Additional Information on
Nikkor 180mm Telephoto Lens Group

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Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED
Manual Focus Nikkor 180mm f/2.8s ED telephoto lens

First announced in 1980. For such a long period of time, this was the most affordable ED lens within the Nikkor lens family. It was also widely believed to be the first Nikkor medium telephoto lens that has been designed with an ED glass employed in its optical design. Packing a good compromise between affordability, portability and first rated optical performance, specifically, with its moderately fast speed of f/2.8 aperture which makes this lens especially useful for shooting in dimly-lit situation making it indispensable for photojournalism, for capturing fast moving events such as in action-packed indoor sports, stage fashion or professional photography where the use of flash shooting is strictly prohibited.

COMPARE this with the autofocus AF Nikkor 180mm lens group

Credit: A beautiful image of the Ai-S lense contributed by Mr. W.J. Eichner Lynch of <> © Image Copyright 2001. All rights reserved.

The focal length of 180mm is a little odd especially when you consider Nikon has another series of fine telephoto lenses at 200mm focal length. Some may finding it hard to choose between 180mm and 200mm where it is unlike wideangle lenses, difference in focal length of 20mm may exhibit great difference in angle of view and perspective. But when it applies to telephoto lenses, such difference may not be seen as too significant. However, Nikon cleverly using available options between these two focal length in their varying maximum aperture and features to offset such indecisive thought for buyers.

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HornBill, the native bird in Borneo Island, East Malaysia by Michael Patrick Wong, the Awards winning Video/Photographer contributing some of his images for my Khatulistiwa@Malaysia <> Project. It is a self-funded environmental caring website. I am poor guy but I have a lot of passionate friends around .... always willing to lend a hand when I need them.

Because, at 200mm you may have only either a slow lens speed of f/4.0 or a ultra high speed of f/2.0 to choose from; while on the other hand, if you wish to settle for a maximum lens speed of f/2.8 there was only one Nikkor lens offered at the 180mm focal length. Further, until other options at 200mm came in, there is one one economical telephoto with an ED glass ! Smart huh ? Well, since first Nikkor lens at 180mm focal length was introduced quite early in 1965 and if you can let go with an ED glass designated option, there are quite a few alternatives for the normal non-ED 180mm f/2.8 versions for you to choose from. Let us use an older version of this favorite optic for basis of comparison to see how it has evolved over the years in its development and compared with a newer version with ED glass lens element in it design. Michael Liu has reported an early 180mm f/2.5-32 Nikkor-H Preset which first debuted in 1965 and carried the following specifications:

6 elements in 4 groups
13 3/4 degrees angle of view; focusses to 2.1m; 82mm accessory size (Series IX in hood)
Note: requires N->F adapter tube (BR-1) (61.5mm dia. by 62.3mm length, adds 58.5mm of extension)
1,650g Lens Hood $17.60 list (1967) $425 list (1965); $425 list (1967); BR-1 $9.50 list (1967)


OFF TOPIC SUPPLEMENT: Some photographers like to link the Nikkor 180mm series compared directly with great German rivalries of Leitz and Contax where both the German lens makers have a few respectable offering such as the APO-TELYT-R 180mm f/3.4, ELMAR-R 180mm f/4.0, ELMARIT-R 180mm f/2.8 and the Contax's own Olympia Sonnar 180mm f/2.8 T*. Another noteworthy lens is from an renown independent French lens maker, Angenieux with its 180mm f2.3 APO lens it has a lens mount to fit Nikon SLRs. It is also quite interesting to note that among the top 5 Japanese Camera/Lens manufacturers, Nikon & Olympus was the only two that favored the 180mm focal length instead of 200mm. However, the fastest lens in this category was an Olympus Zuiko 180mm f/2.0 ED-IF introduced followed the debut of the OM-3 and OM-4 SLR during the end of first quarter of the '80. Olympus does offered a cheaper alternative in a Zuiko 180mm f/2.8.

Credit: Image of Angenieux 180mm f/2.3 APO courtesy of Jin <> © Image Copyright 2001. All rights reserved.

For quite a long while, the Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED has been remained as my personal favorite until I found another right substitute of AF-D Micro-Nikkor 200mm ED IF where I clearly felt I may have been owning two overlapping investment . Eventually I gave the 180mm lens away to my nephew and keep the Micro-Nikkor as it is more versatile to my personal photography. As for the 180mm lens that I owned over the years - I have used it as an all purpose telephoto lens. It is useful for formal or informal portraits especially its aperture of f/2.8 is adequately "blur" for portraiture if you carefully choose an open space background. The last lens that I owned was the one with an ED front lens elements. The use of ED glass in the Nikkor 180mm f/2.8ED has, undoubtedly corrected chromatic aberration in a vast extend and the lens is very useful to tackle scenes or subject with lots of blue or red color. In such situations, I believe the ED glass has enhanced greatly those colours and may provide images of visually astonishing powerful yet natural in colour rendition. The lens, like any of the famed ED optics produced by Nikon, can be easily distinguished by a gold lining between the focusing ring and the highly functional built in telescopic lens hood. Overall, this lens is sharp, very sharp indeed. At its maximum aperture of f/2.8, that is where the use of ED glass really shines - it is still able to maintain high contrast throughout its focusing range, the natural blur yields by the shallow depth of field could provide considerably satisfying blur for even full length portraiture photography.

Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 AIS front view
The lens has a very handy built-in telescopic lens hood design. It has a large attachments size of 72mm dia. which may post some compatibility problem with other standard 52mm filter accessories. If you intend to invest into such a lens, always try to invest in 72mm diameter lens accessory such as filters and use step down ring(s) in order to save some cost and minimized portability problem to enable them to be used for other lenses that use 62mm filter size.

Credit: Image courtesy of "Ebay - Mathew Duren" <ebay@adorama> URL:, who also operates a popular Ebay Store. Image Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Adorama Inc. also can be contact at: Used & Collectible Ebay Department Adorama® Inc. 42 West 18th Street New York, N.Y. 10011 1-212-741-0052 1-830-223-2500 Option 55 Ext.119 FAX: 1-212-675-8715

The Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED was introduced with a raw Ai-S spec optic in 1980 and bear with a starting serial number of 388801. Just like any of those Nikkor optic of yesteryears, this lens has a top quality physical built. Over the years, the early unit that I used to owned has its golden ED ring faded out completely, changed its front lens elements once but it is still going good. In fact, most of the time, I kept my 180 together with another favourite lens of mine, the MF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s under my car seat for my easy access to take pictures.

Nikon 180mm f/2.8s Side view telephoto
Hey, 10 years under the immense tropical heat inside a car trunk was no joke, and that long spell of time could easily exposed any physical weaknesses of any lens that has slight inferior design. Well ? For a quite a while, I have been using both of these lenses to cover my photography most the time until I got hold of the Micro-Nikkor a few years back.

Credit: Image courtesy of "Ebay - Mathew Duren" <ebay@adorama> URL:, who also operates a popular Ebay Store. Image Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Adorama Inc. also can be contact at: Used & Collectible Ebay Department Adorama® Inc. 42 West 18th Street New York, N.Y. 10011 1-212-741-0052 1-830-223-2500 Option 55 Ext.119 FAX: 1-212-675-8715

Port Dickson '89 Copyright ©-free images collection 2000. leofoo ® (61k) Jpeg

As for any Nikkor faithful, they may also notice use of ED glass element has significantly improved colour fidelity which is not normally seen with pictures taken with normal telephoto lenses especially in scenes where blue and red colour spectrum dominating. This is resulted from successful correcting chromatic aberration, an optical aberration commonly found in telephoto lenses. Optically, although slight softness still exhibits at its maximum aperture but its overall results is still extremely well holding to give this lens a distinction. If you want maximum sharpness and resolution, stopping the lens down a stop or two will significantly improve in all aspect. The compressed perspective of the 180mm telephoto lens is evident in this lens and this is another area you can explore photographically while at its smaller apertures between f/8.0 and f/16 this lens also exhibits its optical excellence. The f/32 minimum aperture may, provide additional depth of field control but when used with extender such as TC-200 or TC-201s at fast shutter speed, there may be occasionally uneven exposures. Always bracket a few should you need such combinations. Further, it is not entirely advisable to stop the lens to such extreme where sometimes, quality may deteriorate too.

180extnd.jpg 180front.jpg
<<< --- Credit: Images courtesy of Mr. Mal Kantzler ® <>. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer

Overall, purely from the perspective of a consumer, although most people jokingly referred it as a entry ED lens for any poor Nikonian, but the Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED lens can deservingly and safely claimed as a true Nikkor optical marvel and except for its limiting focal length, I will not hesitate a moment to make a recommendation for anyone who wants a top notch quality telephoto lens. An AF Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 EDIF lens version with IF design and a different lens construction was eventually introduced by Nikon in 1988. Subsequently, the original lens has gone through two additional upgrades in a late 1988 involved a facelift and 1994 with a "D" lens designation to enable it compatible with additional features found in new series of Nikon AF SLRs.

Technical Highlights: * High-speed telephoto lens with significant advantages for sports, action, stage, news, journalism and available light photography. * Bright f/2.8 maximum aperture makes accurate focusing very easy and allows the use of higher shutter speeds, even in dim light. * Superb sharpness and image quality at all apertures - Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass contains chromatic aberration which could reduced contrast. * Natural color rendition. * Built-in telescopic lens hood reduces ghost images and flare when shooting against the light. * Minimum aperture of f/32 provides additional control of depth of field. * Close focusing to 1.8m (6 ft.). * Accepts 72mm filters.


Focal length/Aperture:
180mm f/2.8
Lens construction: 5 elements in 5 groups; Picture angle: 13°40'

<<<--- Front lens elements in light blue tint is the location of the ED glass element.

Diaphragm: Automatic; Maximum Reproduction ratio: 1:7.5
Aperture scale: f/2.8~f/32 on both standard and aperture-direct-readout scales
Exposure measurement: Via full aperture method meter coupling ridge provided for AI cameras
and meter coupling shoe for non-AI cameras
Distance scale: Graduated in meters and feet from 1.8m (6 ft.) to infinity (OO); Weight: approx. 880g
: 78.5mm dia. x 138mm long (overall) 130mm extension from lens flange

Filters: 72mm front screw-in; Front lens cap: Screw-in
Lens hood: Built-in telescopic type with click-stops; Lens case: CL-35A hard leatherette
Usable teleconverter:
TC-200* | TC-201*

<<< ---The gold ring signifies the use of ED glass element in the optical formula. Credit: Images courtesy of Mr. Mal Kantzler ® <>. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.

Warning: Certain AE modes (Programmed AE and Shutter Priority AE) on selective Nikon SLRs will not work efficiently with older TC devices. Use an Ai-S version for better compatibility, read the respective Tele-Extender(s) sections. * When used at apertures smaller than f/11 with fast shutter speeds, there is occasional uneven exposure. *Note: Production Serial Numbers for Ai-S 180mm f/2.8 lenses are believed to have started from 388801.

| NEXT | A friend of mine recently commented: Leonard, who will still bother about all those manual focus lenses anymore? Oh yeah ? Well, actually I do care. But his remark does has some basis for me to reconsider to what extend I should cover for the MF Nikkor lenses in this site . Possibly it is me that is still lack of adequate knowledge base in getting all these sites ready yet. There are still so many used Nikkor goodies at such reasonable price out there for us to take advantage from (as many users may choose to upgrade theirs to latest optic and abandoning their older ones). You have to bear in mind, not everyone in this world can afford to treat photography as a luxurious hobby and there are never short of good web resources featuring all those latest Nikkor optics so - should I abandon older Nikkor and jump onto the bandwagon of AF Nikkor too ? Anyway, more importantly, I do not want to mislead anyone or influence any buying decision as I will only feature some selective AF lenses that I actually owned or had some personal experience before. Well, admittedly, I don't intend to invest in all of these Nikkor lenses just to tell you my personal experience with them. So, here are some basic information relating to a few related options of Autofocus Nikkor lenses that I might have been owning for you to consider them as well before a decision is made on your purchase.

If you think this is still not very convincing, first - you have to understand over the years, Nikon did produce more than a few hundred of Nikkor lens types comprised of different focal lengths, varying lens speeds and specifications that might be for certain technical applications. If I cannot satisfy myself with what I am doing right now by just to compile a small library of information covering the evolution and various stages of lens development, I certainly do not think I have equipped myself with enough of knowledge ready to extend the coverage of autofocus Nikkor lenses. Well, the AF lenses will definitely be featured at later stages but it may take time - at least let me think I have done a fairly satisfying job first on the manual focus section before I begin site development on all those exciting AF Nikkor lenses. That is all.

If you still think otherwise, that is fine with me too.




200mm F2.0 EDIF

Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8
180mm f/2.8 Auto
180mm f/2.8 IF-ED series (UPDATED)

Nikkor 200mm f/3.5 ED IF

Nikkor 200mm f/4.0s
Nikkor 200mm f/4.0
Pre AI -
Nikkor 200mm f/4.0
200mm f/4.0 Auto

Nikkor 200mm f/2.0s ED IF
Relative: Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 IF
200mm f/5.6-45 Medical-Nikkor Auto

| Back to MAIN INDEX PAGE of 180mm/200mm Nikkor lenses | COMPARE this with the autofocus AF Nikkor 180mm lens group

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Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
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Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E

Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

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Credit: MCLau®, who has helped to rewrite some of the content appeared this site. Chuck Hester® who has been helping me all along with the development of all these Nikon websites; Lars Holst Hansen, 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion I have; Ms Rissa, Sales manager from Nikon Corporation Malaysia for granting permission to use some of the official content; Ted Wengelaar, Holland who has helped to provide many useful input relating to older Nikkor lenses; Some of the references on production serial numbers used in this site were extracted from Roland Vink's website; Hiura Shinsaku from Nikomat Club Japan. Lastly, to all the good people who has contributed their own expeience, resources or kind enough granted permission to use their images of their respective optic in this site. It is also a site to remember a long lost friend on the Net. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets & brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for may discrepancies arise from such dispute except rectifying them after verification. "Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Site made with an Apple IMac.