Generic Zoom Lenses, spot the bargains

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kennedy_carol, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. Hi there!
    I'm looking out for a 2nd-hand zoom for my FM2..something like 70mm-
    210mm. (Mostly on Ebay UK). But due to my budget at present, i am
    reluctant to fork out big bucks for a Nikon lens when i suspect there
    are some very good generic lenses available more cheaply. Trouble is,
    how to know the bargains from the rubbish....i still want as much
    sharpness + contrast as possible. Speed as well, but i can compromise
    on that.

    One lens that is available to me at the moment is Vivitar 28 - 200mm
    macro focusing zoom. Anyone know anything about this one??
    I've also seen a couple of Tokinas and I passed on a very cheap
    Sirius 60mm-300mm because that was one of the first I came across at
    the start of my search and I didn't want to jump in too quickly.

    Any comments welcome, especially advice about brands that are
    reliable and those which would be false economy. Thanks!
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    In you case (FM2 body), just make sure that you don't accidentally get a G (or G-equivalent) lens that has no aperture ring. Anything that is more than 3 or so years old should be safe in that sense.

    Otherwise, could you tell us about your budget and what your photo subjects are? Unfortunately, most of us are more familiar with used prices in the US rather than in the UK, but I am sure some can help you.
  3. Keep your eye out for Vivitar Series 1 lenses. They were made for Vivitar by Kirin and and are usually very modestly priced and an exception value price wise. I have a 70-210 close focus that is really exceptional.
  4. I don't know what your budget is, or what UK prices are like, but I use a Nikon Series E 70-210, f/4 (constant!) that I'm very happy with, and it was pretty cheap a couple of years ago (~$150 in exc+ condition from KEH), probably less now.
  5. The Vivitar Series 1 lenses were very well made. That would be
    a good choice.

    Also, consider the Nikon 70-210mm E-Series lens. I had one
    until recently (had to sell all my manual gear for digital foray). It
    is a nice lens, has macro capability and is affordable. In fact, a
    lot of the E-Series lenses are affordable, and pretty good
    performers. Other top lenses in that line include the 50mm E,
    100mm E, and the 75-150mm E (Vivek's favorite).
  6. I had the Vivitar 28-200mm many years ago. Not recommended at all. Images were soft and the minimum distance was too long. You may hunt for an used Nikkor AIS 80-200/4.
  7. I would avoid any lens with a zoom ratio of more than 3-1. Any wider range zoom will either be costly to make, or crap. 70-210 or 80-200 range zooms from name brands (Vivitar, Sigma, Tokina, Tamron) should be fine, if the lens is in good shape and not too costly.

    Look for the brand's premium line: Vivitar's is Series-One, Tamron's is SP, Tokina's is ATX. I don't think Sigma had a specific top series, but I could be wrong.
  8. Nikon lenses of that era are really very cheap, Dont get anything like an old 28-200 superzoom, you will be dissapointed.
  9. The Vivitar Series 1 70-210 f4, the Makinon 80-200 f4.5 and the Nikon Series E in 70-210 f4 or 75-150 f3.5 are all good to excellent and cheap.

    None should run over $100.
  10. The 75-150/3.5 is nice indeed. Dealer prices in the UK seem to be around 60-70GBP, so don't overbid on the bay. Exceptionally fast for an inexpensive zoom.
    Some reviews here by Bjørn Rørslett, who knows his onions.
    He gives a good write-up to the 80-200/4 and 80-200/4.5. I've never used these, but I remember they were in a similar price range, perhaps slightly dearer, when I was looking for the 75-150.
  11. Sigma calls their better lenses "EX", but I don't know how long they've been doing that.
  12. If you do get the Vivitar 70-210 series, aviod those with serial number starting with 9. Thoses are made by Cosina at the time when Vivitar already when down hill in their quality.
  13. ky2


    Another vote for the E-Series 75-150 f3.5!
  14. There is really no reason to buy a third party lens, especially if you do not need AF.
    As mentioned above, the used market has wonderful Nikon products at bargain prices. The 70-210/4.0 series E is a nice lens, but if you can do with the shorter reach of the 75-150/3.5 series lens, you will get a much smaller lens that can can really produce fabulous results.
    If you want a little extra security, just buy used from KEH. You'll pay a little more, but get conservative rating and a 2 week money back guarantee trial.
    The 75-150/3.5 is a push-pull, so you might want to talk to the KEH people, to avoid getting one with significant zoom creep. Other than that, this would be a great choice for you.

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