Review of Nikon 200mm f/4 D ED-IF AF Micro Nikkor Lens

Excellent lens, as expected

 
5out of 5

Pros: Easily Interchangeable, Strong Construction, Consistent Output, Rugged, Nice Bokeh, Durable
Cons: Slow Focus
Best Uses: Macro Photography, Landscape/Scenery, Wildlife Photos

Anyone looking at the reviews for this lens is most likely trying to verify what they already know: that it is a fantastic lens. My 2 cents confirm that. The lens is optically superb, and it has not been challenged by a 24 Mp DX sensor. I used it on 16 and 24 Mp DX sensor cameras, and the sharpness is flawless when images are in focus, which is a separate challenge and has nothing to do with the lens performance. The long focal length requires steady holding, so a solid tripod is a very good idea. Auto focusing, particularly if you switch from close to far away, is very slow and can be frustrating to people used to the AF-S optics with much more limited focus range. But this is not a quality one should expect from this special purpose lens with a tremendous focus distance range.
As with any close up photography, motion of the subject will cause blurring as much as does the motion of the camera and the lens. Taking close-up shots of insects on flowers even in light breeze is very hard, and this lens will not make the subject steady. However, I found that by focusing manually to the close ball park, then switching to AF-C 3D tracking helps with this problem to a large degree. Once in a while the camera will hunt away from the manually focused spot and I have to manually recover the focus but most of the time it will issue fine quick adjustments and the focus will stay on target, especially if the motion is not too drastic. I find AF useful in this case. Same applies for pictures taken at long distances, where AF can fairly quickly be re-acquired when subjects are relatively in focus. It is only when the subject is totally out of focus will it take the camera / lens combination a very long time to try and find focus.
I find that the bokeh for close-ups is less than creamy but Ok if the clutter is close behind the subject, and improves significantly for the clutter further away from the subject in focus.
Color rendition is impeccable for the focal plane. Traces of axial CA may be seen on high contrast edges close to the focal plane but disappear quickly into the bokeh if a shallow(er) DOF is maintained in close-up shots. I have not tried the most challenging duck-on-the-water-with-sun-glare shot to see if the longitudinal CA would creep into that kind of an unlikely scenario for the use of this lens.
Hand holding this lens is challenging, even for subjects far away: one has to realize that even if subjects far away appear steady, that did not make your handholding steadier and magically removed the motion that you so clearly saw when taking close-ups. You simply can’t see it quite as well. Using steady support is essential with this lens regardless of the distance to the subject.
The lens is fairly long and thin but hefty due to its extremely high build quality, and handles nicely on a D7000 or similar class body. It fits well onto a D5300 but can make it a bit front heavy. This is largely irrelevant as I would recommend limiting hand held use anyway.

(legalese)