Nikon is one of the few 35mm SLR camera manufacturers that provide photographers with two telephoto lenses at a very close focal length of 180 and 200mm respectively. The picture angles of both lenses are marginally different at 13°40' and 12°20'. Although such kind of variation when being interpreted in visual may not be considered as too significant as with wideangle lenses, but it was kind of strange to see Nikon continuously supporting these focal length by introducing series of upgrades for their lenses at these two focal lengths. This kind of commitment has, thus resulted in a varieties of lenses appeared over the years.
COMPARE this with the autofocus AF Nikkor 180mm lens group
<<< --- Credit: Image of this Nikkor telephoto lense courtesy of Miss Kristina Hauzar-Proctor® of www.henrys.com. Hendry.com® also runs a popular Ebay Store where you can take a visit to scout for tons of used items. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer. If you intend to use this image for other purpose, a written permission from the creator is always encouraged.
The Nikkor telephoto lenses at these focal length have also gained widespread recognition especially in relative to their superior optical performance. They are popular choice for photographers who often needs to cover stage, news, photojournalism, travel, sports, documentary work and another popular application is in portraiture photography. You may also find some of the best of Nikon optical engineering and research being incorporated into the design of lenses at these two focal lengths. For instance, extra-close focusing capability found in the Medical/Micro-Nikkor series, ultra-fast lens speed (f/2.8, f/2.0), use of rare earth glass (ED), internal focusing (IF) and Nikon proprietary lens coating process (NIC) are just some of the examples.
The 200mm has an image magnification that fills the 35mm frame with an area 1/16th of that covered by a 50mm lens, and thus the 200mm figuratively reaches out to create eye-arresting images and possibly the single reason why this lens is so appealing to photographers. Unlike zoom lenses, these lenses are generally referred as "prime" lenses where it has a fixed focal length and a constant maximum lens aperture. One of the significant advantages Nikkor telephoto lenses provide is their comfortable working distance over the subject you are shooting with. Next, the maximum aperture of f/2.0, f/2.8 or even at the slowest lens speed (f/4.0 for the 200mm Micro-Nikkor and 200mm telephoto) found at these focal length are still considered to be reasonably fast for handheld low light photography. Another optical characteristic is their apparent compressed perspective, making them a strong creative tool for taking compelling images, with foreground and background appear to be drawn together. And since most of these lenses (except the speed demon of Nikkor 200mm f/2.0s ED IF) are provided with a f/32 minimum aperture, it offers a creative photographer with an option of extra-depth of field control. Lastly, the reason why you should consider giving yourself a real treat in selecting such kind of prime lenses over zoom lenses is, you will always be enjoying a bright image projection inside viewfinder in your camera for pin point focusing and picture composition. Such kind of advantages is simply incomparable with any typical zoom lenses, in particular those which offer variable apertures when the zoom setting changes.
Generally, depth of field is usually used as an interpretation for personal vision. Given a constant factor of same focusing distance and aperture used, depth of field at the 180-200mm focal length can be very shallow as compared to effect of wideangle lenses. When combining a long focal length with maximum aperture, depth of field can even be more limiting and often require precise focusing. As a general rule of thumb, the range of sharp focus increases as camera-to-subject distance increasing proportionally. so, when combining creative control of depth of field with the natural optical behavior of compression of perspective, you can easily put a Nikkor lens with a 180-200mm focal length to achieve many creative photographic effect.
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Although most photographers would still think telephoto lenses below 200mm are still considered to be safe for hand held photography. But it is still extremely important to keep camera and lens absolutely steady, because telephoto lenses at these focal length start to magnify movement during handling which will result in loss of sharpness in images taken. As a general guideline, you should use a minimum shutter speed of 1/250 second or faster when a 200mm lens is used for handheld available light photography to ensure sharp images is taken.
Credit: Front & rear view of this Non-Ai 20cm lense courtesy of Mr. Allan Detrich® <DetrichPix@aol.com> © Both images Copyright 2003. All rights reserved.
Telephoto lenses at these two focal length equally has a long history in their respective lens development. The first 200mm Nikkor telephoto photographic lens was believed to be a 20.0cm f/4-32 Nikkor-Q Auto, which was introduced back in October, 1961. The early 200mm lens has a 4 elements in 3 groups optical design. Two years later in 1963, a special applications 200mm lens was also being introduced by Nikon, it was a 200mm f/5.6-45 Medical-Nikkor Auto for dental/medical use. On the other hand, Nikon introduced their first Nikkor lens at 180mm focal length, a 180mm f/2.5-32 Nikkor-H Preset quite late in 1965. The lens requires a Nikon N->F adapter tube (BR-1) (61.5mm dia. by 62.3mm length, adds 58.5mm of extension) to shoot pictures. However, the first of the more popular Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 series was only being introduced in 1970.
Side view of a Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 AI lens with the built-in telescopic lens hood extended.
Credit: ©-Copyright 2001 Lizz Grimes<Lizz@austin.rr.com> of www.davidgrimes.com All Rights Reserved
An overview of the few options of Nikkor lenses at 200mm focal length: There are two basic versions of the Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 telephoto lens, early versions has a 4 elements in 4 groups optical formula and another revamped version in a 5 elements in 5 groups optical design. In between and thereafter, versions that appeared only carried different lens spec, features, types and varying exterior changes. However, beyond the f/4.0 maximum aperture, there was actually another Nikkor 200mm telephoto lens which has a significant interest to many Nikon faithful, it was an ultra fast speed Nikkor 200mm f/2.0s ED lens which was, actually first introduced in January, 1977 (and subsequent versions that followed carried an IF feature). It was also one of the two fastest MF Nikkor telephoto lens above the 200mm focal length (the other unit was a 1981 Nikkor 300mm f/2.0s EDIF telephoto lens). The ultra-fast speed Nikkor lens has eventually evolved with an Ai-S spec Nikkor lens in 1981.
Fastest optic at this class ?The record was held until 1990 where Canon decided to release their FDn 200mm f/1.8 L to please the many request from users of Canon New F-1 and the high-tech Canon T90 cameras. It was indeed very strange to notice Canon decided to launch this lens that late - despite the Company has announced discontinued the support for FD lenses back in 1986. Well, most observers concluded it was basic a marketing gimmick to tell the community Canon triumphs at this focal length, in terms of status and "record" it held.
However, there was one area Nikon still command great respect in their technological advancement. The Nikon Macro photography system has seemed grown from strength to strength. At this focal length of 200mm, Nikon has a great optic in Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 IF, the first of such 200mm special application lenses was introduced by Nikon in August, 1978. However, since Medical Nikkor and Micro Nikkor has an overlapped optic at this 200mm focal length and many observers have predicted Nikon may discontinue one of the lens type which seemed more likely it was the older Medical Nikkor lens that may give way, which actually happened a year or two later in 1979/80. The Medical Nikkor was eventually replaced with a optical lens with an entire new design at 120mm in late December, 1981. While on the other hand, the Micro Nikkor 200mm lens was given an Ai-S update in 1981. The next major upgrade for the Micro-Nikkor 200mm was a thoroughly revamped true optical marvel unit, AF-D Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 EDIF in October,1993.
During the early '80, the market has flooded with a series of sophisticated multi-AE-modes SLR cameras which actually has slowed down the pace of the 35mm SLR market; in stead of thinking such design would fuel demand but rather, it has created a confusing state for many potential new SLR users; we noticed a general slow down in growth; many turned away from sophistication in favour of simple, lightweight, hassle-free P&S cameras. Another factor which may also added to such depression was the emergence of many early prototypes of autofocus SLR cameras which was originally aimed to test market reactions (with an exception of Nikon F3AF which introduced along with two dedicated AF Nikkor telephoto lenses, a AF-Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 while another was actually an 200mm lens, AF-Nikkor 200mm f/3.5 EDIF. These early AF SLRs with their varying degree of performance and features, have also added to the market which was already congested with multimode SLRs. The AF Nikkor 200mm lens introduced along the Nikon F3 AF was indeed a top quality optic at its own right and had enjoying a good reputation and rated highly in its optical performance. It was also the first (AF) Nikkor lens at 200mm focal length which has incorporated a rare earth glass ("ED") element in its optical design.
On the other hand, the special application 200mm f/5.6 Medical Nikkor lens has a more straight forward development path than the comparing 200mm telephoto lens. Its 4 elements in 4 groups design has remained unchanged although the next upgrade happened in 1974/75; the revised lens was more like a features-riched and cosmetic updates rather than a major optical revamp. However, Nikon eventually decided to replace the 200mm focal length with a shorter focal length of 120mm which has a more practical focal length for indoor medical usage since the lens has incorporated a built-in illumination feature which eliminates the needs of using off camera flash. The Medical Nikkor 120mm f/4.0's full stop gain in its lens speed at f/4.0 from previous version is equally useful when combining the moderate lens speed with high speed film types.
Credit: Image was downloaded from Roland Vink website, retouched, restored its original colour and scaled to fit into this page. The original image can be accessed by CLICKING HERE. Please also consider giving Roland a helping hand in his site construction of SERIAL NUMBERs on Nikkor lenses.
So, that is all for the 200mm focal length; at the shorter 180mm focal length, we have heard of an old lens type in preset Nikkor. Majority of the focus in its lens development centered around Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 lens at later stage. The most popular model among these is an ED version. Among all MF Nikkor lenses, Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 EDs was, perhaps the cheapest Nikkor lens you can buy with an ED glass designation.
COMPARE this with the autofocus AF Nikkor 180mm lens group
However, except for the earlier non-ED version of 180mm Nikkor telephoto, AI-S lens version introduced in 1980 has its optical formula revamped completely. There was also two versions of AF Nikkor lens thus far (with and without distance info chipset within). On top of that, Nikon also introduced an innovative zoom lens with true macro capability, the AF-D Micro-Nikkor 70-180mm f/5.6 ED-IF was such of its find in the industry and was officially debuted in September, 1997. The zoom-micro also has the 180mm focal length well covered. Generally, Nikkor lenses at 200mm focal length have even more in number and "varieties" than the 180mm focal length. First, there are many older and a newer versions of 200mm prime lens at f/4.0 lens speed; with an ultra- fast, huge sized and expensive lens at f/2.0 to supplement along with quite a few options of Medical and Micro Nikkor lenses and even has an early Nikon F3AF autofocus lens with AF capabilities. Anyway, it is not uncommon to notice most modern zoom lenses have these focal lengths of 180 to 200mm well covered in their specifications and thus, demand for prime lenses has gradually deteriorates over the years while most of the photographers who still appreciate all these prime telephoto lenses have turned their back to shop at used equipment markets instead of buying new.
Overall, what a resourceful & eventful Nikkor development for these two focal lengths, huh ? So, come to think of it, after all the upgrades, research and refinement made to their design, they should also be good optic, right ?
Basically, there were four prime lenses between focal length of 180mm to 200mm in the Nikkor lens family. For the working professionals or those often covering indoor sports or fashion events that prohibiting the use of artificial illumination like flash, here on the Nikkor lens menu, we have a very reasonably priced ED lens of Nikkor 180mm f/2.8s ED, if you want real lens speed to capture action in low available light, there is a high speed demon of Nikkor 200mm f/2.0s ED IF; there is also a very compact yet without bursting the pocket lens with equally impressive performance lens in Nikkor 200mm f/4.0; and lastly, a surprising autofocus AF-Nikkor 200mm f/3.5s that came along with the Nikon F3AF but it has its limitation on AF but no doubt, it is still a Nikkor !
Nikkor 200mm f/3.5 ED IF
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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm by: Hansen, Lars Holst
Recommended Reading Reference on Nikon cameras and Nikkor lenses | about this photographic web site
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Co-developed with my web buddy, Rick Oleson® & Denmark, Creator of the Nikon Repair Group Mailing-List; A contributing effort to Michael Liu's Classic Nikon SLRs and Nikkor optic site.
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.