autofocus tracking performance of the AF-S 80-200 f/2.8D IF-ED
zoom--on an F100 body--was impressive as this grame
from a series of 10 images indicates. This makes the combination
highly suitable for action photography. (At 100mm; f/2.8;
Ektachrome E100 VS.)
Both lenses are designed with
a nine blade diaphragm that produces a more circular aperture at any f/stop.
Consequently, out of focus highlights in the background are reproduced
as pleasing round blobs, and not octagons as with many other lenses. Zooming
operation is rotary (not push/pull) assuring precise control of focal
lengths. A distance scale (under glass) is provided, but there's
no depth of field scale; use the camera's stop-down control to assess
the range of sharpness at any aperture. Naturally, these are D-type lenses,
including the Distance Signal chip for optimum results in Matrix metering
with recent Nikon cameras, especially when flash is used.
These AF-S zooms are sold with a cylindrical (leatherette exterior, with
soft, plush interior) hard shell carrying case useful especially for situations
where you must pack some equipment inside checked baggage when traveling
by air. They offer maximum protection from shock, bumps, scratches, and
dents. Extensive use of metal in barrel construction makes the zooms extremely
rugged like all Nikkor pro lenses. Both offer a dust and moisture-resistant
design which is well appreciated in outdoor photography, especially with
one of the well-sealed bodies such as the Nikon F100, F4 or F5.
Tele-Zoom Characteristics. Pick up the new AF-S 80-200mm
f/2.8D IF-ED zoom and it will seem very large/hefty, as expected with
a pro lens of wide f/2.8 maximum aperture. In fact, it's only about
5 oz heavier than the current AF-series model, probably due to the addition
of the Silent Wave motor. Actually, it's the oversized lens hood
that makes it appear so formidable. An optional HN-34 hood is also available,
designed for more convenient operation of a polarizing filter.
This zoom is equipped with a rotating tripod mounting collar which is
well placed for excellent balance. Adequately large and sturdy for good
support even with an F5 body, this accessory adds 4 oz to the weight,
but can be removed when not required. Do note that the lens barrel length
remains constant while zooming, assuring that optimum balance is maintained
at all times.
at f/22, the AF-S 28-70mm f/2.8D IF-ED zoom produced slides
with incredible high sharpness. This is an avantage in land
and cityscape photography where we often stop down to small
apertures for maxium depth of field. At 28mm; B+W polarizer;
Sensia II 100.
The minimum focusing distance
of 4.9' remains constant throughout the zoom range. Three Focus
Lock buttons are provided, useful in continuous AF Servo focus when the
photographer wants to stop tracking. These are well placed and at least
one is always near a finger when the lens is handheld. The Focus Range
Limiter can be set to restrict focus to the 8' to infinity range
when desired; this speeds up focus acquisition, as the system is not required
to search the entire range.
All of the AF 80-200mm f/2.8 zooms incorporated extra-low dispersion glass
in the optical formula, but the newly designed AF-S model includes five
ED elements. Because it is fully compatible with the AF-I series tele-converters,
it is likely to be used frequently at long focal lengths. This makes premium-grade
optics even more important: to compensate chromatic aberration which would
be problematic otherwise in the 280-400mm range. The TC-14E and TC-20E
converters are not inexpensive, but are designed to maintain excellent
image quality and full automation.
Tele-Zoom Evaluation. The AF versions of the 80-200mm
f/2.8 have always been among the top rated of the Nikkor zoom lenses,
and this new AF-S model is the best ever produced. I tested it with the
Nikon F100 body and found the autofocus to be incredibly fast, capable
of tracking a high-speed vehicle as well as more erratic motion. For example,
skiers and snowboarders performing stunts and cyclists along the boardwalk
in Pacific Beach. While reviewing my slides, I made the following notes
of optical performance:
· Even at f/2.8 this zoom produces extremely high central sharpness
and very high edge sharpness at all focal lengths. There is no color fringing
visible under a 10x loupe. By f/4 the sharpness at the edges matches central
sharpness and this continues to f/16. The finest detail is clearly defined.
· Contrast is also very high, helping to increase the impression
of sharpness. Linear distortion is virtually non-existent. Color rendition
is neutral without any cast or flare and is extremely well controlled,
even without the lens hood.
· In extreme close focusing pro-caliber sharpness is possible at
every aperture from f/5.6-f/16.
· With the AF-I tele-converter TC-14E excellent image quality is
possible by one stop down from the maximum aperture. Autofocus speed reduces
very slightly (due to the loss of light) but AF remains highly reliable.
AF-S 80-200mm f/2.8D IF-ED zoom proved to be a first class
performer in all respects; focus acquisition in AF, color
endition. (At 200mm; f/11; B+W polarizer; Ektachrome E100
Short Zoom Characteristics.
Another large, heavy, and solid lens, the AF-S 28-70mm f/2.8D
IF-ED is an entirely new model, without a counterpart in the conventional
AF Nikkor line. (Nikon does offer lightweight AF 28-70mm, AF 28-80mm,
and AF 28-85mm zooms but all with a maximum aperture of only f/3.5-4.5.)
This new lens will appeal most to photographers who considered the AF
35-70mm f/2.8D too restrictive in terms of the limited focal length range.
The wide f/2.8 constant maximum aperture will also maximize its value
in low-light conditions. Zooming is not internal, but the length of the
barrel increases by only about an inch when shifted to the 28mm focal
As expected, the newly designed optical formula--with Nikon Inte-grated
Coating for exceptional color rendition and contrast--is impressive. It
features a molded-glass aspherical element (with non-spherical surface)
for superior image quality at the shorter focal lengths. This type causes
all light rays to converge at a common point, correcting spherical aberration
for more consistent edge to edge sharpness even at wide apertures. It
reduces halo as well as comatic flare and also minimizes size and weight
since fewer elements are required for a high level of correction.
Two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements minimize chromatic aberration
at longer focal lengths, especially valuable at wide apertures. The intended
result is superior image quality, with high resolution even at the corners
of the frame and excellent color rendition without color fringing. Such
optics are not common in zoom lenses of such short focal lengths but should
ensure the very best performance possible.
Evaluation. The AF-S 28-70mm f/2.8D IF-ED incorporates the finest optics
available, even better than those of its AF 35-70mm f/2.8 model. Consequently,
optical performance is incredibly high, even at f/2.8, at every focal
length. By f/5.6, sharpness is nothing short of stunning: I could easily
make an excellent 16x24 print from my Velvia slides. Very slight barrel
distortion is visible at 28mm, but this is negligible. In close-focusing
(down to 1.6' in the Macro setting) optical performance is first
rate. Although this is not a "macro zoom," it focused close
enough for anything I would photograph with this range of focal lengths.
And AF performance has also been improved. On a scale of 1-10, I would
rate autofocus with the F100 as a 9.5, competitive with the very finest
of any brand.
Conclusion. Professional photographers and discriminating
photo enthusiasts who demand the very finest will definitely want these
two AF-S lenses. They are a credit to the engineers and designers at Nikon,
boasting the advanced optical, mechanical, and electronic technology.
Because a fast telephoto zoom is the workhorse of many photographers,
the AF-S 80-200m f/2.8D IF-ED especially should become a favorite with
press, fashion, travel, and other outdoor photographers. Full compatibility
with the AF-I tele-converters--a first for an AF Nikkor zoom--will offer
a significant advantage.
Anyone who doubts that zooms can match one of the top "prime"
lenses should definitely try one of these new models for an eye opener.
In terms of sharpness, resolution of intricate detail, snappy contrast,
freedom from flare and aberrations, both are outstanding performers. Although
the Silent Wave motor adds to the cost, it makes the lenses even more
desirable. This technology will surely help photographers to increase
their success ratio of sharply focused images, paying dividends that will
justify the higher price.
AF-S Technology At
Nikon has been producing AF-S
Nikkor lenses--with the integral Silent Wave motor since 1996, starting
with the fast telephotos from 300-600mm, and adding the two AF-S zooms
in 1999. The following technical information and AF-S advantages are worth
considering; they are common to all AF-S models produced to date.
· The Silent Wave motor focuses internal lens elements using ultrasonic
traveling waves which are converted into rotational energy. (Conventional
DC motors convert electromagnetic force into rotational force.) The high
torque motor is powerful, driving the AF elements with instant start up
and highly effective stopping ability. Both factors make it highly effective
for action photography with high speed subjects and those with erratic
· AF-S lenses provide nearly silent ("whisper-quiet")
autofocus operation. Because there is no gear train as with conventional
driving systems, there is no gear noise or power loss. Longer motor life
is a bonus.
· The M/A mode of current AF-S lenses allows the photographer to
manually fine-tune focus even in autofocus operation. When the lens is
set for manual focus, there is no power consumption (as with all Nikkor
AF lenses). In cold weather photography, this helps to extend the useful
life of the camera's batteries.
· All AF-S lenses include Internal Focusing (IF) for ultra fast
autofocus performance, relatively compact size, excellent balance, and
closer focusing ability. Because the front element does not rotate, using
polarizers, graduated and special effects filters is a pleasure with the
AF-S zooms. (The filter's position and effect do not change during
focusing or zooming.)
· Autofocus operates with the Nikon F4, F5, N90, N70, F100, and
the Pronea cameras. With older Nikon SLR bodies, the AF-S lenses can be
focused manually. This assures a high level of system compatibility through
the use of the Nikon F-mount.
· Autofocus and all camera automatic features are maintained when
an AF-S telephoto--or the new AF-S 80-200mm f/2.8D IF-ED zoom--is used
with AF-I tele-converter TC-14E or TC-20E to increase the focal length.
(Naturally, AF is disengaged with the f/4 AF-S lenses when the TC-20E
is used, as the maximum effective aperture is then smaller than f/5.6.)