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Nikkor 200mm F4 AI and Nikkor 200mm F4 AF. Are they the same?

Jerry Schuler , Jul 05, 2008; 07:53 p.m.

Does the old Nikkor prime lens 200mm F4 AI which goes for $100 to $200 on ebay in mint condition have the same optical quality as the new Nikkor prime lens 200mm F4 AF which sells for $1400.00?


Michael Harris , Jul 05, 2008; 08:21 p.m.

Jerry I don't know the answer but I have one and it's very sharp. I sort of think there are 2 or 3 formulations if I remember correctly.

Michael Ferron , Jul 05, 2008; 10:15 p.m.

The good news is the old 200-4 is a gem of a lens and it's of a build quality you won't find anymore this side of Leica.

J Blakely , Jul 05, 2008; 10:33 p.m.

Just remember that depending on your camera, the older AI version might not meter.

Jeff Adler , Jul 05, 2008; 10:38 p.m.

These two lenses are completely different. The 200/4 AF you mention is a macro lens. There was an earlier manual focus version of this lens and it's very expensive too. The 200/4 AI is a conventional non-macro 200. Optically the 200/4 AI and 200/4 AIS are the same. There was also a 200/4 'K' lens which had the same optical formula as the AI and AIS models. The 'K' lens is the last pre-AI version and had a rubber coveed focusing ring. All of these lenses had the 5 Element/5 Group design. The earlier 200/4 Nikkors had a 4 Element/4 Group design and were longer. In my collection I have a 20CM/4, 200/4 Q, 200/4 QC and 200/4 AI. I know the AI lens is supposed to be better but my favorite is the 200/4 QC. It has excellent coating and feels much lighter than it looks.

Robert Hooper , Jul 05, 2008; 10:38 p.m.

The Nikkor 200mm f4 AI is a stellar performer. The lens it replaced, non-AI, was a dog. Make sure you don't have the old one that has been Ai'd.

Robert Hooper , Jul 05, 2008; 11:00 p.m.

I just checked this very informative site. Seems nikon snuck a non-AI in with the 5/5 optical formula for two years while I wasn't looking. I was meaning that the non-AI 4/4 formula was a dog, but it looks like Jeff will disagree with me. I remember the early 4/4 designs being very well made and pretty, but soft. Lenses with serial numbers at or above 670001 are the 5/5 design that I liked.

Jerry Schuler , Jul 06, 2008; 12:03 a.m.

Thank you guys. This has helped.

Peter Bielecki , Jul 06, 2008; 09:37 a.m.

I have the Ai and AiS versions of the 200/4 and also the Ai 200/4 Micro -- they are all fantastic performers. I tested all three and the Micro was a little softer but not by much. I'm selling on the Ai non-Micro just to clear out redundant lenses but the AiS 200/4 and the Micro 200/4 are definite keepers. Only reason I decided to sell the Ai is that it's a little older and focus ring a tiny bit loose compared to the AiS. The non-Micro is excellent for walking about with, very small lens for its focal length whereas the Micro is long and thin and stands out in a crowd :-) but the Micro is amazing, sharp and easy to focus from almost nothing to infinity!

Aaron Ng , Jul 10, 2008; 12:55 a.m.

I have the AI version 5/5 of this lens and it is great for the price. Optically it is good enough that you can match and exceed a 300mm f/4.5 non-AI (I have it and it is a dog) by just cropping the image from the 200mm f/4 down to 300mm.

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