Nikon 200mm f/4D ED-IF AF Micro-Nikkor

The Nikon 200mm f/4D ED-IF AF Micro-Nikkor lens is a specialized camera lens with few rivals in the photography industry. Its 200mm focal length is designed for extreme close-up photos at extended working distances. This lens can snap clear, close-up pictures with a 1:1 reproduction ratio at over a foot and a half away from its subject, as compared to a few inches for other macro lenses. Furthermore, it performs this task beautifully, producing clear, crisp images of tiny subjects. Its closest rivals have roughly the same optical quality, but are over twice the price.

Incidentally, despite Nikon’s new term “micro,” micro lenses are essentially the same as macro lenses. The difference, for the most part, is in name only.

macro-200mm-f4d

Design & Construction

The lens is made of a sturdy metal body, which although it increases weight, give the lens a rugged, sturdy reliability in the field. Over half of the lenses’ length is taken up with a rubberized focus ring, which operates smoothly and has a nice, comfortable feel to it.

The tripod mount foot is permanently attached to the lens, which may strike some people as odd. However, the tripod foot’s low, streamlined design generally doesn’t get in the way much. Besides, if you’re a macro photographer (and presumably you are or you wouldn’t be considering buying this lens), you know that getting a clear, stable shot of a subject at these magnification rates makes a tripod virtually mandatory, as even the smallest jitter from a hand-held camera can blur the shot. This essentially makes the Nikon 200mm f/4D ED-IF AF Micro-Nikkor’s permanently attached tripod foot a non-issue for macro photographers.

Actual user review:
“I’ve been looking for this lens for several months, and then one day noticed it was available on Amazon from Ace Photo. I have and use the 60mm micro (mostly for table top, product shots) and the 105mm VR (fantastic lens too), but wanted the reach and love the tripod collar, as on my 70-200. I did order and try the Tamron 180mm, loved the reach, but images were flat, lens felt cheap and plastic, so sent it back. So far I enjoy this lens, and use it on a D80 and D300 for the reach. Have not tried it yet on my D700, but suspect great results on full frame too. Very satisfied with the purchase. May be expensive, but after trying Tamron and Sigma lenses, I’m sticking with Nikon. Highly recommended.” – D.Sano (CA,USA)

Features

This lens utilizes Nikon’s ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass. This glass-making technology was developed to reduce chromatic aberration caused by both focal length and magnification of the lens. The result is superior sharpness and color correction.

The lens also has the option to switch between manual and automatic focus. Many owners of the Nikon 200mm f/4D Micro-Nikkor, however, have complained that the autofocus is annoyingly slow and noisy, especially compared to the newest lenses on the market.

The Nikon 200mm f/4D Micro-Nikkor contains a relatively old design from the early 1990s, making the technology somewhat antiquated. If you’re a macro photographer, however, you’ll probably be using the manual focus more often than not. This makes the Nikon’s archaic autofocus technology less of an issue.

Negatives

The Nikon 200mm f/4D ED-IF AF Micro-Nikkor lens’ older design is getting a little long in the tooth. It is heavy and bulky. It is missing some of the newer Nikon technological developments, such as a Nano Crystal coating or vibration reduction systems. The autofocus is noisy and slow, due mainly to the extremely long focal path of the lens. Finally, the longer focal length results in a narrower angle of view, and very little depth-of-field being achievable.

The lack of vibration reduction technology and reliance on a tripod for clear shots makes the 200mm Micro-Nikkor a less than perfect choice for wildlife photographers. Chasing butterflies through thick undergrowth while lugging a tripod behind you is a chore reserved for only the most dedicated photographers.

Bottom Line

Although sporting an older design and some antiquated pieces on technology, the Nikon 200mm Micro-Nikkor continues to be one of the best lenses designed to be best for a particular type of photography (macro) under specific circumstances (extreme close-ups). Macro photographers interested in this lens will pay a premium price mainly for its long focal length, extended working distance, and excellent image quality. Although this lens performs well at medium ranges, there are many other less expensive lenses that can produce medium range photographs of equal quality.

The Nikon 200mm f/4D ED-IF AF Micro-Nikkor is very useful for nature and wildlife photography, particularly insects. It also comes in handy for photographing potentially dangerous animals, such stinging insects or venomous snakes and spiders, where a longer working distance for close-up shots is preferable.

For professional landscape or wildlife photographers specializing in extreme close-up images (or photography hobbyists who are obsessed with insects), this lens has almost no rival. For the average amateur photo enthusiast, however, this expensive lens designed for a highly specific purpose makes it an impractical choice for a general photography lens collection.

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