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Nikon Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4 D (IF) ED Interchangeable Lens Review

Nikon Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4 D (IF) ED Interchangeable Lens Review - 

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Nikon Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4 D (IF) ED
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Micro Nikkor 200mmThis lens is the longest focal length in Nikon’s line-up of Macro lenses. Nikon call them Micro, but they do the same job as everybody else’s Macro lenses and that is to produce images that are a 1:1 ratio on the film or sensor. Not only is it Nikon’s longest, but the longest prime macro lens available. We take a look at how it performs.

Specification

  • Focal Length 200mm
  • Aperture f/4
  • Angle of view N/Aº
  • Filter size 62mm
  • Construction 13/8 elements/groups
  • Focus type Internal
  • Closest focus 500mm (1:1)
  • Weight 1190g
  • Dimensions 76x193mm
  • Mounts available Nikon
  • Tripod bush Yes,
  • Price (SRP) £1300

Build and Handling
The lens comes supplied in a hard, tubular leatherette case that immediately shouts quality at you. The case is lined with brown velvet that further re-enforces this feel. Withdrawing the lens from the case reveals a solid looking piece of equipment, metal bodied, with a huge focus ring that occupies almost half the barrel.

Immediately in front of the mount is the aperture ring with a lock at f/32 for modern auto cameras. The non-removable tripod mount ring takes up the next 32mm. The fact that the mount could not be removed did not prove a problem for two reasons, firstly, the lens proved virtually impossible to hand hold and secondly the mount itself was fairly low profile and did not protrude.

Forward of this is a distance window which is marked with a depth-of-field scale that is safely in the category of ‘completely useless’! Marked at f/32 only, it looked more like an arrowhead and only served to highlight one of the biggest drawbacks of this type of lens. More later. Alongside is a limit switch for the focus.

Next up is the AF/MF switchover ring, a dated affair with a small press-button lock. The remainder of the lens barrel is taken up with over 75mm of focus ring, which has a very nice feel to it, something that is handy as the full focus travel takes three quarters of a turn.

Autofocusing was painfully slow and quite noisy by modern standards. It was, however, accurate to the selected focus point on the camera. It is not possible to over-ride the autofocus manually without changing the switch to manual.

Optical Quality
This lens is an adequate performer, but again by modern standards, not outstanding. Due to the long focal length (for a macro), focussing is critical as very little depth-of-field is achievable. Distortions and aberrations of all kinds are well controlled, as they should be with the inclusion of ED glass. Sharpness is good within this limited depth-of-field.


At /f5.6 the DOF is negligible


At f/9 it has improved, but not much better

At f/13. Still not great


Nikon 200mm set at f/4

Nikon 200mm set at f/8

 

 

 

Click on each of these two comparison photos to view full size versions

Below is our lens test data. To find out how to use this graph look at this article: How we test lenses

Verdict
Despite its obvious quality, this lens does seem to be a little long in the tooth. More suited to specialised macro duties on a tripod than as a general purpose macro lens, it prove extremely hard to hand hold and get decent results. If you are thinking that the long focal length will be ideal for chasing bugs and butterflies, you will need to go crashing through the undergrowth with a tripod in tow! Consider a 70-200mm VR and extension ring instead. A lens in need of an update.

In summary the main positive points of the Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4 D (IF) ED are:
Exceptional build quality
Good tripod collar (needed)
Good CA/distortion control

Negative points are:
Geriatric autofocus
Dated switching
Narrow depth-of-field

Check the latest price of the Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4 D (IF) ED here and help support the site.

Test by Ian Andrews www.wildaboutkent.co.uk

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Comments


Leif e2
10 722
1 Jul 2007 11:17AM
I would like to make a correction to the review. DOF is a function of image magnification and aperture, assuming a fixed circle of confusion. So all 200mm F4 macro lenses will have the same DOF at a given aperture.

Autofocus is rarely if ever used for macro, so that is not relevant if macro is the concern. The reason the auto-focus is slow is in part because the focus has a long play, which is exactly what you want for macro, where fine adjustments are needed. As far as I know all macro lenses have somewhat slow auto-focus. Optically I would say the review sample was a duffer, at least if the example pictures are anything to go by. On a D200 my sample is incredibly sharp across the entire frame from F4 to F11, and sharp at F16. It is excellent, but not stunning, in the non-macro range i.e. not a match for the 180mm F2.8.

Regarding the comment on preferring a zoom + diopter, in my opinion a tripod, or other support, is near essential for macro shots, regardless of the exact equipment used (assuming sharpness is critical).

The author refers to "dated switching" which I take to mean the auto-focus engage-disengage switch. That is a fair point, though I never use AF on mine.

The reviewer says "A lens in need of an update.". I strongly disagree.

One failing the author does not mention is the lack of proper weather sealing. I often find myself taking pictures in drizzle, and I constantly worry about water ingress causing damage. The manual specifically says to avoid getting it wet. I believe the Canon equivalent is weather sealed.

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annettep38 e2
3 188 32 France
30 Nov 2013 11:47PM
Leif is absolutely right.
Further to that, the person who thinks you need a tripod to use this lens for 'bugs' or flutterbies ahas never really tried.
Please visit my PF to look for yourself, I have taken about 4000 insect shots with it and have not once used a tripod.
the focussing ring is not ideally placed, I agree. but easy to use and stunning results. Never had a better macro.
Actually, I been hunting for a NIB one of these, and finally found one complete with the 5 Year warranty.

I am running this particular lens on a Nikon D800E, which I found out is not a forgiving camera, and made a majority of my good lenses look like total crap, due to the 36 MP sensor being a tad it too strong.
This lens works phenomenally on this body for macros and general shooting both in AF (slow and noisy) and in manual. I use both (AF to generally tune in - hey I am lazy!) and switch to manual for grabbing the particular focus I want, plus adjusting your sensor range is a big key to this, if you use all 51 , then you can't end up with a great shot from handheld (if you are as old as I am) , I use a much smaller range, and pictures are amazing in detail pre cropping.
I don't post process, as I am an old believer in shooting it right the 1st time, and thinking about your shot prior to shooting.
Take a look around for pictures from this lens and compare it anything else, and you will see this is one of the very best macro lenses ever made.
Personally, ring placement, motor whine, slow AF, etc etc is what most people focus on, me personally, I care not for the aesthetics , or bells and whistles, just the body build (for toughness) and the glass, and the very end result.
My question on the DOF being narrow - How so? I can set it where I have a wide band with absolutely NO linear distortion, perhaps it doesn't work as well on an older more geriatric camera? There isn't a mention of what camera was used, I recommend trying it on a D800E or a D600 or even a D7000 and there is a totally different result. Anyways, I enjoyed this review, and the pictures taken for the review were less than favorable, or on par with this this lenses capability, everyone is subject to their own opinion, and I respect the authors. I would highly recommend renting this lens for a tryout for macro shooting, you won't be disappointed.

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