Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Reviewing the Nikkor AF 80-200mm f/2.8

A lens review, after quite some time - indeed, I think last time I reviewed a lens was in April, when I offered you my view on the Tokina AF 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. Today's review will also involve a venerable old piece of equipment, the Nikon Nikkor AF 80-200mm f/2.8. Notice that there are two different versions out there, the one features a more modern rotating zoom barrel, while the other one is a bit more retro push-pull one. They're optically more or less the same. There is also a newer, AF-S lens with the same specs. The review is about the older AF version, with the push-pull mechanism.

If you're shooting in low light, a couple
of extra stops are great to have

+ incredibly versatile tele, suitable for many different situations
+ perfectly acceptable image quality, even wide-open
+ used models go for very cheap

- big, heavy (the price to pay for constant f/2.8 aperture)
- no VR means you'll have to either consider your support options, or adjust the shutter speed
- if you're one of those people counting pixels, it's not as superb as the Nikon Nikkor 70-200mm AF-S f/2.8

Intended Users
Great for:
  • Shooting sports or low light on a budget? Look no further
  • Ditto for those wanting to check a 80-200 f/2.8 zoom before committing to a more expensive option.
  • Weddings, with a wide-angle zoom on a second body

Needless to say, if you're a film shooter
you'll be very satisfied with this lens

Not for:
  • A poor traveling lens - you'll be frustrated by its size & weight
  • As mentioned above, if you're counting your pixels, you'll find some minor flaws - seriously, who looks at the corners of an f/2.8 lens?
  • Entry-level Nikons (e.g. the Nikon D3400). This lens requires a body with a focus motor. Trying to manually focus a 200mm f/2.8 lens on a camera with a small viewfinder is a nightmare.

Final Verdict
A fine older lens, pretty easy to find in the used market. Its value is unbeatable, as it offer autofocus (with higher camera models anyway) and a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the 80-200mm range. Are there "better" lenses out there? Yes, but not at this price level. Often people ask for recommendations for a budget-friendly fast tele. I usually tell them that the best possible image quality at around this price is the Nikkor AF 180mm f/2.8, adding however that the 80-200mm f/2.8 is a far more flexible deal.

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