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Over its long and storied history, Nikon has put out some absolutely incredible prime lenses. And with their ever-expanding lineup, it can be difficult to decipher which ones should be on your radar for purchase.
So that got me thinking…
Which Nikon prime lenses would I be after if I needed one?
Below, I’ve outlined the specs and features of three used Nikon lenses I’d snatch up in a second.
Editor’s note: If you missed it, I recently reviewed the top pre-owned Nikon cameras for every budget. Have a look at that if you’re in the market for a new-to-you Nikon camera!
Best Used Nikon Prime Lenses: Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED AF-S
If you shoot with a Nikon FX camera, the Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED should be a prime target for you to purchase.
Not only is this a super fast lens with its wide f/1.4 aperture, but it also has outstanding optics that result in sharp images that have beautiful color, contrast, and minimal aberrations.
That’s thanks to the lens design, which includes two aspherical elements and two extra low dispersion elements that enhance sharpness and contrast, even when shooting at f/1.4. The lens also has Nano Crystal Coating, which reduces lens flare and ghosting that are so common in wide-angle lenses.
The build quality of this lens is top-notch as well. The metal construction means this lens is highly durable and can take a few lumps while you’re out working.
Additionally, the lens features Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM), which enables lightning-fast focusing that’s also virtually silent. See a detailed hands-on review of this lens in the video below by createthis.
Given its small size, this lens is a perfect choice for street photography. Likewise, landscape photographers, nature photographers, and architecture photographers will find it to be a useful addition to their camera bag.
Best of all, buying used can save you hundreds of dollars. The MSRP for this lens is $2,000.00, but you can pick up a used one in excellent-plus condition for about half that price.
Best Used Nikon Prime Lenses: Nikon Nikkor 50mm F/1.4 D
No list of the best used Nikon lenses would be complete without the old standard nifty fifty.
Nikon’s Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 D is an incredibly versatile lens thanks to its superb optics, small form factor, and ability to shoot high-quality photos of all kinds.
When used on a full frame camera, this lens creates a classic angle of view that closely resembles that of the human eye. As a result, images taken with this lens have a familiar feel.
At f/1.4, this lens has the same large aperture as the previous lens, and gives you excellent color rendition and top-quality sharpness from edge to edge. Sharpness is a hallmark of this lens as well.
With a super integrated coating on each element in the lens, you’ll find that lens flare and ghosting are both minimized while contrast is boosted. Additionally, the seven-blade rounded diaphragm renders beautiful, high-quality bokeh for separating your subject from the background.
At 50mm, you get an even more versatile lens than the 24mm lens discussed earlier.
From landscapes to portraits, street photography to travel photography, and points in between, this lens is a great companion for photographers of all skill levels and areas of interest.
Perhaps the greatest asset of this lens is its price. Brand-new, it’ll run you about $330.00, but, again, you can save a significant amount of money if you buy used.
For example, a used version of this lens in excellent condition is currently going for about $220.00.
Best Used Nikon Lenses: Nikon Nikkor 85mm F/1.8 D
A final used Nikon lens you should keep an eye out for - especially if you shoot portraits - is the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D.
Though it doesn’t have quite as large of a maximum aperture as the other lenses, f/1.8 is nothing to be upset about.
Images taken with this lens have beautiful contrast, which is due in large part to the super integrated coating, which reduces glare, minimizes reflections, and boosts contrast.
Meanwhile, the f/1.8 aperture offers a gorgeously shallow depth of field that you want for portraits while also providing you with the light-collecting abilities needed for indoor and low-light shooting situations.
This lens is particularly well-suited for headshots and upper-body portraits thanks to its 28°30’ angle of view, but it is by no means a one-trick pony.
In addition to traditional portraiture, you can utilize this lens for wildlife photography (particularly when used on a DX camera), sports photography, and photojournalistic pursuits as well. Get more details on this lens in the video below by tombo1bo.
This is also an excellent lens choice for video recording.
It’s compact and lightweight, so you don’t feel like you’re carrying a super-heavy kit around as you record. The aforementioned f/1.8 aperture gives you the ability to shoot in dim lighting with great success as well.
Additionally, since this lens has manual aperture control, you can make on-the-fly depth of field adjustments as you shoot in live view. The result is a gorgeous transition from focusing on foreground to background elements, or vice versa.
Though this lens is now discontinued and you can’t purchase new ones, there are loads of used versions available. For one in excellent condition, expect to spend about $300.00. That’s not bad at all considering the excellent optics and build quality of this lens.