Is Now the Time to Purchase Used Nikon DSLR Lenses?

Is Now the Time to Purchase Used Nikon DSLR Lenses?

Nikon F-mount cameras and lenses have been round for 65 years. In that point, Nikon has launched greater than 90 various kinds of lenses, starting from the 6mm f/2.8 Round Fisheye to the 2000mm f/11.0 Reflex. In 2016, the 100 millionth Nikkor lens rolled off the manufacturing line. But simply two years later, the Nikon Z Mount was born, and Nikon all however ceased taking note of their venerable F Mount lenses.

Does this imply F Mount lenses are on the verge of obsolescence? I don’t assume so. The truth is, I feel now could be the perfect time to purchase used DSLR lenses as a Nikon photographer.

NIKON Z 9 + AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR @ 500mm, ISO 2500, 1/2000, f/5.6

Prior to now, a rule of thumb was that the worth of cameras would drop greater than the worth of lenses. For instance, the previous dream digicam, the Nikon D3 from 2007, price $5000 when it was launched – as we speak, it may be discovered used for a tenth of that value. By the way in which, it’s nonetheless a good digicam in spite of everything these years, as you may learn within the article Nikon D3 vs Nikon Z9: Titans from Totally different Eras.

Nonetheless, when Nikon determined to shift focus from DSLRs to mirrorless, the established order of used costs modified fairly a bit. DSLR lenses that held their value for a few years abruptly turned considerably cheaper. The lenses haven’t gotten any worse – in some methods, they acquired even higher. For instance, lenses with out vibration discount acquire just a few stops of in-body picture stabilization in case you use them on mirrorless.

As for costs, take into account the Nikon AF-S 500mm f/4E FL VR. It is a $10,300 lens – or, moderately, it was. Today, it may be discovered on eBay for about $4500 (eBay affiliate hyperlink). And what in regards to the older 500mm f/4G VR? That lens is promoting used for about $2000 (eBay affiliate).

These are virtually felony costs. What as soon as would have bankrupted a household of 4 could be bought for hardly greater than the Nikon Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3. I just lately put my cash the place my mouth is and acquired a used copy of the Nikon 500mm f/4E FL, moderately than shelling out $14,000+ on one in all Nikon’s latest Z System exotics. It has now turn out to be my foremost lens as a wildlife photographer.

Goldcrest_Nikon Z9_500mm f4_LVP0434-NEF
Goldcrest (Regulus regulus). NIKON Z 9 + VR 500mm f/4E @ 500mm, ISO 4500, 1/640, f/4.0

Causes To not Purchase a Used DSLR Lens

What’s behind the low costs of used DSLR lenses? In all probability the most typical and comprehensible motive is that Nikon has seemingly shifted to mirrorless for good. If you need such a very good deal on a DSLR lens, will probably be used, with comes with the potential concern of a hidden defect. (To keep away from this inconvenience, a while in the past we wrote a information on the right way to purchase used lenses.)

There are different arguments towards shopping for a used DSLR lens that also needs to be thought of:

  1. The Z-mount lenses have lived as much as expectations; most of them are sharper and quicker to focus than their F-mount counterparts.
  2. To make use of a DSLR lens on a mirrorless digicam, it have to be tailored through the FTZ adapter, which some could discover annoying.
  3. As lenses age, their serviceability decreases attributable to lack of spare components.

On present Nikon Z-mount cameras, the bottleneck for speaking with DSLR lenses is the FTZ adapter. Some nice lenses misplaced autofocus on Z cameras, together with Nikon’s older AF-D glass. If you wish to adapt a Nikon DSLR lens to mirrorless, you’ll wish to verify forward of time to see if there are any compatibility points. We’ve a full record of FTZ-compatible lenses right here.

Morpho Butterfly
NIKON D500 + 105mm f/2.8 @ 105mm, ISO 10000, 1/250, f/10.0

Causes to Purchase a Used DSLR Lens

Regardless of this, I personally imagine that DSLR lenses characterize one of the best worth of any used lenses as we speak. There are lots of causes to purchase one:

  1. Considerably cheaper price makes beforehand unattainable lenses reasonably priced.
  2. They can be utilized each on DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, in contrast to mirrorless lenses!
  3. You’ll be able to promote a used lens for about the identical value that you simply purchase it, permitting for long-term “leases” with out dropping a lot cash.
  4. The optical enchancment of Z System lenses is often a lot smaller than the worth distinction. For instance, the Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 is barely higher optically than the latest F-mount model, but is $10,000 dearer.
  5. If used on a mirrorless digicam, older F-mount lenses can shine. Focus peaking and picture stabilization could be added to previous lenses that by no means even had autofocus. There isn’t a loss in optical high quality adapting a DSLR lens to mirrorless.
  6. Many F-mount lenses nonetheless haven’t any Z-mount equal, but have nonetheless decreased in value. For instance, the Nikon 58mm f/1.4, Nikon 300mm f/2.8, and Nikon 500mm f/4.
  7. Did I point out the worth?
Eurasian Coot_Czech Republic__LVP0518-NEF
NIKON Z 9 + VR 200-500mm f/5.6E + 1.4x TC @ 700mm, ISO 64, 1/4000, f/8.0

Beneficial Used DSLR Lenses

To provide you a way of context for a way less expensive used DSLR lenses have gotten lately, I’m itemizing a few of my favourite lenses and their costs under. The telephoto lenses particularly are wonderful offers, usually promoting for lower than half of their authentic value, but acting at distinctive ranges optically.

Telephoto Lenses

  • Nikon 800mm f/5.6E FL: Was $16,300 new, at the moment $6000 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. Even 12 years after its introduction, this 4.6 kilo (10.9 pound) hulk stays on high. It’s nonetheless the sharpest lens within the 800mm+ class that we’ve examined. When photographing small or distant animals from a tripod, this lens will shine for years to return.

Nikon 800mm f/5.6

  • Nikon 600mm f/4E FL: Was $12,300 new, at the moment $5000 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. The brand new Nikon Z 600mm f/4 is somewhat sharper, somewhat lighter, and somewhat higher at focusing. However all these enhancements are simply “somewhat.” The largest sensible distinction is the built-in teleconverter. If you happen to can forego that, it can save you sufficient money to take this lens world wide. You possibly can even go for an older model just like the f/4G, which continues to be optically spectacular and prices about $3000 used (eBay affiliate). Simply make it possible for there aren’t any issues with the focusing motor, since a alternative could be arduous to seek out lately.

Nikon 600mm f/4E FL ED VR

  • Nikon 500mm f/4E FL: Was $10,300 new, at the moment $4500 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. It’s an optically wonderful lens with no direct Z Mount equal but. It’s mild sufficient to handhold, with the proper focal size for wildlife images. That is the lens I purchased used, and I look ahead to a few years with it as my foremost workhorse. The older model is rather less sharp, however a 500mm f/4 for about $2000 (eBay affiliate) is unbelievable in case you’re on a finances.

Nikon 500mm f/4E VR

  • Nikon 500mm f/5.6E PF VR: Was $3600 new, at the moment $1800 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. An absolute gem within the Nikon telephoto portfolio. Extremely mild (1460 g / 3.21 lb) and compact. It’s a pleasure to shoot handheld. It has excellent sharpness, not a lot of which is taken away by the TC1.4x. It additionally focuses very properly on Nikon mirrorless cameras, even with the teleconverter. This lens was born to journey. The one compromise is the f/5.6 aperture. Nonetheless, with as we speak’s excessive ISO efficiency and software program choices, noise will not be almost as a lot of a difficulty because it was once.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f5.6E PF ED VR


  • Nikon 400mm f/2.8E FL: Was $11,200 new, at the moment $5000 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. An optically wonderful wildlife all-rounder that can be utilized for bigger animals in addition to for birds. Weighing in at 3800 g (8.36 lb), the 400mm f/2.8E is a chunk of lens. On this respect, the brand new Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 TC is best. Nonetheless, most photographers shoot with these lenses from gimbals, at which level the burden solely issues whilst you’re lugging it to the situation. The older technology 400mm f/2.8G can also be very sharp and fast-focusing, and it sells for a stunningly low $2800 on the used market (eBay affiliate). If you happen to don’t thoughts the burden (4.62 kilos / 10.2 lbs) and front-heavy design, which may be one of the best cut price you may get as we speak as a wildlife photographer.

Nikon 400mm f/2.8E VR

  • Nikon 300mm f/2.8 G VR II: Was $5500 new, at the moment $1700 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. If you happen to’re comfy with a 300mm focal size and want a most aperture of f/2.8, there’s nothing to consider. It’s a tremendous lens that tolerates teleconverters very properly, and it’s lighter than the opposite “exotics.” Plus, there isn’t a Nikon Z equal but.

Nikon 300mm f/2.8G VR II

  • Nikon 300mm f/4E PF: Was $2000 new, at the moment $800 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. The principle benefit of this lens is its compactness. You’ll be able to carry it round in your digicam bag like an ordinary zoom lens. It’s an awesome companion to the Nikon 500mm f/5.6E PF while you don’t want as a lot attain. This lens’s mild weight (755 g / 1.66 lbs) and portability could outweigh all the things else.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f4E PF ED VR

  • Nikon 200mm f/2G VR II: Was $5700 new, at the moment $2800 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. That is undoubtedly a specialty lens. For wildlife images, 200mm is commonly too quick. So its foremost use is as a portrait, live performance, or wedding ceremony lens, or for bigger wildlife close by. The principle promoting level of this chunky lens is the f/2 aperture and the gorgeous bokeh. It has no Z System equal, but sells for a lot lower than it did new! The older VR model sells for underneath $2000.

Nikon AF-S VR NIKKOR 200mm f2.0 G

  • Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E VR: Was $1400 new, at the moment $750 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. Considered one of two zoom lenses to seek out its method into my telephoto choice. Whereas there are some things to criticize about this lens objectively, there’s not a lot to complain about the place value is worried. If you happen to’re searching for an excellent wildlife lens on a finances, the 200-500mm f/5.6 has rather a lot to supply. Its finest associate is the Nikon D500, which can also be out there as we speak for a fraction of the unique value, making it the last word finances wildlife combo.

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR

  • Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR: Was $2450 new, at the moment $1200 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. That is the final of the holy trinity of f/2.8 lenses and represents the head of zooms from the DSLR period. It’s one of many sharpest zooms we’ve ever examined; the Z model is even a step sharper, however this one received’t maintain again even a forty five megapixel sensor. The place the lens actually shines is its focusing velocity, the place it will possibly even sustain with attacking skua.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

NIKON D500 + Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II @ 200mm, ISO 1250, 1/5000, f/5.6

Commonplace Lenses

As focal lengths shorten, the efficiency hole between F-mount DSLR lenses and Z-mount mirrorless lenses begins to widen. Nonetheless, some are nonetheless price your time. Which of them are my favorites? Among the many lenses that retain autofocus on the Z system, these are those that stand out.

  • Nikon 105mm f/1.4E: Was $2100 new, at the moment $1200 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. I’m not a portrait photographer, however I’m very tempted to purchase this lens. The 105mm focal size is a good compromise between 85mm and 135mm in my view. Even by as we speak’s requirements, the lens is sharp as a piranha’s tooth. But it additionally delivers bokeh as gentle as a child alpaca’s fur. Even on Z cameras, it focuses reliably and advantages from a stabilized sensor. I feel I simply satisfied myself.

Nikon 105mm f/1.4E ED

  • Nikon 58mm f/1.4G: Was $1600 new, at the moment $850 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. That is the sort of lens that appears bizarre within the lab however shines in actual use. I do know a number of Nikon photographers for whom it’s their primary lens. When photographing weddings, portraits, or avenue images, this lens gives stunning bokeh, beautiful distinction, and exquisite colours.

Nikon 58mm f/1.4G

  • Nikon 28mm f/1.4E: Was $2000 new, at the moment $1100 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. Overlook what I stated earlier about Z-mount lenses outperforming their F-mount counterparts. This lens defies that rule. It’s, in truth, nonetheless the sharpest lens that we’ve ever examined within the lab (at the least within the heart – although the corners are critically sharp, too). To not point out that in case you love the 28mm focal size, f/1.4 is bigger than something you’ll get on the Z mount. It’s a one-of-a-kind lens.

Nikon 28mm f/1.4E

Nikon 28mm f/1.4E Image Sample (3)
NIKON D850 + 28mm f/1.4 @ 28mm, ISO 64, 1/160, f/8.0 © Nasim Mansurov

Huge-Angle Lenses

Relating to excessive focal lengths under 24mm, growth has come a great distance, and most wide-angle mirrorless lenses are better-corrected than their DSLR counterparts. Nonetheless, there may be nonetheless a pair of Nikon DSLR lenses that stand out.

  • Nikon 20mm f/1.8G: Was $800 new, at the moment $420 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. Although the Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 S is sharper, that doesn’t imply {that a} DSLR 20mm is a foul selection. This lens nonetheless has one of the best sunstars of any lens available on the market, and it’s spectacular sufficient for Milky Means images broad open at f/1.8. Given the worth, I feel that many panorama photographers ought to take into account this lens first, even when capturing mirrorless.

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED

  • Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G: Was $1750 new, at the moment $700 used (eBay affiliate) – See our evaluate. This lens was launched in 2007 together with the 12-megapixel Nikon D3. But even on as we speak’s 45-megapixel cameras, the sharpness lens holds up. Stopped all the way down to f/4 or f/5.6, it’s close by of the Nikon Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S (itself the sharpest wide-angle zoom we’ve examined). It’s the apparent selection for a DSLR, and while you issue the present value into the equation, it’s price contemplating for mirrorless as properly.

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G

NIKON D800E + 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 3200, 25 seconds, f/2.8 © Spencer Cox


Within the title of this text, I requested if now could be the time to purchase used DSLR lenses as a Nikon shooter. And as you may see, the reply is sure. The costs are so low lately that I imagine many photographers ought to take into account an F-mount lens earlier than a Z-mount lens. And the record above solely scratches the floor; there are dozens of F-mount lenses that I haven’t included above, and virtually each one is promoting for a deep low cost lately. When you’ve got a favourite that I haven’t talked about, I’d love to listen to about it within the feedback under.

These are golden occasions for photographers who don’t thoughts shopping for used. Excessive-quality tools has by no means been cheaper, and all of those lenses have been constructed to final for a very long time. Whereas some photographers drop many hundreds of {dollars} on the latest mirrorless tools, photographers on a finances can choose up high-end DSLR gear for pennies on the greenback and take equally good images.

That is particularly helpful for wildlife photographers. Even unique F-mount telephoto lenses now promote for a fraction of their authentic value. Lenses like a 400mm f/2.8 or 500mm f/4 have been beforehand out of attain, and now, they’re abruptly attainable by mere mortals. Different lenses, like previous manual-focus glass, can be utilized with options like focus peaking and in-body picture stabilization, making them much more helpful than ever, regardless of their decrease costs.

It may be straightforward to overlook, however now is without doubt one of the finest occasions to ever be a photographer, particularly in case you’re on a finances.

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