28mm f/1.4 worth the money?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by justinweiss, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. I've heard some great things about the discontinued 28mm f/1.4, especially for shooting in low light, and there is usually one or two on Ebay for around $2,500 and up.
    Assuming you would be using it with a full-frame camera like a D700, is this lens really worth such a high price, or is this just a case of the price going up because they're not making it any more and it's a "collector's item"?
  2. No, it is not worth the money, particularly not with even wider alternatives available from Sigma (20/1.8 24/1.8).
    If/when a new Nikon fast wide angle prime is released, the value of the 28/1.4 will drop instantly by at least half.
  3. When I was shooting 35mm film on the street, having the ability to shoot in low light hand held with ISO 100 film made this lens a very important part of my lens selection. The 28mm f/1.4 is a superb lens but I don't find the need to use it as often when shooting a full frame Nikon digital body at higher ISO's. If you like the 28mm view, either the MF AIS version or the AF version does the job. Kick the ISO up a bit and barely notice the difference with either the D3, D3x or D700. If you can work with MF, I'd suggest the 28mm f/2.8 AIS - stellar on these 3 Nikon cameras.
    If you can afford and find a "deal" on the 28mm f/1.4, go for it. Mine is a great performer even wide open.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The 28mm/f1.4 AF-D was introduced during the film era where film quality quickly went downhill above ISO 400. Today we use ISO 1600 or even 3200 on a fairly regular basis for low-light photography. You need to think about whether you really need f1.4 or not. Also consider the fact that most f1.4 lenses are not at their best wide open. It may still be quite good at f1.4, but you are better off stopping down a couple of stops.
    Additionally, I think it is merely a matter of time that Nikon will introduce a (or more) fast (f1.4 or f1.8) wide AF-S lens. I have no idea exactly when that will happen, but once there is a newer AF-S, the older 28mm/f1.4 AF-D may lose a lot of value quickly from the current highly inflated price. So if you are paying the inflated price today, you need to be prepared for its value to take a deep dive. If that wouldn't bother you, great.
  5. Mine was definitely worth the money, but I bought it used in mint cond ten years ago for $800. The idea that a deep price dive is coming makes sense, but in fact, the price has been going up during the digital revolution, not down, as my experience bears out. So, I'm not sure it's that simple.
  6. Also consider that you can get a similar Canon lens AND a Used 5D for less than those normally go for.
    If you can get one for 2500 it's a bargain, normally they actually sell closer to 4 grand. Ridiculous.
  7. "... is this lens really worth such a high price"
    To some people, apparently the answer is yes, otherwise sellers would not be able to get the inflated prices this lens currently sells for.
    An item is "worth" whatever the highest bidder is willing to pay for it. It has nothing to do with performance of said item, or the actual costs that went into making it. Is a painting from some long dead artist really worth a million dollars?
    The 28/1.4 is discontinued, so supply is very limited (it was never made in large quantities to begin with, apparently less than 10,000 units worldwide). More people currently want to buy the lens than people who own one that want to sell it. Basic supply and demand - demand exceeds supply, so it's a sellers market. I don't think it has anything to do with it being a "collectors item". If and when Nikon reintroduces a fast 28mm, the price that this lens currently commands will rapidly fall to or below the cost of the newly available lens.
  8. IMHO its not worth anywhere near what they have been selling for. I use a 28mm f2 AIS or 35mm f2 AIS with my D700. If I wanted a better, bigger and heavier lens I would get a 17-35mm f2.8. As Shun notes with a D700 or better the high ISO performance can negate the need for a fast lense unless you require a narrow DoF.
  9. Not worth the money, though a great lens if you could get it at any price below $2000 (as I did). I also have the 28/2.0 AIS and 35/1.4 AIS as well and all I can say is that they are equally good for all practical purposes at much lower prices. For me, the real value of fast lenses is not the speed itself but the narrow DOF that expands your photographic possibilities.
  10. Frequently I have use for a fast wide angle - in particular, indoor photography of people. I have manual focus 35/2 and 28/2 which are nice lenses but when the subjects are movin it is safer to use the 24-70 evem though this risks motion blur. I can fully understand why the 28/1,4 commands such a high price. For me, I would buy it for about 1500 if in like new condition, or almost. Current price? No way. I'll wait for an af-s version which hopefully fits my price bracket. Currently I have difficulty shooting dance in dim rooms with existing light only. MF is not realistic here and the 24-70 is too slow. For daytime window lit shots MF is ok though.
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you check Roland Vink's excellent Nikon lens site, you'll see that the 28mm/f1.4 AF-D was in production from 1993 to 2005, and only some 7333 units were manufactured: http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html
    I still have a 2003 B&H catalog around, and the 28mm/f1.4 was $1700 new USA, $1400 gray. The price did not shoot up to like close to $3000 in the used market until after this lens had been discontinued in 2005. Given that the relatively small number in circulation, the current inflated price is likely due to collector interest.
    If that is indeed the case, it should be pretty clear that from a photographer's point of view, this lens shouldn't be worth anything close to $3000. $800 (as Rob Wall paid) would have been a different story. However, I don't pretent to understand the collector's point of view.
    Moreover, any future 24mm/f1.4 AF-S, 28mm/f1.4 AF-S or 35mm/f1.4 AF-S (if they are ever introduced) should not affect the collectable price for the old 28mm/f1.4 AF-D, but it is almost certain that future lenses will be optically superior. Given that Nikon has now paid attention to some fast primes (e.g. 50mm/f1.4 AF-S, 35mm/f1.8 AF-S DX), I would like to think we'll see new versions of fast wides and short teles soon. But that is merely a guess and I could be wrong. There is always some risk waiting for a product that currently does not exist.
    P.S. I know that I have given somewhat conflicting answers in my two posts here. If the current high price is due to photographer demand, then any new AF-S version will likely burst the current price bubble. If it is due to collector demand, as long as this lens remains uncommon, the price will likely hold up.
  12. It is apparently a very good lens, but based on the various reports on the Web about its performance, I would not consider it worth $2500.
  13. Its probably the most complex Nikkor short prime, taking a very long 10 years of development to get to the manufacture point. I have not been inside one of these lenses, but the schematics show that its a very complicated, multiple floating, variable movement focusing, plus don't forget that ground aspheric. Expensive to make, and I'll bet what ever comes out will not be built like this lens.
  14. At $2500, no. If you must have a fast 28, consider the 28/2 AIS Nikkor if you don't mind MF. Performance will be on par with the 28/1.4 at similar apertures. It was Nikon's best performing 28 ever made in MF and certainly better than most of their f/2.8 offerings although the last 28/2.8 AIS with 8" close focus ability is supposed to be pretty good. The lens is so good that like the 35/1.4, Nikon never changed the design.
  15. The same reason as inflated price of second hand Af70-180 Nikkor as this price of Af28/1.4D .

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