Micro-Nikkor AF 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6 D ED - Review / Lab Test Report - Analysis
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)
Article Index
Introduction
Analysis

Distortion

The Micro-Nikkor AF 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6D ED shows an unusually low level of distortion for a zoom lens. At 70mm the lens is basically free of distortion and beyond there is only marginal pincushion distortion (<0.5%).

Move the mouse cursor over the focal length text marks below to observe the respective distortion
70mm 135mm 180mm

The chart above has a real-world size of about 120x80cm.

Vignetting

As mentioned the Nikkor is a full format lens which can take advantage of a sweet spot effect on the D200. The vignetting is absolutely negligible within the APS-C scope regardless of the focal length or aperture setting.

MTF (resolution)

All tests are performed near infinity focus so the following comments are only valid when using the Micro-Nikkor AF 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6D ED at conventional focus distances. True macro tests are not possible at this state.

Within this scope the lens was able to deliver very good although not exceptional resolution figures in the lab. At 70mm the quality is excellent in the center and very good at the borders. At 135mm the center suffers from a slight performance penalty but the quality remains easily in very good territory. As to be expected the resolution figures decrease further at 180mm - still very good but not impressive for a pricey lens.

The lens has a min. aperture of f/40 - a rather theoretical setting. At 180mm f/40 the measure resolution is 720 LW/PH which isn't really something that could be called "resolution" anymore. Due to diffraction this is an absolutely normal behavior though.

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a measure for sharpness. If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations

Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

Lateral Chromatic aberrations (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) are relatively well controlled. At 70mm they're more pronounced (1.15-1.5px on the average at the borders) whereas the issue is fairly negligible at 135mm and 180mm.

Verdict

The Micro-Nikkor AF 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6D ED delivered very good although no exceptional results (at conventional focus distances). The resolution is excellent at 70mm but the quality decrease towards the long end of the zoom range - a single ED element is obviously not enough to match the mid to long Micro-Nikkor fix-focals at their respective focal length. However, we are talking about an ambitious zoom lens here and flexibility simply comes with compromises. Vignetting and distortions are basically negligible and CAs are only an issue at 70mm. The build quality of the lens is exceptional with only the tiny tripod mount to complain about. Typical for most macros the AF speed isn't excessively high but if you take advantage of the focus limiter things are generally fine here. At around 1500€/US$ the lens is fairly pricey, more so regarding its rather slow max. apertures, and it is probably more a specialty item for macro enthusiasts - for the same price you may also get a Nikkor AF 80-200mm f/2.8D ED plus a 100mm macro lens which would make more sense for the majority of users.

Optical Quality:    
Mechanical Quality: (but miserable tripod mount)
Price/Performance:
      
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