AF-Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 Ai-S

Hello, everybody! Anybody rocked a mullet several decades ago? I once had a mullet and even had it quite recently. It’s considered ugly today, and you’ll get images of MacGyver in your mind whenever you see somebody who has it. That was the 1980s for you. But mind you, not all things from that time is ugly. There are things that were made back then that made plenty of sense, some of the most beautiful things were made during that time, too. Today, I will show you something that stuck-out amongst the rest. Compared to what the other manufacturers were making, this is pretty in a sea of ugliness.


The AF-Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 Ai-S is an odd lens today. Many people do not see or even knew about it but it has attained cult status amongst people who do and that all has to do with a special characteristic of this lens which you will see later in this article. This was made to compliment the Nikon F3AF, that’s the first professional autofocus Nikon that entered production. Without any lenses that could autofocus that camera would have been useless. Back then the servos and motors needed for this were relatively huge and fitting them to a small lens was challenging but Nikon did it and in an elegant way, too.

It’s a familiar-looking shape but back then many AF lenses have unusual or even out-of-place form like what Pentax and Canon had for example. Those were ugly, Nikon thankfully had better sense and taste! The engineers did a lot of work just so that the barrel is cylindrical as it should be. That made it easier to grip and it doesn’t feel odd in your hands. This may sound trivial, I don’t think anybody realized how difficult it was until they consider that it was the early 1980s and miniaturization wasn’t as good as it is today. Do you remember how ugly the old handy-cams were? That’s just the result of what technology could offer us back then.