Nikon AF Zoom-NIKKOR 80-200mm 1:2.8 D ED N (New) Lens (f/2.8)

Review of the Nikon AF Zoom-NIKKOR 80-200mm 1:2.8 D ED N (New) Lens (f/2.8).

Overall Rating:


This made-in-Japan lens is 28 years old and debuted at a price of $1200 (USD). This lens is also known as the Nikkor AF 80-200mm f/2.8 D ED Mark III. It has nine aperture blades which are NOT rounded. What stands out is that it is a constant aperture, fast zoom with two-touch (separate zoom and focus rings). This lens was introduced when film cameras were in use, before digital cameras were common, so it was probably designed to resolve detail only to the point of making a film shooter happy... or was it?

notice the "N" with a circle around it on the lens box which indicates that this is the NEW, two-touch, Mark III version of the lens

Nikon have a very long history of making 80-200mm zooms (over 55 years — since 1969), all of which have been very popular due to their great sharpness and useful range. The lens closest in function, focal length and aperture to this one is the Nikkor AF 80-200mm f/2.8 D ED (no "N" a.k.a. the Mark II) which is now 32 years old (from 1992). It was much less user-friendly because it was a one-touch, push-pull design and did not have a tripod foot/mount like the lens of this review. The optics between these two lenses may be the same. The data are hard to find to confirm this but the optical construction of both lenses appears the same. Actually, the optics of this lens may be 36 years old (since the AF 80-200mm ED Mark I — not a "D" lens — from 1988).

Why not the next version: the AF-S 80-200mm f/2.8 D ED? Well, this lens had issues with the AF motor and these issues were not really resolved until the AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 G ED VR II version.

This lens is a varifocal zoom in that it changes focus as it is zoomed. It features three ED elements and no aspherical elements which are uncommon in telephoto designs like this. This is also long before the advent of exotic "Super ED" glass elements common in the newest Nikkor lenses of today. It also features internal focus and does not change its size as it is zoomed.

Size Compared

AF-S 70-200mm f/4 ED VR lens compared (captured using a 18-55mm VR II lens)


This lens exhibits almost no focus breathing, so a depth of field calculator may reliably be used. The focus breathing is less than that of the AF-S 70-200mm f/4 ED VR lens which exhibited very little of this problem.


There is very little color fringing, and slight vignetting to be found at f/2.8 both on the short end and the long end. This is expected. Stopping down helps to get rid of it but it really never goes away. Vignetting is easily corrected in post processing.

It is razor sharp wide open until diffraction begins around f/8. This is as close as the lens focuses using its macro function/mode.

sunflower, f=200mm/8 (notice the vignetting) (detail)
sunflower, crop from above image
sunflower, cropped — AF-S 70-200mm f/4 ED VR lens

Here, the lens is focused on a far object at approximately 66ft/20m away.

transformer at f=200mm/6.3, notice the color fringing (detail)
label on transformer at f=200mm/6.3
label on transformer at f=200mm/6.3 — AF-S 70-200mm f/4 ED VR lens

This AF Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 D ED lens is sharper with greater contrast than the AF-S 70-200mm f/4 ED VR lens! This old 80-200mm f/2.8 lens has better optics, but the autofocus score hurts its overall performance.

Color fringing detail at 3-to-1:

center at f=80mm/4
corner at f=80mm/4
center at f=105mm/4
corner at f=105mm/4
center at f=200mm/4
corner at f=200mm/4

Distortion is just fair. It may not hold up against a perfectly laid brick wall, but it should be good enough for architectural photography. This can always be corrected in post processing.

barrel distortion at f=80mm
pincushion distortion at f=200mm

The lens does not have a motor built into it to help make the autofocus zippier, however, it focuses quite competently on a modern Nikon DSLR, like the D800E. Can it capture birds in flight? Probably not well.

Because there is no focus motor such as Nikon's early AF-S "Silent Wave" motor, there is nothing to worry about failing or having to maintain. The AF noise is bothersome.

Ghosting & Flaring

Ghosting is present but it doesn't completely wash out the picture. There is a little flaring. Use the supplied hood.

ghosting f=80mm/2.8
ghosting f=200mm/2.8
flaring f=80mm/22
flaring f=200mm/22


The infrared performance is perfect! No hotspot whatsoever at f/22.

infrared f=80mm/22
infrared f=200mm/22


The bokeh is pretty nice. The highlights do not have a halo around them but they do take on the shape of a nonagon because the diaphragm is not rounded like it is on newer generation lenses. There is LoCA to enjoy trying to get rid of in post processing. This negatively affects the bokeh score.

bokeh f=80mm/4
bokeh f=105mm/4
bokeh f=200mm/4
bokeh f=200mm/5.6


Because this is a "D" lens without AF-S, it is compatible with many Nikon DSLR cameras, such as the D70, D70s, D80, D90, D100, D200, D300, D300s, D500, D7000, D7100, D7200, D7500, D600, D610, D700, D750, D800, D800E, D810, D850, D1 series, D2 series, D3 series, D4 series, D5, D6, etc.

The autofocus is not compatible with Nikon cameras that lack the little autofocus drive pin in the lens mount, such as the D40, D40X, D50, D60, D3000, D3100, D3200, D3300, D3400, D3500, D5000, D5100, D5200, D5300, D5500, D5600, etc. The lens will mount and meter with these camera bodies but with manual focus only. Also, it will not autofocus on any mirrorless camera.


This lens is relatively compact and is a largely metal lens. It is very sturdy feeling. The manual focusing feels good and there is no slop in either the focus or zoom collars. It would be nice if the zoom ring had more of a fluid resistance to it as it feels kind of dry. The lens is weather-sealed and does focus beyond infinity one would assume to accommodate the UV wavelength (not sure, may really have to do with manufacture tolerances). The hood mounts in a really dicey manner. It does not click in to place.

This lens has a focus scale but no depth of field scale because it's a zoom. The focus scale is useful as it is not too small and has more travel than a prime but it could have more travel still. For example, the greatest indicator on it is fifteen feet which is not very useful at f=200mm.

The 77mm filter threads do not rotate.


This lens held its own and then some against the very sharp AF-S 70-200mm f/4 ED VR lens. It is amazing that lenses with this much resolving power were made for film because its capabilities exceed that of films like Kodak's Technical Pan and Gold 25. The greatest flaw of this lens is its distortion, but it is a zoom. Being a zoom, there is a convenience factor that must not be ignored. The most disappointing part of this lens is its poor macro focusing distance. The word macro is used loosely here. Nikon claim a 0.24× magnification at its closest focusing distance but this must be a typo. The poor minimum focusing distance may allow the lens to have the little focus breathing that it does.


Focal length 80-200mm
Maximum aperture f/2.8
Minimum aperture f/22
Lens construction 16 elements in 11 groups (including three ED glass elements)
Angle of view 30°10' - 12°20' (20° - 8° with Nikon DX format)
Minimum focus distance 1.5m/4.9ft (from focal plane)
Maximum reproduction ratio 1:4.2 (0.24× by Nikon USA)
No. of diaphragm blades 9
Filter-attachment size ø77mm
Diameter × length Approximately 87.0 × 187.0 mm/3.4 × 7.4 in.
Weight Approximately 1300 g/45.9 oz.
Supplied accessories 77mm Snap-on Front Lens Cap LC-77, Rear Lens Cap LF-1 or LF-4, Bayonet Hood HB-7, Lens Case CL-43A
Price $1200 (USD) (1996)


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