Refurbished Nikon 80-400mm AF-S VR from Adorama

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by shuncheung, Sep 17, 2013.

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  1. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    A couple of weeks ago, around the time of Rash Hashanah (the Jewish new year), a friend of mine was considering getting the new Nikon 80-400mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR. As some of you may know, Nikon USA loaned us (photo.net) one back in July, and I posted my early impression about it back then: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00bnh5
    I am still working on photo.net's official review of it. Clearly, a 400mm lens that has a relatively slow f5.6 maximum aperture has its share of limitations, e.g., it is not suitable for indoor or night-time action photography, but overall, I think it is excellent optically for a 80-400mm zoom. Its main drawback is the US$2700 price tag, which is quite a bit higher than its predecessor, Nikon's 80-400 AF-D VR version 1 and Canon's 100-400mm/f5.6 zoom.
    Early one morning at 2am, I was up checking Google on that lens, and suddenly I saw that Adorama had refurbished ones (by Nikon USA) for $2000. I immediately ordered one and then sent e-mail to my friend. I told him not to post that deal to forums because I was concerned that Adorama might have limited numbers in stock; broadcasting to everybody might affect his order as well as the one I had already placed. Again, that was during Rash Hashanah so that Adorama was closed for several days. My friend ordered his a few hours later and then that evening, I noticed that Adorama's web site showed that the lens (refurb) was out of stock. New ones were out of stock at both Adorama and B&H.
    A few days later Adorama reopened, and I promptly got a shipping notice via e-mail. However, they notified my friend that they had run out of stock. We sent e-mail to Helen Oster. While Helen tried to help as usual, when there was no stock, there was no stock. It turns out that Adorama's inventory system is not completely precise, and my friend apparently just missed the cut. But he ordered a new one from another source, and as far as I know, he is quite happy with the new lens.
    Another week later, yesterday I received my lens. I captured a few test shots and so far it looks good. From the outside I cannot distinguish it from a brand new one. The only difference is that Nikon USA puts a couple of little dents around the serial number on refub lenses. Given my very poor experience with refurb 70-300mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR a couple of years ago: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00Y8dY, I am going to test this new lens thoroughly.
    Helen told us that Adorama is working on improving their inventory system to track every item precisely. Additionally, they may have additional refurbished 80-400mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR in October. However, availability is not certain and I am also not sure what the price will be next time. If there are questions along those lines, I'll let Helen speak for herself.
    [​IMG]P>
    Refurbished 80-400mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR
     
  2. I thought you were going to say you bought the Nikon loaner, that would be a coincidence.
    But, I will say, the fact that you dropped 2 grand on the lens after having tested suggests it is a fine lens indeed.
     
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The lens I ended up with could have been a loaner, to someone else. I checked the serial numbers. But as a reviewer, I would much rather have experience with more than one sample of an item so that I can address any question about sample variation with some experience.

    [​IMG]
    This is the new sample, without the little holes Nikon USA puts in during refurbishing.
     
  4. next time you see one for $2,000, email me. I won't dither around for a couple of hours before ordering it. when I see opportunity, I can make an immediate decision.
    Kent in SD
     
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Kent, as I wrote earlier, one morning I was up at 2am (Pacific, here in California), reading about this person's interest in the new 80-400mm AF-S VR. I used Google to check availability and completely by chance, I saw that Adorama had it for $2000, refurbished. The rest is history.
    The other person is on the US East Coasat, so it was 5am EDT when my e-mail went out. I believe he placed the order around noon time. So apparently those 7 hours made a difference. Who knows, perhaps I might have ordered the last one available. Unfortunately, the ordering system accepted his order. It wasn't until a few days later when the Rash Hashanah holidays were over and it was time to ship the orders before the lack of stock was communicated.
    And since I have my lens now. If I happen to run into this deal again, I'll post that to this fourm. But I have no idea when more refurb ones will be available or whether the price will change next time. Currently B&H is once again out of stock for the new one at $2700. Since these $2000 refurbs sell so quickly, they may ask for a little more next time; it is all about supply and demand.
     
  6. This lens will likely be available again at some time in the future - just be patient.
     
  7. Shun, congrats on catching this sweet deal. The serial number is "200005" - so you have one of the originals! Too bad Nikon chose to mark it with two dents but, hey, it is well worth the $700 difference.
    I bought mine at about $100+ less than regular price from Ritz Camera and gave it quite a workout last Sunday at a horse show. I like this lens a lot - it is certainly a keeper. Thanks for discussing about it at Photo.Net.
    Uploading a test shot - just noted it was shot at ISO 1600 - do you see grain (not the len's fault)?
    00c0Ls-542567084.jpg
     
  8. Oh, I'm the patient sort. This time of year I tend to not use really long lenses anyway. So, I'll just continue to wait. While I wait, my money goes to ancient CC Harrison and Zeiss Protar lenses, not Nikon. I'm having just as much fun! :)
    Kent in SD
     
  9. That refurb pricing is more like it. Usually Nikon's refurb discounts are risible. I'd still prefer it if they do what Apple does and go with their normal 10-15 percent or so discount but with full warranty coverage. Then the discount wouldn't seem risible but would actually make sense.
     
  10. "Usually Nikon's refurb discounts are risible......Then the discount wouldn't seem risible but would actually make sense"
    What does "risible" mean?
    Edit - I just looked it up. I consider myself to be quite proficient in both vocabulary and grammar, yet I had never heard that term before. Live and learn.
     
  11. Shortly after the tsunami, I bought two D300s factory refurbs for $1249 US each, when new ones were listed for $1699. That's about a 27% discount. I was very happy, and they're still going strong.
     
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The D300S is merely a slight improvement from the 2007 D300. By the time of the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunmai, it was almost a 4-year-old design and used D300 was way below $1000. I know even today, some new D300S is still available at $1700, but as I said recently, nobody in the right mind is going to spend so much on a new one, at over twice as much as a used one in excellent condition.
    However, the 80-400mm AF-S VR is a brand new lens introduced just a few months ago. Granted the $2700 price tag is high, but plenty of people are paying that full price for new ones. Given that version 1 was only around $1700 or so, $2000 for the AF-S version 2 seems more reasonable. Hopefully more refurb ones will be available and they won't bump up the price given how fast Adorama sold them out last time.
     
  13. Given the 200-400mm VRII is selling for 2.5 times that much (btw Adorama is selling a refurb at this moment @ "only" $5,899), I am thinking while $2,000 for the refurb 80-400 AFS is a steal, the regular $2,700 price tag is perhaps not that unreasonable either.
     
  14. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Canon's 100-400mm/f4.5-5.6 IS is currently $1699: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/162616-USA/Canon_2577A002AA_100_400mm_f_4_5_5_6L_IS_USM.html
    Granted, Canon introduced that 100-400 back in 1999 and hasn't updated it since, so it is a fairly old design by now.
    Therefore, the brand new 80-400mm AF-S VR with excellent optics probably deserves a higher premium than the Canon as well as Nikon's old 80-400mm version 1, but I was shocked when I heard $2700 from Nikon, so was the $17900 800mm/f5.6 AF-S VR. But in the latter case, to me, it doesn't matter whether it is $10,000 or $100,000; it is beyond my reach either way.
     
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Just a quick update: unfortunately (at least for me), I have bad news to report. After using the refurbished 80-400mm AF-S VR in two weekends, I have concluded that the lens I received is unsharp at 400mm, wide open @ f5.6. However, it is quite good when I stopped it down to f8, still @ 400mm, and it is very good on its 80mm end at any aperture. That is why it is a bit confusing.
    Since I had the loaner 80-400 AF-S VR from Nikon USA about 2, 3 months ago, and I used that lens for a month, I know very well how good this lens should be. I have tried switching VR off, AF fine tune and even manual focus with live view, sadly, that particular refurb 80-400mm AF-S simply doesn't cut it. Finally, I got a hold of another brand new 80-400mm AF-S VR for a final A/B comparison, and there is no doubt that the refurb is no good at 400mm, f5.6. The new lens is excellent just like the test sample I had a few months back.
    So the refurbished lens is on its way back to Adorama for a refund. In the last 2+ years, I have experience with three refurb Nikkor lenses. One had a focus mechanism that was completely not functional. The other two (a 70-300mm AF-S VR and this 80-400mm AF-S VR) are both soft wide open on their long ends. However, my experience with new Nikon lenses are far better.
    So much for the "great deal" I thought I had and the $700 in savings. I'll provide additional information and test samples later on.
     
  16. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    It has been a month since the beginning of this story. On the Friday (October 4) a week and half ago, I got in touch with Helen Oster at Adorama and told her that the refurb lens was defective and I was returning it. On the following Monday, Adorama e-mailed me a return shipping label for free shipping back to them. However, I had already shipped the lens back and paid for ground shipping myself. The lens arrived back to Adorama the past Friday (October 11). Within one business day Adorama issued me a full refund, just like B&H did two years ago with my other defective, refurbished 70-300mm AF-S VR. As most of us know, Adorama's customer service is top notch. It is our privilege that we have Helen around to help us.
    Unfortunately, so far I have bad experience with 3 out of 3 refurbished lenses from Nikon USA. In one case the lens was totally non-functional. The other two the problems are subtle. With the refurbished 80-400 AF-S VR, I used three different bodies: D800E, D7100, and D7000 to reproduce the problem in order to confirm that it is not just a camera body issue. Eventually, I realized that I simply could not get a bird's eye sharp at 400mm, f5.6 after various AF fine tune. Again, I had prior experience with a test sample from Nikon so that I know very well how great this lens should be. Eventually I got a hold of another new sample of the 80-400 AF-S VR for an A/B comparison; the problem with the refurbished sample I had was obvious. Please keep in mind that I am merely comparing one particular refurbished sample vs. one particular new sample of that lens. Another refurbished lens may or may not have problems. For that matter, occasionally some new lenses also have problems.
    However, apparently a lot of members here have positive experience with refurb Nikon lenses. Perhaps I should give that one more chance in the future.
    00c4Y3-543058684.jpg
     
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Just in case someone is interested, Adorama has the refurbished 80-400mm AF-S VR again, but the price is now $2400, only $300 off the brand new price: http://www.adorama.com/NK80400UR.html
    Apparently you need to cut and paste that URL yourself for it to work.
     
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