180mm f/2.8 ED - well worth the praise!

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Ian Rance, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. As I mentioned in my previous thread, I picked up one of these from a charity shop. I know that this lens is highly regarded and it was only after I had my roll back from the hour service that I realised HOW nice it really is.
    The sharpness, colour and contrast are first rate - and the bokeh is smooth too! Now, I am totally new to this lens, but if anyone cares too offer some guidance on its use (what apertures are best and anything to look out for in its useage) I am always appreciative.
    I attach a photp from my first roll - nothing thrilling, but I am pleased with the lens for sure.
    00UAem-163427584.JPG
     
  2. Thom Hogan calls the optics of the 180mm "stunning." Do you have the AF or AF-D version?
     
  3. Best aperture? For portraits I generally use it wide open or stopped down to f/4, tops. While I'm not a serious bokeh addict and normally prefer to stop down for maximum sharpness, the 180/2.8 is a charm wide open. It's almost a shame not to use it that way.
    For details and closeups, f/8-f/11. Give it a try with an extension tube. It's a remarkably good lens for closeups. I use my pre-AI 180/2.8 with the M2 extension tube that came with my 55/3.5 Micro Nikkor, which is the only way I can use the 180/2.8 on my D2H and FM2N. Even with razor thin DOF the results are great, as long as the composition and subject matter are worthwhile.
    The attached photo is a 1:1 crop.
    00UAgx-163449584.jpg
     
  4. This lens is a gem. I bought one used for $245 last year and it was money well-spent. There have been some threads here recently in which Nikon's pro zooms have been recommended over primes, but I haven't used a zoom yet that can compare to the 180's performance. It is just superb.
     
  5. Yes, this is one of Nikon's very best, I have the AF-D ED-IF and use it either on my N90 or D200. I usually go from 2.8 to f8. If I use it in the studio for face shots it will be at f8. Because I used to use it in the studio, this is one lens I have warming filters and softeners for it, it works real nice with a Hoya A softener.
     
  6. I have the (early) AF version. Many photos here taken with it
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/80702381@N00/
    Shoot the sucker wide open. Thats what makes the "money shots" and its what people pay for (well normally - I read your post about how little you paid, lucky devil) - the ability to separate the subject from the background and produce that creamy bokeh.
    Check out my photo of the lady photographer shooting the clown - who is nothing more than a shmooshed out blur due to this lenses bokeh. Very impressive but be aware that this same effect can produce blobs of undefinded color in the background that can actually go over the top and be distracting. Which arguably is true in that picture but I was experimenting with the bokeh. Check out also the girls playing the violin - very nice.
     
  7. This is one of my favorite lenses of all time (I have the AF D version). It's practical, sharp, contrasty, etc. The size makes it comparatively unnoticeable. The light weight means you can carry it all day without noticing it.
    Wide open there is a bit of CA type thing, stop it down a bit (f/3.5) if you want a perfect image (I don't hesitate using it wide open but it can do better stopped down). I think the useable aperture range is quite wide; f/2.8 to f/11.
    The only drawback to this lens as far as I am concerned is the fact that it is a little finicky to manual focus and of course it would be nice to have AF-S. I even own the 200/2 yet I use the 180 much more than that. Not because the 180 is better - it isn't, but because it's practical and only very subtly inferior optically.
     
  8. I love this lens. Performs optimally at f4 - f11.
    Congratulations on your new purchase.
    D
     
  9. I've been thinking about getting myself a copy of the 180, but I'm not sure whether to go for a new(ish) AF-D version or settle for an older AF version, which lacks the distance feature (not to mention is necessarily a bit older in terms of physical age). Does anyone miss the 3D matrix metering with the non-D versions, or is that a complete afterthought?
     
  10. Thank you all for your thoughts.
    Josh - mine is the manual focus Ai-S version.
    Lex, that looks wicked sharp. I still need to get a ring for my 55mm Micro - and when I do I will be sure to try it on the 180.
    Peter - thank you for the link. Glad you like your 180 too!
    Illka - I hear that the 200mm f/2 is something special, so that the 180mm is in the same league says something does'nt it?
    Ian
     
  11. bmm

    bmm

    Just adding my applause to those of the others for your purchase of this lens Ian. It is an absolute beauty. And in terms of aperture it is wonderful wide open and up to about f/4. I'm basing this on the AF-D but I think the optical formula has been very similar throughout the history of this great lens.
     
  12. It's in my top 5, that's for sure.
     
  13. Look for a PN-11 tube, Ian. They're sometimes pricey and semi-rare but worth it for the 180, the rotating tripod collar, and good working distance for macro work.
     
  14. Anyone mention flare resistance?
    [​IMG]
     
  15. I guess everybody likes the axial CA of this lens that does not go away till F11.
     
  16. I guess everybody likes the axial CA of this lens that does not go away till F11.
     
  17. I guess everybody likes the axial CA of this lens that does not go away till F11.
     
  18. I have the 180/2.8 ED-IF AF (non-D) and it is better wide open than my 80-200/2.8 AFS (and my former 80-200/2.8 AF-D), but by f/4 or so they are essentially equal in sharpness, with contrast going to the 180/2.8.
    I also tried a 180/2.8 ED AIS, it too was sharper wide open, but had some PF wide open that the 180/2.8 ED-IF does not. I found both the 180/2.8 ED AIS and ED-IF versions OK wide open (a bit soft at 100% on my D300) and reach excellence by f/5.6 (f/4 is still a tad soft).
    Nice light lens to use though.
    - John
     
  19. Mr. Hinkey,
    What does "PF" stand for - in your description of the 180/2.8 ED AIS?
     
  20. I agree - it is an outstanding lens. I sold my Nikon gear for Leica in 1984 and replaced the 180 f2.8ED with the Leica 180f3.4 Apo Telyt, which is a legendary lens. Although the Leica was astonishing (i.e. better) in terms of contrast and sharpness at infinity, it's close-focusing ability (and sharpness at closer distances) was not as good as the Nikon's - and this mattered when shooting birds etc. Overall, it was the only Nikkor I've had (28f2, 55f2.8micro, 105f2.5, 180f2.8ED, 80-200f4.5, 500f8) which was the equal of the Leica lenses. That's not a put-down of the Nikkors, just loud applause for the 180f2.8ED.
    Ian
     
  21. I guess everybody likes the axial CA of this lens that does not go away till F11.
    Ah, the pixel-peeper's perspective, how refreshing.
    What you're describing is called "character" or "personality" in the lens. ;-)
    00UAuT-163623584.jpg
     
  22. Always wanted that lens but never got around to getting one. I feel a mild attack of NAS coming on seeing the photos here.
     
  23. Beautiful lens. Just keep the backend clean, I believe the apeture blades are exposed at the back. This hasn't stopped a lot of pro's using it in all kinds of conditions for years
     
  24. The Nikon 180 f/2.8 Ed AI-S shows less CA then the newer (AF AF-D) models partially because it is not a IF design.
    Billy I am not sure what lens you are thinking of but My 180 has glass behind the aperture.
    00UB3u-163715784.jpg
     
  25. Hi Ian
    I sold my AIS 200mm f4 telephoto (a great lens in its own right) to help purchase an 180mm 2.8 AIS in near mint condition from South Korea in May this year. What surprised me was that instead of a behemoth fast lens that people say over and over again on the net is too heavy or bulky, I got a superbly balanced and easy to handle lens that is a dream to use. It balances perfectly on my FM3a. People also say that it is not as sharp as the AF version close up. Well if that is that is the case, tha AF version must be some lens because close up, (at minimum ordinary distance) this lens delivers. It also blurs the background well wide open too. I would recommend the use of a warming filter - this might be a matter of personal taste however. I also have the PN-11 extension tube and can't wait to use it with the 180mm and a tripod. John Shaw (Close ups in Nature) used a 180mm for macro work too.
    Enjoy!
    Mark
     
  26. Beautiful bokeh!
     
  27. Billy I am not sure what lens you are thinking of but My 180 has glass behind the aperture.
    Hmm? The autofocus 180/2.8D has exposed aperture blades at the back. They reside quite deep down inside. I haven't managed to get any dirt on them.
     
  28. I have the 180 f/2.8 AFD and 300 f/4 AFD. Both have the exposed aperture blades. However, they are very deep inside and I haven't had issues with either.

    If it is a big worry, just take care not to change lenses in a dusty environment.
     
  29. Mr. Hinkey,
    What does "PF" stand for - in your description of the 180/2.8 ED AIS?​
    PF = Purple Fringing - Purple cast in areas of high contrast.
    Tonight I may be able to show some sample images from my 180/2.8 ED AIS testing of a lens I did not buy.
    - John
     
  30. Sorry I should have been more precise
    My 180mm f/2.8 ED AI-S has a lens element behind the aperture That goes to show how much of a difference in the optical formula there is between the AI-S and the AF versions of this lens.
     
  31. First - sorry for tripple post earlier (I was getting site error and did not confirm the post but it still got here three times) - is there a way to ask admin to delete the copies?
    Second - Mr. Nissila replied indicating that the comment about color aberration is pixel peeping. Well I do not think so, I will try to attach a picture, I would say it is 20% of full frame - far from pixels :=) but if it is not here I put it in my galery - there is only one so you will not spend time searching. The shot is of a mud in a pond but based on this picture I spent several hours trying to figure out if 180 mm is any good. 60mm AFS does not do this nor it has any color purple fringing in high conrast areas (branches against a sky).
    I read some more posts and I think this kind of aberration is called spherochromatism - see http://www.photo.net/canon-eos-digital-camera-forum/00RJy5
    The lower contrast areas aberration disapears at lower f-stops (even at f=4) but the one in the picture needs f=11 to completely disapear.
    00UBJT-163851584.jpg
     
  32. Bo
    Which 180 did you test?
     
  33. Michael, it is the current AFD version, who owns AIS or AI versions will have to shoot another pond.
    Back to OP: I think : in all shots that do not involve extreme contrast AND are not blown in any channel this lens is great at any aperture.
     
  34. Here are some 100% crops form some test photos I took with the 180/2.8 ED AIS and my 80-200/2.8 AFS (set to about 180mm) both at f/4. Note the purple fringing around the high contrast areas of the 180/2.8 and none for the 80-200/2.8 AFS,
    00UBM3-163871584.jpg
     
  35. Oops, here's the 80-200/2.8 AFS at f/4 to compare with.
    00UBM7-163871784.jpg
     
  36. Oh yes, I should say I shot these with my D300 using live view to focus manually (tripod of course).
    Granted, this is a severe test for any lens, but this is what you'll get if you use the 180/2.8 ED AIS with a lot of contrast. This PF mostly goes away by f/5.6 and is completely gone by f/8.
    Other than the PF problem, the 180/2.8 ED AIS was always a tad, just a tad mind you, sharper than my 80-200/2.8 AFS, but only if you looked at 100% crops.
    I found DXOPro could reduce the PF a respectable amount, but not eliminate it completely.
    I must say that the 180/23./8 ED AIS was a joy to use - a real mechanical dream to have in your hand. I've since gotten a 180/2.8 ED-IF AF (non-D) off of e-bay for less - it's just a tad less sharp, but no PF to deal with and it will AF (though it front focuses on my D300).
    John
     
  37. John, good examples of high contrast fringing. I saw similar aberration with my 180mm and I could get rid of it by 1) making sure I did not blow any channel and 2) stopping down, usually f4 was OK. Now I know nothing about optics but I think this is different from out of focus front and back coloring.
    I think that it pays off to get examples of these two aberrations and finding out what aperture and contrast / exposure reduces them to acceptable levels.
     
  38. Lex
    Thanks for the tip for the 180mm and M2 combo. After reading the post on Sunday I went and tried it with my AIS 180.
    00UBN7-163887584.jpg
     
  39. Oh yes, I forgot to mention the ghosting issues (Bjorn Rorslett also talks about this) of the 180/2.8 ED AIS. The same images that I posted at around f/8 you start to see ghosting in the bricks of the building and it gets worse the more you stop it down - by the time f/16 comes around you can really notice it. I'll show it later on tonight. It appears to me to be the image of the light reflecting off of the aperture blades as the ghost image takes the form of a donut with the dark central hole getting smaller as you stop down - perhaps the light reflected from the sensor bouncing back from the aperture blades.
     
  40. Here is the ghosting seen at f/16 (it's also there at f/8, but it's subtle). Looks like a donut-shaped image to me with a dark center and green-ish image superimposed on the bricks.
    Has anyone else seen this kind of behavior?
    - John
    00UBO4-163893584.jpg
     
  41. That does not look right at all. It almost looks as if there is a head shape, as if its shot out a window and its the reflection of the shooter. Not that I think that is the case. But that does look like a veiling flare from internal reflections or a nearby specular reflection shining on to the front element. My ED version doesen't do this and neither does my wifes Af-D, nor the P and P.C version shows this, but Hey, I'm shooting in Hawaii.
     
  42. That does not look right at all. It almost looks as if there is a head shape, as if its shot out a window and its the reflection of the shooter. Not that I think that is the case. But that does look like a veiling flare from internal reflections or a nearby specular reflection shining on to the front element. My ED version doesen't do this and neither does my wifes Af-D, nor the P and P.C version shows this, but Hey, I'm shooting in Hawaii.
     
  43. Bo; if you're getting that kind of effect at f/11 that is indeed a problem. I'm used to seeing axial CA on the 180/2.8D wide open at f/2.8, but by f/4 I'm perfectly happy with the image. I suppose you could try the 200/2 AF-S for those subjects where you have this issue.
     
  44. Remember that the OP has the AI-S version of this lens not the AF or AF-D. There was a change in Optical formula between the two.
    John I have never seen that kind of PF from my copy of the lens but then I don't shoot that kind of stuff.
    Bjorn rates the 180 f/2.8 ED AI-S at 4.5 on the D3X. Cant be all that much wrong with it.
     
  45. Remember that the OP has the AI-S version of this lens not the AF or AF-D. There was a change in Optical formula between the two.
    John I have never seen that kind of PF from my copy of the lens but then I don't shoot that kind of stuff.
    Bjorn rates the 180 f/2.8 ED AI-S at 4.5 on the D3X. Cant be all that much wrong with it.​
    Michael - Don't get me wrong - it's a very sharp lens, it just has some limitations (like all lenses do). I would have bought the copy I was looking at, but the owner wanted $495 (it was in near mint condition, but still too much for this lens), but I was able to find an excellent condition 180/2.8 ED-IF AF on e-bay for $425, which, according to Bjorn, is slightly better in every way to the MF version AND I have autofocus capability.
    Bjorn says "Flare and ghosts can be a problem under high contrast conditions" which is certainly what I found with my testing. So it is a great lens, but it just has some limitations that the newer version might not have.
    John
     
  46. I really enjoy using my 180/2.8ED. The performance is right on par with the 85mm f1.4. The DOF is so shallow at 2.8 with close subjects that you'd better be lucky or on a tripod.
    Here is my page of useful cinder block wall shots. After viewing these images on my display, I knew at once I had a keeper.
    http://aaronlinsdau.com/gear/articles/lens_comparison180.html
    Since my 85 f1.4 has CA with high contrast/specular light in the 1.4-1.8 realm, I rarely shoot there without really looking at the scene. I didn't test the 180mm with specular reflections but of the shots I've done where this would have shown up, it's not nearly as pronounced at the 85mm f1.4.
     
  47. It's built like a tank, too. Mine rolled off a table onto a stone floor. It hit hard and I was sure the lens was ruined. Other than a dent in the side of the hood the lens is as sharp as ever. Perhaps I was lucky.
     
  48. nice thread. i feel my NAS acting up too. post more pics so i can have a full-on attack!
     
  49. Good to see some 180mm ED love going on here.
    One feature I am liking more and more is the way the image snaps into focus. My 70-200mm f2.8 zoom although easy to focus manually, takes just a bit more effort to focus where the 180mm almost 'jolts' into sharpness on my camera screen.
    Eric, I attach another photo for you - and I am sure you will enjoy this lens too if you do go for it.
    00UD8C-165099584.JPG
     
  50. It's a fantastic lens. Even if I don't own Nikon body any longer, I like it so much, I have to adapt it to use on Sony A-900. Here's some pictures from 180ED on Sony A900.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  51. There was a mention of "axial CA" concerning the pre-AI 180/2.8. Was this discovered with film or with a digital camera? I have four Nikkors in this range - 20cm f/4, 200/4 Q, 200/4 QC and 200/4 AI. The oldest lens does not have very close focusing and you have to be careful in flare situations with it. The Q has closer focusing and better coating. The QC has very good coating. The AI is more compact and has slightly better coating than the QC. The QC is my favorite. It's sharp, has nice balance and has a factory AI conversion ring. I found it right after I had John White convert my Q lens. Apart from the speed, how do the QC and AI 200/4 Nikkors compare to the various manual focus 180/2.8 Nikkors? Nikon didn't make any 200mm manual focus lenses in between the f/4 and the f/2. How do the two versions of Canon's 200/2.8 New FD compare to the manual focus 180/2.8 Nikkors? I read that the pre-ED 180/2.8 Nikkor also had an ED element but that Nikon didn't mark it that way. Is that true? I have also read that the 180/2.8 IF lenses do not work as well with teleconverters. Is this true? I have two 200/3 Vivitar Series 1 lenses. One is in Konica AR mount and the other in M42 mount. The 200/3 focuses to 4 feet so if I need that feature I can adapt it to a Canon FD/FL camera. Unfortunately I can't adapt either 200/3 to Nikon mount. This is one reason I'm thinking about a manual focus 180/2.8 Nikkor.
     

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