The Giant Nikkor DSLR Lens Sale

Today NikonUSA announced savings on more than two dozen lenses. As always, I'm going to give you advice about how the new pricing should impact your decision making. This time, though, I'm going to go about that a little differently, and split my comments into three logical groupings of lenses: bargains, good value, and not so interesting.

Clear Bargain Lenses

In this category I put lenses that I believe the new pricing now puts (or keeps) a lens clearly in the bargain bin. By that I mean that the price is very, very good for the performance of the lens. As many of you know, that's a bit of a rarity for Nikon; we don't get a lot of "bargain Nikkors." Nikon has tended to have very few lenses that I would consider a bargain. Thus, if you've been contemplating any of the following lenses, Nikon is dangling a tasty little discount carrot in front of you, and I'm saying bite.

  • 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G DX (US$280) — For DX users, this is has been an inexpensive way to get a reasonably good wide angle zoom since it first appeared. Not the greatest lens in the WA zoom realm, but surprisingly good for the original price, and now with a bit of a monetary sweetener from NikonUSA. The lenses in this category show that Nikon knows how to make things that perform well above their price point. My review of the 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G.
  • 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E (US$550) — This lens was already what I consider a bargain (great performance for the price), so the modest discount just makes that better. You really can't beat its performance at this price. Not from any vendor, actually. For Z users, this is the telephoto zoom you should be putting on your FTZ adapter when traveling. My review of the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E.
  • 85mm f/1.8G (US$430) — A very nice lens for a near bargain price. I was tempted to put it in the good value category, but the more I thought about it, the more the price now seems to be touching on bargain for the performance. My review of the 85mm f/1.8G.
  • 200-500mm f/5.6E (US$1260) — Like the 70-300mm, the 200-500mm was already a bargain for what it does, so again, the modest discount just makes things nicer. You really can't beat this performance at this price. And yes, at 45mp on the D850, this lens is still performing well. The only real downside I see to this lens is that it is awkward to zoom. My review of the 200-500mm f/5.6E.

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Good Value Lenses

Many of Nikon's discounts just put a somewhat better price on a good lens you probably wanted or needed. The lenses in this category are ones that I tend to review well in terms of capability, but may have seemed high priced or over priced to some. Or they were priced right to begin with, and the new discount makes them more tempting. NikonUSA's new pricing does take some of the sting off their usual cash demands from us Nikoneers, so it's a good time to pick up one or more of these lenses if you've been contemplating them.

  • 14-24mm f/2.8G (US$1600) — I almost demoted this lens to the bottom category, but then I was looking at images from various wide angle zooms, including some I'm working on an upcoming review for. You know what? The 14-24mm f/2.8G is still just a really good lens, and tough to beat in the WA zoom category. The discount makes it a better value that competes well against some of the recent entrants. Those two things in combo make me put this classic lens in this middle good value category. My review of the 14-24mm f/2.8G.
  •  16-35mm f/4 (US$1000) — Personally, I've mostly soured on this lens. Not that it's bad, but the optical distortion really takes it out of the pro-level use category, IMHO. When I have to move that many pixels around that much at 16mm, I just don't like the corner results (or the resulting framing inaccuracy on DSLRs). Still, many will find this a good value for a wide angle zoom. And it answers the question every wide angle zoom user seems to ask. (That would be "does it take filters?") My review of the 16-35mm f/4G.
  • 20mm f/1.8G (US$720) — I like this lens. This is the right price for this lens. My review of the 20mm f/1.8G.
  • 24mm f/1.4G (US$1800) — This Nikkor is pricey even with the discount, but to date it's the best 24mm prime optic Nikon has created. Like the 58mm, below, it renders from focus to out of focus very nicely. I don't currently have a review of this lens, but I've used it and been impressed with it.
  • 24mm f/1.8G (US$680) — It's good enough to count as a good value here. My review of the 24mm f/1.8G.
  • 24-70mm f/2.8E VR (US$1900) — Nearly a 21% discount on the best F-mount mid-range zoom Nikon has made? Yeah, that doesn't happen often. I like (and recommend) this lens, though it's definitely not a perfect lens. It's long, heavy, and still has a bit of corner slump wide open, but it's better than the older G lens, by far, and it's arguably one of the better DSLR mid-range zooms out there. My review of the Nikkor 24-70mm.
  • 28mm f/1.4E (US$1800) — You'll notice all the f/1.4G/E primes seem to be in this category. In terms of Nikkor prime performance it goes (a) older type D primes; (b) f/1.8G primes, (c) f/1.4G primes, (d) f/1.4E primes. To me, I see these each as clear steps up. While the f/1.4G/E's are pricey even with the discounts, they also are at the top of Nikon's performance charts. My review of the 28mm f/1.4E.
  • 35mm f/1.8G (US$480) — It's not the performance that gets it into this category, it's the price for the performance. This isn't a knock-it-out-of-the-park lens like some recent Nikon primes have been, but I find it better than the older 35mm f/2 I was using, and this is a reasonable price for it. My review of the 35mm f/1.8G.
  • 35mm f/1.8G DX (US$180) — This lens should be in every DX user's kit, though it's starting to show it's age. Good thing it's not expensive. The modest discount keeps it in the good value box. My review of the 35mm f/1.8G DX.
  • 58mm f/1.4G (US$1450) — This is a great DX portrait lens (though pricey for DX users), and an excellent long normal/short tele for FX users. This is a love it or hate it lens, it seems. I personally love it. It renders very, very nicely. My review of the 58mm f/1.4G. My review of the 58mm f/1.4G.
  • 70-200mm f/2.8E (US$2150) — A great lens with an excellent 23% discount. It's not often I type those words in the Nikon DSLR world. The 70-200mm f/2.8E is still in the expensive category for many, but at it's also the best-performing 70-200mm f/2.8 I've seen, across any mount. My review of the 70-200mm f/2.8E.
  • 85mm f/1.8G (US$430) — If you were expecting the f/1.4G here, look further below (;~(. The f/1.8G is very underrated compared to the f/1.4G, while I find the f/1.4G is overrated. The US$1000 price differential therefore tells you which one is the good value. My review of the 85mm f/1.8G.
  • 105mm f/1.4E (US$1900) — While the 105mm and 135mm Sigma Arts give this Nikkor lens a run for the money, I still like the Nikkor rendering better. This is a fun lens to try to fit into your shooting, as fast 105 is not something a lot of people have experience using (many of us grew up on 105mm f/2.5 Nikkors, though, which was fast for the time). I find I really do take different shots with this than I do with the 85mm. So much so that my 85mm use has gone way down. My review of the 105mm f/1.4E.
  • 105mm f/2.8G Micro-Nikkor (US$810) — Not a deep discount, but this lens is sort of a staple for most Nikon shooters and a solid performer. And you Z shooters should know that this is currently the macro of choice because a lot of the third-party macros aren't supported by the D850, Z6, and Z7 focus stacking. My review of the 105mm f/2.8G.

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Not So Interesting

Sometimes price isn't everything. Not all Nikkors are great lenses, and not all discounts are big enough to change or influence your buying decisions. The lenses I put in this category tend to reflect one or both of those things. Generally speaking, it would take a far larger discount for me to be able to recommend to you to buy any of this group of lenses.

  • 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G DX (US$590) — Ah, the superzooms. If you camera has more than 12mp then this isn't the lens for you. My review of this lens is currently not available, as it needs to be updated for the 20/24mp DX DSLRs.
  • 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G DX (US$630) — Slightly better. But you're fooling yourself if you think it's really 300mm at the distances you're likely to be using it at. At it has a couple of oddities in the focal range. My review of this lens is currently not available, as it needs to be updated for the 20/24mp DX DSLRs.
  • 24-70mm f/2.8G (US$1450) — Stick a fork in it and turn it over, Nikon, it's done. Seriously folks, you can do better now. My review of this lens is currently not available, as it needs to be updated to compare with how other newer options fare.
  • 28mm f/1.8G (US$630) — This lens has just a few too many optical issues for me to endorse it. It feels overpriced for what it does. My review of the 28mm f/1.8G lens.
  • 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G (US$850) — Yep, another superzoom, and you know how I feel about them. I can usually tell you when someone starts thinking about and demanding edge acuity from their photos when they ask me how to better sharpen their superzoom images. To me, all the superzooms are convenience lenses, not performing lenses. And if you tell me you're totally into convenience to the point where you don't want to interchange lenses on your interchangeable lens camera, I think you might have overbought for what you actually need. That said, the price reduction almost put this lens into my good value category. Put another way, I can see scenarios where you don't want to be changing lenses and are willing to put up with some optical compromise, but only if the price is right. My review of this lens is not currently available, as I need to update it to reflect the 36/45mp DSLRs.
  • 50mm f/1.4G (US$410). Yawn. The 50mm f/1.8 S shows us that Nikon can make a good 50mm lens. Pass. My review of the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lens.
  • 50mm f/1.8G (US$200). I was tempted to put this in the good value category, but gee golly gosh, the Yongnuo lenses give you as much for less (reviews coming). This probably is the 50mm for FX shooters if you need want one, though. My review of the 50mm f/1.8G lens.
  • 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G (US$2100) — Probably another surprise to many of you. It isn't so much that this lens is bad, it's that the 70-300mm AF-P is just better across the equivalent focal range. So you're buying 400mm, and that's where this lens performs worst. My review of the 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G lens.
  • 85mm f/1.4G (US$1450) — You're probably surprised to find this f/1.4G prime in this category when I reviewed it favorably and the other f/1.4G primes were in the good value category. That's because I now think you have better "fast 85" options there than with Nikon, and I just don't see this Nikkor being worth the extra price over the f/1.8G. My review of the 85mm f/1.4G lens.

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Some lenses, like the 16-80mm f/2.8-4 DX and 24-120mm f/4, only have discounted prices in camera+lens bundles. 

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