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Top 3 Nikon F Mount Lenses Under $500

By Anthony Thurston on June 11th 2015

Just as we did yesterday with our ‘Top 3 Under $500’ post for Canon’s EF Mount, today we are taking a look at some of the best value available to Nikon F Mount Shooters. The hard part with Nikon is the fact that some many of their vintage lenses are still usable on their newest bodies.

Just as with our Canon article, we are limiting this post to full frame or FX lenses only, and we will revisit this topic later looking at APS-C or DX lenses specifically. The other caveat to this list is that we will be looking at modern lenses only, since the majority of Nikon’s old manual focus vintage glass could probably fall in the ‘under $500’ criteria.

1. Nikon 50mm F/1.4G – $419

nikon-50-14

Just as with our Canon post, we begin our Nikon list with a 50mm. The difference being, we actually hold the Nikon 50mm F/1.4G in a high regard, unlike the Canon 50mm f/1.4, so on this list Nikon’s 50mm F/1.4G makes the cut – barely.

That being said, the Nikon 50mm F/1.8G is also an excellent option for those who want to save a little more and are not worried about a little extra light, and slightly beefier build.

You can find the Nikon 50mm F/1.4G over on B&H now for $419.

2. Nikon 24mm F/2.8D – $359

nikon-24-28-d

 

If you are looking for a relatively fast and fairly wide prime with auto focus, then look no further than the Nikon 24mm F/2.8D. This lens is sharp, has an excellent image quality, and while it may not be a low light demon, its F/2.8 aperture should be plenty for most situations.

There are, of course, other faster and wider primes available under out $500 mark, but most, if not all, of these, either fall into the ‘Vintage Nikon’ or ‘No AF’ category. Since we feel like most of you would probably like AF, this is your best best for a budget wide angle prime on the F mount.

You can pick one up today over on B&H for only $359.

3. Nikon 60mm Micro F/2.8D – $469

nikon-60mm-micro

It looks like we are going to be rounding out this Nikon listing with a micro (macro) lens as well. Though this time, a slightly wider one. Nikon’s 60mm Mirco is a great little macro lens that can make for a ton of fun on photo walks.

You could also go with the F Mount version of the Tokina 100mm macro that we featured in our Canon post, which would actually save you some money, but for this list, we decided to go with the Nikon branded macro lens.

You can get your hands on the Nikon 60mm Micro 2.8D today over on B&H for just $469.

What are your top three Nikon F Mount lenses under $500? Do you agree with our list, or do you have your own ideas? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Robert Eilers

    The 50mm 1.8d is a sharper lens then the 1.8g and way cheaper.

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    • Kyle Stauffer

      From my experience the 1.8g was sharper than the 1.8d. I’ve heard the 1.4g is softer than both.

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  2. Peter Nord

    Maybe the question ought to be how many really good manual focus lenses can you get for a total of $500 on eBay? I got a nice 20mm 2.8 for $250. Great for night sky photos with an infinity stop you can set in the dark.

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  3. Jay Protacio

    Call me an outlier, but I love my 35mm/2.0. I love the versatility of it and the image quality ain’t bad, either.

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  4. Uncle Bob

    As a Canon user I’ve always been curious about some of the older Nikon auto focus primes like the 24mm f/2.8D, the 20mm f/2.8D, 35mm f/2D, 135/2.D, etc. I’ve heard people talk about how sharp they all are but I wonder about the auto focus…. The Canon primes from that era (24/2.8, 28/2.8, 35/2.0) with no USM focusing are solid in image quality but focus really loud and struggle in low light pretty badly.

    Is it similar with the Nikons?

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    • Alan Peterson

      The screw-drive AF lenses were pretty noisy (which was all of the AF and AF-D lenses, save for a few of the more recent high-end D telephotos). The only one I ever owned was the 50mm f/1.4D, which did fairly well in low light but was loud enough to scare animals while focusing.

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    • Mihaela Edreva-Valkareva

      I have the 35d f2. It is loud, yes. It’s not very sharp at f2, it gets better at f4. It does struggle in low light, I tried it at a wedding, but it didn’t focus at all during the dark reception. I used my D7000 and 35 1.8dx instead, it was fast and accurate. So the 35f2 I use for street and indoor lifestyle family photo shoots. I hope this helps. And I hope one day to be able to afford the Sigma 35 1.4 Art, which unfortunately is not under 500 :D

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  5. Jesper Ek

    My Tamron 90 mm Macro will make the list for me as well.

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  6. Kristopher Galuska

    I was thinking of the nikon24mm 2.8. Is it really that good? I was also interested in the sigma 24 1.8 but it has mixed reviews.

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  7. Alan Peterson

    If discontinued lenses are kosher for this list, I’d these:
    -Tokina/Vivitar 90mm f/2.5 macro: An amazingly sharp lens for its age with beautiful rendering and dramatic flaring
    -Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 AI-s: Cheap, sharp and makes attractive images
    -Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AI-s: A sharp wide angle with minimal distortion

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    • Kyle Stauffer

      The old 135 2.8 AI-s is also a great used option

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    • Derek Schwartz

      I have the Ai-S 28mm f2, and it’s great. Along with the 85mm AI f2.

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    • Alan Peterson

      I’ve heard great things about the 28mm F2 AI-s too, Derek. I had the AI version and wasn’t thrilled with it, but it got an optical redesign for the AI-s version.

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  8. Kyle Stauffer

    I’ve never used the 50mm 1.4. I’ve heard many say they like the 1.8g better for the sharper images at almost half the price. I saw a video from Matt Granger long ago that reviewed the two and he actually said he was going to sell the 1.4 and keep the 1.8.

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  9. Stephen Jennings

    The 50mm 1.4 was the first lens I bought for my full frame system, and is still constantly used, especially for portraits.

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  10. J. Dennis Thomas

    Just pointing this out in case anyone gets confused. The lens in the photo is a 28mm f/2.8D. The 28mm f/2.8D is an absolutely HORRIBLE lens.

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  11. Paul Empson

    50 f1.8D
    85 f/1.8G

    two of my face lenses..

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Yeah, the 85mm F/1.8G is a great ‘Under $500 Lens” as well. Only thin keeping it off this list was that I didn’t want to have all three lenses be basically right at the $500 mark. So the 85 got bumped for the 24, if this was a top 5, the 85 would most definitely have been on it.

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    • Paul Empson

      faVe lenses… fave lenses… mobile phone micro keyboards!

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  12. Jesper Ek

    I agree on the 50mm 1:4 but for the rest I need to ponder a bit more…

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