Here we go again. As I always do with significant Nikon lens rebates, I’m not just going to throw up an affiliate/advertiser link and let you fend for yourself (though if you’d care to help out this site you can use the advertising link at the end of the article). Instead, I’ll look at each lens Nikon is offering a rebate on and offer an opinion about whether it’s worth considering.
One difference this time is that the lens rebates are linked to cameras (buy a camera body and lens to get the instant rebate on these lenses; multiple lenses can be stacked on the order). This body purchase require changes things a bit from the last time we went through the lens rebates, when they were standalone. So read on:
- 35mm f/1.8G US$80 rebate — This is a fine lens with no particular issues. It's not one of my recommended FX prime trio (28, 50, 85 f/1.8) for those on a budget, though many folk prefer 35mm to 28mm as a quasi-wide. The discount is substantial here, about 13% off. Definitely pick one of these up if you need the optic and are buying an FX camera body. DX users should just get the DX 35mm f/1.8, even though it isn’t on rebate.
- 50mm f/1.8G US$20 rebate — Not a large rebate, but not an expensive lens to start with. Frankly, I tend to like the f/1.8 better than all the other choices at normal. You pay a lot more for very little more regular optical performance when you opt for one of the f/1.4 lenses, especially the 58mm. If you don't have a fast FX normal or DX short portrait lens, this is a cheap enough lens you can fill that gap with something pretty darned good. So, DX buyers, consider it for your portraiture, FX buyers consider it for your fast normal lens.
- 50mm f/1.4G US$100 rebate — See what I just wrote about with the f/1.8G. With the rebates you'll pay twice as much for the f/1.4 and get very little more. At f/2.8 these lenses are nearly identical, and at f/2 they've very close. So you really have to need that extra fraction of a stop to warrant paying extra money. Low light shooters or DX portrait shooters might want to opt for it; all others should get the f/1.8G.
- 58mm f/1.4G US$200 rebate — This is a tough lens to recommend, even with the rebate. It’s not that it’s not a good lens—it’s quite a good lens, actually. It’s the price/performance ratio for something that’s not very different than the 50mm. I really like the lens, but just can’t justify the price for almost anyone, even after rebate. Sadly, this lens is almost the perfect DX portrait lens in terms of focal length and aperture. But it’s way outside the price range DX users would be considering, especially in light of no D300s update. Skip.
- 60mm f/2.8G Micro-Nikkor US$100 rebate — Last time we had the 40mm DX Micro-Nikkor on sale, this time it’s the 60mm FX. The rebate is very significant (nearly 19%). The question is whether the 60mm is truly useful. What? The problem is working distance. If you’re really buying this for 1:1 macro work, the front of the lens is going to be so close to smaller subjects that you’ll have trouble keeping light on the subject. If you’re in the mood for a really sharp lens that just lets you get “closer” (e.g. 1:3 or even 1:2), it’s a fine lens, though, especially on the DX bodies. Just know what you’re getting into (see 85mm and 105mm Micro-Nikkors, below).
- 85mm f/1.4G US$200 rebate — Sorry, but this is a no. It’s a no because of the 85mm f/1.8G, and third party 85mm lenses. Even with US$200 off, I’m not sure you’re gaining much by opting for this lens. Not that it isn’t sharp and mostly problem free. It’s just not the right bang for the buck, even for FX users. The f/1.8G version is a bargain comparatively, so opt for it instead, even without rebate.
- 85mm f/3.5G Micro-Nikkor DX US$100 rebate — Not a perfect lens, by any means, but if you're into heavy macro work on a DX body, it's the cheapest Nikkor available that produces really good results and gives you enough working distance to get and modify light on the subject. The discount is large and significant, and makes this the primary macro optic that DX body buyers should consider picking up with a rebate. But consider the next lens, too.
- 105mm f/2.8G US$135 — This is a classic lens, and quid a good one, at that. It's probably Nikon's best macro lens in modern form at the moment, and with the price now down well under US$800, it's definitely on sale. Well worth considering for both DX and FX body purchasers if you need a strong macro lens.
- 14-24mm f/2.8 US$300 rebate — This isn’t a lens that’s been on discount much, so a 15% discount is something you can’t overlook if you’re a serious FX user. I really like this lens, though it has issues. It doesn’t accept filters, and it has strong field curvature, so getting focus set right isn’t quite as easy as letting the AF system do its magic. But it’s sharp and produces strong results, and is arguably the best of Nikon’s FX wide-angle zooms.
- 16-35mm f/4 US$260 rebate — The discount moves this lens under the US$1000 mark, though it’s a bit less of a discount than the last one on this lens (US$300 last time one was offered). Sharpness is very good, and so are most of the other characteristics except for one: linear distortion is highly visible if you don't correct for it. Still, I find myself using this lens far more than my 14-24mm these days because it takes filters and is smaller. The VR is just another small plus. FX buyers definitely need to consider this option for wide angle flexibility at the price.
- 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 DX US$100 rebate — No. Stay away. This lens underperforms on all the 24mp DX bodies you might be trying to pick it up with. If you really want a convenience zoom, see next.
- 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DX US$200 rebate — Still not a slam dunk choice, despite the 22% discount. This is the newer, slightly lesser version of the lens (the previous one was f/5.6 at 300mm). But if you really want a convenience zoom for a DX body you’re picking up, the new pricing makes it one you have to strongly consider. Personally, I’d buy a body kit with the 18-105mm or 18-140mm over this, but I know some folk really want more reach in their convenience zoom.
- 24-70mm f/2.8G US$300 rebate — I’ve grown so disillusioned by this lens I finally sold mine. A 16% rebate is strong, but the lens is now showing its age on the 24mp+ FX bodies, and, of course, it doesn’t have VR and has a long history of reliability problems, including getting it to AF Fine Tune accurately. That said, some folk really do need zoom flexibility in a fast mid-range lens, and this is the only Nikon made choice. Not a bad lens, but not a great one, either. I’d tend to discourage you away from it at this point.
- 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 US$100 rebate — This D610 kit lens is vastly underestimated by most. It's actually a darned good lens, and better than the one it replaced, which I also liked. Here's the thing: zooms with short focal ranges are just easier to make good than ones with long focal ranges. At 17% off, it's a decent buy, but look for versions of eBay, as a lot of folk got this lens in an FX kit and decided to sell it; you might find a better bargain there. (Though remember in the US we get 5-year non-transferable warranties with lenses.) Given that the newer FX bodies are so good at low light handling, you may even want to consider this lens over the 24-70mm f/2.8. Yes, you’ll lose a stop to a stop-and-a-half of light. But you’ll gain some things, too, especially a lens more suited to smaller bodies like the D750.
- 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 US$250 rebate — I know there are other pros that have written about how convenient this lens was for them and was the only lens they took on a trip, but personally I find it too much compromise across too many things, especially on a D8xx. It's also not a small, light lens. I'd rather have the f/1.8 prime kit and a dedicated telephoto myself. That said, this super zoom is the best FX super zoom Nikon has made, and by a pretty healthy margin. If you're the super zoom type, this is the only one I'd ever recommend on FX bodies, especially the lower pixel count ones (D4, D4s, Df).
- 55-200mm f/4-5.6G DX US$100 rebate — DX users buying a body or kit who don’t already have a small telephoto option need to strongly consider this or the next lens. My preference is the 55-300mm, but the rebate here is considerable on an already low price (40%).
- 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G DX US$150 rebate — The 38% rebate almost matches the previous lens, and frankly, getting to 300mm on DX with a good optic nets you one heck of a lot of reach. Like the previous lens, this is kit lens build quality, but optically it’s quite decent.
- 70-200mm f/2.8G US$400 rebate — Sadly, the 70-200mm f/2.8 was a step backwards in a lot of ways, most notably the focal length breathing. A fine lens, and a 17% discount isn’t to be overlooked, but I’d tend to say only buy this lens if you really need a fast telephoto zoom and aren’t shooting at very close distances.
- 70-200mm f/4G US$400 rebate — This is the 70-200mm most people should be getting. It’s really well-behaved, AF Fine Tune’s easily, and a 29% discount on a reasonable price to start with is something you just can’t ignore. The downside? You don’t get the tripod collar with the lens, which is going to chew back half your rebate.
- 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G US$200 rebate — Sadly, another lens that is aging before our eyes, though a 33% rebate makes it something many might consider. Personally, I’d opt for the previous or next lens over this one if acuity is my real goal.
- 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 US$300 rebate — The rebate has come down 25% since last time, but I’ll take the 11% off suggested list. This is a really good lens, far better than the original, and actually functionally good at 400mm on cameras with high pixel densities such as the D7100 and D8xx models. No, it doesn't match the 400mm f/2.8, and not even the 200-400mm f/4 at close distances, but that said it's actually really good at 400mm. Strongly consider this lens at this price if you need reach for DX or FX bodies.
Finally, if you’re buying a D750 and interested in the 24-120mm, there’s a bundle pricing on that that saves you US$600. The 24-120mm f/4G is a very strong lens on the 24mp cameras, and probably a better choice for most than the 24-70mm. I mentioned above that I sold my 24-70mm, but I did keep my 24-120mm. Likewise, D7100 purchasers should consider the 18-140mm DX bundle, as you essentially pay US$300 for a very strong DX lens that covers quite a bit of range (effectively 28-210mm).
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