Great Values in Used AF Nikkor lenses
20-35mm f/2.8D AF: The 17-35mm f/2.8D ED AF-S has eclipsed this lens, but it remains an excellent choice. It's very sharp and has superb construction. You can find a used one in great condition for only $100-200 more than a new 18-35mm. If you're shooting slow speed slide film, this can be an excellent buy.
35mm f/2.0 AF, 85mm f/1.8 AF and 180mm f/2.8 AF-N lenses: All three of these lenses are excellent optically and mechanically. They have good MF focusing feels and rubberized focusing rings, but lack the ability to pass distance information back to the body (they're not "D" lenses). Because of that, they sell for $50-75 less than their AF-D equivalents. The distance information from an AF-D lens only matters under isolated conditions with flash. If you don't use a lot of flash (and even if you do), these are great deals.
35-70mm f/2.8 AF and AF-D: Another situation where prices have dropped this last year. The advent of DSLRs has reduced the market value of many mid-range zooms, especially those with a minimum focal length of only 35mm. Here's an interesting concept, however: treat this as a variable focal length portrait lens. It has the equivalent focal length range of around 50-105mm on a DSLR, which is just about perfect for portraiture. The fast aperture and clean out of focus area rendition creates nice background, and the size isn't imposing. I'm not fond of the lens for landscape work because of the rotating front filter ring and slightly loose focus, but it works great for photos of people. Its optical performance is excellent. We have a separate review on the 35-70 for those of you who are interested.
50mm f/1.8 (all AF series): The 50mm f/1.8 lenses are dirt cheap, sometimes not more than the cost of a good filter. Even if you are a zoom enthusiast, it can be worthwhile having one of these in your bag. It's incredibly small and compact, and the f/1.8 aperture can enable photos in dim conditions without flash. Try one of these for shots of family - they work great in that capacity
75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 AF: While there is sometimes a bit of hyperbole concerning this lens, it remains a very nice one for the money. It has a (slightly weak) rotating tripod ring that is great for vertical shots on the tripod, and its construction quality is very good. At around $200 on the used market, it's a steal. Add a Nikon 5T close-up lens, and you have a lot of versatility for very little money.
80-200mm f/2.8 AF-D two-touch: With two generations of newer lenses out (first the 80-200mm 2.8 AF-S and then the 70-200mm 2.8 VR), this former flagship lens has declined a lot in price. Excellent optics and excellent handling. The two-touch version has a rotating tripod ring which makes it more stable on a tripod. There is a short review on the 80-200 at Nikonians.
300mm f/4.0 AF: Replaced by the somewhat nicer 300mm f/4.0 AF-S, this remains an excellent lens. Optically, it's about the same as the AF-S. It doesn't focus as fast and the MF feel isn't as good, but you can often find it quite cheap. Its build quality is excellent, and it works well with a 1.4x converter.
Current AF-S super telephotos are starting to drop in price because of the introduction of VR technology. It's already happening with the 300mm f/2.8 AF-S and others will follow. If VR isn't extremely important to you, this can be a good way to save some money.
Let us now go down list of what to watch for when hunting for these great values ...
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