Monday, June 24, 2013

First Impressions: 200 f4 AI Micro Nikkor

The completed full review is HERE, so consider this page a historical artifact.

I've always enjoyed extreme close-up macro (micro in Nikon lingo) photography and there's only one optic better than a macro lens: a longer macro! Well, after really having my appetite whetted by the Tokina 100 f2.8 I had in Canon mount, I started lusting after a longer macro. Unfortunately, 200ish macros cost a lot of money, as in used car territory.

Well, thankfully there's KEH Used Camera Brokers and Nikon's wonderful reverse compatibility..

Browsing the web one morning after work, I stumbled upon a 200 f4 Micro Nikkor for around $300. Yes, it was obviously an old MF lens from the late 70s or early 80s but who needs AF in macro photography, anyway? Well, not being able to beat the price, I snagged this oldie, along with a teleconverter to get it to full 1:1 magnification (Nikon's macro lenses only went to 1:2 until the AF era) and complete the package.

Well, it just arrived.

For starters, the build on this lens is truly awesome, as in solid metal through and through, a far cry from the plastic junk Nikon is busy churning out today. Besides being built to withstand a nuclear war, the lens also features some other, nice touches. One very convenient feature is a built-in, sliding lens hood, which means no more fumbling for a not always needed, but sometimes very useful accessory that can be just too valuable to go without altogether. Why can't Nikon do stuff like this these days?

Another nice feature is the rotatable, removable tripod collar. Believe me, shooting macro at 200mm, you'll want a tripod! On the other hand, the lens serves well as a general purpose short tele optic (provided the subject isn't moving), too. For this, simply loosen and turn or remove the collar altogether.

Having only had time to play around with the lens a little bit, everything is looking to be better than I expected. For someone used to a 100mm macro, getting the 200 with a lot more working distance is great as there's no longer the problem of blocking one's own light. Used with the 2x converter? Well, how about taking life size macro images at what seems like a mile away from the subject? Pretty cool.
Needless to say, a full review is upcoming but I can already feel safe in recommending this golden oldie to anyone on a budget looking for a macro lens as the build is top notch, the mechanics are great, and the optics, well, they're stunning. Want proof? Scroll down and look at the pictures!

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