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Generic Zoom Lenses, spot the bargains

carol kennedy , Aug 05, 2005; 12:05 p.m.

Hi there! I'm looking out for a 2nd-hand zoom for my FM2..something like 70mm- 210mm. (Mostly on Ebay UK). But due to my budget at present, i am reluctant to fork out big bucks for a Nikon lens when i suspect there are some very good generic lenses available more cheaply. Trouble is, how to know the bargains from the rubbish....i still want as much sharpness + contrast as possible. Speed as well, but i can compromise on that.

One lens that is available to me at the moment is Vivitar 28 - 200mm macro focusing zoom. Anyone know anything about this one?? I've also seen a couple of Tokinas and I passed on a very cheap Sirius 60mm-300mm because that was one of the first I came across at the start of my search and I didn't want to jump in too quickly.

Any comments welcome, especially advice about brands that are reliable and those which would be false economy. Thanks!


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Shun Cheung , Aug 05, 2005; 12:18 p.m.

In you case (FM2 body), just make sure that you don't accidentally get a G (or G-equivalent) lens that has no aperture ring. Anything that is more than 3 or so years old should be safe in that sense.

Otherwise, could you tell us about your budget and what your photo subjects are? Unfortunately, most of us are more familiar with used prices in the US rather than in the UK, but I am sure some can help you.

gary shaw , Aug 05, 2005; 12:20 p.m.

Keep your eye out for Vivitar Series 1 lenses. They were made for Vivitar by Kirin and and are usually very modestly priced and an exception value price wise. I have a 70-210 close focus that is really exceptional.

Joel Wittenberg , Aug 05, 2005; 01:40 p.m.

I don't know what your budget is, or what UK prices are like, but I use a Nikon Series E 70-210, f/4 (constant!) that I'm very happy with, and it was pretty cheap a couple of years ago (~$150 in exc+ condition from KEH), probably less now.

BW Combs , Aug 05, 2005; 01:41 p.m.

The Vivitar Series 1 lenses were very well made. That would be a good choice.

Also, consider the Nikon 70-210mm E-Series lens. I had one until recently (had to sell all my manual gear for digital foray). It is a nice lens, has macro capability and is affordable. In fact, a lot of the E-Series lenses are affordable, and pretty good performers. Other top lenses in that line include the 50mm E, 100mm E, and the 75-150mm E (Vivek's favorite).

Alan Chan , Aug 05, 2005; 02:25 p.m.

I had the Vivitar 28-200mm many years ago. Not recommended at all. Images were soft and the minimum distance was too long. You may hunt for an used Nikkor AIS 80-200/4.


Douglas Green , Aug 05, 2005; 04:41 p.m.

I would avoid any lens with a zoom ratio of more than 3-1. Any wider range zoom will either be costly to make, or crap. 70-210 or 80-200 range zooms from name brands (Vivitar, Sigma, Tokina, Tamron) should be fine, if the lens is in good shape and not too costly.

Look for the brand's premium line: Vivitar's is Series-One, Tamron's is SP, Tokina's is ATX. I don't think Sigma had a specific top series, but I could be wrong.

Rob Murray , Aug 05, 2005; 04:51 p.m.

Nikon lenses of that era are really very cheap, Dont get anything like an old 28-200 superzoom, you will be dissapointed.

Adam Maas , Aug 05, 2005; 05:24 p.m.

The Vivitar Series 1 70-210 f4, the Makinon 80-200 f4.5 and the Nikon Series E in 70-210 f4 or 75-150 f3.5 are all good to excellent and cheap.

None should run over $100.

Ian Brunton , Aug 05, 2005; 07:41 p.m.

The 75-150/3.5 is nice indeed. Dealer prices in the UK seem to be around 60-70GBP, so don't overbid on the bay. Exceptionally fast for an inexpensive zoom.

Some reviews here by Bjørn Rørslett, who knows his onions.

He gives a good write-up to the 80-200/4 and 80-200/4.5. I've never used these, but I remember they were in a similar price range, perhaps slightly dearer, when I was looking for the 75-150.

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