$650 a fair used price for nikon 12-24?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by pna, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. pna macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I've been shooting with a nikon 18-200 VR and a 50/1.8 for quite some time now, and find that most of the shots I like to take are at the widest setting. I'd like something wider than the 18mm wide end I have now. I generally shoot landscapes.

    I've read extensively about the options out there, and the only ones that got real consideration were the nikon 12-24, tokina 11-16/2.8, and the tokina 12-24. I briefly considered the nikon 16-85 VR, as a jack of all trades walk around lens, but think I'd still end up wanting something wider. For how I would likely use this lens, I think the tokina 11-16 is probably too limiting.

    I was about to order the original tokina 12-24 ($400), when I saw a local Craigslist ad for a mint condition nikon. The lowest he'll sell it for is $650 (I offered $600). It seems like a fair price for that lens, but even so I'm waffling a bit as to if it's worth the extra $250 over the new tokina. I buy used/refurb equipment all the time, so I'm not concerned in the least about having a new vs. used lens.

    Any thoughts or advice you all have on this is useful. In reading all of the comments and reviews on the web, the tokina looks to be a strong contender, so perhaps the $250 could be put towards another fast prime or a better flash.
     
  2. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #2
    I wouldn't buy anything used outside of B&H, Adorama and KEH, along with fredmiranda.
     
  3. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #3
    Why are you shying away from the Tokina, it's equal or better in every respect compared to the Nikkor. Plus, it'll save you $200 you can spend on something else.
     
  4. pna thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Hm. That lens used on those sites are about a hundred dollars more, plus shipping. I'd certainly feel more comfortable having purchased from them, but if the lens is indeed in what appears to be mint condition (and my test shots confirm it insofar as they could), that's a substantial discount. If it turned out that there was something wrong with the lens from the online store, I'd still need to ship it back at my expense. If there was some small thing wrong with the locally bought used lens, I'd think I could discount it the hundred plus dollars I saved by buying locally, and still be able to resell it with full disclosure.

    But you do raise a good point. It would be nice to have a technician have fully inspected it prior to purchase and the ability to return it.

    The only reason I'm shying away from the tokina at all have been

    - concern about a number of reports of sample variance, poor metering, etc
    - thoughts that I might use the lens in the future with a d40-ish camera for a light backpacking combo. Only the newer tokina is af-s (and it's $500 vs. $400), so again that gets into the range of the used nikon.
    - the nikon's half a pound lighter. I treat my lenses well, but take them into the backcountry where lighter is definitely better. I'm not concerned with the build quality of either.

    If they were equally priced, would you pick the tokina?
     
  5. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #5
    I bought a 12-24 used (and incidentally paid about 650 for it). I have never regretted the purchase. It has been shown that the 12-24 is optically superior than the third party offerings but the biggest complaint is its price. I justified it by getting a used copy which was not as expensive as buying it new.

    There's nothing particularly wrong with Craigslist, just make sure that you can test the lens first before buying. Perhaps bring your camera and laptop and take some pictures and view them on your laptop to make sure everything's okay. When I bought my lens used, the seller offered me to test it for a few days and if I was not satisfied I could return it for a full refund (less shipping costs). I think that this kind of practice is not uncommon amongst sellers of high quality used lenses. If you're particularly eagle-eyed sometimes you can spot the same lens being sold on Craigslist as they are listing on places like the FM forums (I have seen at least once a local guy who put up the same lens on both Craigslist and an online forum).

    One last thing regarding the Tokina (12-24)- when I purchased my lens the research I did came up with that the Tokina has problems with vignetting using filters at 12mm, where you had to use a slim filter in order to avoid the vignetting. The Nikon 12-24 will take a "normal" filter and not vignette 12 mm. This was a bonus for me in two ways. First, I already owned a normal 77mm CPL so did not need to rebuy a slim one, and second- most slim filters come with a special "push-on" cap design whereas standard thickness filters allow the continued use of the standard "pinch-on" lens caps. I know of two people who bought slim filters with push on caps, and both had big problems with the lens cap not staying on. It would fall off while walking down the trail, in their bag, etc. After seeing those experiences I was for sure happy that I was able to use my secure pinch-on cap! I think though that you can find some slim filters nowadays though which support the use of the pinch-on caps.

    My only recommendation would be to perhaps look onto a used Nikkor 10-24 as it has a little wider range and the optical quality between it and the 12-24 is very minimal- to the point where the extra 2 mm on the wide end may be the better choice. If I were buying the lens again today I would probably get the 10-24, but when I bought my 12-24 it was long before the 10-24 was available.

    Ruahrc
     
  6. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #6
    Tokina recently released a new 12-24 that autofocuses with all Nikon autofocus cameras. Of course, it's more expensive, but I'd still go with the Tokina in either version.

    You can buy the old version new from B&H for $400:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/360350-REG/Tokina_ATX124AFPRON_12_24mm_f_4_AT_X_124.html

    And the new version for $500:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/594649-REG/Tokina_ATX124DXIIN_12_24mm_f_4_AT_X_124.html

    Of course, the latter is out of stock, but it will be in stock eventually.

    I'd go with the Tokina. It's considered the best of the three major third party lens makers, and for good reason.
     
  7. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #7
    Even if they were priced the same, I would go for the Tokina.
    (I own one for about a year now.)

    Regarding build quality, even if you don't need the additional heft, this lens is a joy to use: zoom and focus rings are well-damped and feel very nice when you use them.

    BTW, this is not my first Tokina lens. Currently, I own three Nikkors, the Tokina 12-24 mm and a Sigma 30 mm prime.
     
  8. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #8
    Well, I don't know about the Tokina 11-16 and 12-24 for Nikon, but for Canon these two are right next to Canon quality-wise. The 11-16 is so popular with Canon users that both Adorama and B&H are out of stock, and some shops are asking $700.00 and more for it. The price at B&H is $599.00 for both the Canon and Nikon version (the have the Nikon version in stock).

    The only limiting factor of the 11-16 is the focal length when compared to the Nikon 12-24, but according to the reviews, the Tokina is quite sharp from edge to edge, and gives a run for the money to both Nikon and Canon. For example, I would like to buy a Canon 10-22mm because it's a real nice lens, but it costs from $750.00 to perhaps $800.00, does not come with a hood, and it's not a f/2.8 all the way through. The Tokina 11-16 is built like a tank, has glass that is nearly as good (or equal) to the Canon, comes with a hood, and a case. Canon offers a $50.00 refund sometimes, but the hood costs $35.00.

    My point is: while the Canon lens would be perfect for me, the Tokina 11-12 is even better and cheaper since my wide landscapes are taken with the lens set around 12mm 99% of the time.

    In relation to filters: Both Hoya and B+H use the thinnest glass possible for their CPLs. The ring may be thick, but the glass is not. The ultra-thin filters usually don't have a thick ring, and these also lack threads on the front edge of the ring, but the glass is still the same (thin). A CPL with a thick ring usually has threads on the front portion of the ring, and this allows for the use of the lens cap right over the filter. Not so with the ultra-thin filters.
     
  9. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    Oregon coast
    #9
    I am in the Tokina camp, especially for the price difference, but even at the same price I'd be hard pressed to change, they're that good. They're built like pro Nikkor lenses (metal, well damped, smooth focus and zoom action) and they operate in the same direction as Nikkors (zoom and focus) so they fit right in with a bag full of pro oriented Nikkor lenses. Also, the AF-MF design is unique (slide the focus ring back to click for manual, push back to click for AF,) and really quite useful... you don't have to switch the camera to MF (for bodies with built-in motors.)

    The highly acclaimed Tokina 11-16f/2.8 is based on the same optical formula as the 12-24, and both are excellent in sharpness and color/contrast, and are very sharp wide open. The newer version of the 12-24 with the built-in motor has newer coatings to help reduce flare, which is something that affects all ultra-wide zooms to some degree. It would be worth the $100 difference if I were buying new, but excellent/mint condition used original versions can be had for $300-$350, which is a $300 savings over your used Nikkor 12-24 opportunity. You could just about pick up a used Nikkor 85f/1.8 for that difference.

    I haven't noticed any vignetting with mine and a protective filter, but I haven't really looked for it... in fact I seldom use a filter with it. To me it's not a serious issue. It's a very substantially solid built lens that does it's job very well, and provides the confidence that you're working with a capable tool. For the price difference between it and the Nikkor, I'd have to say the Nikkor 12-24 is one of the more overpriced lenses Nikon makes, especially in the consumer category.

    The caveat here is, if you pick up the Nikkor for $650, you will always be able to get all or most of your money back, so it's not a big risk at all.

    Just my $0.02 :)
     
  10. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #10
    FWIW I don't think the Nikkor 12-24 is a consumer lens. It has the gold ring, which is indicative of their pro lenses. It's also one of the lenses that gets you into the NPS program, which only "pro" lenses qualify for.

    Plastic body construction used to be an anomaly but with the 24mm f1.4 and 16-35 being plastic too, I think they are trending away from some of the metal barrels on their pro gear (particularly for lighter smaller lenses like these, whereas the big lenses probably still benefit from the robustness of metal).

    Optically it was designed to be high performing, I don't think they compromised too much on lens performance for price reasons in their design.

    I'd agree with this given what I paid for mine about 2 years ago and that I could probably sell it for the same amount today. Do third party lenses hold up as well? I only own two Nikkors so I don't have any experience.

    Ruahrc
     
  11. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #11
    The Nikon 24/1.4 and 16-35 are not plastic lenses. What makes you say that they are?

    The 24/1.4 is a heavy lens, weighing almost as much as my 180/2.8.
     
  12. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #12
    Everything I have read regarding reviews and impressions (multiple sources, including KR, Diglloyd, FM forum discussons, etc.) points to that both these lenses use plastic (or some other kind of nonmetallic composite) in the outer barrel construction. That does not mean internal elements of these lenses are not made of alloy, just that the outer barrel is not. It is particularly interesting with the case of the 16-35 where the official Nikon press releases specifically stated magnesium alloy outer barrel, but again things I have read indicate that it is in fact not.

    I have not, however, handled either personally so I guess I should retract my statements. Everyone is entitled to their own conclusions regarding accuracy of online remarks.

    This is not a bad thing! Advanced plastics (composites) are often stronger and lighter than alloys. And plastic construction has nothing to do with build quality- you can have a finely made plastic lens or a cheaply made one, just as you can with alloy. There is some serious FUD regarding use of plastics in lens construction just because the old tanks from 1960 were all metal.

    Ruahrc
     
  13. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #13
    I held one last week and it was very solid. That's all I can say about it.
     
  14. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #14
    Label or not, when I handled the 12-24 mm Nikkor in a store, the built felt like that of my 18-70 mm: good plastic, but not even close to a real pro grade lens or a Tokina lens.
    To my knowledge, the barrel of the 16-35 mm is made of magnesium alloy, not plastic.
     
  15. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #15
    Those old metal "tanks" had very smooth, damped focusing action, which I've never experienced on any plastic contructed lens. Also, the tolerances with most plastic lenses I've handled were very high, with lots of play between the inner and outer barrels, thus they felt sloppy and "loose" compared to the Tokina 12-24 or any pro Nikkor. So much so, that while they may be sharp, I've seen the image actually shift in the viewfinder when they focus as the elements move.

    And there are a number of Nikkors built similarly (metal, smooth action and damped focus/zoom rings) that don't have the gold ring - 80-200 AF-D, 300f/4 AF-ED, the AF micro/macro lenses, the DC lenses (105 and 135 f/2.0 version) and numbers of others. The gold ring is a fairly recent thing, which seems to have come along with the AF-S G pro lenses, but doesn't really mean anything by designation.

    The trade off is weight, but I'm very willing to bear that extra weight for the additional benefits. I'd love to see a metal constructed 35mm and 50mm prime, even the classic nifty-fifty, because with the one I have (older, japanese made AF non-D version) while it is sharp and light, the manual focus precision is made much more irritating because of the very slight binding you get with plastic on plastic compared to the solid, damped feeling with metal machined parts fitting together. Of course, it would be much more expensive to machine parts from metal than to stamp them out or extrude them from plastic, but I'd be willing to pay twice as much for a nifty-fifty made the old fashioned way with modern optics. You gotta wonder why so many people pay so much for Zeiss MF lenses, and it's not just the IQ. It's the build quality.
     
  16. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #16
    Well, actually, the gold ring goes back to about 1981, with the introduction of the 180/2.8 ED AIS lens, and other telephotos, but I digress.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #17
    Okay, the gold ring has been around on some lenses for quite a while now, but this only solidifies my own interpretation that it actually means nothing, since so many "pro" quality-build Nikkor lenses found in professional photographers camera bags came sans a gold ring.

    But, speaking of 12-24 lenses-- my Tokina 12-24 does have a gold ring... ;) I think those ex-Nikon engineers who started Tokina felt they were still making Nikkor lenses. :) So the Nikkor 12-24 doesn't have anything over on the Tokina 12-24, other than price and a largely plastic construction.
     
  18. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

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    #18
    I have a Tokina 11-16, and I think part of what I like about it build-wise is that unlike some cheaper Nikon lenses (or ones by other manufacturers), I don't feel like if I dropped it, it would literally bounce off the ground due to its weight. My Tokina feels really solid - it may be (durable) plastic on the outside, but whatever is on the inside seems really sturdy to me.
     
  19. chrfr macrumors 603

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    #19
    The gold ring indicates one specific thing: that the lens is made using ED glass. It used to be that the costs of the ED glass were such that it was only found in higher end telephoto lenses, but time has passed and ED glass is in many non-pro lenses now, so the distinction has become far less relevant.
     
  20. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #20
    I've got 5 Nikkors that use ED glass, and only 1 has a gold ring, the 17-55. In fact, they all have ED in their name, and say ED right on the lens. So, I don't think the gold ring has any significance, but it clearly doesn't indicate the lens has ED glass -- that would be indicated by the letters ED on the lens.
     
  21. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #21
    I think the gold ring is not consistently used at Nikon -- which is a failure of marketing in my opinion (gold ring = equivalent of Canon's red L). Marketing, however, doesn't matter much when you know what you're talking about. I don't think my 80-200 mm has a gold ring (despite the fact it has ED glass), but when you touch it or lift it, you know you have metal and glass in your hands.
     
  22. pna thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #22
    Interestingly enough, I had a voice mail from the Craigslist seller last night that he'd sell it for $620. I think he's finding the same thing that I've found around here, that even selling quality stuff at what appear to be reasonable prices is tough these days. There just aren't a lot of buyers, and in this case (as this thread has clearly shown), there's a lot of support for a cheaper new alternative being as good or superior in some ways.

    I really appreciate all of the comments here -- they've been really helpful. It does seem that the proponents of the tokina have argued in favor of its better build quality as a main selling point, and that the optics have been in general assumed to be equivalent between the 12-24 tokina and 12-24 nikkor (is this correct?). The lighter weight and af-s (and resale value should it come to that) are still slightly in favor of the nikkor for my expected use (and future use), but I can easily see both sides of it.

    I wish the 11-16 was a viable option for me, as it sounds like a tremendous lens and I'd love the 2.8. My favorite shots have been wide angle in very low light, and generally without a tripod, so the extra stop is a big selling point. The extra range of the 12-24, though, means that I'm much more likely to have it with me on my camera walking around, when I'm not out specifically to do photography. I suspect I'll be more likely to actually have the lens with when I need it in that case, rather than carrying multiple lenses in those situations. Happening to have it with me when I need it trumps the other features, unfortunately.

    I'm hoping to get to a camera store in short order that might have both so that I can actually get a feel for the two. The bottom line for me at this point is really that either one would be fine, I'd expect to have no regrets with either at either price, and I just need to get one on my camera and go start experimenting.
     
  23. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #23
    Yes, there are quite a few benchmarks that put the 12-24 mm Tokina above the Nikkor while others (who take chromatic aberrations more strongly into account when giving out stars) claim the Nikon is the better deal.

    It's not as clear-cut as with the 11-16 mm which is supposedly the best UW zoom for crop sensors on the market (not just for Nikons, but also taking Canon's offerings into account).

    Regarding the two downsides you've mentioned: you don't have instant override with the Tokina -- which would be nice, but for an uw lens, it's not really relevant in the field in my opinion. The second one, weight: the Tokina weighs 100 g more than the Nikkor which isn't that much if you add the weight of the camera + batteries. Compared to my 18-70 mm Nikkor (which is even lighter than both), I don't feel much of a difference. (Although I admit, I like a certain heft when I use a dslr.)

    BTW, although I emphasize you shouldn't read too much into single benchmarks, there is a whole load of lens reviews on photozone.de. There, you find reviews of the Tokina and the Nikkor. There is also a review of the Tokina on dpreview.
     
  24. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #24
    If you really do intend on doing a fair amount of low light shooting iwth this new lens, you might want to think carefully about an f/4. The 12-24 is really a landscaper's lens- lightweight and super sharp, but not super fast because landscapes are taken on tripods and at f/8+. If you really don't use a tripod that often, and shoot in low light a lot, f/4 may not cut it for you (or you will have to be prepared to start using the tripod a lot more often). The extra stop may be worth the extra price.

    Ruahrc
     
  25. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #25
    If you can afford the used Nikkor, you can afford the Tokina 11-16... and since they're sort of hard to find, you might even find you can get more than you paid for it if you don't like it. The lack of reach is the main issue, which you mentioned as being important. I have used the 24mm setting on my 12-24 more than I originally would have expected, so that makes up for the loss of speed.
     

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