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Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N
AI Zoom-NIKKOR (1977-1981)
© KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

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Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 n

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI (FX, DX and 35mm coverage, metal 52mm filter threads, 26.145 oz./741.2g, 6'/1.8m close focus, about $50 used). enlarge. I got mine at this direct link to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay).

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

 

June 2015      Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses   All Reviews

105mm center sharpness comparison    

105mm corner sharpness comparison   

200mm center sharpness comparison

200mm corner sharpness comparison

 

Sample Images     (more in the review)  top

Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Motel Henning Neon Sign in Daylight

Motel Henning Neon Sign in Daylight, 11:35 AM. Nikon D810, Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 80~200mm f/4.5 N at 135mm at f/11 at 1/250 at Auto ISO 100

See it in Full 36 MP resolution. Not bad for a $50 lens? It's spectacular for any lens!

 

Last Light on Windows with Shadow, West Barstow

Last Light on Windows with Shadow, West Barstow, 5:14 PM. Nikon D810, Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 80~200mm f/4.5 N at 200mm, f/11 at 1/250 at Auto ISO 400. bigger.

 

Last Light on Colorful Boarded-Up Broken Window, West Barstow

Last Light on Colorful Boarded-Up Broken Window, West Barstow, 5:14 PM. Nikon D810, Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 80~200mm f/4.5 N at 80mm, f/4.5 at 1/80 at Auto ISO 560. bigger.

 

Lamp Pole, Barstow Station

Lamp, Barstow. Nikon D810, 80-200mm f/4.5n Zoom-NIKKOR AI at 135mm, f/8 at 1/250 handheld at ISO 100, processed in Perfectly Clear. Bigger or full 36 MP resolution.

 

Lamp Pole, Barstow Station

Crop from above at 100%. If this is 6" on your screen, the full image would print at 50 x 75" (1.2 x 1.9 meters)!

Look at the detail in the glass; and this is with a $50 lens. Nikon never made any junk back in the old days, and today, their manual-focus Nikkors still turn out professional-level work.

 

Road Runner's Retreat Sign in Black & White

Road Runner's Retreat Sign in Black & White, 3:03 PM. Nikon D810, Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 80~200mm f/4.5 N at 180mm at f/11 at 1/500 at Auto ISO 100, split-toned print. bigger.

 

Heavily Loaded Freight Train Heading East into Barstow at Dawn

Heavily Loaded Freight Train Heading East into Barstow at Dawn, 7:03 AM. Nikon D810, Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 80~200mm f/4.5 N at 135mm at f/8 at 1/160 at Auto ISO 280. bigger or Full resolution.

 

"Stay Back" Painted on Yellow Band on Bricks at Barstow Station

"Stay Back" Painted on Yellow Band on Bricks at Barstow Station, 7:31 AM. Nikon D810, Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 80~200mm f/4.5 N at 135mm at f/16 at 1/160 at Auto ISO 800. bigger.

 

Morning Light on Old Porcelain AAA Road Sign at the Bottle House, Route 66

Morning Light on Old Porcelain AAA Road Sign at the Bottle House, Route 66, 10:23 AM. Nikon D810, Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 80~200mm f/4.5 N at 80mm at f/8 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 100. bigger.

I love the way this old sign captures the feeling of clean morning light draping across it.

 

Introduction       top

Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Compatibility    History    Production

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This Zoom-NIKKOR 80-200mm f/4.5 N is one of Nikon's 10 Best Lenses because it's super sharp, made better than any other Nikon lens today and sells for only about $50 used. It is Nikon's lightest professional telephoto zoom of all time.

As Nikon's top professional zoom from 1977-1981, it sold for more than the equivalent of $1,800 — at full NYC discount!

It's as sharp as one of the world's best lens makers can possibly make it.

If you know how to focus, this is a spectacular lens for any professional assignment. Newer zooms cost more, but all they do is add autofocus and vibration reduction.

The "N" stands for "New." This is an improved version of the older 80-200mm f/4.5. This N lens is identified by the black rectangular rear baffle, not present in the older lens.

 

Compatibility       intro     top

This manual-focus Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI works great with most Nikon cameras, 35mm and digital.

On DSLRs and the F6, use the "Non-CPU Lens Data" menu option to set f/4.5 and your choice of focal length to get full color 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. I set and use four profiles, one each for 80mm, 105mm, 135mm and 200mm, but that's just me.

It works flawlessly with every manual focus Nikon ever made, from the original Nikon F of 1959 through the FM3a and today's FM-10.

It works perfectly on every professional 35mm camera (F, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6), and adds Matrix metering on the FA, F4 and F6.

The meters of cheaper digital (D3300, D90, D5500 and below) and cheaper 35mm AF cameras (N80 and below) will not couple (or work at all) with this lens, so you'll be on your own guessing exposure using the rear LCD, or get a tiny Gossen Digisix meter and hotshoe adapter, or use an app to meter manually.

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

 

History        intro       top

1959 - 1961

Nikon's first zoom of any kind 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

The 85-250 mm f/4-4.5, with one combined push-pull focus and zoom ring rules SLRdom.

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 dedicated close-up lens to bring it to 8' (2.5m). This close-up lens has an engraved orange band on it, and this same orange colored band was used to designate the macro range of other lenses to this present day.

 

1969 - 1973

The 85-250 mm f/4 had a constant aperture, a first for Nikon.

It is multicoated, as are all newer lenses.

It's a foot long, 67 oz (1.9 kg), 16 elements in 9 groups, takes 82mm/series 9 filters.

Close focus was only 13' (4m), so it also came with a dedicated close-up lens to bring it to 8' (2.5m) — wow!

 

1969 - 1977

Nikon's first compact 80-200mm 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

This 80-200mm f/4.5 is called the "N" or "New" 80-200/4.5. It is similar to the previous lens, but with only 12 elements in 9 groups and gives even better performance.

It also has a 52 mm filter and 6'/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 f/4.5 is its rectangular rear blind.

 

1981 - c. 1995

The 80-200mm f/4 AI-s is a little faster, adds a 9-blade diaphragm and focuses even closer to 4'/1.2m, but it's bigger and takes a big 62mm filter.

 

1995 - present:

70-210mm 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 optically, but mechanically poorly made by Cosina for Nikon largely out of plastic. I'd pass on this lens.

 

2012 - present:

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

 

Production        intro       top

Nikon made about 160,000 of these 80-200mm f/4.5 N lenses. They were very popular because they are so good and so practical.

Because they were so popular when new, there are a zillion of them available used, which is why they are such a bargain today.

 

Specifications         top

Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

 

Name

Nikon calls this the Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 80~200mm f/4.5 N.

 

Optics            top

12 elements in 9 groups.

It's multicoated, which Nikon calls Nikon Super Integrated Coating.

 

Diaphragm            top

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 n

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI at 200mm f/5.6.

7 straight blades.

Stops down to f/32.

 

Aperture Ring            top

Yes.

Metal.

Full-stop clicks.

 

Close Focus            top

6 feet.

1.8 meters.

 

Angle of View        top

30.2° ~ 12.3º diagonal on FX and 35mm.

 

Focal Length        top

80-200mm.

On a small-format DX camera, this lens makes pictures that see an angle-of-view similar to what a 120-300mm lens would see on a full-frame camera.

 

Hard Infinity Focus Stop?            top

Yes.

This is great for astronomy; just turn to the stop and you have fixed laboratory-perfect focus all night.

 

Focus Scale            top

Yes.

Very precise.

 

Depth-of-Field Scale            top

Yes, colored lines corresponding to the colored f/stops on the aperture ring.

 

Infra-Red Focus Index            top

Yes: the red line in the depth-of-field scale.

 

Filters            top

52mm.

Metal threads.

Rotates as focussed.

 

Size            top

Nikon specifies 6.06" (154mm) extension from flange by 2.86" (73mm) diameter.

 

Weight            top

26.145 oz. (741.2g), actual measured.

Nikon specifies 26.5 oz. (750g).

 

Hood            top

HN-7 screw-in metal hood.

 

Case            top

CL-35A or number 63.

 

Quality            top

Made in Japan.

 

Teleconverters            top

Nikon says use the TC-200/201 or TC-14A.

 

Price, USA            top

2015 May: About $50 used if you know How to Win at eBay.

In the 1970s it sold new for the equivalent of over $1,800 at discount at B&H ($569 at the time in 1979 and $469 in 1977 not considering inflation). Very few people bought their lenses this inexpensively back then and usually paid much more at retail.

 

Performance       top

Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

Overall   Focus    Bokeh    Color   Distortion   Ergonomics

Falloff    Filters   Focus Breathing    Ghosts & Flare

Color Fringes   Macro     Mechanics    Sharpness   Sunstars

 

Overall      performance     top

The 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI is an extremely well-made zoom with excellent optical and mechanical performance.

 

Focus      performance     top

Manual focus is as smooth as silk, perfectly damped with no play.

You can focus and zoom with only a light touch from a single fingertip.

Manual focus is flawless, both with a real camera like the Nikon F3, or with the three-way ( " > o < " ) manual focus indicators on better DSLRs and most professional AF cameras.

DX DSLRs may only have one "OK" focus dot, which is not as precise as two arrows and a dot. You'd have to be silly to use this on DX; the 18-55mm kit lens is a smarter idea on DX.

 

Bokeh      performance     top

Bokeh, the character of out-of-focus backgrounds, not simply how far out of focus they are, is marvelous. Out of focus backgrounds are always soft and undistracting.

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N bokeh

Full-frame shot wide-open at 80mm at close-focus at f/4.5. © Camera-original file.

 

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N bokeh

Full-frame shot wide-open at 200mm at f/4.5. © Camera-original file.

 

Color Rendition      performance     top

The color rendition of this multicoated Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N matches my other modern NIKKORs.

 

Distortion      performance     top

The Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N has the usual moderate barrel distortion at 80mm, and no visible distortion between 105mm and 200mm.

Use these figures in Photoshop's lens distortion filter for more critical use. 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
+1.3
105mm
+1.1
+0.1
135mm
0.0
0.0
200mm
-1.0
-1.0

© 2015 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

Ergonomics      performance     top

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 n

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI. bigger.

Grab and go; the Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N's ergonomics are great.

Everything glides so smoothly that it's easy to focus and zoom with no more than the light touch of a single fingertip! Remember that this was nearly a $2,000 lens in its day, Nikon's glory days of being the undisputed professional leader.

Aperture setting is as expected, just turn the ring. Real shooters can set it with their eyes closed; we count clicks, and we can do it with a single fingertip.

 

Falloff (darkened corners)          performance     top

Falloff on FX is invisible at every setting.

I've exaggerated this by shooting a gray field and placing these on a gray background, and even here you can't see much of any falloff:

 

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI falloff on FX and film at infinity, no correction.

 
f/4.5
f/5.6
f/8
80mm Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N falloff Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N falloff Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N falloff
105mm Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N falloff Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N falloff Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N falloff
135mm Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N falloff Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N falloff Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N falloff
200mm Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N falloff Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N falloff Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N falloff

© 2015 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Filters, Use with      performance     top

I see no problems with vignetting, even with a couple of 52mm filters.

Watch it with polarizers and split NDs: the front rotates as you focus.

 

Focus Breathing       performance     top

Of interest mostly to cinematographers focusing back and forth between two subjects, the image from the Nikon 80-200mm f/4 gets slightly larger as focused more closely.

 

Ghosts & Flare       performance     top

Ghosts and flare are no problem for normal shooting, but you will get some if the sun us shining directly into your lens.

It tends to be less visible at larger apertures:

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N Ghosts

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N Ghosts

Barstow, 7AM Sunday morning, 08 February 2015.

 

Lateral Color Fringes      performance     top

There are none throughout most of the full frame of the D810, which corrects them automatically.

There are some very minor violet-yellow lateral color fringes in the far corners of the D810 at the 200mm end. They'd never be noticed on 35mm film, and are pretty much invisible even at 36 MP.

 

Macro      performance     top

It doesn't get very close, but it is very sharp, even wide-open:

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N macro performance

Omega Constellation at close-focus distance at 200mm at f4.5 on full-frame.

 

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N macro performance

Crop from above image at 100%, shot at f/4.5 at ISO 100 on a 36 MP D810. If this is 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, the full image would print at 50 x 75" (1.25 x 1.9 meters)!

 

Mechanics      performance     top

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 n

Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI. enlarge.

Like all Nikkor manual focus lenses, the Nikon NIKKOR 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI is built to the highest mechanical standards of any lens ever made.

 

Barrel Exterior

Anodized and enameled aluminum.

 

Filter Threads

Anodized aluminum.

 

Combined Focus and Zoom Ring

Metal, rubber covered.

 

Focus Helicoids

Feels like brass: smooth and silky with no play or need for damping grease.

 

Depth-of-Field Scale

Engraved into barrel and filled with different colors of paint.

 

Internals

All metal.

 

Aperture Ring

Cast aluminum, anodized and enameled.

Engraved markings filled with different colors of paint coded to the depth-of-field scale.

 

Automatic Aperture-Coupling Prong

Stamped stainless steel.

 

Mount

Dull-chromed brass.

 

Markings

Engraved into the metal and filled with paint.

 

Identity and Serial Number

Engraved into the metal outside the filter threads and filled with paint.

 

Moisture Seal at Mount

No.

 

Noises When Shaken

Lots of clunking.

 

Made in

Japan.

 

Sharpness      performance     top

Warning 1: Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens.

Warning 2: Lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers.

With those caveats, the 80-200mm f/4.5 N AI is super-sharp. It's super-sharp, even at 36 megapixels wide-open at f/4.5.

Of course at f/11 and smaller, diffraction limits performance, and otherwise this is a super-duper sharp lens.

 

Sunstars      performance     top

Red VW Beetle Fender with sunstar

Red VW Beetle Fender with sunstar, 12:11 PM. Nikon D810, Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 80~200mm f/4.5 N at 135mm at f/11 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 100.

With its straight 7-bladed diaphragm, the 80-200mm f/4.5 N makes magnificent 14-pointed sunstars on brilliant points of light.

 

Compared        top

Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

 

This is Nikon's most constantly sharp manual-focus telephoto zoom. While the newer 80-200mm f/4 AI-s focuses much closer, this lens is much lighter and at least as sharp.

This is also Nikon's lightest professional telephoto zoom of all time.

 

105mm center sharpness comparison    

105mm corner sharpness comparison   

200mm center sharpness comparison

200mm corner sharpness comparison

 

Recommendations       top

Sample Images   Intro   Specifications

Performance   Compared   Recommendations

This Nikon 80-200mm f/4.5 N is a manual-focus only lens. It's a great choice for any manual-focus Nikon, and also works great with all of Nikon's full-frame digital cameras. It's lightweight, extremely well made and super-sharp — and for about $50 used, the best deal of any Nikon telephoto for the bargain-shopping shooter.

Not only is it sharp and light and a miracle of mechanical precision, it's also small and light and takes standard 52mm filters.

If you've found the time, effort and expense I put into researching and sharing all this, this ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

 

Help me help you         top

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Thanks for reading!

 

 

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

 

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07 May 2015