus was only 13' (4m) so it came with a dedicated close-up lens to bring it to 8' (2.5m). This close-up lens has an engraved orange band on it, and this same orange colored band was used to designate the macro range of other lenses to this present day.
1969 - 1973
The 85-250 mm f/4 had a constant aperture, a first for Nikon.
It is multicoated, as are all newer lenses.
It's a foot long, 67 oz (1.9 kg), 16 elements in 9 groups, takes 82mm/series 9 filters.
Close focus was only 13' (4m), so it also came with a dedicated close-up lens to bring it to 8' (2.5m) — wow!
1969 - 1977
Nikon's first compact 80-200mm f/4.5 zoom.
It had 15 elements in 10 groups and a 52 mm filter.
Close focus was 6' or 1.8m.
It was greatly improved optically from the earlier lenses, and weighed less than half at 29.3 oz or 830 g!
1977 - 1981
This 80-200mm f/4.5 is called the "N" or "New" 80-200/4.5. It is similar to the previous lens, but with only 12 elements in 9 groups and gives even better performance.
It also has a 52 mm filter and 6'/1.8m close focus. It weighed a little less at 26.5 oz. or 750 g.
The easiest way to tell it apart from the earlier model f/4.5 is its rectangular rear blind.
1981 - c. 1995
The 80-200mm f/4 AI-s is a little faster, adds a 9-blade diaphragm and focuses even closer to 4'/1.2m, but it's bigger and takes a big 62mm filter.
1995 - present:
70-210mm f/4.5-5.6. 11 elements in 8 groups, 52 mm filter, 5 foot (1.5m) minimum focus, HR-1 hood.
This is an OK lens optically, but mechanically poorly made by Cosina for Nikon largely out of plastic. I'd pass on this lens.
2012 - present:
Made-in-Thailand and mostly plastic 70-200mm f/4 VR.
Nikon made about 160,000 of these 80-200mm f/4.5 N lenses. They were very popular because they are so good and so practical.
Because they were so popular when new, there are a zillion of them available used, which is why they are such a bargain today.
Nikon calls this the Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 80~200mm f/4.5 N.
12 elements in 9 groups.
It's multicoated, which Nikon calls Nikon Super Integrated Coating.
Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI at 200mm f/5.6.
7 straight blades.
Stops down to f/32.
Aperture Ring top
Close Focus top
Angle of View top
30.2° ~ 12.3º diagonal on FX and 35mm.
Focal Length top
On a small-format DX camera, this lens makes pictures that see an angle-of-view similar to what a 120-300mm lens would see on a full-frame camera.
Hard Infinity Focus Stop? top
This is great for astronomy; just turn to the stop and you have fixed laboratory-perfect focus all night.
Focus Scale top
Depth-of-Field Scale top
Yes, colored lines corresponding to the colored f/stops on the aperture ring.
Infra-Red Focus Index top
Yes: the red line in the depth-of-field scale.
Rotates as focussed.
Nikon specifies 6.06" (154mm) extension from flange by 2.86" (73mm) diameter.
26.145 oz. (741.2g), actual measured.
Nikon specifies 26.5 oz. (750g).
HN-7 screw-in metal hood.
CL-35A or number 63.
Made in Japan.
Nikon says use the TC-200/201 or TC-14A.
Price, USA top
In the 1970s it sold new for the equivalent of over $1,800 at discount at B&H ($569 at the time in 1979 and $469 in 1977 not considering inflation). Very few people bought their lenses this inexpensively back then and usually paid much more at retail.
The 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI is an extremely well-made zoom with excellent optical and mechanical performance.
Manual focus is as smooth as silk, perfectly damped with no play.
You can focus and zoom with only a light touch from a single fingertip.
Manual focus is flawless, both with a real camera like the Nikon F3, or with the three-way ( " > o < " ) manual focus indicators on better DSLRs and most professional AF cameras.
DX DSLRs may only have one "OK" focus dot, which is not as precise as two arrows and a dot. You'd have to be silly to use this on DX; the 18-55mm kit lens is a smarter idea on DX.
Bokeh, the character of out-of-focus backgrounds, not simply how far out of focus they are, is marvelous. Out of focus backgrounds are always soft and undistracting.
Full-frame shot wide-open at 80mm at close-focus at f/4.5. © Camera-original file.
Full-frame shot wide-open at 200mm at f/4.5. © Camera-original file.
The color rendition of this multicoated Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N matches my other modern NIKKORs.
The Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N has the usual moderate barrel distortion at 80mm, and no visible distortion between 105mm and 200mm.
Use these figures in Photoshop's lens distortion filter for more critical use. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.
© 2015 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI. bigger.
Grab and go; the Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N's ergonomics are great.
Everything glides so smoothly that it's easy to focus and zoom with no more than the light touch of a single fingertip! Remember that this was nearly a $2,000 lens in its day, Nikon's glory days of being the undisputed professional leader.
Aperture setting is as expected, just turn the ring. Real shooters can set it with their eyes closed; we count clicks, and we can do it with a single fingertip.
Falloff on FX is invisible at every setting.
I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background, and even here you can't see much of any falloff:
I see no problems with vignetting, even with a couple of 52mm filters.
Watch it with polarizers and split NDs: the front rotates as you focus.
Of interest mostly to cinematographers focusing back and forth between two subjects, the image from the Nikon 80-200mm f/4 gets slightly larger as focused more closely.
Ghosts and flare are no problem for normal shooting, but you will get some if the sun us shining directly into your lens.
It tends to be less visible at larger apertures:
Barstow, 7AM Sunday morning, 08 February 2015.
There are none throughout most of the full frame of the D810, which corrects them automatically.
There are some very minor violet-yellow lateral color fringes in the far corners of the D810 at the 200mm end. They'd never be noticed on 35mm film, and are pretty much invisible even at 36 MP.
It doesn't get very close, but it is very sharp, even wide-open:
Omega Constellation at close-focus distance at 200mm at f4.5 on full-frame.
Crop from above image at 100%, shot at f/4.5 at ISO 100 on a 36 MP D810. If this is 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, the full image would print at 50 x 75" (1.25 x 1.9 meters)!
Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI. enlarge.
Like all Nikkor manual focus lenses, the Nikon NIKKOR 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI is built to the highest mechanical standards of any lens ever made.
Anodized and enameled aluminum.
Combined Focus and Zoom Ring
Metal, rubber covered.
Feels like brass: smooth and silky with no play or need for damping grease.
Engraved into barrel and filled with different colors of paint.
Cast aluminum, anodized and enameled.
Engraved markings filled with different colors of paint coded to the depth-of-field scale.
Automatic Aperture-Coupling Prong
Stamped stainless steel.
Engraved into the metal and filled with paint.
Identity and Serial Number
Engraved into the metal outside the filter threads and filled with paint.
Moisture Seal at Mount
Noises When Shaken
Lots of clunking.
With those caveats, the 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI is super-sharp. It's super-sharp, even at 36 megapixels wide-open at f/4.5.
Of course at f/11 and smaller, diffraction limits performance, and otherwise this is a super-duper sharp lens.
With its straight 7-bladed diaphragm, the 80-200mm f/4.5 N makes magnificent 14-pointed sunstars on brilliant points of light.
This is Nikon's most constantly sharp manual-focus telephoto zoom. While the newer 80-200mm f/4 AI-s focuses much closer, this lens is much lighter and at least as sharp.
This is also Nikon's lightest professional telephoto zoom of all time.
This Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N is a manual-focus only lens. It's a great choice for any manual-focus Nikon, and also works great with all of Nikon's full-frame digital cameras. It's lightweight, extremely well made and super-sharp — and for about $50 used, the best deal of any Nikon telephoto for the bargain-shopping shooter.
Not only is it sharp and light and a miracle of mechanical precision, it's also small and light and takes standard 52mm filters.
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07 May 2015