Upload & Sell: On
the solitaire wrote:
That kind of sums it up nicely, except that you forgot to mention that these lenses are often a lot smaller then their AF counterparts which also is a blessing for camera bags.
Any opinions on the 200mm f4 Ai lens? (the non-macro lens)
I saw a pair of them at a local photo shop for $100 each and they appeared to be in good shape. They are quite small for a 200mm focal length and have the slide-out lens hoods.
Would I better invest in a 180 f2.8?
I'll second Leighton's comment Buddy, though since he's man a few words and I can't help writing many words, I'll say a bit more on the subject. The 200 f/4 AI or AI-s, as Bert keeps demonstrating, is a really wonderful lens. I paid $89 for the copy I bought on E-Bay so the price you're quoting is definitely in the ballpark. The lens is relatively small given its focal length which contributes to a challenge when using it, at least in my experience. If you're on a tripod, no big deal, but if you're hand holding, the lens doesn't offer much weight or mass to help steady you. You need impeccable technique to get sharp images. That is one reason I was so smitten with the 200 f/4 Q.C. AI'd I bought earlier this year. It is a bigger, heavier lens that balances on my D700 perfectly... much like the larger, heavier 180 f/2.8 AI-s ED which has long been a desert island lens for me.
I don't think anyone who shoots with the 180 will give it other than a stellar review. It is sharp wide open and performs beautifully with tubes and teleconverters as well as bare. And it remains an incredible value for the money. Prices will be higher where you are but I've bought two copies each for $300, the last in pristine condition with its box and insert.
Were I in your situation I'd go for the 180 unless you really need to stay small with your kit. In that case you'd want to stay away from the older Q.C. lens. Here's an old photo that Leighton used on the blog showing the first lenses added to my kit. The 180 is at the right with the 200 standing next to it, just to give you a sense of scale...