Nikon 180mm f/2.8 AF D IF ED lens review


Nikon 180mm lens review

Nikon 180mm

Nikon 180mm lens review

nikon 180mm 11

Nikon 180mm lens review

nikon 180mm 12


I was particularly interested about this lens because the Canon 200 f/2.8 lens is my long term favorite lens. I would think about this lens that it is a long portrait lens. This focal length can be good for tightly framed portraits, pets, flowers, butterflies, flowers, horses, bikes and such things. This is not a Macro lens, you cannot make real macro shots with this lens, even with rings attached which can help in some extent. Compare to the Canon lens the Nikon feels much smaller and lighter. The 180mm is better for portraits on Dx camera than the 200mm.

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Official name

AF D Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 IF ED

Nikon 180mm specification
Nikon AF 180mm f/2.8 D ED (FX)

Nikon 180mm specification

Minimal focus distance: 1.5m (5 in.)
Aperture: f/2.8
Max reproduction ration: 1:6.6
Aperture blades: 9 straight
Filter size: 72mm
Weight: 760g (1lb 10.8 oz.)
Optical formula: 8 elements in 6 groups
Hood: included, barrel-shaped built-in
Size: 79 x 144 mm
Af: Micromotor focusing
Constant physical size
Internal focusing
Compatible for Af-s converters
The lens has an aperture ring
Lens made in Japan


The Nikon 180mm lens is compatible with Dx, Fx and Film cameras as well.

Nikon 180mm versions

There are several versions but seem all are the same optically.

Nikon 180mm optical quality

The Nikon 180mm has a very good optical quality. As it is a prime lens, this way the optical construction is not very complicated, and the quality can be very good. The lens is perfectly usable even wide open.
Nikon 180mm 2 Nikon 180mm at f/2.8 ISO 400 1/3200s Nikon d7000
Nikon 180mm 3Nikon 180mm at f/2.8 1/500s ISO 500 Nikon d7000
Nikon 180mm 41/200s at f/4 ISO 500 Nikon d7000

Nikon 180mm optical quality – Ca, vignetting, distortion

Distortion is very low, some CA can detect in extreme situations but low amount, vignetting is also well controlled.

Backlight situations

Some loss of contrast is expected in such situations.


The autofocus is the weak point of the lens especially at f/2.8. The lens optical quality is a top notch. A very fine lens at any measure if we only consider the optical quality.

Nikon 180mm focal length

The 180mm focal length is in a telephoto range. On Aps-C is a 270mm FF equivalent. On Full Frame cameras the field of view is 2m*1.33m, on Dx cameras is 1.33*0.89m from 10 meters. This focal length is best for portraits/sports/cat/dog/butterfly, etc. For birds/wildlife longer lenses are preferred 3-400mm

Nikon 180mm build quality

The lens has a nice build quality, the lens made from metal which is rare nowadays. There is only one quirk if we switch the lens in manual mode the lens motor can push the focusing mechanism. To switch to manual mode it is needed to switch the camera as well. (Nikon quirk, I don’t know the reason)


The Nikon 180mm has a micro motor driven older type autofocus. The autofocus is not silent but not very loud either. The focus speed is not bad but not very fast either like the new Af-s focus lenses. A good question is it loud for a wedding ceremony? It is hard to answer, perhaps would be better if it would be more silent. Perhaps using manual focusing is an option if we prefer more silent operation. The autofocus accuracy is not as good as at newer ultrasonic lenses, which is critical at f/2.8 shots.


There are several switches on the lens: there is a switch next to the aperture ring, which is lock aperture at f/22 if we use autofocus autoaperture cameras. The manual focus/autofocus switch can be found in the middle of the lens barrell.

Sweet spot

The Nikon 180mm sweet spot / sharpest aperture is at f/5.6.


The lens has very nice bokeh, but some chromatic aberration can occur in the blur zone at high contrast scenes.

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I would put the 1.4 without hesitation, perhaps the Kenko, because the Nikon is not compatible, the 2x I don’t think is very good idea unless for fun.

Price/performance ratio

This lens can get very cheaply used (300-600 dollar), or 900 dollar new. This is a very good lens, but the one uses needs to know how to use it and for what. This focal length is not very useful if you main interest is not portraits, or sports. For used prices this lens is a very good bargain.

Compare to/rivals

Many people ask how is it compare to the very popular 70-200mm zoom lenses ?
Well this is a fixed lens, you cannot zoom with it unless with your feet, but some situations like fashion shows you cannot move so much back or forth or when you move, you will have people in front of your lens. The two Nikon 70-200mm lens is excellent optically, of course the f4 version doesn’t makes pictures at f/2.8. The prime is much cheaper than either of them and perhaps better optically or similar. The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom is much more heavier. The 70-200mm zooms are very useful especially in Full frame or Fx camera bodies where the 70mm means a very good relatively wide angle, useful for even landscapes. The 70-200 zooms have better quiter more precise autofocusing system.


The Nikon AF 180mm f/2.8 IF-ED is an excellent lens optically, quite compact, used can be a very good bargain, but the autofocus is not the best available.

Thanks for reading !

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