1. Welcome to NikonCafe.com—a friendly Nikon camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!

Need info on older high quality lenses

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by MiriamJ, Dec 9, 2005.

  1. Hi,

    I'm looking for a lens for my D70, and I'm wondering if it's possible to get extreme high quality lenses, (I'm thinking of the quality of the 85mm f/1.4), but at a greatly reduced cost. Are there older lenses that don't sell for very much because they don't meter or autofocus with the newer digital cameras, but would still be usable?

    This would be my 2nd lens, in addition to the 18-70mm kit lens. I would be using it as a walking around lens.

    I know there's a lot of older lenses out there. Any advice on which ones to look for would be appreciated. I'm flexible on the focal length, but really want something very high quality. Am I correct in thinking I want a prime lens with a very large aperture? Obviously it would have to have manual focus, and I would be using a handheld light meter to set my aperture and shutter speed.

    This wouldn't necessarily have to be something that's immediately available.

    Also, any advice where to look for lenses would be helpful. I know B&H Photo Video has used lenses, as well as KEH, and, of course, eBay.

    Many thanks in advance!

  2. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  3. Paul,

    I visit Thom Hogan's site a lot, but wasn't familiar with that page. Very useful knowing how to not harm my camera. :)  The caveat is much appreciated as is the link.

  4. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Miriam :

    I'd also suggest looking in local camera stores. I've purchased two lenses in a month (one AF for me, one MF for a distant cousin abroad) at superior prices (superior for me, that is!). I could also test the lenses with my camera body, which is a fairly critical item for used equipment.

    I know that KEH is quite reliable with their ratings, and B&H close behind, so each of them is a resource.


    I did better with my local store than online for the two lenses I purchased. There's also the point that you might handle a specific lens and decide that you don't like the "feel" of the lens in your hands. It's happened to me, and I know others can comment similarly.

    I also look in stores during my (far too regular) business travel.

    Lastly, read Bjørn's and Thom's reviews with care. Their exceptional visions of what constitutes "good glass" will quickly bring you in serious lens lust disease (LLD), an affliction shared by many members of the Cafe ! :eek:  :wink: :eek: 

    And welcome to the Cafe, BTW.

    John P.
  5. Paul,

    I see you've added to your post. Thanks for the valuable extra info.

  6. John,

    Thanks, I will also check locally. Also, I was wondering about Pawn shops as a resource. As an amateur, would I be able to evaluate glass condition before purchasing? In other words, if a lens is too badly scratched, could I see it with the naked eye?

    I've been carefully studying the links to Bjørn's and Thom's sites and have already learned a lot.

    I'm afraid it's too late for me on the LLD, already afflicated.

    Thanks for the welcome. :) 

  7. patrickh


    May 4, 2005
    Thousand Oaks
    If you do not have time to shop locally (high desert, CA?), many people on this and other forums have very good things to say about KEH. They typicaly under-rate their product. You may pay slightly more, but you get good quality witht he option to return.

    Several nikon DSLR users have chosen to at least re-inforce their collections with AI/AIS lenses which make the grade as "classics". You have already been pointed to the sites that will give you a bad case of LLD enhancement, especially Bjorn Rorslett, who you will find on this forum as "nfoto".

    One of the best values for money still available (because the afficionados have not made a lot of noise about it yet) is the 100/2.8E series. Small, dirt cheap and sharp. A hidden gem. Others on the hit lists are 105/2.5 or 1.8, 28/2, 35/1.4, 180/2.8, and on....

    Luck in your search.
  8. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Miriam :

    Well, there are good reasons why many people prefer to deal with camera stores or companies like KEH, mostly related to their expertise in the field being used for their customers. As noted elsewhere, KEH is very conservative in their ratings, making them trustworthy for many people.

    But... if you do go and look at a lens, anywhere at all, a few things can be said.

    Scratches are generally a bad thing, although it's said by some that scratches of a certain size aren't so bad. This is a subject that's been debated for some time, and people have had quite strong opinions on the subject, but given a choice between a lens with a scratch and a lens with no scratches, most rational folks get the latter.

    More to the point and in no certain order :
    • if the focus is irregular in movement, catches, jams or doesn't give a consistent result;
    • if the aperture ring won't switch smoothly between "clicks" (most have stops that either audibly click or snap into place), sticks, or dosn't move;
    • if the view through the lens cannot be made crisply focused in the centre, is lopsided within the field of view (field curvature might mean it's not sharp edge-to-edge for some lenses, but it shouldn't be crisp on one edge and not the opposite edge for most lenses looking at a planar object), has blobs or other distortions;
    • if the lens collar fitting is beaten up, chipped, askew, or bent;
    • if the filter ring threads are munched, bent, deeply chipped, or stripped;
    • if the body is harshly dented or otherwise damaged in a way that implies internal damage;
    • if there is fungus on any of the glass internal or outer, or there are blobs or smears of grease inside;
    • Most importantly - if your test shots on your camera body don't show reasonably expected results, then,
    Don't buy the lens.

    Pawn shops are not going to rate lenses as well as an outfit like KEH, are unlikely to offer returns, and most improbably to offer any warranty. That said, if you're cautious and careful, you might find a deal or two along the way in a pawnshop or just a neighbourhood camera store. As always, caveat emptor.

    And it's just about impossible to cure. Welcome to an exclusive club, Miriam !

    We look forward to your photographs posted here at the Cafe.

    John P.
  9. Patrick,

    We live in the Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville area, if you know where that is.

    Thanks for the info on the other lenses. I'll watch for those.

  10. John,

    What a wealth of practical info for someone venturing into buying used lenses. Worth reading many times before buying. I am most grateful.

    Looking forward to sharing some of my photos with you.

  11. patrickh


    May 4, 2005
    Thousand Oaks
    I am down in Ventura County - Thousand Oaks. Yes I know Victorville - if you drive anywhere in the Las Vegas direction you have to go that way.

    The advice from all round is sound - especially the "there is no cure for LLD" message. Actually, I have acquired about 15 MF lenses over the past year and love every one of them. If you read Bjorn Rorslett in particular, you will not go far wrong. What is your main type of picture taking? Macro, landscape, event, people? If you announce it on this forum, you will get inundated with very specific advice.

    Welcome to the funny farm.
  12. Patrick,

    We know Thousand Oaks, have been there a few times. Beautiful place.

    I probably haven't been shooting long enough to have developed any specific areas of interest, but I know when I ask for help it will be excellent. My first post far exceeded my expectations. :) 

    Thanks for the welcome!
  13. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005
    There will be many 24-120VR lenses cheap once the 18-200 are out in a week. I for one have one or two to sell cheap. I would hold off and consider this lens. it is strong.
  14. Thanks, I'll think about it.
  15. The D70 isn't very good with older Ai/Ais lenses. Doesn't meter with these lenses and the focus is difficult due to the small VF. Been there, done that. :frown: You'll have to manual meter and focus............... it can be done, but it's a royal pain in the asssss. :eek: 

    This is one of the main reasons I ditched the D70. Loved the size and images though.

  16. John,

    I ordered a 50mm f/1.8 AIS today from KEH, (the price was really cheap, worth it to play around).

    To experiment I went out today with the D70, the 18-70mm lens set to 50mm only, and manually set the aperture and shutter. Getting the EV right wasn't too much of a problem since I was shooting under a single lighting condition, and it's easy to adjust the shutter speed to compensate for changes in aperture, but I was disappointed at how many out of focus shots I got. :(  I've got an eyepiece cup on order, and I'm hoping that will help somewhat.


    P.S. You mean you're currently without a digital SLR? You don't have the shakes or anything, do you? ;) 
  17. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    hello Miriam, :biggrin:

    glad to see you aboard here, yes.... this is where I have been hanging out and the reason I'm not posting much over a DPR. Don't forget to post a welcome post on the new member spot, and don't forget to share your great knowledge of PS over at the retouching section.



    P.S., don't let her suggest she is a rookie, i have learned many many things from this fine lady.
  18. Hi Wade!

    Good to see you. Thank you for the warm welcome, I'm glad to be here. The response to this thread was so awesome, I'm looking forward to learning and having fun here.

    Warm Regards,
  19. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hello Miriam and welcome to the Cafe. I was reading through your thread and just about going to post a reply regarding the 50mm 1.8 when I read your message above. I own the 50mm 1.4 AIS and it has given me the opportunity to shoot in low light situations where the kit lens just doesn't make it. I'm also using it more and more for regular day shots.
    However, focusing can be difficult. I wouldn't rely on the viewfinder - it's much too small to make any real decision. But there is this little green dot in the viewfinder that lights up when you have adjusted the focus correctly. This will help.
    Enjoy your new little lens! Once you get used to it, it will give you some wonderful shots.

    However, if you find MF and manual mode is inconvenient: the 50mm 1.8 AF comes at around $100 new and gives you autofocus and all the other goodies on your D70. So for this price it's worth considering. The 50mm 1.4 AF is also not too expensive, and I might even buy it one day. On the other hand, my AIS lens helps me consider the shot first, which is often helpful to me as I tend to just shoot away with the automatic lenses.

    Share some pictures with us!
  20. Heiko,

    I had read about that green light in the viewfinder when I got the camera, but forgot all about it when I needed it. I just played around with the camera, and I'm sure I'm going to do better next time. I very much appreciate the tip.

    One reason I'm getting this lens is that I have more room on my chip than I ever use, even in RAW, so I just shoot lots of pictures and pick out 1 that I like. I'm hoping the combination of MF, AIS and single focal length might help me look at what I'm doing.

    I will share. Thanks!

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.