Nikkor 200mm f2 Review (Ai-s lens)(& Photos)
Mini review of the amazing / legendary / often unknown Nikkor 200mm f2 ai-s lens. Photos shot with a Nikon D800 during an engagement shoot.
Part 1: Nikkor 200mm f2 ai-s lens
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 lens
Handheld vs Monopod
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.
Nikkor AI-S 200mm f2 sample photos
Digital photos with the Nikon D800 DSLR + Nikkor 200mm f2 ai-s:
Nikkor 200mm f2 Wedding Photography
Nikkor 200mm f2 Portraits
35mm Film photography – New Nikon FM Camera!
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.
Nikon FM SLR + Nikkor 200mm f2 ai-s sample photos
Example images using the Nikkor AI-S 200mm f2 lens on the Nikon FM body: 35mm Film Scans
Would I recommend the Nikkor 200mm f2 ai-s lens?
For photographers 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 unique and special. The wide aperture makes the lens very useful in low light wedding situations.
Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 AF vs Nikkor 200mm f2
I would always select the Nikkor ai-s 200mm f2 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! It is also not for you if you have a back problem or don’t want to lug around a heavy camera-lens setup all day.
Nikon Lens Trio
The Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s prime lens together with the Samyang 85mm f1.4 (Nikon mount) and Nikkor AI-S 50mm f1.2 completes the trio of my top 3 favourite portrait lenses for a 35mm Nikon camera.
*2018 update – since writing this post I have discovered more amazing Nikon mount lenses including the Tokina 100mm f2.8 macro and Voigtlander 40mm f2 SL
The Nikkor 200mm ai-s f2 is famous!
My 200mm lens featured in two UK photography magazine articles:
Part 2: Engagement Shoot with the Nikon D800 + Nikkor 200mm f2 ai-s lens
Coventry Wedding Photographer
Engagement Shoot, a photo by MatthewOsbornePhotography – Leica Photographer on Flickr.
Following my Leica M9 engagement shoot post yesterday, here are some of the photos taken from the same shoot but with a Nikon D800 + Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s. I was interested to see if the 200f2 could offer anything extra to what my Leica lenses give me to make it worth while carrying the extra bulk and weight.
I arranged this shoot with Harriett and Ashley as I wanted to showcase to couples who are looking to have an engagement shoot or book a wedding photographer what is possible for you. I aim to provide wedding couples with a mix of relaxed reportage style candid photos throughout the day plus some posed high fashion wedding portraits as seen here. This is my style of wedding photography.
Yesterday we took a trip to Kenilworth Castle. Harriett and Ashley modelled for me and Donna kindly came along as my lighting assistant. I used the same lighting and equipment that I use on a wedding day and going forward I plan to take an assistant with me for every shoot (feel free to get in touch if you would like to get involved) to help hold my light so I can achieve the look I desire.
Lighting was fully portable using speedlights.
Photos shot as Nikon D800 black and white JPEGs in camera and finished in Lightroom 3. I prefer the rendering of the Leica images but the 200m f2 can produce some stunning photos that are both sharp and have a very shallow depth of field.
Let me know which you prefer.. the Leica M9 images or the Nikon D800 ones. I like them both but I feel the Leica has the edge for my taste.
- Engagement Shoot – Part 1 (Leica M9 Engagement Photography)
5 thoughts on “Nikkor 200mm f2 Review (Ai-s lens)(& Photos)”
Pingback: Leica Engagement Shoot | Matthew Osborne Photography
Hi Mathew, I’ve just stumbled across your blog, I think the Leica images have an edge over the D800, there is more tonal variation on the Leica images in humble opinion
Thanks Richard. I agree to an extent. See my post from tonight! 🙂
I have the 200mm f/2 ED-IF AIS version with the detachable lens hood and if I have room outdoors, it is my go-to lens with the D850 for single and couples photography. As you mention it is superbly sharp with a very sweet bokeh.
Thanks Scott, agreed! I will try to feature the lens on YouTube when I get chance. It is one of those special ‘gem’ lenses worth showing.