Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lens Stories ~ Nikon Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5 N Ai

Lens Stories ~ Nikon Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5 N

Being old, retired and having not much to do but surf the 'net and get into trouble, I stumbled across an article by Ken Rockwell.  His comments were about a Nikon Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5 N Ai.  It got me to thinking back to the time I bought a then new pre-Ai version out of Japan and had to sell it immediately because, honestly, I couldn't afford it, even at the then cheap Japanese prices.  I never got to shoot it so have no idea how it performed.

Returning to near present time and flush with money from the sale of one thing or another I surfed leboncoin point fr and found the zoom version M. Rockwell described.  It wasn't in great condition, but the glass seemed clean and clear.  The exterior showed that the lens had beat around someone's camera bag unused for years.

Of course I didn't realize the bottom was about to fall out of the market on these.  Up to this point I saw them sell for around 100Euro in good condition.  A the Photo Foire down in Bievre I'd see these sitting on the table for as much as 150Euro.  I paid 80Euro for the lens and hoped it would perform well.

A quick comparison  between this and a couple other lenses shows that, yes, Nikon's reputation is justified and that Ken Rockwell is correct.  This Nikkor is sharp from wide open across the field to about 7/8th's of the way out (when used with a Lens Turbo II focal reducer).  In the extreme corners the lens obviously falls off rather badly.  If I remembered to account for this I could easily get around the problem with a slight crop of the image.  If I avoid using the Lens Turbo II the Nikkor is sharp to the very edges of the frame (because the scene is cropped on APS-C compared to Full Frame).

In practice the lens is bigger and heavier than the cheap kit-zoom Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 SEL OSS.  Used on my much liked Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras the Nikkor can be a little unwieldy, particularly as I age.  The older I get the shakier I'm becoming, so a fast shutter speed and sufficient time to focus are necessities.  Since the zoom has a combined focus/zoom ring, focusing and not changing the field of view (zoom) can be a little challenging.  The more I use the lens, the fewer problems I have operating it.  Old Dogs can still learn, or so it seems.

One of the first times I took it out I went to la traversee de Paris.  This is where 600+ vintage and classic vehicles drive around Paris, kick up a bit of dust, and make themselves seen.  For me it's always a complex environment.  People are coming and going.  Cars are driving around.  Using an old manual focus lens can be very challenging, indeed.  Seeing something interesting, framing, focusing, and tracking as something changes position isn't easy.  Yet I feel I was able to come away with a few good things.
[example1, example2, example3, example4]

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