Review Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED AIS

Mar 20, 2017
Central Ohio
Real Name

Image ©​
I've only heard great things about this Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED AIS lens. One might say it has legendary status. When I saw one for sale at a local shop for not a lot of money - I inspected it and plunked down the money. It was not in perfect condition, but the faults it had would not affect functionality or image quality.

This is not a light lens. All metal, lots of glass. You'll know you have a lens of significance on your camera. When holding the lens, the PEN-F doesn't even feel like it is attached.

The aperture ring has definite clicks to it so you'll know when it moves from one aperture to the next. The focus ring is buttery smooth and if you like the way Nikon manual focus lenses'll like this too.

Image Quality
Does the lens live up to its reputation? Is it the legend that the internet says it is?

Here, the lens is adapted to an Olympus PEN-F with a Fotodiox adapter.

1/2000, f/4, ISO 200
custom MONO mode settings on PEN-F

1/250, f/8, ISO 200
Lightroom / Nik Silver Efex 2

1/1000, f/4, ISO 200
Lightroom / Nik Silver Efex 2

1/100, f/4, ISO 500

1/200, f/4, ISO 200
custom MONO mode settings on PEN-F

Now images using this lens on the Nikon Df:

1/200, f/2.8, ISO 250

1/200, f/4, ISO 110
on1 Photo RAW 2018 (Panatomic 32 Preset)

1/320, f/4, ISO 100
on1 Photo RAW 2018 (Panatomic 32 Preset)

1/800, f/4, ISO 100
on1 Photo RAW 2018 (City Street Preset)

The focus throw is good. You can get precise manual focus with either a Nikon DSLR (Nikon Df) that can accept it as well as adapting it to a mirrorless camera (Olympus PEN-F).

Even at f/2.8, it is not hard to get this lens focused where you want.

Bottom Line
Despite this being a manual focus lens, there is a lot to like here. In this day and age, we can give these legacy lenses a new life not only on DSLRs like the Nikon Df, but on just about every mirrorless platform you can think.

So to answer my question from the beginning of the article, "Does it live up to the legend?" I say YES!
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