Nikon 180

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Great manual focus lens from the good old days

If you hold this lens in your hands, you will love it, it is a beautiful, sturdy piece of equipment that gives the same feel of a fine mechanical watch. I own a version that is at least 10 years old, looks shinier and livelier than a brand new lens, very solid workmanship, a class above most others. Then again this is not a beginner lens. First of all, it is quite heavy, has no autofocus, and none of the new vibration reduction techniques that make lenses with long focal lengths more usable. For most people, a more traditional long zoom like the Nikon 70-300 will be so much more practical.


  • There are two manual focus versions, this is the slightly lighter (and newer) Ai-s.
  • There are several older autofocus lenses that Nikon manufactured one after another. None of them have a vibration reduction.
  • There is a very very expensive 200 f/2.0 lens that is sort of similar, but in a completely different category both cost and weight wise.
My Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ais
Price Hard to find, but a steal at the price
Weight Heavy, 800g
Good for Portraits, landscape
New or used Quite rare used, but not so expensive, around 250

Especially the manual focus version is quite a challenging lens. It is quite long, so if you want to walk around with it, you will need a second lens or a second camera to complement you. But if you can take the time, it is simply gorgeous to work with it. Still be prepared to work harder for your shots if you pick this one.

Ok, even on a full frame camera this lens is a bit tricky to use. On an APS-C camera you have a 270mm f/2.8 lens, that is quite long and will limit where you can use it quite a bit. And people that need a fast long lens will realize that without a proper vibration reduction, the speed they gain by the aperture they will end up giving back due to the lack of a vibration reduction system. If you have a manual focus version, things will be even a bit more challenging.

Of course if you can use a tripod or shoot things that co-operate and do not move so fast, you could compensate a bit


These pages are for Amateur Photographers and not really for seasoned photographers and professionals. I have no affiliation or commercial interest with any brand/make. I write from my own experience. I ended up using mainly Nikon, so I am more familiar with this brand than others. See price for notes on pricing as well as photography related links.