Nikon AI-S Nikkor 200mm f4 on Hasselblad X2D

In contrast to the previously tested Nikon Series E 135mm f2.8, this one is from the professional line of Nikon lenses, the Nikkors. I got this many years ago to complement my 135mm, and it has served me well through the film years. However, I have not used it extensively on the Hasselblad X-system, and this is the first time I test it formally.

These vintage film-era lenses are abundant in the used market. A quick search on ebay will show you tons of samples, with prices ranging from 40 to 100 USD. In some instances, shipping is more expensive than the lens itself. I had some hope for this lens, as I have read reviews of it on the 33×44 sensor previously. And being a professional level lens back in the days, it might be a good performer, also on a high-resolution sensor. First, some facts.

Full frame equivalent focal lengthca 158 mm
Length (lens only)129 mm
Length (with adapter and caps)154 mm
Weight (lens only)518 g
Weight (with adapter and caps)652 g
Filter Ø52 mm
Close focus2 m
Built in hood?Yes
Adapter usedYeenon AIG-X1D

Size and Build

Although a bit longer and heavier than the ultra-compact Nikon Series E 135 mm f2.8, this is still a very compact and lightweight telephoto lens. Even with an adapter, it handles very well on the Hasselblad X-series cameras, and does not feel front heavy at all. I have absolutely no second thoughts about using this on with the camera mounted on the tripod without any support on the adapter or the lens. I would compare it to handling e.g. the XCD 90mm. Despite it’s slightly longer focal-length, it is much easier to handle than the Leitz 180mm. Build quality is, as expected, very good. All metal body, nice retractable built-in hood and a very solid feel to it. The aperture-ring has only full-stops, but that is a minor issue. The focus ring has a little less resistance than the Series E 135mm, and is a little bit too soft for my taste, but it is totally acceptable.

Test shot

Original file with Ai-S Nikkor 200mm f4. Unedited except raw-sharpening (deconvolution) which is part of my Lightroom import.

For why I chose this subject and how it was done, se details in my previous posts, e.g. the test of Nikon Series E 135mm f2.8. In short, I wanted to do a real-life test of this lens in a setting close to how I usually use my telephoto-lenses.

Capturing details: Hasselblad X2D-100c, tripod, 2 sec timer, iso 64, auto white balance, aperture priority, some depth to the scene, focus close to infinity, manual focus on the tower in 100% live view with fully open lens, f11 for exposure, e-shutter.

Raw-file imported to Lightroom where it has undergone initial sharpening (deconvolution): Amount 30, radius 0.5, details 100. No other adjustments for initial evaluation.

Distortion and vignetting

As with all other lenses tested so far, distortion is negligible. Lines and angles are nice and straight all the way from centre to edges. No surprises there.

As for vignetting, I’m sure you have noticed the dark corners in the unedited test-image already. I was a bit surprised by that, as the Series E 135mm f2.8 had very little vignette. There is ,however, no hard vignette, so it should be correctible. After some trial and error I came up with a barely acceptable result. Here, I used Amount 60 and Midpoint 90. It was not very easy to correct the right place and amount, and I don’t think I nailed it 100%. There might be some need to adjust brightness locally as well with a brush, linear or radial mask to get a perfect result. So much correction also comes at a price. In more challenging conditions, this could give much more noise in the extreme corners.

There is some serious corner-vignetting, even at f11. It is not very easy to remove, but amount 60 and midpoint 90 turned out usable.


After a bumpy start with the difficult vignetting, it is time to evaluate resolution and sharpness. As usual, sharpness and chromatic aberrations were evaluated on 300% view in centre, left edge and extreme lower left corner, approximately corresponding to the red squares above. The crops are shown below. To the left in the crop you will se the unedited file (raw-sharpening, and for this lens I chose to remove the ugly, distracting vignette too), and to the right you can see an edited version after removal of chromatic aberrations in Lightroom and sharpening in Topaz AI Sharpen. Drag the slider to alternate between the two versions.

300% view of image center. Left: Raw-sharpening only. Right: Removal of chromatic aberrations in Lightroom and sharpening in Topaz Sharpen AI.
300% view of image edge. Left: Raw-sharpening only. Right: Removal of chromatic aberrations in Lightroom and sharpening in Topaz Sharpen AI.

This was a pleasant surprise. This lens is quite sharp, all over the frame. Center sharpness is among the best in the test, and it also holds up very well at the edges and corners. Of course, additional sharpening makes the image even crisper, but it is, in my opinion, totally usable also with more conservative sharpening. With respect to resolution, I would not have any doubts about using this lens, even for critical work.

Chromatic aberration

Chromatic aberration. Unedited file to the left, removal of chromatic aberration to the right. Both images have undergone raw-sharpening only.

There is quite a high amount of chromatic aberration here, but as you see from the image above, it cleans up nicely in Lightroom.


This focal length (200mm) may be a bit on the long side for me, particularly if paired with only e.g. the 35-75mm zoom. With the XCD lenses, there is always some room for cropping, and of course, you could always stitch with this one to get a wider angle. But I think the gap could be just a tad too big for my taste. The 150-180mm range would be ideal.

The build quality is very good, focus and aperture-rings lovely and it is small and lightweight enough to be easy to carry and handle. Sharpness is very good all over the frame.

The main issue with this lens is the vignette. I was a bit surprised and disappointed by that. It proved quite hard to correct nicely 100%, and the extreme corners are so much darker that it would introduce severe noise-issues in challenging light-conditions. However, if you don’t mind cropping away the corners and are looking for a 200mm that is small and lightweight, this may be the lens for you.



, , ,


%d bloggers like this: