The AF 180mm f2.8 lens is excellent. It is an older lens but has the pro built quality of the crinkled metal finish of a few years ago. It is very sharp and an advantage is it's lighter weight compared to the 70-200mm and 80-200mm f2.8 zooms. The lens is slower focusing and not as close focusing as the newer lenses. I traded my 180mm in favor of the AF 80-200mm f2.8 lens which improved both focusing areas. I think it's these newer and unfortunately heavier zoom lenses that reduced it's popularity and eventually it's being discontinued without a successor. I actually miss having this lens and have considered getting another one. While I don't have the D800 and no longer have the 180mm I don't doubt you will be very pleased with it's performance.
The 180 is far better than the other two lenses, especially some models of the 70-300. The only drawbacks are that it's a bit slow AF and it's rather inconvenient to switch between mf and AF. Optically it's one of Nikon's great lenses, certainly (obviously) better than my 70-200/f2.8.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
While I own a 180mm f/2.8D and a D800, I've yet to use them together.
First, the good news. It's an excellent lens and one which I wouldn't hestiate to use when the need arises. The 180mm f/2.8D is very sharp and exhibits both low distortion and low chromatic aberrations. Because it's relatively small, light, and rugged, I'll travel with it in situations where I wouldn't bring a 70-200mm VR.
However, Nikon sells over 10 times as many 80-200mm f/2.8D's, 50 times as many 70-200mm f/2.8 VR's, and over 100 times as many 70-300mm VR's as they do 180mm f/2.8's. I believe it's because the versatility of those zoom lenses offer most people more "bang for their buck."
Because the 180mm f/2.8 lacks both VR and a tripod mount, it can sometimes be a challenge to get everything out of the lens that it's capable of. The lens hood is also a bit short -- on the other hand you don't have to worry about losing it.
One of the biggest mistakes a photographer can make is to look at the real world and cling to the vain hope that next time his film will somehow bear a closer resemblance to it. - Galen Rowell
I have one of these lenses which I purchased WAY back in 1990. I stopped using it for a while, and fell into the 70-200mm VR1 trap.
Last year, I did a trip to China, Thailand,and Cambodia. When I packed my back pack with a laptop, 2 x D3S,and numerous lenses including a 70-200mm f2.8, I could not lift it. So,I shed some gear and packed my 1990 model 180mm f2.8. Th 70-200 stayed at home , and I used the 180 a lot.
Here are a couple of shots, which, hopefully, you should be able to open.