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Nikon 80-200mm f/4
Zoom-NIKKOR AI-s (1981-1998)
© 2013 KenRockwell.com

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

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Nikon 80-200mm f/4 AI-s

Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 80-200mm f/4 AI-s. (FX, DX and 35mm coverage, 62mm metal filter thread, 28.6 oz./810g, 4'/1.2 m close focus, about $100 used). enlarge. My biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) or at Adorama, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

January 2013   Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses    All Reviews

 

Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I use these stores. I can't vouch for ads below.

This constant-aperture f/4 manual focus push-pull zoom was introduced in 1981. It replaces the earlier f/4.5 version. It's the best manual focus, general purpose telephoto zoom ever made by Nikon. This is also the last manual focus telephoto zoom ever made by Nikon. Today only the normal and wide-to-tele manual focus zooms are still actually made by Nikon.

Feel free to skip to specifications if you're not interested in the history of the earlier models.

 

Compatibility

On the D3, D300, D200, D2 and F6, use the "Non-CPU Lens Data" menu option to get full 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.

If you want the EXIF to read the correct focal length as you zoom, assign four memories to 80mm and f/4, 105mm and f/4, 135mm and f/4 and 200mm and f/4. Set the function button to let you select among these settings as you zoom. Feel free to include 90mm, too, and don't worry about it if you don't care. Exposure will be fine, even if you don't bother to change it to get the EXIF data correct as you zoom.

The meter of cheaper digital (D80 and below) and cheaper film cameras (N80 and below) will not couple of work this lens, so you'll be on your own guessing exposure using the rear LCD or an external meter.

It works perfectly every professional film camera (F, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6), and adds Matrix metering on the FA, F4 and F6.

See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details on your camera. Read down the "AI, AI-s" column for this lens.

 

History

1959 - 1961

Nikon's first zoom 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

85-250 mm f/4 - 4.5, one combined push-pull focus and zoom ring. 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 close up lens to bring it to 8' (2.5m).

 

1969 - 1973

85-250 mm f/4, multicoated, as are all newer lenses. A foot long, 67 oz (1.9 kg), 16 elements in 9 groups, took 82mm/series 9 filters. Close focus was only 13' (4m) so it came with a close up lens to bring it to 8' (2.5m).

 

1969 - 1977

First compact 80-200 mm 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

80-200 mm f/4.5. It was similar to the previous lens, but with only 12 elements in 9 groups gave even better performance. It also had a 52 mm filter and 6' or 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 is its rectangular rear blind.

 

1981 - c. 1995

This 80-200 mm f/4 AI-s to which this page is devoted and for which the specifications are below.

 

1995 - present:

70-210 mm 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, however it's made by Cosina for Nikon largely out of plastic. You can see more about it here on my site and here on Nikon's site. I'd look for a superior used 80 - 200 f/4 if you can find one.

 

2012 - present:

Made-in-Thailand and mostly plastic 70-200mm f/4 VR.

 

Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

Name: Nikon calls this the Nikon Zoom-Nikkor 80-200 mm f/4 AI-s.

Optics: 13 elements in 9 groups. Multicoated.

Diaphragm: 9 blades. Stops down to f/32.

Close Focus: 4 feet (1.2m) at all focal lengths.

Macro Reproduction Ratio: 1:4.4 maximum at 200 mm.

Filter Size: 62mm. Rotates with focus and extends with zooming.

Size: 2.9" (73 mm) diameter by 6.4" (162 mm) long overall. 6.1" (154 mm) extension from lens flange. This is at 80mm; it extends as zoomed towards 200 mm.

Weight: 28.6 ounces or 810 g.

Price: Listed at $940 at B&H new in December 1996. Today you can get them for about $100.

OPTIONAL

HN-23 screw-in metal hood (same hood as the 85mm f/1.8 AF).

CL-35A hard case (fake leather).

Number 63 lens pouch.

TC-200, TC-201 and TC-14A teleconverters. Nikon cautions there may be some vignetting with the TC-14A.

 

Performance         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

In 1985 Nikon said it's an improved version of their f/4.5 80 - 200, which even Nikon brags is one of the world's sharpest zooms. Nikon 80 - 200 zooms have always been fabulous.

 

Sharpness

It's sharp, sharp, sharp at every setting. On the D3, at 200mm and f/4 in the far corner you almost can see some softening, but just barely. This is an excellent, excellent lens.

Compared to the newest 70-200mm f/4 VR, this lens is a bit better at most focal lengths, while the 70-200mm f/4 VR is better at 200mm.

 

Distortion

Plug these figures into Photoshop's lens distortion filter to correct the distortion. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

 
FX at infinity
DX at infinity
80mm
+3.4
-1.0
105mm
+1.0
+0.2
135mm
0.0
0.0
200mm
-1.3
-0.2

© 2007 KenRockwell.com

 

Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

This is the best manual focus telephoto zoom for Nikon. Of course if you can find one of the huge (95 mm filter) manual focus 80 - 200mm f/2.8s don't let me stop you, but for my bag I'd get one of these if I wanted a manual focus tele zoom.

Of course all the AF, except the G, lenses also work great on manual cameras. You could use any of the AF 70-210 lenses. I find the focusing of the dedicated manual lenses like this much better than focusing an AF lens manually.

If selecting a zoom for use on manual cameras, pay attention to it having one or two rings. Skilled photographers usually prefer one combined ring (also called "One Touch" zooms) for focus and zoom for action, while slower-working photographers with less skill (like me) prefer separate rings for zoom and focus.

 

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Thanks for reading!

 

 

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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2007, February 2008