70-210mm f/4 Series E and 80-200mm f/4.5 Non-AI Nikkors

The non-AI Nikkors are not obsolete

The 70-210mm f/4 Series E AI-s Nikkor was made in 1982. The 80-200mm f/4.5 Non-AI Nikkor on the right was made in 1973 and 1974.

The 70-210mm f/4 Series E AI-s Nikkor was made in 1982. The 80-200mm f/4.5 Non-AI Nikkor on the right was made in 1973 and 1974.

As mentioned previously, the non-AI Nikkors can be adapted to Canon and micro four thirds mounts with lens adapters.

In this demonstration:

  • the Canon 5D Mark II was on a tripod
  • both lenses were set at f/5.6
  • both focused on the same point and
  • both lenses zoomed to their maximum focal lengths.

The 80-200mm lens had a new lens coating in 1973 denoted with a “C” on the lens. The 70-210mm lens had a new “NIC” multi-layer coating in 1982. Which lens has more contrast and better bokeh?

A comparison from the 1080 HD video made with the Canon 5D Mark II. The top image was made with the 70-210mm f/4 Series E AI-s Nikkor at 210mm and f/5.6. The bottom image was made with the 80-200mm f/4.5 Non-AI Nikkor set at 200mm and f/5.6.

A comparison from the 1080 HD video made with the Canon 5D Mark II. The top image was made with the 70-210mm f/4 Series E AI-s Nikkor at 210mm and f/5.6. The bottom image was made with the 80-200mm f/4.5 Non-AI Nikkor set at 200mm and f/5.6.

In 1973, the 80-200mm f/4.5 non-AI zoom Nikkor sold for $705 or $3,800 in today’s dollars after you adjust for inflation. The 70-210mmm f/4 Series E AI-s Nikkor sold for $430 in 1982 or about $1,000 in today’s dollars.

The non-AI Nikkors are super cheap because Nikon users can’t use them on their digital cameras without converting them to AI. I bought the 80-200mm f/4.5 non-AI Nikkor on Ebay for $20 in 2016. I got the 70-210mm f/4 Series E lens from a local camera dealer in 2010 for $75.