Monday, June 10, 2013

Nikkor AF-D 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6

I actually bought this lens not to review it and then sell it forward, but to keep it - at least for now. As you might remember if you read my blog regularly, I have very limited use for teles. I mostly photograph people and landscapes (and landscapes not professionally but merely for my own pleasure). And so, despite having used some pretty great tele lenses, I never felt the need to own one. Well, this changed recently, as realized I will be needing a bit more reach for some very specific assignments. Knowing those will be taking place in daylight, I realized I didn't need any heavy and expensive f/2.8 tele, so I chose the 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6.

+ amazing bang for the buck.
+ excellent image quality stopped down, very good wide open between 80-150mm
+ cheap, light, small, and Full-Frame-compatible!

- as expected, at 200mm and wide-open the image quality is only acceptable. Definitely not bad, but nothing to be thrilled about either.
- autofocus just a bit on the slow side.
- clearly not meant for low light.

200mm and f/8 solves most of the issues the lens has wide-open. It's fine, really.

Intended Users
Great for:
  • those like me, who need a cheap but decent tele for daylight use.
  • if you need a light, cheap, expendable but great optically tele-zoom at a very competitive price, this is it.
  • together with a 28-80mm zoom, it'd make a dirt-cheap but very capable FF combo.

Not for:
  • entry-level cameras. Autofocus requires a body motor
  • those who can't/won't use tripods. Depending on the light, 200mm @f/5.6 and no VR might be an issue
  • sports/action. Slightly on the slow-side autofocus.

Final Verdict
I bought a copy in excellent condition for only $40. At this price level, you get Nikkor quality (OK, consumer maybe, but still very decent), autofocus, and 80-200mm zoom. Not bad at all. What you give away? Well, the maximum aperture is f/5.6 at 200mm (although this is by no means unusual), and some wide-open performance at the long end.

In the end - and now I'm explaining my own purchasing decision, hoping to show you how you should be thinking your options - I wanted to get a very cheap tele zoom that would allow me to take reasonably decent photos in plenty of daylight. That made my life much easier, as it meant I wouldn't have to go for the big and expensive f/2.8 zooms. Pretty much, the options were either something like an AF-S 55-200mm (being only DX, though), or something even cheaper than that. The 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6 felt like a better option for me. Compared to the AF-S 55-200mm, I only gave up VR - and I even gained Full-Frame compatibility.

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