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Telephoto zoom lenses are now a standard for the portrait photographers. It covers variety of focal length, for allowing photographers to have full control while taking a photo. Portrait photographers are somewhat forced to use the 70-200mm lenses due to its superb performance and lack of distortions seen in the wide angle lenses. Although it is such an amazing lens, the price of 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses are quite harsh, especially for the start ups.

Nikon makes two different 70-200mm lenses: f/4 and f/2.8. These are the absolute best 70-200mm lenses you can purchase for Nikon DSLR’s, but the price is simply just not there. Nikon 70-200mm f/4 starts at whopping $1,400. If we consider Sigma or Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 which starts at $1,200, I cannot recommend the Nikon 70-200mm lenses.

If you can sacrifice some performance and features, there is one more option. Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED could save your bank. This lens is old, I mean old. It was announced in 1997, but it is still under production because people love it. I was afraid to purchase this because it’s as old as I am. Though, I do not regret buying it, this is just a great lens.

Specifications

  • Focal Length: 80-200mm
  • Zoom Ratio: 2.5X
  • Max. & Min. Aperture: f/2.8 to f/22
  • Max Reproduction Ratio: 0.24X
  • Lens Elements & Groups: 16 Elements, 11 Groups.
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9
  • ED Glass Elements: 3
  • Autofocus: Yes*

There is absolutely no special things in this lens other than several ED glass elements and SIC coating. There is no Vibration Reduction (VR) and Silent Wave Motor (SWM; aka. AF-S). This two features may be crucial features for many photographers, but for me, I did not needed it. I added an asterix next to autofocus because you MUST have D7000 series or better in order to use this lens. This lens uses the old school screw driver method to perform autofocusing.

Autofocus

I was impressed by how fast the autofocus is. I expected much slower and lousy autofocus performance due to its old school screw driver method. Autofocus performance for this lens varies depending on your body. Higher end body will obviously perform better than lower ends because every camera body has a different torque. Greater the torque, the faster the autofocus is.

Build Quality

This lens is built like a tank. It’s made out of all metal with touch of plastic in few places. The zoom ring is firm, yet smooth enough to easily rotate from 80mm to 200mm. Focus ring is very light and not as firm as the zoom ring. It’s too light, it was quite difficult for me to do precise manual focusing. This lens lacks weather sealing, so do not use this lens under harsh weathers.

Image Quality / Sharpness

This lens is capable of producing super sharp images, with some limits. From 80-135mm at f/2.8 at any distance, this lens is sharp, I mean super sharp; You can see every little details. At 200mm f/2.8 at a close distance, the image quality was terrible; I thought my lens was damaged or had serious defects. After days of researches and reading reviews, this lens is known for poor image quality at 200mm f/2.8 at a close distance. I gave this lens a series of sharpness tests, and I figured out at 200mm, sharpness is back to normal when using f/4 or at a long distance when using f/2.8. So keep that in your mind. If you plan to do any close distant shoots at wide open aperture, I do not recommend this lens.

These portraits are taken using Nikon D750 equipped with 80-200mm f/2.8. The depth of field, color reproduction, and sharpness is outstanding.

Conclusion

Who is this lens for? Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED is for those who seek 70-200mm focal length but don’t mind losing couple features. By sacrificing SWM and VR you can save a lot of money, yet you are not losing any optical performance. If you are portrait photographer or wedding photographer where you don’t need super fast autofocusing, consider this lens. Also, this lens is certainly better than 70-200mm f/2.8 VR ii because this lens do not suffer from focus breathing issue like what 70-200mm f/2.8 is criticized about.

I hope this review informed you something about Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8. If you have any questions, let me know. I purchased mine like new condition from keh.com and I love it. Thank you for visiting, and like always, happy purchase.

Visit my photography buying guide if you have any questions regarding cameras or lenses.

  • Comments
  • Just curious if you could post the EXIF data, or at least focal length and aperture on those portraits?

    Thanks and great review!

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