A New-to-Me lens for Astrophotography

I recently acquired a used lens that I plan to use for astrophotography. The Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 ED AI-S is well-known as an excellent lens for this purpose—assuming, of course, you get a good copy of the lens.

Pleiades (M45).
Pleiades (M45).

Jerry Lodriguss, over at AstroPix, has this to say about the lens:

The Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED lens is a legendary lens, and with good reason. It’s performance for normal daytime photography is simply outstanding. And it is pretty darn good for astrophotography also…

I have been looking at used copies of this lens on-and-off for several years but have never actually been excited enough to purchase one. That is, until I saw one listed in MINT condition for an extraordinary price. The lens was offered by Tempe Camera and the store was close enough that I could drive down there in a few hours. Off I went…

And the lens really was in Mint condition. After a bit of checking and a few test shots I bought it. Now it was time for testing. On my first night my results weren’t that great but I attribute that to the fact that it was COLD and my fingers weren’t very good at getting sharp focus and it was windy causing the camera to shake resulting in blurry images.

So, I headed back out again the next night. I sought a location without wind and at a lower elevation hoping for warmer temperatures. Well, it wasn’t warmer but there was no wind. And the results were pretty good. Comparing the results at various ƒ/stops (ƒ/2.8, ƒ/4.0, and ƒ/5.6) I could see how the image improved with smaller apertures. And a comparison with my very old Nikkor 80-200mm AI-S ƒ/4 showed that the 180mm was better than the zoom lens at equivalent apertures.

I’m pretty happy with the quality of the lens and the price I paid. Now all I need is some clear skies to get out and do some more shooting.