80-200 Zoom Nikkor- The Lens That Changed How Photographers Looked At Zooms

80-200 on the FM

80-200 on the FM

I have never been a huge fan of zooms. The convenience of a bunch of focal lengths usually comes at a price, most notably, aperture speed. There are a lot of other compromises as well. Size, convenience of use, moving parts, more elements, and sometimes, inferior glass. These were some of the issues Nikon photographers wrestled well into the 60’s. in 1969, Nikon introduced the first version of their 80-200 f/4.5 Zoom Nikkor. It single handedly changed the 35mm world , and perception of zoom lenses, maybe forever.

This lens was scooped up at this Spring’s Photographica for a whopping $15.00. It has the original user’s name engraved on it, and like virtually all “push pull” Nikkor zooms of this vintage, it suffers from all out, full blown, lens creep. The same grip you use to zoom in and out is also used to focus, and there is an internal piece of felt that almost always broke down. If held upside down, the lens barrel will slide right down to 80mm, with virtually no resistance at all. I rectified that with a couple of pieces of gaffers tape. And, sorry Richard, I painted out your name. A little bit of cleaning of the front and rear element, and a yellow Hoya filter, and ready to fly. This version is the “C” version, indicating additional coatings of the glass. And, it was originally pre-Ai, but factory Ai converted, as evident by the second smaller aperture scale to accommodate ADR (Aperture Direct Readout), and the Ai coupling. Richard broke off the rabbit ears, so no metering on the F or F2. But F3, FE2, FM, and yes, D300? Meters and indexes perfectly.

80 200 D300

Mounts, indexes, and meters on the D300.

The lens is insanely sharp, almost too much so. The maximum aperture of f/4.5 really turned out not at all to be as bad as I thought it would be. Even at f/4.5, it is crisp and punchy. And, 400 speed film almost seems made for it. It is built like a tank externally. All metal, decades before plastic invaded the consumer Nikon zooms, and photographers had to pay a hefty premium for successors, such as the 70-200 f/2.8 VR. This was certainly the lens that kicked the more professional zooms off, and back in the day, this was the one photographers lusted for. Easy to see why. A few samples from last month, in historic Concord, MA, with the F3. Semi-stand developed in Rodinal-

Minuteman Statue, Concord, MA The lens aperture was stopped down to a fairly small aperture here.

Minuteman Statue, Concord, MA The lens aperture was stopped down to a fairly small aperture here.

Beautiful tree in historic Concord graveyard downtown, wide open aperture.

Beautiful tree in historic Concord graveyard downtown, wide open aperture.

The sharpness and speed of Ilford HP5 is a real nice match for this lens.

The sharpness and speed of Ilford HP5 is a real nice match for this lens. Old North Bridge.

Get one of these lenses, get one that is cheap. Like all older lenses, check for fungus, element separation, scratches, rubbing and cleaning marks, and general condition. But I don’t think I’d pay more than $20-30 for one. And have a blast with it. Not all zooms are bad.

One Last StART (In Black And White, That Is…)

No shave, but a haircut.

No shave, but a haircut.

A few final B&W Film shots from StART On The Street. I promise! More of my favorites…


Getting ready to perform.


Banging on the bongos.


Interactive demonstrations from the folks at The Ecotarium.


I think they represented a special interest group.


Is that a Dixie Cup on my head?


Big strings.

I’ve been very busy trying to learn Lightroom 5 and Windows 8, while reconfiguring two PC’s. Rarely, I do post digital shots. About as often as I shoot digitally, which these days, is not often. Once I get Lightroom somewhat figured out, maybe I will get a few up.

A Fresh StART



Or, is it? I hope this images from last Sunday’s StART on the Street are not becoming redundant by now. But seriously, there were almost too many fun ones, like above, not to choose. As you can see from the joy in the faces of participants and volunteers, there was true joy, and a near perfect day. You know the camera, and the film.


Buying, selling, and volunteers.

Lots of buying and selling, up and down the street. Jewelry, art, and handmade items, all very popular.


Ready to spin.

I do think these guys were also here last year. I got action shots with the D300 and 70-200. But as portraiture was more what I wanted for film, really pleased with the results. I think the 135mm was the lens for the shot above.


Roller Derby in full force.

I think roller derby was absent in the spring, due to street incurred injuries. A much smaller “track” than in years past, maybe to minimize the potential of injury. But, still tons of fun.


Helmuting Up

I think the 105mm was the glass that was on for the above shot. Only because if it was the 135, it would have been much too tight and close up.


Artisans selling jewelry.

The 135 was definitely used here.


Believe it or not, his suit/hat is orange.

And here. This guy shows up in many of my digital shots as well. Love the bokeh, and the gradual background out of focus look, with the subjects in sharp focus.

StART’ing Back Up

Some more favorite shots from this past Sunday’s StART On The Street. Once again, the Nikon F3HP, and Kodak BW400CN, developed in  the C-41 process. Nikkor 35, 50, 105, and 135mm lenses.

There were indeed many street performers with musical instruments in the sidewalks, alongside the event. This gentleman, with his guitar, and harmonica. Case open for donations-


Strumming For Cash

I think this woman was like the Hula Hoop guru-


More Hoops

This was one of my favorite shots with the 35mm lens. As mentioned on an earlier blog entry, I think it is more of a normal focal length than 50mm. Not to say that is not also a great length- it is. But, there is something magical about a 35 when you get down to ground level. Here, some volunteers, making the rounds before things get started-


Getting ready for cleanup.

Of course, there is always time for chatting, and making new friends:

Hanging Out

Hanging Out

These folks had some great photos. Not sure which group/cause they were from:



Speaking of smiles, this was one of the more blinding ones from the day!


Metal Material And Arts

Finally, speaking of metal, how about a little fencing and swords? Higgins Armory was a pleasant site. This, in their last year. I think they are closing in December. Good thing this was such a perfect day. Those outfits do look rather warm.



Still searching for that favorite ‘money shot”, and still really hard-pressed to find it. I love them all so far.

Love’s Labour’s Lost

Walking through the Fitchburg State University campus this June, I came across a rehearsal, for an outdoor stage production. The campus is usually very quiet, until summer courses start-up in earnest. After talking to the director of The Fitchburg Theatre Company, I was invited to a performance. A few weeks later, in late June, I enjoyed a performance of a not so well-known Shakespeare comedy, Love’s Labour’s Lost. I took the F3, and while I had a whole bag of lenses, the 135 f/2.8 was the glass of necessity here. These frames are from one of my last rolls of beloved Kodak Plus-X. Live stage plays can make for some very pleasing results-

Flute Player, And A Pirate.

Flute Player, And A Pirate.

The 105mm f/2.5 Nikkor is known as the definitive portrait lens, but the extra reach and compression of the 135 really can work out nicely as well.

The 105mm f/2.5 Nikkor is known as the definitive portrait lens, but the extra reach and compression of the 135 really can work out nicely as well.

The 135 also boasts fantastic contrast.

The 135 also boasts fantastic contrast.

Handheld at slower shutter speeds can be done, although modern day VR here would have been nice.

Handheld at slower shutter speeds can be done, although modern-day VR here would have been nice.

Despite slow shutter speeds, some motion blur, and ISO/ASA 125, still managed to stay fairly sharp.

Despite slow shutter speeds, some motion blur, and ISO/ASA 125, still managed to stay fairly sharp.

The Most Controversial Nikon F – The F3

Nikon F3HP

Nikon F3HP

When Nikon introduced the F3 in 1980, it set the photographic world into debate, and strident discourse. The F, and the follow-up F2 were both fully mechanical bodies, with only a light meter dependent on battery power. This was the 1st F body to feature a quartz timed electronic shutter, a surprisingly accurate and reliable LED display, originally scheduled to last about 7 years (the one on mine has lasted 27 years). Other firsts include 80/20 center weighted metering (in the body- no more Photomic heads!), a semi-automatic aperture priority mode, 4-6 FPS with the MD-4 motor drive (6 with the mirror locked up), and a 1st for Nikon, an auto focus model, with proprietary AF lenses. Despised initially by purists, the model ended up in production for an amazing 21 year run. So popular, it was available at the same time as the F4. Slated for end of production a few times, Nikon couldn’t keep up with demand towards the end of its life cycle.

Sculpted by famed Italian industrial designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, it introduced a solid hand grip, and that red racing stripe that still shows up today on Nikon digital bodies. And had the longest run out of any Nikon F.

I shoot with the F3HP model. HP for High Eyepoint, it allows for viewing with eyeglasses on, up to an inch away. 100% viewfinder coverage, of course. A solid, elegant camera, which many photographers view as the very best manual focus professional 35mm body to date.

Mounted With The Nikkor 28-50 f/3.5 Macro

Mounted With The Nikkor 28-50 f/3.5 Macro

I took this shot with the above combination, using expired 100 speed film from The Film Photography Podcast – www.filmphotographyproject.com, in Elm Park in Worcester, MA-

10 15 11 Elm Park Worcester MA

10 15 11 Elm Park Worcester MA