Lens: Nikon 200mm f/4 micro-Nikkor ED-IF

Vintage: Current.

Lens Mount: Nikon F-Mount.

Needed Adapters: None.

Preferred Mounting: Normal, not reversed

Filter Thread: 62 mm.

Street Price: About $1600 new.

Controls: Aperture control. Focus limiter (close focus, all), manual/autofocus switch. The focus ring is somewhat stiff on my copy of this lens, making fine focus adjustments difficult. I prefer to vary the copystand height to adjust the fine focus when using this lens.

Aperture: 9 blades.

Basic Function: This lens is internal focus and does not lengthen as the focus is changed. As necessitated by the internal focus design, the focal length shortens considerably as the lens is focused closer (from 200mm at infinity to about 100 mm at 1:1). Despite the focal length shortening, the working distance remains quite large.

Magnification Working Distance
0.43 560 mm
0.51 470 mm
0.77 330 mm
1.01 256 mm
Focal Length: far focus: 199 mm, near focus: 102 mm


nikon 200/4 top view nikon 200/4 side view

aperture graphResolution vs. Aperture:

This lens, like all newer Nikon macro lenses shows effective aperture in the viewfinder instead of the aperture as would be set on the aperture ring.

This means that when you set the aperture on the camera, you are setting the effective aperture also. That results in the actual size of the aperture changing (when you shoot the image) as you adjust the focus. You will get the same exposure at f/10 at infinity vs f/10 close up, but the actual aperture size will vary between those two settings.

The sharpest effective aperture at 1:1 magnification is f/10, while the most resolving effective aperture is f/9.

For the sharpest images, you should shoot images around F/8 at 1:2 magnification, and at about F/6.3 at 1:4 magnification. This is also equivalent to f/5 at infinity - quite an achievement for a lens of this focal length.

corner sharpness graphCorner Sharpness vs. Aperture:

This lens show very good corner performance, measuring less and 25% loss of sharpness at all apertures. These numbers are slightly better than the Nikon 105VR micro, although not as good as most bellows lenses.

(Testing done at 1:1 magnification. For this lens, the corner performance tends to improve as the magnification is decreased.)

resolution graphSharpness and Resolution vs. Magnification:

This lens shows very good resolution and sharpness throughout the macro magnification range. I can only easily test to a low magnification of 0.4x as my copystand is not tall enough to handle the large working distance that this lens generates.

This lens generates more resolution than the detector can register below a magnification of 1:2. Above that it only resolves slightly less than the detector. There is no shortage of resolution with this lens.

The sharpness levels are comparable to the 105VR across the range, slightly less at 1:2 and slightly more at 1:1

The corner sharpness worsens as the magnification increases, although it remains very good across the range. This worsening as the magnification increases is unusual although similar to the 105VR, so it likely related to design (internal focus?).

performance:sharpness graphPerformance: Sharpness vs. Magnification:

I have 4 lines that represent levels of performance from outstanding (top) to fair (bottom). This shows where this lens fits into the hierarchy that I have created.

The Nikon 200 AF micro shows very good sharpness performance across the macro magnification range.

performance:resolution graphPerformance: Resolution vs. Magnification:

I have 4 lines that represent levels of performance from outstanding (top) to fair (bottom). This shows where this lens fits into the hierarchy that I have created.

The Nikon 200 AF micro shows very good resolution performance across the macro magnification range.

resolving power graphResolving Power vs. Magnification:

This graph represents the smallest details that are able to be resolved by this lens at various magnificaitons. If the number doesn't get smaller as the magnification rises, there is little benefit to going up in magnificaiton with this lens. This situation is also called empty magnification.

Very good resolution, no problems.

Chromatic Aberration: This lens show minimal color fringing in the center (about 0.20 - 0.30 pixel) and mild/moderate on the periphery (0.90 - 1.60 pixels). Anything below 1.0 pixel is good. These numbers are slightly better than the 105VR across the board.

Image Contrast: Image contrast is very good, typical for high-quality macro lenses.

Flare: This lens shows no significant flare during testing.

Distortion: This lens shows no significant distortion during testing.

Image Samples:

About 1:2 magnification, f/10, resized:

sample image

crop imagePixel level crop from the image above:

There is very good pixel level detail, no problems.

About 1:1 magnification, f/10, resized:

sample image

crop imagePixel level crop from the image above:

There is good pixel level detail, no problems.


This is a legendary macro lens that performs as you would expect for a lens that costs this much, extremely well.

Why do you buy a 200 mm macro lens? You get it for the large working distance it provides. Working distance is important for coins in that it allows higher angled lighting and thus better overall lighting and color. For imaging nervous bugs, that working distance also comes in useful.

Even with the long working distance, this lens has very good resolution and sharpness. That is no small feat for a lens of this focal length and is probably responsible for the not inconsiderable cost. This lens has a sharpest aperture in the f/5 range (f/10 effective aperture at 1:1) and a most resolving aperture in the f/4.5 range (f/9 effective aperture at 1:1).

This lens shows good corner performance (better than the 105VR micro), although it can be outdone by most bellows lenses. The chromatic aberration is also better than the 105VR, but it is still enough on the periphery to be visible under the right conditions.

The one drawback that I see with this lens is that it is extremely sensitive to vibration. This would seem to be related to the long focal length and the considerable size and weight of the lens. Having an integral tripod mount helps, but in order to get the best results this lens needs to be locked down securely. In my experience, I don't get the best results until I use a remote release and mirror lock to minimize the vibration.

Another minor drawback for me is that the focus ring is a little stiff on my copy. That makes setting the focus a little tricky. I tend to compensate by using the height adjustment on my copystand to set the fine focus during imaging.

When everything is set up properly, this lens can produce exceptionally sharp and detailed pictures.