Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 35~200mm 1:3.5~4.5 Ai-S Lens (35-200mm f/3.5-4.5)

Review of the Nikon Zoom-NIKKOR 35~200mm 1:3.5~4.5 Ai-S Lens (35-200mm f/3.5-4.5).

Overall Rating:

See the related "normal" Ai-S zoom reviews: 28-50mm, 28-85mm, 35-70mm, 35-105mm and 35-135mm.

This high powered zoom lens was introduced in 1985 for SLR film cameras like the Nikon F3, EM and FM2. It was a very expensive lens. It cost $1015 (USD) in 1994, $1290 (USD) in 1996, and was phased out by 1999. It was designed using a mainframe with the latest optics software of 1985 (optics software was in its earliest stages at this time). This design could have benefited greatly from aspherical elements but these were yet to be established. This lens is made in Japan.

It is hard to keep the EXIF data on Nikon DSLR cameras accurate thanks to it being a variable aperture all-manual zoom lens (no electronics).

The macro performance, while cumbersome to use, is quite good. The macro function is, counterintuitively, at the 35mm focal length. The 35-105mm Ai-S also performed well at macro distances.

sunflower — macro to 0.25× magnification (detail)

Barrel distortion is present on the wide end (-6%) and pincushion distortion on the long end (+3%). Honestly, this is par-for-the-course for such high powered zoom lenses from this period.

This lens has some color fringing.

Color fringing detail at 3-to-1:

center at f=35mm/8
corner at f=35mm/8
center at f=200mm/8
corner at f=200mm/8

Shaprness is not the greatest.

It is so-so for infrared photography. There is a very slight infrared hotspot at all focal lengths and the minimum aperture.

infrared at f=35mm/22
infrared at f=200mm/32

Ghosting is high. Flaring at f=35mm is just enough to be unwanted and flares a lot a f=200mm no doubt due to the high number of elements. Some mild vignetting, too.

ghosting at f=35mm/3.5
flaring at f=35mm/22
ghosting at f=200mm/4.5
flaring at f=200mm/32

Bokeh is fair at the 200mm focal length. It does not focus closely enough at f=35mm to have much bokeh. The diaphragm is not round so highlights in the out-of-focus areas take on its shape.

bokeh at f=200mm/5.6

Diffraction has begun by f/11.

This is an Ai-S lens meaning it will work in program and shutter priority mode on some older model film cameras. It takes 62mm filters, which is probably too small for a lens like this that reaches 200mm, and the front element turns as it is focused making use of a polarizer difficult. It has a macro function ring and when turned a reproduction ratio of 1:4 can be achieved. There is an infrared focus index for all focal lengths, a focus scale and a depth of field scale. The focus collar has a short throw like most Ai-S lenses. This is an all metal lens with rubber focus/zoom collar so as to prevent "brassing" as is typical on early Nikkor lenses.

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Nikon lens construction legend

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