(news & commentary)
As always when Nikon offers lens-only rebates, I go lens by lens with an analysis of whether these are deals you should be interested in or not. These new rebates are in effect already and last until August 28th.
- 50mm f/1.4G US$50 rebate — The rebate is half what it was in February. With the new rebates you'll pay twice as much for the f/1.4 over the f/1.8 and get very little more. At f/2.8 the 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 might want to opt for it, others should just get the f/1.8G.
- 85mm f/1.8G US$50 rebate — At US$450, this is almost a no-brainer. This is one heck of a good lens for that price. I like it better than the f/1.4G given the price differential.
- 105mm f/2.8G US$135 — Another rebate that is half what it was in February. This is a classic lens, and quite 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 just above US$800, it's definitely on sale. Worth considering.
- 14-24mm f/2.8G US$150 rebate — Yep, also US$50 lower than the February rebate once again. Not normally a lens Nikon discounts, and a classic optic that many pros love. If you need it, this is a good price.
- 16-35mm f/4G US$110 rebate — gone is February’s US$260 rebate, replaced with a much more modest one. 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, as is the lower price.
- 24-70mm f/2.8G US$140 rebate (US$60 less than February) — Let’s start with this: I sold my 24-70mm f/2.8 and the replacement for this lens is just around the corner. I just don’t think it lives well in the modern world. Yes, it’s optically decent, but there are plenty of lenses that beat it on the D810 in this focal range, so it’s showing age in the optics. No it doesn’t have VR, while most of its competitors, even from Nikon, do. It’s big, heavy, and the lens has been prone to a number of issues over the years (e.g. light leaks around the focus distance scale). While the rebate is okay, it just seems like a lot of money to pay for a lens we’re all expecting to be replaced soon.
- 70-200mm f/2.8G (US$220 rebate, or US$80 less than February) — I really like the f/4 version. Smaller and lighter, very accomplished optics with no real issues, and easier to AF Fine Tune than the f/2.8 optic. The f/2.8 version, however, has a lot of warts to it (focal length breathing, for one), and really needs redesign. Even with the discount I don’t consider it a bargain. If you need it, obviously an almost 10% discount is nothing to scoff at. But I rarely shoot with this lens now that the f/4 is out unless I absolutely need f/2.8.
- 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 US$400 rebate (same as February!)— When I saw this pop up on the list in February, I thought it had to be the older, non AF-S version. But no, it's the latest and greatest. 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 D810. No, it doesn't match the 400mm f/2.8, and not even the 200-400mm f/4, but that said it's actually quite good at 400mm. Strongly consider this lens at this price.
Curiously, three of the f/1.8 lens rebates didn’t return (e.g. 28mm, 35mm, and 50mm), which probably means that some of Nikon’s inventories are leveling off to where they want them to be. Also, no DX rebates, so Nikon continues to scorn its DX customers.
Overall, a very modest rebate program. Unexpected, but still welcome even if somehow the US dollar must have slipped against the yen in NikonUSA’s offices (maybe they’re reading the charts upside down). Every one of these lenses except the 50mm f/1.4 is on my Recommended FX Lens list.
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