Nikon FF for cheapskates

CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member
I've been shooting DX since I started using DSLRs because my budget didn't allow me to go FX. My original idea was to buy a Nikon DSLR so that I could use my old MF Nikkors, but that didn't work out well with the 1.5x crop factor and no metering prong on the D3x00 and D5x00 bodies.

Last year I got a Sony A7 and a dumb adapter for cheap. With them, I did get to resolve every one of those 24 million pixels as sharp as I never could on DX with the native lenses I had (even sans AA filter), but the RAW files weren't much better in noise and DR than those out of a D7200 or even a D5500 and worse the colors were a nightmare to handle, also native Sony AF lenses are crazy expensive, so I dumped that setup and carried on with DX.

Nowadays D600 bodies are finally being sold used with low shutter counts for about $600, the same price as a similarly used D7200 (which is in my opinion the best DX body in terms of IQ), so I bought one and it's now on its way. I want to again try to get some use out of my MF Nikkors on the D600 but I want to also buy some really nice and cheap AF lenses, that's how I found out that there is a plethora of really inexpensive but optically superb pre-AF-S lenses out there that don't seem to get much love nowadays but that should work perfectly fine mated to my "new" D600.

So for starters, since my widest MF Nikkor is the 24mm Ai and that's not wide enough for my taste, I bought a 20mm 2.8 (pre-D) AF, the cheapest UWA AF lens ($100, needs a CLA) out there which also happens to be "legendary" sharp. I'm also eyeing the 50mm 1.4D for conquering the dark, either an 85mm 1.8D or a Micro 105mm 2.8D for portraits, and the Tamron 28-75mm 2.8 for a walk around, do it all zoom. Each of these lenses can be bought in great shape for about $200 and each is a "legendary" (but mostly forgotten) lens on its own.

What do you think? What other "legendary" AF lenses being sold for $200 or less begging to see the daylight again do you recommend a cheapskate to buy?

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Comments

  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 614Member
    Well personally I would say to just stick to DX if you are going for the most bang for the buck. What exactly are you trying to achieve with going FF?
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member
    edited March 19
    mhedges, obviously I want that additional stop of light gathering capability from the twice larger sensor and all that it implies regarding DR, noise and color rendition, and also the ease of getting sharper images corner to corner from lenses that are both brighter and cheaper than what I can get in DX for the same FOV: anything wider than 75mm equivalent (i.e., using a 50mm FX lens in a DX body) is darker, softer and more expensive to get in DX than in FX. A good example: the 35mm 1.8G DX usually sells for the same price as the FX equivalent 50mm 1.8G, but used at the same apertures the 35 is passing only half as many photons as the 50 while giving the same DOF as the 50 shot at an aperture one stop slower. So you end up basically paying the same price for half as much capability. It's highway robbery! Fuji and the 4/3 gang are even worse offenders, selling you "ligher, more compact" lenses for more $$$$ than the equivalent FOV CaNikon FF lenses. So, at the end of the day, there are no savings to be had staying in DX, not if you shoot mostly at 85mm equivalent FOV or wider like I do.
    Post edited by CaMeRaQuEsT on
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 1,633Member
    edited March 19
    A brilliant lens that's cheap is the Sigma 17-35mm Screw drive 86mm filter .(there are two versions) and the Nikon 24-85 VR version Beware lenses like the 50mm f 1.4 where the quality at F1.4 is rubbish..better with a cheaper 1.8
    Post edited by Pistnbroke on
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 614Member

    mhedges, obviously I want that additional stop of light gathering capability from the twice larger sensor and all that it implies regarding DR, noise and color rendition, and also the ease of getting sharper images corner to corner from lenses that are both brighter and cheaper than what I can get in DX for the same FOV: anything wider than 75mm equivalent (i.e., using a 50mm FX lens in a DX body) is darker, softer and more expensive to get in DX than in FX. A good example: the 35mm 1.8G DX usually sells for the same price as the FX equivalent 50mm 1.8G, but used at the same apertures the 35 is passing only half as many photons as the 50 while giving the same DOF as the 50 shot at an aperture one stop slower. So you end up basically paying the same price for half as much capability. It's highway robbery! Fuji and the 4/3 gang are even worse offenders, selling you "ligher, more compact" lenses for more $$$$ than the equivalent FOV CaNikon FF lenses. So, at the end of the day, there are no savings to be had staying in DX, not if you shoot mostly at 85mm equivalent FOV or wider like I do.

    I would agree that what you are saying is true if you are talking equivalent sensor tech. I'm not so sure its true if you are comparing a newer DX body to an older FX body.

    If you are so sure that FX is the way to go I would advise selling all your DX and buying the best FX body you can. I just don't see the sense of keeping two systems going, not when you are trying to reduce costs. It's dilutive.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,729Member
    At the risk of a vast oversimplification, I think that you should buy the best FX lenses that you can. Which FX body is secondary.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,973Member
    I made a post on the topic so long ago it is on the old forum. The idea was to go back to film era AF lenses to see how they do on FF digital body, You may find some ideas here. https://nikonrumors.com/forum/topic.php?id=9682
  • nukuEX2nukuEX2 Posts: 178Member
    Get Nikkor 50mm F/18.G it's an all purpose lens I use to shoot EVERYTHING!!! and it's around $198. You can't go wrong with that lens.
    D7200, 40mm Micro Nikkor f2.8, Lowepro AW Hatchback 16,
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member
    Pistnbroke, I have an acute aversion to Sigma lenses as I have had QC and AF issues with the ones I've owned, unlike my Tamrons which haven't given me any issues at all, cheap built feel aside. On the 50mm 1.4D, the resolving tests I've looked show it being sharper at the same apertures than the 50mm 1.8D and only slightly softer than the 50mm 1.8G. 50mm is not one of my favorite FOVs, but it's the cheapest way to get a 1.4 lens. I already own a non-Ai Nikkor-S 50mm 1.4 that I want to preserve, thus it won't be able to mate with my D600, it does render night scenes beautifully, so my hope is that the 50mm 1.4D won't render too differently to its much older brother.

    mhedges, Sony hasn't to date brought to market a sensor with better quantum efficiency than the D600's, even the latest and greatest inside the D500/D7500/A6300/A6500/latest gen Fuji/D850/A9/A7RIII/A7III still use the basic photodiode tech introduced to the market with the D800/D600 sensors, the only single better tech in this regard is inside the D7200's Toshiba chip and that hasn't been used anywhere else and is only 1/3 of a stop better than the similar Sony chip, meaning that the D600 is still 2/3 of a stop ahead of it. Of course, this is all true from base ISO until the newer sensors' 2nd stage gain amp kicks in, the cheapest body with this capability is the D7500 that is still at least $300 more expensive than a similarly used D600 and I really try to keep my ISO below 800, which is where this 2nd stage is usually engineered to start at.

    I might keep my D5500, its kit AF-P lens and my other sole remaining DX lens, the Tamron 17-50 non VC, for when I need a compact and/or more fair light video capable setup, but my investment in DX is done for and is less than $550 total, and all this can be easily sold out if I decide to do so if, for example, I get a nice, brand spanking new D610 replacement courtesy of Nikon that I can then upsell for a refurb or seasonally discounted D750.
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member

    At the risk of a vast oversimplification, I think that you should buy the best FX lenses that you can. Which FX body is secondary.

    That's the whole idea, to get the best FX lenses that my budget allows, as my D600 can easily become a D610 or a D750 with no more outlay from my part!
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member

    I made a post on the topic so long ago it is on the old forum. The idea was to go back to film era AF lenses to see how they do on FF digital body, You may find some ideas here. https://nikonrumors.com/forum/topic.php?id=9682

    Great, thanks!
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member
    nukuEX2 said:

    Get Nikkor 50mm F/18.G it's an all purpose lens I use to shoot EVERYTHING!!! and it's around $198. You can't go wrong with that lens.

    I had one before, using it on my D3300 and D7100 bodies, it worked great until I started using it with a D5500, where it always backfocused, so I sold it. Now I just want to try something a little bit different this time around, that's why I've got my eyes on the 50mm 1.4D.
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 1,633Member
    you need to buy a camera with fine focus adjust ..don't blame the lens
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member

    you need to buy a camera with fine focus adjust ..don't blame the lens

    I've got one now!
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 1,633Member
    I note tom Hogan is using the 24-85 3.5-4.5 VR on his 810 and they are cheap second hand
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member

    I note tom Hogan is using the 24-85 3.5-4.5 VR on his 810 and they are cheap second hand

    Bought an "ugly" condition Tamron 28-75 yesterday off KEH Camera on eBay with the 15% off coupon (thanks Peter!) for less than $100, will see how it works on the D600, but from sharpnest test I've seen, this lens seems to be better than both the Nikkors 28mm 2.8D and 35mm 2.0D primes at similar apertures, which seems unbelievable for such a cheap zoom lens.
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 614Member

    I note tom Hogan is using the 24-85 3.5-4.5 VR on his 810 and they are cheap second hand

    mmm. Interesting. I may get one of these to try on DX. I already have the 10-20 wide angle, and these sell for a hell of a lot less than the 16-80 I was considering...
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member
    edited March 21
    mhedges said:

    I note tom Hogan is using the 24-85 3.5-4.5 VR on his 810 and they are cheap second hand

    mmm. Interesting. I may get one of these to try on DX. I already have the 10-20 wide angle, and these sell for a hell of a lot less than the 16-80 I was considering...
    This was actually my first AF lens, bought it for use on my first DSLR, the D7100, the idea was to not go so wide that people start looking warped near the frame edges. Wasn't a bad lens in DX, just kinda pointless as it was not much brighter and certainly softer than the newer 18-n kit lenses, while being much larger and heavier; even the 10-24 was smaller and lighter than the 24-85, if I remember correctly.

    My current Tamron 17-50 non VC, on the other hand, is crazy sharp, much brighter, and is really compact. It doesn't have VR (which is actually a plus in my book) and the zoom ring is draggy, so it's almost useless for handheld video, but for stills it's near unbeatable, and best of all it's readily available in excellent condition for about $150. I was lucky enough to buy one being closed out by a HK gray marketeer, brand spanking new for about $170. Mine is the later AF-S type, made in Vietnam, which might be the reason why it came with more dust particles on the inner glass surfaces than what I'm accustomed from brand new Nikkors, but nothing that might affect IQ. Highly recommended.
    Post edited by CaMeRaQuEsT on
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 614Member

    mhedges said:

    I note tom Hogan is using the 24-85 3.5-4.5 VR on his 810 and they are cheap second hand

    mmm. Interesting. I may get one of these to try on DX. I already have the 10-20 wide angle, and these sell for a hell of a lot less than the 16-80 I was considering...
    This was actually my first AF lens, bought it for use on my first DSLR, the D7100, the idea was to not go so wide that people start looking warped near the frame edges. Wasn't a bad lens in DX, just kinda pointless as it was not much brighter and certainly softer than the newer 18-n kit lenses, while being much larger and heavier; even the 10-24 was smaller and lighter than the 24-85, if I remember correctly.

    My current Tamron 17-50 non VC, on the other hand, is crazy sharp, much brighter, and is really compact. It doesn't have VR (which is actually a plus in my book) and the zoom ring is draggy, so it's almost useless for handheld video, but for stills it's near unbeatable, and best of all it's readily available in excellent condition for about $150. I was lucky enough to buy one being closed out by a HK gray marketeer, brand spanking new for about $170. Mine is the later AF-S type, made in Vietnam, which might be the reason why it came with more dust particles on the inner glass surfaces than what I'm accustomed from brand new Nikkors, but nothing that might affect IQ. Highly recommended.
    Good info - thanks!
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member
    edited March 24
    Just received the D600 and the AF 20mm 2.8. The camera was bought from a Japanese camera seller off ebay but doesn't seem to be a Japanese market camera, as all languages are available for selection. The serial number checks out on Nikon USA's D600 oil spitting shutter campaign page, so I can send it in for free. The sensor looks perfectly clean though. It does not show black paint inside the tripod hole, so it probably still has the original shutter. It didn't come with the original screen protector, OVF and MB interface covers. Shutter count checks out at 18K as stated by the seller. It's only got a couple of very small nicks on the paint of the lower part of the rear magnesium cover, and the "Ok" serigraph is a little faded. Overall, not bad for the $600 I spent (was originally $700, ebay discounted $100 with the 20% off spring coupon, thanks again Peter!). Now I finally have an OVF that is both large and bright enough to be usable, a huge improvement over even the D7*00's OVF. The grip, though, is too wide to hand hold for long periods of time, and the camera is pretty heavy. I'll definitively trade up to a D750 eventually, as that grip felt much natural in my hand. And why don't I get 100% magnification with the Ok button on playback as I did with the D7100/D7200? Using + to zoom in goes beyond 100%, which is dumb. My pre-Ai lenses don't fit, least I end up damaging the D600's aperture prong.

    For less than $98 I got a AF 20mm 2.8 with heavy fungi infestation on almost all lens surfaces, but nothing that couldn't be cleaned up with lots of elbow grease and some peroxide. It is mechanically all Ok, though, it's also cosmetically Ok, the mount looks almost virgin. AFs precisely on the D600 and the photos look very usable, more so than what I got from my previous 10-24 and Sigma 10-20 f4-5.6., so not a bad $98 bet here. This has hard stops at infinity and minimum focusing distance, but the camera seems to refuse to work if the aperture ring is not set at f22, I'll delve deeper into this matter after I finish cleaning it.

    I also bought a 50mm 1.4D in "Excellent +" condition for less than $150; that and the "ugly" condition Tamron 28-75 should be arriving between next week and the week after Easter.

    I'm now looking at AF 80-200 f2.8 along with the AF Micro 105 2.8, hopefully I can
    find one of either for less than $200, but since I seldom use such long FOVs, I can wait until the price is right.
    Post edited by CaMeRaQuEsT on
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member
    edited March 25
    My D600 and AF 20mm 2.8 arrived today. Camera is in very good shape, has 18K on the odo, everything works as should, is clean throughout (even the sensor!) but for a couple of unseemly small nicks in the paint. No black paint drab inside the tripod mount means it's still got its original shutter, serial # checks out on Nikon USA's dirt on sensor campaign, so I can send it in if I wish to. Didn't come with the original screen protector and OVF and MB interface covers, though. Overall, worth the $600 I paid for it. Lens has clean body, focuses and meters perfectly, mount shows absolutely no sign of usage. But almost all glass surfaces are heavily infected with fungi, thankfully there seem to be no scratches nor coating peeling. Is it worth the $98 I paid for it? Will know tonight, when I take it down for cleaning, but even as it is right now it's giving me cleaner images than I ever did with the Nikkor 10-24 and the Sigma 10-20 f4-5.6, go figure!

    First impressions: the OVF is huge, bright and sharp, just like I was accustomed to with my F3, such a sight for DX-sored eyes! The grip on the D600 is uncomfortably wide for my hand, also the recess is too shallow and off the center of gravity to allow for holding it at idle with only the 4 fingers "hooking" on it, like I can do with the D5500 and D750; coupled to its quite heavy weight, it all adds up to a body that is not easy to handhold for long periods of time, so it will stay inside the bag when idle. Why I can't punch Ok to zoom in 100% in either LV or playback? Punching + zooms in all the way beyond 100%, which is even worse. From these, I can see myself definitively upgrading to a D750 as soon as possible. Pre-Ai lenses butt on the aperture prong follower, so can't use my Nikkor-S 50mm 1.4 nor my "New" (K) Nikkor 105mm 2.5 without inflicting damage on the D600, but I bought an "Excellent +" condition 50mm 1.4D for less than $150, so I'll not need to "Ai-d" the old 50mm, but the 105 is so optically awesome I might Ai it if I don't find a cheap AF 105. The 20mm is my first body driven AF lens. Built is almost as stout as Ai-S, certainly just as dense and heavy. Hard stops at infinity and shortest distance are very welcome. Odd detail: the camera refuses to AF or show aperture when the lens' aperture ring is set at anywhere other than smallest setting.

    So, $700 (plus some midnight oil) for a FF body+UWA lens. Not bad, considering that I paid $1,600 for a D7100+10-24mm 4 years ago.
    Post edited by CaMeRaQuEsT on
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,729Member
    That was a pretty astute purchase you made CaMeRaQuEst.
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member

    That was a pretty astute purchase you made CaMeRaQuEst.

    Thanks, but I've done better before: 25 years ago I got an army surplus F3 for free that only needed a $50 CLA to get back to fully working condition. Hundreds of rolls later, it still meters and shoots perfectly today and has not needed another CLA yet. That was my first Nikon.
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member
    edited March 25
    Just finished cleaning almost all the 20mm's glass surfaces, took about 3 hours from star to finish, with the latter half done while watching the Aussie GP (Vettel won over Hamilton by pure luck!). Lens construction is pretty straight forward, very much like all pre-AF lenses, except for the AF gear, the plastic outer casings, and the little "cpu" hanging on the rear rest. It is somewhat different to the later D version though, compared to what is shown in a disassembly page I found on the web. Got rid of all the fungi with 3% peroxide, but the fungi did either leave a stain or ate at the coating on one of the surfaces of the rear elements group, but that shouldn't affect IQ too much. Apart from the fungi, the lenses were clinically clean, something my poor cleaning skills couldn't replicate. Immediately took some test shots and, boy is this lens sharp: even wide open it beats my previous Nikkor 10-24 and Sigma 10-20 4-5.6 stopped down to f8-f11. There is some coma at f2.8, but it's pretty much gone by f4. Of course, it sharpens up even more stopped down, with amazing results at f8, and in all instances I could bump up sharpness in LR to 100 without anything looking strange, unlike my previous experiences with DX or the A7's files. Color me impressed! BTW, is there a way to post photos here without the need to host them somewhere else first?
    Post edited by CaMeRaQuEsT on
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 298Member
    Went out at the strike of dawn to take some sunrise shots. Can't see any flares or ghosting at all with the sun in the frame, also contrast is hardly affected (besides the effect of morning air haze), so I guess I did a good job last night. Tried some min. distance, wide open shots of flowers: bokeh is terrible, looks almost like a Petzval or Trioplan, very busy and distracting; this lens is definitively designed only for infinity/stop down shooting. Problem is, now I have no use for my 24 2.8 Ai and my 28 2.8 Ai-S, so out they go. Absolutely worth what I paid for it, both in dollars and in sweat!
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 614Member

    Odd detail: the camera refuses to AF or show aperture when the lens' aperture ring is set at anywhere other than smallest setting.

    So, $700 (plus some midnight oil) for a FF body+UWA lens. Not bad, considering that I paid $1,600 for a D7100+10-24mm 4 years ago.

    Sounds like a good deal. As far as the aperture stuff - I believe that's how it's always been with Nikon. Pretty sure my old film camera was like that.

    Not going to lie - mold fungus issues creep me out a little. But it sounds very hard to avoid if you are in a more humid area. I'm hoping I don't have to worry about it here in NC.
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