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Nikon's AF Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D
Part III

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Part III Nikon's AF Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D Telephoto Zoom Lens
Year introduced: 1995; Discontinued: Current Model as at 03.2007

The fast speed 80-200mm f/2.8 may be regarded as a top rated optical zoom lens by many Nikon photographers but it has a high price tag. In order to cater for the budget minded photographers or casual shooters, Nikon introduced an interim model of an alternate 80-200 in 1995 which aimed to serve mass market demand. From what I can recall, from the period of 1995/6 onwards, Nikon has seemed to turn on steam and has become very aggressive in beefing up numbers, varieties and lens selection for photographers in the AF Nikkor lens group. For an example, many other Nikkor zoom lenses such as AF Nikkor 35mm f/2.8D, AF Nikkor 180mm f/2.8D ED-IF, AF Zoom-Nikkor 35-105mm f/3.5~4.5D, AF Zoom-Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5~5.6D were being introduced along with the AF Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D that we are discussing here. Among these new members in the AF Nikkor lens family, other than the two prime telephoto of 180mm f/2.8 and 35mm wideangle, the remaining zoom lenses were mainly designed as budget zoom lenses. However, all of these AF Nikkor lenses were either introduced as new or as an updated with a D-spec autofocus Nikkor from the previous versions.

NIkon affordable consumer class AF Nikkor Zoom 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D telephoto lens
Among the new offerings, the AF Zoom-Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5~5.6D seemingly has been designed as a companion zoom for this AF-D 80-200mm to cater for photographer who specifically just wish to own bare minimum number of lenses in their lens system where the two provide a very functional zoom range that help to cover from 28mm wideangle to a 200mm telephoto range. So, it looked as if Nikon has a good combination for this needs in the market and with just two extremely compact and light weight zoom lenses, one can travel in the lightest possible package with a Nikon SLR that offers a useful 74° wide picture angle to a reasonably long reaching telephoto range.

As I said, the intended purpose has a strong commercial flavor but it did sound quite logical as super zoom with 6-7X zoom ratio from wideangle to telephoto was not readily available for photographers during this time around the mid of '90. NOTE: Nikon did introduced an AF Zoom Nikkor 28-200mm f/3.5~5.6D IF a few years later in 1998. With a Nikon DX format Digital SLR, the said zoom replicates as a 123mm to 309mm zoom.

Credit: Image courtesy of AUCTION DEPOT USA where I found this very well taken image from their AuctionDepotUSA@EBAY Store®. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

This compact AF Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D tele-zoom has a rather wide zoom ring at the middle section and offers a very secure feel while you zoom. The zoom action uses a rotating type and comes with most popular settings of focal length of 80mm, 105mm. 135mm and 200mm marked at the side of the zoom ring for quick visual verification where you are on during zooming. As the lens has been designed primarily as an autofocus zoom lens and Nikon anticipates little use of manual focus by photographers as the corresponding autofocus technology on newer series of Nikon SLRs improve by the days; thus, the manual focus ring has been designed to be placed at the outer section at the front end. The MF ring is just a very narrow plastic ring and can be awkward to use and operate. As there is no DISTANCE information either where AF is remitted electronically to camera; so using manual focusing has to reply on in-focus finder image to determine its state. Overall, focusing mechanism for this lens is smooth and in fact you can say it is a little tends to be on the too loose side. From nearest focus distance to infinity. it only requires less than half of a full turn action which sometimes makes you feel a little uncomfortable on how precise it can be (the only way is to see the image inside the finder pop into focus while you turn the lens and focus). So, for photographers who may be own/using both manual and autofocus Nikon SLRs or older version of AF SLRs; this lens behaves less decisive with a slower AF tracking speed and most often, one has to revert back to manual focusing. Al these could add up to the fact that this compact Nikkor zoom lens may not present itself as an attractive option if you are an old time MF Nikon SLR user. The rear section is preoccupied with an aperture ring with its minimum aperture (f/22) marked in a bright orange. The orange dot beside the slide switch is the minimum aperture lock where it requires this to be locked for certain exposure control modes such as Shutter Priority AE and Program AE. For those who may be familiar with the older quality Nikkor lenses may tends to get a little uneasy with the change of rear lens mount to an all black hardened plastic - a design that actually "follows" the path of Canon's budget zoom lenses. Possibly Nikon thinks Canon can still make people coughing out their $$$ to get those lenses, why won't they do the same to increase corporate revenue ? anyway, this scenario in the lens development has turned as a market trend lately as many budget zoom that surface on the market today use plastic rear mount. Reason is obvious, as manufacturers anticipate there is no necessity to counter for thousand times in lens interchanging for amateur users group and hence, there is no such need for such consideration anymore. A good robbed off from the the respective creators, bad for consumers.

Birds feed... by  Miljenko Dev‹iŤ  from Zagreb, Croatia
Credit: Image courtesy of Miljenko Devãiç from Zagreb
who maintains his PORTFOLIO at PBASE. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Side view of a NIkon AF Nikkor Zoom 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D telephoto lens Another image by on the NIkon AF Nikkor Zoom 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D telephoto lens
Credit: Image courtesy of Laura Kornylak ® <> from shutterblade*com where the Company has a website on its own. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Although I would not like to associate this lens directly with the superb built quality presents in the comparing AF Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D ED featured earlier as both lenses have an entirely different market audience to satisfy for (minus the fact, in price comparison, the comparing fast speed 80/200 costs a few times more). I know it can be quite an experience whether purely compare the two lenses from paper spec to on practical photography. But as a start, the lightweight of this zoom presents itself in having a rather strong plastic (polycarbonate) feel. Although some people may term the lightweight and compactness as its strength for this moderately price Nikkor zoom but that is how it projects itself to a seasoned photographers who may migrated from the old MF days of Nikon. I do know this phenomenon (compact and lightweight design) does not confined to just Nikon alone but it actually stretching across to other major labels as well in a common fashion. Well, you need to know the fact priority of manufacturers is how to design and produce lenses that costs lesser in production RATHER than make them more affordable to consumers (at least the retail prices of these class of budget zoom lenses doesn't reflect such a state as compare to the old days). I guess everything must strike a compromising point - compactness in zoom lenses usually attributes from the use of a variable aperture design. In this case, the AF Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D has a rather weak area in its maximum opening aperture of f/4.5 which stop down to f/5.6 (when reaches the 200mm focal length). To the seasoned folks in photography, you probably know what it interprets as in the light loss factor where this indirectly restrict its usage for a wide range of usage where it may require the lens to be used in favorable light condition. Adding to this is a limiting use of aperture for creative depth of field control (the lens does has a f/32 minimum aperture at the other end of the diaphragm). Another scenario during photography in less desirable light condition could be, one may just has to struggle to find good support during shooting (the lens does has a f/32 minimum aperture at the other end of the diaphragm). Well, possibly Nikon does expect photographers beginning to adapt how to use faster film type to compensate for the weak light gathering power of this budget zoom . For digital SLR users, you can counter this by setting (or leave it to auto ASA control) the ISO to higher rating which is equivalent to using a faster film type film speed rating.

Lastly, the small aperture opening of the diaphragm in this zoom lens may also contribute issue of a dimly lit finder image. Recently, I have tried out the lens onto my 20 years old Nikon FM2N - and it caused me to think there was something was wrong with my focusing screen ! Come to think of it, 20 years of intense progress in both optical and SLR development, we see little benefit extending to consumers in terms of value. The scenario of an entry level Apple's PowerMac with a slow 60hz processor and 16MB RAM which cost me USD2,300-00 those days has evolved itself as an IMac with 1.8GHz now and cost only USD1,000-00 today. On the other hand, the MF Nikkor 300mm f/2.8s ED-IF which I paid for USD1,350-00 and now an equivalent AF-S VR Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G ED-IF retails for USD4,560-00. This serves as a clue where we see little rewards after all these years committing ourselves to photography with a Japanese label, huh ?

NIkon AF Nikkor Zoom 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D telephoto lens rear plastic lens mount
Credit: Images courtesy of shutterblade*com where the Company has a website on its own. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved.

Other than the disturbing fact in lit lack of lens speed, if you are fussy enough, there are quite a few other undesirable features that you can pick on too. For a start, the lack of distance information display esp. for manual focusing can be forgiving, so does the lack of indicative depth of field scales on the lens (Nikon has omitted the infra index too in this lens). During focusing, the lens front element rotates (during zooming, it does too, in a lesser extend) where it may requires photographer to act another extra during use of special filter and/or mounting close-up attachments. The lens features an all polycarbonate body structure which actually extends all the way to the rear lens mount. All these are points when you take into consideration when you are investing into a zoom lens that can help you, not only delivering decent high image resolution but also cater for growth when one day, you decide to get more serious into photography and find yourself still has a decent lens to work on. I guess all these was originated from the fact where Nikon requires a budget 28-80mm / 80-200mm zoom series in the Nikkor lens group to compete against other labels. As long as they can get first time buyer got hooked into the Nikon 35mm SLR photographic system, there are ways to make more moneys from acquisitions of other system accessories in the future. For an instance, when you have a telephoto zoom, next logical choice is a wideangle or wideangle zoom. Next possibly follow up with a flash unit and so forth.. it is just like buying a car. The accommodating parts and accessories offers manufacturers an alternate source of income after initial sale is secured.

Although I would not like to dampen high spirit of current owner of this zoom lens, but frankly, if ever I term a lens as "budget" or "entry level model", the irritating term do have some basis in my quote. Amidst all these negative remarks, good news is, what I have commented are confining to its basic design and built quality only. But optically, if you can live with the shortcomings, this lens till delivers decent Nikkor quality one would expect it to deliver. The zoom range is useful for many possibilities such as portraiture, family outing, private PR functions, wedding, candid of kids at play and travel abroad etc. - all due to its compactness and lightweight design. The optical train of this zoom uses a 10 elements in 8 group design. It can focus down to 1.5m (5 ft). Although it has no Nikon CRC for close range optical quality compensation, it can still deliver a magnification ratio of approx. 1:6.2 factor - which actually out performs the comparing, more expensive AF 80-200mm f/2.8D ED's non-MACRO mode 1:7.1X. Besides, the ratio is maintained throughout the entire zoom range.

A power Plant with steam rooling out near Daqing Oil Field, China
A power Plant with steam bursting out from the cooling towers near Daqing Oil Field, China

Leofoo® 2007

Interim photo ONLY. Looking for contributing images to replace this.

To summarize the lens in one line:- the strength of this lens is affordability and mobility, couples with an above average optical image resolution it can offer. Lastly, it is a native D-spec Nikkor optic zoom and permits full system compatibility with many AF film or digital Nikon SLR camera introduced after the first quarter of the '90 or simply those with 3D Matrix Metering embodies within. It can also be used for virtually any Nikon SLR that carries with a minimum Ai-Spec. To me, as this lens was designed to serve a different segment of consumers who may has a limiting budget to spend to built their system. The weaknesses are only centered on the small opening apertures and overall physical appearance. It is not that disastrous as I have put it as, if ambient light level is sufficient, with a creative mind behind the finder, it still can deliver many good results. So, as a general guide line when using a zoom lens; the old theory still works, i.e. always use a stop above the largest aperture and stopped down a f-stop or two from the minimum aperture and it should deliver its best optically. I do know the suggestion will limit its functionality further, but photography is NOT all about optical excellence, when situation demands, just learn to live with slow shutter speed, happily tricking your shutter release and capture moment, scenes or events that excite you. For those who may be concerned with what I am addressing here, Nikon does has another Nikon AF Nikkor 70-300mm f/4~5.6D ED telephoto zoom lens which makes a more viable alternative. But for those who may have been invested earlier prior to the 1998 release of that 70/300mm, provided you use it creatively, your existing zoom should anytime reward you with many favorable results. I don't see other areas justify for a quick change if you think other comparing options are a better choice. Lastly, regardless how it may affect you in a purchase consideration, this is still an original D-spec Nikkor, it minimizes potentially any incompatibility issues with many of the modern Nikon SLRs being marketed today.

Technical Specification for Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D tele-zoom lens:-

Type of lens: D-type AF Zoom-Nikkor lens with built-in CPU and Nikon bayonet mount.
Focal length:
80 -200mm f/4.5 -f/5.6;
123mm to 309mm for Nikon DX format DSLR
Maximum aperture
: f/4.5 at 80mm, f/5.6 towards 200mm
Lens construction:
10 elements in 8 groups
Picture angle: 30° 10' to 12° 20'
; 7° 50'-19° 51' with Nikon digital cameras (Nikon DX format)
Focal length scale:
80, 105, 135 and 200 mm
Distance scale:
Graduated in meters and feet from 1.5m (5 ft) to infinity (OO)
Distance information
: Output into camera body with CPU interface system
IS POSSIBLE; Option for manual focus provided
Focus/zoom control:
Via two independent control rings (Focus control: Via focusing ring (Zoom control: Via zoom ring)

NIkon AF Nikkor Zoom 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D telephoto lens in zoom lens extension
Distance information display: NONE
Depth of Field Scales
Infrared compensation scale
Minimum aperture lock
: Provided via slide switch
Zoom Control:
Manual, via center zoom ring
Aperture scale:
f/4.5, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22 and f/32
Lens Coating
: The high serial number version (refer below) could be using SIC (Nikon Super Integrated lens Coating)
Fully automatic (
* minimum aperture [f32] can be locked);
Reproduction Ratio: 1/6.2X
Number of diaphragm blades
: 7;
Exposure measurement:
Via full-aperture method with Ai cameras or cameras with CPU interface system; via stop-down method for other cameras
Attachment size: 52 mm (P=0.75 mm)
Approx. 72 mm dia. x 87.5 mm (approx. 3.5")
Approx. 330g (11.6 oz)

<<<--- The lens extend physically when focuses (so does the front filer ring rotates as when focuses.

Credit: Image courtesy of AUCTION DEPOT USA where I found this very well taken image from their AuctionDepotUSA@EBAY Store®. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

A country road with popular tri-wheeler car from Daqing Oil Field to Inner Mongolia
A country road with popular tri-wheeler car from Daqing Oil Field to Inner Mongolia.

Leofoo® 2007

Interim photo ONLY. Looking for contributing images to replace this.

Standard Accessories: 52 mm Snap-On, front and Rear lens caps.
Optional Accessories:- 52mm filters, Rubber lens hood HR-1, CL 15S case, No. 62
This lens will not provide autofocus operation when used with a Nikon F3AF camera with the AF Finder DX-1 attached. Usable Tele-Converters: - Due to lack of lens speed, Nikon only suggest the use of TC-14AS.

Startup Serial Number for this Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D lens may have been began from:

AF 80-200/4.5-5.6 D plastic mount 4+ 2000001 < 2004561 - 2119675 > Sep95 - 119675
AF 80-200/4.5-5.6 D high serial nos 4+ 2500001 < 2502653 - 2580136 > - 1999 80136
- Reference: Roland Vink's lens data sheet

Basic set of a ED Zoom lens 80-200mm f/2.8D Basic set of a ED Zoom lens 80-200mm f/2.8D with a rubberized lens hood HR-1
<<<--- The basic setup / standard accessories for the lens with an optional HR-1 rubberized lens hood.

Credit: Image courtesy of shutterblade*com where the Company has a website on its own. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved.

previous | NEXT | 3/5 The third upgrade of Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D ED with dual rings control (MK III)

Page 1:- Original Version MK I (1988~1992)
Page 2:-
Nikon AF zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D ED MK II (1992~1996);
Page 3:- Nikon AF zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5~5.6D (1995~2006)
Page 4:-
Nikon AF zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D ED MK III (1996~1998);
Page 5 :-
Nikon AF-S zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D IF-ED (1998~2005)

RELATIVE: Manual Focus 8.5~25.0cm (85-250mm) f/4~4.5-16 Zoom-Nikkor Auto; Non-Ai Zoom Nikkor Auto 1:4.5 f=80mm~f=200mm; Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5; Manual focus Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.0s; prototype of Manual Focus 80-200mm f/2.8 ED; Manual Focus Nikon Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8s ED

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