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Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 History
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January 2013   Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses    All Reviews

Nikon has made more than half a dozen completely different f/2.8 tele zooms.

Every pro has at least one of these on one of his cameras.

Since it's so popular, its limitations are what set the limits of performance of the Nikon system for pros. Therefore Nikon redesigns it about every five years to stay competitive.

All of them use ED glass, has 9 diaphragm blades and has supreme image quality. All the AF lenses take standard 77mm filters.

With few limitations, all these lenses work with all pro Nikon cameras made since 1959. Note the particulars of each lens and see Nikon Lens Compatibility for details with your camera.

 

Lens
Dates
Zoom
AF Speed
Close Focus
Max Repro Ratio

Tripod Collar

Optics
f/min
AF Lock Buttons
Focus Limiter
Filter

Length
(from flange)

Weight
Number Made
80-200mm f/2.8 AI
(prototype)
1978
Ring
none

8.2'

2.5m

1:11?
comes
off
12/9
f/32
none
none
86mm
196mm
1,700g
prototype only

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AI-s

80-200mm f/2.8 AI-s

1982-1988
Push-pull
none

8.2'

2.5m

1:11?
fixed
15/11
f/32
none
Friction clutch on
focus/zoom ring
95mm
223mm
1,900g
1,600

Nikon 80-200m f/2.8 AF

80-200mm f/2.8 AF

1988-1992
Push-pull
slow

5'

1.5m

1:5.9
none
16/11
f/22
none

Ring,
four positions:

Full
1.5-3m
3m-∞
5m-∞

77mm
176mm
1,270g
175,000

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 D

80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D

1993-1997
Push-pull
slow

5'

1.5m

1:5.9
none
16/11
f/22
none
slide
switch
77mm
187mm
1,300g
170,000

Nikon 80-200mm AF-D N

80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D
(new)

1997-
today
Ring
fast

5'

1.5m

1:5.9
not removable
16/11
f/22
none
slide
switch
77mm
188mm
1,275g

280,000

still in
production

Nikon 80-200mm AFSNikn 80-200mm AFSNikn 80-200mm AFS

80-200mm f/2.8 AF-S

1999-2004
Ring
fast

5'

1.5m

1:6.3
comes
off completely
18/14
f/22
3
Electronic switch:
Full or 2.5m-∞
77mm
207mm

1,550g

(1,470g w/o collar

65,000

Nikon 70-200mm VR

70-200mm f/2.8 VR G

2003-
2009
Ring
fast

5'

1.5m

1:5.6
Foot comes
off

21/15

5 ED

f/22
3
Electronic switch:
Full or 2.5m-∞
77mm
215mm
1,468g
275,000

Nikon 70-200mm VR II

70-200mm f/2.8 VR II

2009-
today
Ring
fast

4.6'

1.4m

1:8.3
Foot comes
off

21/16

7 ED

f/22
none
Electronic switch:
Full or 5m-∞
77mm
205.5mm

1,532g

1,452g w/o foot.

 

Nikon 70-200mmf/4 VR

70-200mm f/4 VR

2012-
today
Ring
fast

3.3'

1m

1:3.65

20/14

3 ED

1 HRI

f/32
none
Electronic switch:
Full or 3m-∞

67mm

plastic

178.5mm

846g w/o foot.

 

 

Timeline

1978

Nikon showed a prototype of the first 80-200mm f/2.8 ED. It was never sold or seen again. It took an 86mm filter, as did the 18mm f/4 of its day.

 

1982 - 1988

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AI-s

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AI-s. enlarge.

Nikon offered its first production manual focus 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AI-s, the world's fastest zoom for a 35mm camera. It takes a huge 95mm filter, and weighs over 4 pounds (1.9kg)! It takes the HN-25 screw-in spun anodized aluminum hood.

The tripod collar rotates but doesn't come off. There is also a clutch lock on the focus/zoom ring to lock the lens at any combination of focus and zoom. It's Nikon's only production f/2.8 zoom that stops down to f/32.

Nikon sold very few of these because it cost four times as much, and weighed over twice as much, as the 80-200mm f/4 AI-s. Another very significant reason you probably will never see one of these is that the 80-200mm f/4 was just as sharp, and focused twice as close.

The 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AI-s is an extraordinary lens, but the 80-200mm f/4 was far more practical.

In January of 1987, B&H Photo Video advertised it for $2,350, which is over $4,500 in 2008 corrected for inflation. For you collectors, the 58mm f/1.2 Noct, which sells today among collectors for over $3,000 used, sold for only $830 new. Nikon sold over 10,000 of the relatively common (among collectors) Noct-NIKKOR, but made less than 1,600 of these.

Don't worry, you don't want one of these beasts. They only focus to 8.2 feet (2.5m)!

 

1988 - 1992

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 AF

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AF. enlarge.

Nikon introduced its first autofocus pro zoom, the 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AF. You can identify this version by its big multi-position focus-limiter ring. It takes the HN-28 screw-in metal crinkle-coat hood.

It is optically excellent, but autofocus is slow. This lens and the F4 of its time just couldn't focus anywhere near as fast as the Canon EOS system, so sports pros went to Canon and have only started coming back in 2007 with the new D3.

The last few of these to leave the production line were updated to "D," as seen on their identity plates.

 

1993 - 1997

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 D. enlarge.

Nikon updated the mechanics and added the "D" feature, which like all modern Nikon lenses couples the focus distance to the camera for even better 3-D Matrix metering. It is especially effective for use with flash. The N90 was the first camera to use this distance information, and all Nikons use it today. It takes the HB-7 bayonet hood.

It looks the same as the original AF version above, differing only that:

1.) The aft barrel (the rear part with the focal length markings) is crinkle-coat instead of smooth.

2.) The multi-position focus limiter ring is replaced with a simpler and easier to use Limit/Full slide switch. Many of these switches fell off, leaving a hole in the lens which otherwise works swell throughout the entire focus range.

3.) The forebarrel is extended so the overall length is longer, and filters now screw into the fixed, extended front barrel. With the original AF lens, the front group and filter ring rotated and extended as focused. With this first AF-D lens, the filter stays put while the front group wiggles around inside the lens barrel.

4.) Says 1:2.8D on the identity plate instead of just 1:2.8.

This lens was Nikon product number 1985 NAS.

 

1997 - present

Nikon 80-200mm AFD N

Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AF-D (New).

In this new AF-D version, Nikon added:

1.) Much faster autofocusing.

2.) A built-in, non-removable tripod collar.

3.) Zoom is now a separate ring instead of push-pull combined with focus as every previous production lens has been.

The optics are still the same as the excellent original AF version of 1988, and used the same HB-7 bayonet hood as the previous D version.

Unless you want VR or shoot a D40, D40x, D60 or D5000, everyone ought to have one of these, since you can buy them brand-new for only about $1,100.

 

1999 - 2004

Nikon 80-200mm ED-IF AF-S

Nikon 80-200mm ED-IF AF-S (tripod collar removed). enlarge.

Nikon completely redid the optics and added an internal AF motor in this AF-S version. It sold for $1,500 when new. As an AF-S lens, it works great on even the D40, D40x, D60 and D5000, since it has an aperture ring, all manual focus Nikons made since 1977, and all of them back to 1959 if you have a coupling prong added. It takes the HB-17 plastic bayonet hood.

Nikon also added focus lock buttons, which are a huge convenience.

It has a removable tripod collar, which most people remove for hand-holding as shown above.

 

2003 - 2009

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 ED IF VR G AF-S. enlarge.

Another completely new design, this 70-200mm lens adds:

1.) Slightly expanded zoom range to 70mm.

2.) Image Stabilization (VR) for sharp hand-held shots in dimmer light.

Nikon gelded (removed) the aperture ring to save money, which renders this lens useless with manual-focus cameras. That's the "G" in the model name, and it's a handicap, not a feature.

Its only vice is that the corners are never super-duper sharp for landscape photographers at the 200mm end, but these lenses have always been for sports, low light and portraits, not tripods.

It takes the HB-29 plastic bayonet hood.

 

2009 - today

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 ED IF VR II AF-S. enlarge.

Another completely new design, this 70-200mm lens adds slightly closer focus and Nano-Crystal coating as it's gee-whiz features.

What's really important is that the corners are now as super-sharp as all the other lenses, not slightly duller as was the previous VR lens at 200mm.

I can't see any AF Lock buttons at the front, but I do see a ribbed plastic ring. I don't know if Nikon took that critical feature out, or got clever and made that entire ring a touch-strip for AF lock.

Image Stabilization (VR) is spiffed up, now claiming 4 stops, instead of 3 stops, improvement.

 

2012 - today

Nikon 70-200mm f/4 VR

Nikon 70-200mm f/4 VR with optional $200 RT-1 tripod collar.

Nikon''s first pro-level f/4 tele zoom was announced in late 2012. It has the highest rated MTF of any Nikon tele zoom, and performs spectacularly — at a fraction of the size, weight and price of the 70-200mm f/2.8 ED IF VR II

 

 

More Information

105mm Center Sharpness Comparison

105mm Corner Sharpness Comparison

200mm Center Sharpness Comparison

200mm Corner Sharpness Comparison

 

 

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October 2010