Nikon 85mm f/1.4 $800 (good deal?)

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by DScience, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. DScience

    DScience No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi all,


    I found a Nikon 85mm f/1.4D on Craigs List. Supposedly the second owner, has had it for two years and the previous owner two years as well. Here is his description after I sent an email inquiring:

    "I am the scond owner of this lens. Iha owned it for 2 yrs. I believe
    that it was 2 years when I purchased it.
    The front and rear lens elements are both free of any marks and there
    are no dents anywhere. The inside of the lens is also clear of any
    dust
    or mold. This is a USA version. There are minor scratches on the
    hood.

    Thanks
    Kenny"


    Do you guys think it's a good deal?
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yes, that's about $200 to $225 below the KEH price foe one in EXC condition, so that seems like a fair "real-world" price for an 85/1.4 AF-D.
     
  3. DScience

    DScience No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks Derrel.

    In terms of checking out the lens (which I expect to do in about 2-3 hours from now), besides the obvious, what else should I look for?

    To see scratches on the glass, do I NEED to be in bright sunlight? Or will an LED flashlight suffice?

    Also, how old would an EXC lens from KEH be roughly?
     
  4. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    I don't think age is a factor, just condition:

    KEH.com - The Photographer's Marketplace | Grades

    Looks like $800 is the price range for AIS manual focus 85mm f/1.4's at KEH:

    http://www.keh.com/Search-Products/1/Brand/0/nikon%2085%20mm%20fSpecial-Char-ForwardSlash1Special-Char-Dot4/Grade/0/0/SE.aspx

    In addition to looking a lens over good I always open the aperture all the way too. I shine the light in from the opposite end of the lens as well as fore lighting it and look at the condition of the interior.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2010
  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I would expect to see some dust and small specs inside the lens--that is quite normal. If you shine an LED flashlight through the lens, you will see a lot more dust and junk than just using normal room lighting...Ken Rockwell did a story called The Flashlight Test; suffice it to say, a lens can be just filled with dust particles, and even may have a few bubbles in the glass (seriously), but still perform excellently.

    The 85/1.4 AF-D is built pretty stoutly. It uses a button and ring A/M switch. Make sure the switch functions well. Make sure it focuses. When you shake it and hold it close to your ear, there is a slight noise from the lens, which is the ball-bearing diaphragm mechanism making noise...that's pretty normal. Check the aperture stop-down function and make sure the aperture stops down,and that the aperture leaves form a mostly-rounded aperture down to f/5.6 or so. At the very smallest apertures, like f/11 or f/16, you might see a **slight** bit of out of roundness, caused by one or two leaves, but the 85 is already past its prime at f/8 on high-res bodies, and you'll probably be shooting it mostly at f/2 to f/4.5 anyway, ranges where it's quite good and which will make good bokeh.

    This lens is very,very sharp in the center, but the corners of the lens are not as sharp until the lens is stopped clear down to f/4.8 or thereabouts. This gives beautiful portrait results with the lens set to f/1.4 to f/4, with sharp center and fall-off in sharpness at the edges of the frame. So for shooting brick walls, this is not the lens wide-open. You need to make sure the lens is not damaged, so shoot a flat surface, like a wall, and look carefully at the images it can make---make sure one corner or one side is not wonky, due to being dropped or smacked really hard, which could decenter an element.

    The only thing to worry much about is a scratched REAR element...that can be a problem. The front element can be scratched, chipped, even lunar cratered and not cause much problem. And there can be a lot of junk inside a lens and none of this will have much impact. But a scratched rear element can cause problems,especially when shooting toward light sources, which is something you will probably be doing with this lens. This is sort of a "lifetime lens", by the way. It is a really,really good lens design for people work and for its special bokeh and its "drawing style".
     
  6. DScience

    DScience No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thank you KmH, I appreciate the info.


    Derrel, I really appreciate you taking the time with this. I've been looking for a good used copy of this lens for less than $1000 for a LONG time, and I hope i've found it. What you explained is exactly what I needed. I'm going to go see it here in an hour or so, i'll post back with the results!
     
  7. DScience

    DScience No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well I went and checked out the lens. I felt bad, the guy was really struggling for money. I took it home, dusted it off a tad, and cleaned it. It's MINT condition. There are like three tiny 'dings' on the top rim. But both the front and rear elements look perfect to my eye in a lot of light. I can't see any dust nor mold internally as well. I think I got an amazing deal. Focuses spot on from tests, and aperture blades run smoothly. It has original box, hood, and was purchased in 2006. :eek:)

    I'll have examples tomorrow. Thanks to Derrel and KMH for the help!
     
  8. Moe

    Moe TPF Noob!

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    Congrats! Very jealous. Looking forward to the photos and their bokeh.
     

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