70-180mm Micro-Nikkor: OK for General Photography?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by rob f., May 10, 2016.

  1. I'd like a zoom in this range, but I'm put off by the weight and bulk of the 80-200 versions. I know the 70-180 is heavy, but I think not deal-breaking heavy. And it's small enough to ride comfortably in my Tamrac or Domke bag. I keep putting off buying it, though. If the weight and cost aren't deal-breakers, its speed of f/4.5-5.6 seems like it should be enough to make me forget about it. That is really pretty slow! But I seem to keep wanting it, which is probably irrational.
    So how about some user reports? What do you do with yours? Did you buy it just for Macro work? Because I really don't need it for that. I want to use it as a general walk-around lens together with my 24-85 AF. I want excellent image quality. If it's nothing special as a high quality zoom in that range, I might as well pick up a 70-210mm f/4 for 150 bucks and call it a day. AS to Macro, I only need to get close enough for wildflowers. I can do that with my 28-105 AF, or my 55mm Micro-Nikkor.
    So if you use yours for general photography outdoors, is the slow speed or the IQ a disappointment after the honeymoon is over? Or do you find yours really pretty adequate?
     
  2. Macro work? Because I really don't need it for that. I want to use it as a general walk-around lens​
    Then get the AF-S 70-200/4 VR instead. The 70-180 has some unique features when used for macro (especially when used on a tripod). While I have used it many times for general photography (in lieu of carrying the 80-200/2.8), with the 70-200/4 there's a better option now. AF is rather slow and noisy on the 70-180; a constant f/4 is more convenient than a variable f/4.5-5.6; and both AF-S and VR come in handy. The 70-200 goes to 1:3.56, good enough for wildflowers most of the time (the 70-180 goes to 1:1.3 (or beyond 1:1 with the 6T mounted) - but when set to 180mm, its FOV is equivalent to that of a 90-100mm lens at the minimum focus distance (which has implications for the working distance - not being nearly as large as one would expect from the 180mm setting).
    I purchased the 70-180 some 16 years ago when I could not decide which focal length I should pick in a macro lens - so I got the whole range. The lens served me well for over a decade, mostly shooting close-up but frequently also for general photography. A few years ago, I realized that the Sigma 150/2.8 was actually more suited for my close-up shooting - and it makes an excellent portrait lens as well. I ended up selling the 70-180, and eventually traded the 150/2.8 for the OS version (which got me back in the weight range of the 70-180).
     
  3. The 70-200 f/4 would probably be perfect, except it's a "G" lens, and I want a lens I can use on older film bodies (FE2, FM3a, N90s) as well as on the D700 and D300. Right now I cover this range with an 85/1.8 AF; my 135mm Leica Elmarit in Nikon mount; and either my 180/3.4 Leitz APO-Telyt in Nikon mount, or else the 180/2.8 Nikkor. Having to use the 135 in stop-down mode is slow and inconvenient. I thought it might be nice to just get a high quality AF zoom. But settling on one within an acceptable weight and size range is not easy. Apparently the 70-210 has good IQ, but apparently has AF problems.
    But if I get the 70-180, I am liable to be saying, "I knew I wouldn't be happy with such a slow lens." Or else, "I don't know what I was worried about, this lens is fine, and very handy!" So I thought I would collect some user reports.
     
  4. Thom Hogan wrote a pretty decent review - including comments on the usefulness for general photography - of this lens back in the days when he was actually reviewing equipment.
     
  5. The 70-200 f/4 would probably be perfect, except it's a "G" lens ...
    I might as well pick up a 70-210mm f/4 for 150 bucks and call it a day​
    Certainly a cheaper option than the 70-180 - even though prices for the 70-180 seem to have dropped somewhat in recent years (and I am surprised how many are currently being offered on ebay and even keh has 4 on offer).
    The AF-S 70-200/4 VR can be used on the N90S - albeit with restrictions in exposure mode (only P and S IIRC) and no VR.
    But if I get the 70-180, I am liable to be saying ...​
    And if you don't then there will always be that lingering thought that you should have gotten it instead of whatever lens you ended up buying ...
    keh currently also has two 70-210/4 in stock - so get one and a 70-180, compare and then return the one you don't want to keep.
    180/3.4 Leitz APO-Telyt in Nikon mount​
    Got the same lens and agree on the somewhat inconvenient usage. If I use the lens nowadays at all, then it's on the Sony A7 where it operation fits right in with the adapted Leica M-mount lenses and where I have the benefit of much better manual focus accuracy than what I can attain with an SLR or DSLR.
     
  6. Series E 75-150 f/3.5....!
     
  7. "Series E 75-150 f/3.5....!"
    Yes that is supposed to be a very good lens. I'm hoping for AF though, and maybe a little longer reach. The 70-210 seems like a contender, but somehow I seem to want to talk myself into the 70-180. (But it's so slow.)
     
  8. I have one of the older 70-210 f/4 constant, and it is optically plenty good enough for use on my D810. I don't use it much, the loud AF noise is annoying. Otherwise, a very good lens and a bargain for $ vs performance. The latest 70-200/4 VR I have has a bit more saturated colors, quiet AF, a touch more sharpness, VR, and works well with my TC-17, so it is my go to longish lens unless I have to have a faster lens (not very often). The newer lens is good enough that picking up something like an F100 to use it with film might be worthwhile.
    I don't think there are many AF lenses that are satisfying to use on non-AF film bodies. Plenty of good manual focus lenses for those.
    Too bad some of the older AF lenses have noisy focus operation. Some, like the 180AFD and 20-35/2.8 are so quiet that the lack of AFS is a non-issue and actually a good thing since there is no AF motor to die.
    Had the 70-210 f4-5.6 AFD version, and was not impressed by the copy I had (evaluated on slide film a long time ago). I have not tried one of the micro zooms, so I can't comment on those.
     
  9. 70-210 f4-5.6 AFD​
    Used the non-D version for many years on manual focus film bodies - appeared to be quite decent. Got a D version at some point when a local store closed - worked quite well on a D200 but it might be taxed quite a bit when used on high-MP FX bodies.
    I don't think there are many AF lenses that are satisfying to use on non-AF film bodies. Plenty of good manual focus lenses for those.​
    AFAIK, the Nikon Series E 70-210 has the same optical formula as the AF 70-210/4 and maybe a good alternative to use on those manual focus bodies that don't work with G lenses.
    seem to want to talk myself into the 70-180. (But it's so slow.)​
    One of the advantages of that lens is that it stays f/4.5-5.6 no matter how close you focus. You mentioned that you can do your macro shots with the 28-105 - you won't be doing that anymore once you have the 70-180.
     
  10. So if you use yours for general photography outdoors, is the slow speed or the IQ a disappointment after the honeymoon is over?​
    I never dreamed of using the 70-180mm lens for general photography. For general photography, the 70-200mm works much better - and now you can get the lighter f/4 version. The 70-180mm is an "in-between" lens, meaning it can do the job but it's not the best for either macro or landscape. Yes, IQ is great and you can zoom in macro mode - but it's not 1:1. And yes, it can be used for general photography, but the focusing speed is slow.
     
  11. If you need compatibility with older bodies, you might consider an 80-200/2.8. There are several versions of this lens, from the AF-D "push-pull" action (not recommended), and AF-D two-ring and an AF-S two-ring. All have separate rings for aperture, focus and zoom. The AF-S is a superbly sharp lens, arguably better than the 70-200 versions with VR.
     
  12. Nikon 70-200mm f4G is a no-brainer.
    Kent in SD
     
  13. but it's not 1:1​
    In all those years that I have been using the 70-180 - the fact that it can't quite reach 1:1 (without 5T or 6T) has never been an issue.
     
  14. In all those years that I have been using the 70-180 - the fact that it can't quite reach 1:1 (without 5T or 6T) has never been an issue.​

    Same here. I made some excellent macros with it. Hwvr, I hardly ever used it again since acquiring the 200mm. The 200mm felt better, worked better, or whatever. Now I mostly use the Olympus M4/3 60mm, sometimes the Tamron 180mm. Both are lighter than the Nikon equivalence. The former is so light it can be handheld with good results.

    The OP is thinking of buying the 70-180 for general photography. It is one thing to use it when one already has it. But to buy it for non-macro use is something else.
     
  15. 70-180 for general photography. It is one thing to use it when one already has it. But to buy it for non-macro use is something else.​
    Absolutely. Personally, I would not buy one for general photography alone. And for macro only if I wasn't shooting anything that requires a large working distance - as already mentioned even at the 180mm setting the working distance is no larger than that of a 90-105 macro lens. And even then only if I was shooting mostly from a tripod; otherwise, what the 70-180 offers isn't really utilized and a fixed-focal length macro would do just as well.
     
  16. Okay! You have mostly talked me out of it, which I think is the right advice. I've considered the 80-200 Two-ring version, but I think the size and weight would discourage me from using it very much. I'm also discouraged by a report on another thread here that the 80-200, under its professional-looking metal-and-paint exterior, is put together like a child's toy. It was said that when the focus collar failed to focus the lens, the writer found that it is connected to the focusing mechanism via plastic tabs that are secured in place by melting them!
    And the 70-210 is noisy? Gee, maybe I'll just continue with the three-lens set I use to cover this range.
    Thanks for the help!
     
  17. Well, just one more thing (Like Lieutenant Columbo). The 70-180 is said to have slow AF speed. One of the things I would like to do with it would be to capture shots of wildflowers, which are seldom stationary on a windy mountainside. They are usually fluttering in the wind. Would the 70-180 be too slow to refocus or follow focus on fluttering flower petals, at macro distances? I'm thinking of selling my MF 55mm and moving to an AF macro. But is this the right one for the job, as opposed to maybe a 60 or a 105?
     
  18. A short answer is a qualified "No".

    I am not sure the reason behind your wanting to capture flowers that are fluttering in the wind with a macro lens. Are you trying to capture artistic blur or are you imagining that you can capture the flower in sharpness with great depth-of-field with a super fast speed?

    In general, macro lenses are inherently slower in focus speed relative to "normal" lenses. Because the lens is usually close to the target subject, adequate depth-of-field is acquired with a high F-Stop, which means the shutter speed needs to be compromised. That's why most people use a tripod.
    You seem to still want to buy this lens very badly. Think the prior comments have addressed your query. However, if I like this lens as much as you appear to, I would get it regardless of other people's opinion. Then sell it when you like another lens better. :)
     
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Well said, Mary. There is only one way to cure NAS: buy it. And then you move on to the next lens or camera and start over again .... :)
     
  20. I didn't mean that I photograph in gale force winds! But when photographing out of doors, just as I'm about to shoot, a breeze comes along and moves flower petals--enough that refocusing is needed. As an example, my 28-105 AF comes in handier for this work than a non-AF Macro.
    I guess my interest is because this lens combines the versatility of a high quality zoom lens with a macro function, in a lens small and light enough to use as an outdoor walk-around lens, minimizing lens changing. But it's slow in aperture and slow in AF speed. And the tripod foot looks like it would make it hard to hand-hold. And it's not meant for that, but for tripod use. So I probably won't make any changes until I see something more clearly right for me. It's not like I can't take a picture with the 22 Nikon lenses I have!
     
  21. For the benefit of those who may not know: "NAS" = "Nikon Acquisition Syndrome," a special and highly addictive case of "GAS" or "Gear Acquisition Syndrome." My usual defense is to wait a bit and see if the urge goes into remission, as it often does.
     
  22. My usual defense is to wait a bit and see if the urge goes into remission, as it often does.​

    HaHa! Best of luck Rob. :)
     
  23. Still waiting for remission to kick in . . .
    In the meantime, I pulled the trigger on a 80-200/4.5, for 60 bucks and shipping. A piece of Nikon history!
     
  24. Six-month follow-up. I bought the 70-180. It has seen quite a bit of use right in the back yard, photographing in my rose garden. And I did get some use out of it on vacation in Colorado. The autofocus can be slow and a bit frustrating; apart from that, I like it. As far as I can tell at this point, I'd say it's a keeper. The 80-200 f/4.5, I have done almost nothing with. It can go.
     

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