Friday, March 11, 2016

Micro-Nikkor AI 200mm f/4 Review


It is often the case that you hear people saying something in the direction of: "If you're serious about macro, you need a 200mm lens". This might or might not be true for your individual needs, but it is an axiom in photography, for what it's worth. As a result, many people try to get their hands on a 200mm macro lens, and they quickly realize that the options are not many - and they're usually very expensive. This old micro-Nikkor AI 200mm f/4 lens seems like a very good deal. But is it really so?

No complaints, optically. IF you count your pixels, it's not as tack-sharp wide-open as something like the Tamron 90mm, but it's what I'd call "good enough"


+ Well built, no complaints at all. Way better than the micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 AF-S VR
+ manual focus is well implemented, allows for good precision.
+ Very good optical quality, no real complaints. Good bokeh, too

- f/4 doesn't look that bad on paper, until you realize the viewfinder is darker than f/2.8 - it can be critical for macro work.
- on the chunky side. Not something you wanna have around your neck while walking around
- wide-open is a tiny bit softer than more modern lenses, but I really don't think it's worth worrying about.

Intended Users

Great for:
  • As a dedicated macro lens is great, particularly for things you need to keep away (e.g. bugs)
  • Particularly good for those trying to experiment with the distance before committing to a more expensive lens.
  • patient people, who enjoy taking their time to set-up

Can you use it for other things, too? Well, yeah... Kinda. If they don't move a lot - or at all
Not for:
  • well, impatient people! This is a lens that requires support, and taking your time. Heck, macro is a kind of photography that requires particular patience.
  • If you're looking for a lens to be used for anything other than macro, look elsewhere. Too heavy, too large, no autofocus, no VR.
  • Entry-level DX. No metering, either.

Final Verdict

It's  not a bad lens at all. If you can find a good used copy at a low price, get one. I think you'll like it. Having said that, there's a lot of competition from modern lenses for roughly the same price. They're not as great in terms of construction quality, they're not 200mm, but it's hard to beat something like this, when it has autofocus and is a stop faster.

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