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Lens selection

Its been a while since I picked up an SLR but the last few years have been busy with work and now kids. My grandfather got me into photography as a kid and I still have the Konica TC that he gave me in a drawer next to my desk. In recent history I have been shooting with an Olympus point-and-shoot something or other and its been good but motivated by the results of recent attempts to enlarge images of the kids, I've purchased a used F3HP. Im stymied at the lens selection. With the PS, I enjoy a candid kind of in-the-crowd, crop in the viewfinder shooting style and I feel like I want to choose a short Zoom-Wide Angle like the AIS 28-85 or 35-70 for the F3HP. My concerns are that neither of these are particularly fast lenses. Interested in anyones thoughts regarding these lenses or others. Much of my photography will be my kids/fam and possibly scenic images. Thanks in advance.


Active Member
How fast of a lens do you need?

The 28-85mm f/3.5 to 4.5 lens may be too slow, but why wouldn't the 28-70mm f/2.8 or the 35-70mm f2.8 lenses meet most of your needs.
John - Thanks for your reply. That is the lens I have had in mind. If I had a question it would be about purchasing a AF lens for a non-AF camera.


Hi Chris,

You have certainly chosen a fantastic camera. For what it's worth, here's what I think about the lens situation. The AF 35-70mm f2.8 is a highly respected lens from Nikon. I feel that you cannot go wrong with this one and it has a nice feel and operation in manual mode. It should balance nicely on the F3HP. The 28-85mm f3.5-4.5 will sacrifice both speed and image quality by comparison.

Actually, there has never been a better time to purchase a manual focus Nikkor lens second hand. A number of zooms and prime focal lengths can be obtained at bargain prices, for ex&le, on eBay. I suggest that you consider the options below and I have included a rating (out of 5.00) for the lens from a survey that I am doing. You may also wish to go to and read some of the reviews there.

AF 28-85 f3.5-4.5 rated 3.34 AF 35-70 f2.8 rated 4.20 (most of the other 35-70s are poorly rated by comparison) AIS 50-135mm f3.5 rated 4.30 (limited data set, but excellent reputation) E 75-150mm f3.5 rated 4.63 (limited data set, but excellent reputation)

AIS 28mm f2.8 rated 4.56 AIS 35mm f2.0 rated 3.98 AIS 50mm f1.8 rated 4.68 AIS 85mm f2.0 rated 4.10 (limited data set) AIS 105mm f2.5 rated 4.80 (this ranks #3 overall and is the most highly rated MF lens!)

Perhaps this is too much to consider, but if you can grab a nice zoom and one or two primes from this selection, you will have a fabulous setup. The 28 f2.8 and 105 f2.5 are two of my favorite lenses. You cannot go wrong with these. Anyway, try and shop around and try out some of these if you can. Good luck!


Greg Lumpkin
Greg - Great info! I can wait for the camera to show up! I purchased the 50mm/1.4 opting for as much speed as the budget will bear.


> Just make sure the lenses are (1) in good working condition, (2) that you agree with the condition listed, (3) isn't stolen and (4) is a US (non-gray market) model.

Regarding #1, it is hard to tell when something mechanical is just starting to show signs of mechanical failure. It may just be shorting out or wearing out, but may operate fine under normal working conditions and not under hot or cold temps. Regarding #2, there are many hidden factors that affect the resale price of a lens, such as whether the lens has been damaged, lens or coatings scratched, electronics (AF, metering chip, etc.) shot, dirt or dust inside the lens, etc. Regarding #3, if you buy a hot lens, you could lose it without compensation. Number 4 is the biggie (especially if you live in the US). If the lens is a gray market (non-US warranty lens), you may not be able to get it repaired at a Nikon Authorized Service Center, even if the warranty has expired. They just don't work on gray market lenses! You will have to send it to some third party repair center and take your chances. Serial number stickers can be removed and replaced or forged, so be careful.

You can get a great deal from a reputable seller on e-Bay, if you do your homework. Make sure you know the price you want to pay, buy from someone with a stellar seller rating, that has sold merchandise before and will allow a review/return if the merchandise is not in the condition advertised. My choice would be to go to
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("I want to sell forum" of the Nikonians web site),
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(B&H Photo) or
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(Adorama) and check out their used lenses. Good luck!
Dave - Thanks! A little concerned regarding your comment about Gray Market. The 50/1.4 I just purchased (through one of the sources you mention)is a gray market or 'Imported' lens. And although I trust the seller, your phrase '... take your chances.' is un-nerving. Have you had negative experinces with that channel?



That's a good choice on the 50mm f1.4. Although I do use some AF gear myself, I love the MF Nikon equipment so it's good to see others getting into it. As far as something like eBay goes, here are some general rules that I follow for myself:

1. Research the lens beforehand if you don't already have experience with it. There may be several versions (F, AI, AIS), so make sure you know which one is best for you and how to tell the difference between them.

2. Get an idea of the new price, provided the lens is still on Nikon's list. B&H Photo and Adorama are two good sources of information.

3. Follow a few auctions, if you can, in order to see how the used prices are going. If you take some time to look around, you may find a bargain and may be able to use "buy it now" to purchase before the bidding starts in earnest.

4. Set an upper price limit and don't go over it. You can usually pick up a nearly new lens well under the new price with a bit of patience. Usually, you will get the lens caps, but also you might find one with the box and a few extras (filter, lens hood, etc.). Occassionally you can get a really good deal on something brand new.

5. Have a standard list of questions for the seller (lens age or serial no., condition of optics, any dust inside, condition of barrel, etc.) and feel free to ask any other questions that become apparent from reading the item description. Check the seller's feedback. Avoid those with excessive negative feedback.

That's about it. If you have no experience with eBay then go through their extensive literature on the auction process. Also, try and learn about how you can pay for your winning bid. There are numerous options to consider. However, after doing your research, you may well find a good price at your local dealer or one of the mail order suppliers. Hope this helps and good luck. Most of all, enjoy the photographic experience!

Greg Lumpkin


Well-Known Member
Buying grey is OK if you know values and calculate the risk. Nikon - and I expect all others will not recognize products they don't import. No warrantee, no repairs.

I would not think twice about an enlarger lens, since there is almost nothing to go wrong. A complex digital camera is totally another matter. Stricktly a Nikon import - nothing else.

Reputable dealers identify grey market goods and B&H even have a clear explanation on their web site.

However, there are predators as well selling it. I urge everyone who might consider going to someone other than B&H or Adorama to read:
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ICQ 76620504
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When purchasing a used item either through eBay or a reseller, is there a way to determine if it is a gray market item? Different serial number sequence or codes?


If you get a gray market lens, you will have to send the lens to a third party repair shop and NOT a Nikon Authorized Repair Center. It is the same as having your BMW or Toyota fixed at Stubby's Repair Shop and Ice Cream Parlor -- you may or may not get someone qualified to repair the item. B&H, Adorama and the other "reputable" sellers usually are good (doing the repairs themself or farming it out to someone they trust), but many of the others are iffy, at best. Nikon Authorized Centers have been trained by Nikon and have all the support available from Nikon. Gray market is ok if it is a piece of equipment that doesn't have a lot of moving parts, but more complex and costly items may be best with the US version and piece of mind.


Just a few days ago I bought my first SLR - FM3A (new) and planned to buy 50mm f/1.8 (MF) new as well, but the seller offered a used one for very good price. Lens looks ok with no scratches on it, except when I rotate the aperture ring it sounds like it has sand underneath. Is this lens worth to bye? (seller dives a year warranty on it)
Thank you.



I'd get the new for $120 with the extra years of Nikon warranty. = Sounds as though that used lens has problems. I use the AF version on = my F3HP which sells for $90 new and is sharper--according to = anyway.

Tom Sullivan

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New Member
You never know what you are getting when you buy a used lens, especially on eBay, because you never meet the seller and cannot see the lens before you purchase it. The lens could have been dropped, gotten wet, been owned by many people, etc. Used lenses on eBay are surprisingly expensive. They cost about 2/3 the price of a new lens at B&H, plus they are without a warranty. Gray market lenses are fine and can be repaired conveniently, if necessary. Many reputable shops need the business. I believe it is much smarter to spend a little more for a new lens, with or without warranty. It will be perfect and you can always sell it on eBay if you want to.


New Member
Prime lens, which is great quality.

Indoor: Nikkor AF 35mm F2.0D
Outdoor: Nikkor AF 85mm F1.4D

Compermise solution:

* Nikkor AF 35-70mm F2.8D less budget, light weight (635g), cover most of the range, quality as good as prime lens.

Best choice-if it's not too havey and expensive for you:

Nikkor 28-70mm F2.8D, heavy, but quality as good as prime as well.