Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s: Review & Sample Images

The mighty Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s lens is probably both the sharpest 35mm format lens I own (even shot wide open at f2) and creates one of the smoothest bokeh.  Used at f2 it provides an unbeatable combination of both a very shallow depth of field and super sharp detail. The lens lets you separate your subject from the background and renders backdrop as a smooth creamy OOF area that is pleasing to the eye.

Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s lens photo

Despite the size of the Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s lens I shoot the lens handheld as both a model photographer and wedding photographer.  Carrying the lens around all day on my Nikon D800 body saves me having to go to the gym!  For periods of non-movement such as covering event photography or wildlife photography I have found using the lens on my Manfrotto 680B monopod to be very useful.  It has a 10kg capacity and takes the strain off your arms. I use it with a Vanguard ballhead and by mounting the quick release plate to the rotating lens tripod collar I can switch from portrait to landscape orientation in seconds.  The second big advantage of using the lens with a monopod is I can use a slower shutter speed in low light situations and still get blur-free images.

Example images using the Nikkor AI-S 200mm f2 lens on a DSLR – Nikon D800:

Coventry Wedding Photographer
Manny on his Wedding Day
200/f2 AIS on Wedding Day
B&W Wedding 3
Sadie SOOC with 200/f2 AIS
Sadie SOOC with ...Nikkor 200mm f2 AIS!! :)
Nosey Neighbours :)
Dan with Nikkor 200/f2 AIS
Stacey SOOC, 200/f2 AIS
Nikkor 200mm f2 AIS
Katie with Nikkor 200 f2 AIS

Black and white film photography is my passion. I use a variety of medium format film camera such as a Contax 645 and Mamiya RZ67 ProII but I wanted to be able to make us of all the nice Nikkor glass I own. I bought a little Nikon FM 35mm format film camera from eBay and it has been brilliant.

Example images using the Nikkor AI-S 200mm f2 lens on the Nikon FM body:
Film is NOT Dead - Model Photogaphy
Andra with Nikon FM
Gina with Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s
Andra with Nikon FM & Nikkor 200/f2 AIS @f2
Devon with Nikon FM & Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s
Would I recommend this lens?  For those who are happy to invest in a serious piece of glass and are able to shoot without auto focus I would not hesitate.  The images it produces are unmatched from any of my other Nikkor Primes and it gives clients something special.  The wide aperture makes the lens very useful in low light wedding situations and I would always select it over my Nikkor 80-200 f2.8 AF lens.  It is big, it is heavy and it is expensive but it does command respect when in use.  In a wedding environment where many guests now have DSLR cameras it is not difficult to spot the designated photographer when the 200mm is in use.   On the flip side it is definitely not the lens for you if you don’t like drawing attention to yourself!

The Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s prime lens together with the Samyang 85mm f1.4 and Nikkor AI-S 50mm f1.2 completes the trio of my top 3 favourite portrait lenses for a 35mm camera.

As featured in:
June 2013 What Digital Camera Magazine
June 2013 N-Photo Magazine


Author: matthewosbornephotography

Coventry, UK studio based Model and Wedding Photographer offering both Medium Format Film and Digital Images. 1-2-1 Photography and Lighting Tuition also available.

23 thoughts on “Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s: Review & Sample Images”

  1. Hello! I love the Ais lens, i love the colors and the sharp in the image. You miss one?? I love the 135mm f/3.5 AI-s-

    Ps: Beautiful pictures!!! Congrats!

    1. Thanks Pablo! Yes I love my AI-s 50 & 200mm. I’ll do a 50mm post here as soon as get time with a similar range of model photography samples. I’ve got a M42 135/3.5 but haven’t used it for a while. I’m sure the Nikkor version is great… I did look at 135mm when buying the Nikkor 85/1.4D but that now doesn’t get used as the Samyang 85mm f1.4 is sharper at f1.4

      1. I saw many reviews and photos of Sam 1.4, but I always had comments of difficult to focus. this is true? because the definition really is like nikon 85 1.4G ( my dream! )

      1. It’s great, but I guess the 200 f4 is more a hit or miss depends if you get lucky. And apparently I get lucky. I found out that 200 f4 is great for anything but people, and the 180 2.8 AIS is the complete opposite.
        I am sure it’s a lot easier on the arms 😀

  2. Hey Matthew. I’m about to get one of these bad boys (later version with the built-in front filter) to replace my 180mm f/2.8 AI-s ED for my indoor sports photography efforts. Loved your little review here, and great to see this being used on a high-res camera like the D800. Should give me an idea that it does well even on the NEX-7.

    Before my hopes get too high though, I’m assuming that even with the ED glass, this lens is chock-full of aberrations at and near wide-open? Hoping they aren’t as bad as my 300mm f/2.8 AI-s ED, but with that extra stop of speed, I’m not sure.


Leave a Reply