Nikon 200mm f4 AI-S vs Nikon 80-200mm f4 AI-S

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Leonard Katyi, Mar 6, 2017.

  1. Hi everyone,

    I am planning on buying a telephoto lens and not sure which one to choose. As I've read both are really sharp and great lenses, the main difference being weight and the fact that one is a prime lens and the other a zoom. I own a Nikon FA with a 50mm 1.4 Ai-s, and having a 200mm prime seems a bit limiting (never used similar lens). What are your experiences with these two? The 80-200mm seems to offer more to play with i presume. Thanks!
     
  2. I've used both, plus a Tokina 80-200 of that same vintage. Which one you end up liking depends a lot on your needs and expectations. I found that with the zoom I got more shots but was less satisfied with their quality than when using a 200 (or 80) prime. I tended to hand-hold the zoom and shoot on the fly whereas much more inclined to use a tripod/monopod with the 200 prime. In some ways I'd rather get a shot than miss it... but with the 80-200 I had a lot more fuzzy images due to camera movement. Or at least I assumed it was camera movement. I just never was very happy with the results. When set up on a tripod the zooms performed OK but I was never convinced that they were equivalent to the prime lenses. So long ago I retired the zoom and have been using only prime lenses ever since. I find the 200 to be my most useless lens, though... but I got it at a "steal" so...
     
    Leonard Katyi likes this.
  3. Hello there,

    It is a bit of a tough choice. Normally I would recommend the more flexible zoom, but I have had two of the 80-200/f4 zooms in the last couple of years, and neither lens worked properly, so I am thinking that many of them are problematic some 35 years after they were made. I have had much better luck with the earlier 80-200/4.5 lenses that are very good. Another good choice is the 75-150/f3.5 E lens, a great performer. These choices are smaller and lighter than the F4 zoom, as well, and take the same filter size as your 50mm.

    Also, you might want to consider a 105/2.5 or 135/2.8 or 3.5 fixed as alternates. The 105 was the first lens I added to my FM and 50 kit back in the 70's. Nothing wrong with the 200/f4 at all, but it is a big jump from 50mm to 200mm.

    One other thing to consider. The FA is one of the Nikon cameras that utilizes the AI-S groove in the mount to input information to the exposure automation, so for the FA to fully function automatically, one must use AI-S lenses, not just AI types. It is a little harder to find 200mm AIS lenses.vs the AI variant. I don't think any of the 80-200/4.5 lenses are AIS, but the 80-200/f4 is as is the 75-150/3.5E. The FA will work fine with earlier AI lenses, but the program mode and I think shutter speed priority might not work as optimally as with the AI-S type lenses.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
  4. I have both and have used them for years. The 80-200 is a certainly more flexible, though a touch longer and heavier than the 200 which is a bit sharper. Personally once I got hold of the Nikkor 180 / 2.8, the 200 rarely left the Barn. The 80-200 was handy for travel. Key point as Brian suggested, when you get into the 180 - 200 range and up, you need to be very steady, use a tripod, or fast shutter speeds. My 80-200 is waay beyond zoom creep, the zoom ring slides freely when the camera is tipped. The way I think about it, primes are best when you have chosen a focal length for a particular task, zooms are best (for me) when I don't know exactly what opportunities I will encounter. When I travel, it is usually zooms by day, fast primes by night. Good luck, I think you can do well with either lens. Haven't used either in a while, based on your question, will give them an outing.
     
    DavidTriplett and Leonard Katyi like this.
  5. Hello there,

    It is a bit of a tough choice. Normally I would recommend the more flexible zoom, but I have had two of the 80-200/f4 zooms in the last couple of years, and neither lens worked properly, so I am thinking that many of them may be problematic some 35 years after they were made. I have had much better luck with the earlier 80-200/4.5 lenses that are very good. Another good choice is the 75-150/f3.5 E lens, a great performer. These choices are smaller and lighter than the F4 zoom, as well.


    Also, you might want to consider a 105/2.5 or 135/2.8 or 3.5 as alternates. The 105 was the first lens I added to my FM and 50 kit back in the 70's. Nothing wrong with the 200/4 AI at all, but it is a bit of a jump from 50 to 200mm.


    One other thing to consider. The FA is one of the few Nikon cameras that utilizes the AI-S groove in the mount to input information to the exposure automation, so for the FA to fully function automatically, one must use AI-S lenses, not just AI types. It is a little harder to find 200mm AIS lenses.vs the AI variant. I don't think any of the 80-200/4.5 lenses are AIS, but the 80-200/f4 is as is the 75-150/3.5E. The FA will work fine with earlier AI lenses, but the program mode might not work as optimally as with the AI-S type lenses.
     
    Leonard Katyi likes this.
  6. There's no doubt in my mind that the 200mm prime delivers better image quality. Although neither that nor the Ai-S f/4 80-200mm zoom are up to modern standards on a DSLR.<p>
    I suspect that most tele-zooms get used at or near their long end most of the time. So I'm not sure you'd miss the extra capacity of the zoom all that much.<p><br>
    I agree that the series E 75-150 f/3.5 is well worth considering. It has better image quality than either the 200mm f/4 prime or the 80-200 zoom. With an extra half-stop of aperture as well.<p>With current low prices for any of the lenses mentioned, it might not break the bank to get the 200mm prime and the Series E zoom. The two together don't weigh much more than the quite bulky 80-200 zoom.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
    Leonard Katyi likes this.
  7. Depending on your use. <br>
    I like the earlier 80-200/f4.5 zoom, because it is lighter and more handy than the larger f4 zoom. And what is the practical difference between f4 and f4.5 ... not much. <br>
    As for zoom creep, IMHO that depends on how you use it. I personally LIKE the f4.5 zoom with a really loose zoom ring. That makes follow focus+zoom easy to do. And that works very well for sports shooting. It is much harder to follow focus+zoom with a stiff ring. I have not been in a situation where the loose zoom ring was a problem, but that is just how and what I shot. <br>
    If you will be traveling, where weight becomes a factor, the smaller E 75-150/f3.5 is worth strongly thinking about. Plus it is faster than both of the 80-200 zooms.<br><br>
    As was said, the price of these manual focus lenses has dropped so much that you can afford to buy more than one lens. In fact I plan to add primes in the focal length of my zooms, because they are affordable enough to duplicate the focal length. The two that I am looking at are the 50/f1.4 and the 180/f2.8, both for the speed of the lens. I already have the 55 micro-Nikkor. Then depending on the shoot, I pick the lens to match.
     
    Leonard Katyi likes this.
  8. I had the 4.5 for a long time but it got so worn I got the f/4 version which goes everywhere. It's sharp and versatile, very useful. The 200/4 is smaller and lighter, gives good results most of the time and is easier to carry around. I'm with Sandy though, the 180/2.8 ED is superb. I'd suggest getting both the f/4 (or 4.5, doesn't much matter) zoom and also the 200/4. There is no real cost issue here and you can carry whichever you prefer on any given day. You might consider a 135/2.8 as well just for fun. Again they are amazingly inexpensive but can be very useful.

    Rick H.
     
  9. Thank you all very much for your help! This was really helpful, and i think i am actually going for the
    E 75-150/f3.5 as its price is lower and it will do until i save up for proper primes. Thanks again and have a nice week!
     
  10. Have a good week yourself Leonard.<p>
    Just watch out for a sloppy zoom action on the 75-150 series E. Many of them suffered it, and IME the silver ringed version is slightly better made than the all-black one.<p>A sloppy zoom action is fixable by packing out the felt friction rings under the zoom/focus ring with thin card or thick paper. I'd say it was a moderate DIY job that might take between 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on your skill level and tools to hand.
     
  11. There is nothing wrong with just using the 75-150 as your long lens. I used the 80-200/f4.5 for YEARS/DECADES, as my long lens. I still don't have a prime lens longer than 105, so I have to use the zoom for my long shots. <br><br>
    I would sit down and plan your target lens kit and the order to get lenses.<br>
    Example:<br>
    • Lenses: 24, 50, 75-150, 105, 300
    • Order: 50 (#1), 75-150 (#2), 24 (#3), 300 (#4), 105 (#5)
    And IMHO, there is nothing wrong with a mid-range/normal lens zoom, such as 35-105. I used the 43-86 as my normal lens for DECADES, and only replaced it recently with a 35-105, simply because of the extra range on both ends. People say the 43-86 was Nikon's worst lens, but I was quite happy with it. The only thing it did not do well was shooting basketball in a dark gym, when I had to push Tri-X up to 1600 ASA, and I still struggled. In a dark gym, FAST glass (50/f1.4) has it all over the slow 43-86 (f/3.5).<br><br>

    My kit and acquisition order: <br>
    • Lenses, initial: 24 (#2), 43-86/f3.5 (#1), 80-200/f4.5 (#3)
    • Lenses, 2nd round to present: 105/f2.5 (#4), 35-105 (#,5 replaced the 43-86 and to some degree the 105), 55/f3.5-micro (#6)
    • Lenses, future: 50/f1.4, 180/f2.8, 500/f8 (the 50/f1.4 and the 180/f2.8 are purely for speed, as they sit inside the focal range of my existing slower lenses)
    The only reason for the duplicate focal length lenses (50/f1.4, 55/f3.5-micro and 180) is that, manual lenses are so inexpensive today. In the past, because of the much higher cost, I just used the zooms, for DECADES, and put up with the smaller max aperture of the zooms.
     
  12. Buy a 180mm f2.8 ED (AIs or newer AF-D version), you will never regret it.
    The 200mm f4 AIs is a real sleeper, it's a wonderful lens just never popular because of it's speed. So is the 80-200 f2.8 but that will cost you 3-4x as much.
    As mentioned above, the 35-105mm Ais is a great lens, very sharp. I sold mine for the 28-105mm AF-D which works as good or better in MF with film. They can be found for a very reasonable price. I'm very fussy when it comes to image quality and never liked zoom lenses but found myself using one for family photos. I own a 85mm f1.4 AIs, 105mm f2.5 AIs, 135mm f2 AIs and will highly recommend these lenses over any of the Nikon zooms (new or old).
     
  13. Agree. The Ai version was the second lens I ever purchased, and it worked a treat all the time I had it. If I was in the market for a compact, relatively light-weight, manual focus 200mm, it'll be the one I'd pick.
    Not so much with the one I had. Not really too obvious but no comparison to the 35 and 105 primes I owned at the same time.
    Never is a strong word to use, but I agree that either 180 is a gem. But heavy.

    FWIW, my 80-200/4 was a dog. But from what I gathered reading up on it, not representative for that lens. Maybe the previous owner dropped it. Or it simply suffered from old age by the time I got it.
     
  14. I usually grab the Nikkor 200/4 Ai (same formula as Ais) over the 80~200/4.5 due to size and weight.

    Sample shots here,

    [​IMG]Nikkor 200/4 ai, Wide-open by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    At F5.6:


    [​IMG]

    100% crop:

    [​IMG]DSC_6462-Edit by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/90768661@N02/albums/72157651857276326

    With that said: the 80~200/4.5 was an $800 lens in the day, and is very-very good optically. They are dirt-cheap these days, sell for ~1/2 of the price of the 200/4. There are several versions of the 80~200/4.5: look for the last version which has a squared-off light baffle over the rear element.

    Samples Shots:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/90768661@N02/albums/72157659186221178

    [​IMG]Nikkor 80~200/4.5n and 8-~200/4.5 by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr
     
  15. The other thing is with longer lenses like this that do not have VR, you need to use proper technique to stabilize the camera and yourself.
    The heavier 80-200/f4 could be more difficult to hold than the lighter 200/f4. But there is a saying in target shooting, weight is your friend. So with proper technique, the heavier lens might be easier to hold steady.

    But carrying a full kit around on a 10 day trip, the extra weight will start to get to you, especially if you are older (like me). I cannot carry the same kit that I used to in college, so I've cut back to and compromised on lighter gear. The 75-150 is an example of this. I would sacrifice a little reach on the long end, for less weight and bulk.
     
  16. The AIS 80-200/4 seems to be optimised more for close range than infinity (during development I believe there were proposals to make it a macro zoom capable of 1:2 magnification). In the comparisons I have seen, the older AI 80-200/4.5 is clearly sharper in the corners at far distances. On the other hand the AIS focuses much closer. Which lens is best depends on whether you prefer shooting landscapes and scenes at far distances, or closeup portraits and flowers etc.

    The size difference between the AI and AIS 80-200 is minimal. They are the same length, the AIS has a fatter mid-barrel but the diameter over the focus/zoom ring is the same, and the AIS is only slightly heavier. The AI accepts 52mm filters which matches most small primes of the same era, while the AIS takes larger 62mm filters.

    The 75-150 is also an excellent option, in fact it is one of my favorite telephoto lenses. It gives up a bit of zoom range in exchange for a faster aperture, and a more compact design. Sharpness and background rendition is good. The zoom range might seem limited but it covers a very useful range, and 150mm is about as long as I can comfortably hand-hold, by 200mm I like to have a little more support so I can frame the picture accurately. The 75-150 also focuses to 1m at all zoom settings, so is capable of good closeups. Overall, a versatile and good performing lens in a compact package.
     

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