Nikon 35mm f/1.8 G AF-S DX – About not buying camera lens and, also, about my new camera lens

I told you countless times that I don’t intend to buy camera lens, and I actually gave some reasons for this.

Well, the day before yesterday, in the evening, I went to F64 to talk to some consultants. One guy told me some basic :) stuff, like:

  • “18-55?” (kit lens) – “Do you take photos for just playing? Are you just having fun?”.
  • “You know, as a photographer you need to use your elbow” (referring to the fact that I intended to shoot from a far distance and get a quality photo. It just doesn’t work this way, it seems.) :)
  • “For what you need, zoom + light, you need to invest quite a lot in a flash + zoom lens”.
  • “The cheapest alternative is to buy this thing:

So, I went home, and did some research.

I looked for:

  • What kind of lens I need for filming indoor events? (first search)
  • Are the above lens really good for the task I need them?
  • Are the above lens a good investment of money?
  • (important!) Look for negative stuff – what are people complaining about – I’ve read about these mostly on Amazon.
  • Should I buy new or old?

Some answers to the above questions:

  • For indoor events, you either need a good flash, or lens which handle low-light situation. My lens are a good match for this.
  • There are some alternatives to my lens:
    • “Here we see the 35mm F1.8G between two other modern primes. On the left is the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G, a fast standard prime for the FX format released just a few months earlier, and one the right is the lens’s most obvious competitor, the Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM (this particular example is in Canon mount). As can be seen, the 35mm is the smallest of theses lenses, although not by much; it’s also the lightest and the cheapest. Of course against that it gives up two thirds of a stop in brightness compared to the F1.4 lenses, and sacrifices the focus distance scale.” (source)
  • For what I need them to do, my lens do fine.
  • The lens I bought are cheap, (relatively) good quality (much better than the kit lens, I’ve been told), and, all-in-all, a best buy (things get so complicated in the lens world between what you need a lens to do and what it actually does, that just looking at it price vs. quality is irrelevant. You can get a cheap lens with good quality, but if it’s useless to you, you’ve done a poor choice).
  • I decided I’ll look into some old lens, rather than new.

Reasons for considering my lens to be top notch:

  • First, I’m a beginner, and I don’t want to spent countless hours looking at photos over the Internet, so the decision was externalized. “What would others do?”. Let’s find out.
  • I’ve read some reviews, they were mostly praising the lens for some reasons (cons, for my perspective – lack of zoom only. It’s typical for a type of lens like this, but it’s a minus, nevertheless).
  • Errr, I did a mistake, I see now. The mistake goes like this:
    • This category: Electronics › Camera & Photo › Lenses › Digital Camera Lenses lists as the most popular products some various lenses, my lens isn’t even on the list.
    • If I pick, for this category: Lens Mount Compatibility – Nikon, I should get the same results, only filtered, right? This is how it is supposed to work: category – 20 results. Category with filter – 10 results, ordered in the same way.
    • The thing is, Amazon changes stuff and in the filtered option of the category, my lens are on the second place of the most popular lenses (I’m not sure if that’s measured by views or by purchases). Oops, it seems that my lens aren’t actually on the second place as the most sought-after lens on Amazon.com’s web site. They have a weird way of showing things, and I haven’t checked enough.
    • OK, it’s a 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com product, it’s not that bad. It has 640 customer reviews, so it’s quite popular. The negative comments weren’t all that bad, so it was pretty OK, after all.
    • Also, I can sort the products by “Average customer review”, and my product shines quite well (top three positions on both categories listed above – with filters and with no filters).
  • I’m happy that F64 now lists product especially on top sales. I think it’s a good decision, they didn’t have the option until recently. Most bought lens – mine.
  • eMAG – well, it’s somewhere in there, but not a hugely popular sale on eMAG.
  • Costin bought the product.
  • I’ve read a lot of reviews, both on forums and by specialized web sites.
  • Yesterday evening, I had three factors – F64 (dedicated to photographers), Amazon (general, but still, if a lot of people vote with their money, they tend to vote rather well) and eMAG (general – same principle as Amazon). OK, out of the three, only on eMAG the product was not on top, so I thought I should buy the lens. Now, it’s only F64.
  • Generally, the above logic is false – what is a good logic is for me to test the product in top conditions, then test some other products, and see if it fits. First of all, this kind of logic is hugely, immensely, time consuming. Then, until I get good at reviewing everything I buy, I will actually make stupider choices by thinking for myself. If I would be a experienced photographer, if I would have tested a lot of products – sure, I would have made a better decisions. But with the current information, I think it’s best to rely on other people’s judgment. It’s certainly not a flawless logic – “If 10,000 people buy it, they must be right, right?” Well, no. People buy tabloids. They spend their time watching sports on TV. They buy from Mac. They buy cigarettes & smoke. A lot of the choices, even if they are costly, are not necessarily smart. But with my restrictions – spending only a limited amount of time on research & just buy the thing, OK, in that case perhaps it’s better to rely on other people’s opinion.
  • … and two review (source 1 and source two):

1 – For low-light, no-flash shooting, I use the Nikon 35mm f1.8 lens (about $197) instead. It’s what I use most of the time. I zoom with my feet, and prefer its low-light abilities compared to a zoom.

2 – This is a wonderful lens, and for only $200, every DX shooter deserves one of these. This could be the only lens you ever need for a DX camera.

Why haven’t I asked other people on what to buy?
  • The seller from F64 told me that on the Internet you get a lot of noise, not only real value. He claimed that people say what they would love to buy, not really what they do buy. (he also suggested me to try – Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G & Nikon Speedlight SB-700 & Nikon Speedlight SB-910)
  • Had I asked 4 people, I would have gotten 4 different answers, probably. The answer of finding out which one is the true one is really not a passion to me.
  • I’m happy with getting 80% of what I can get by researching much more by researching just enough.
  • The trouble with camera lens is that:
    • You have to know a lot about a lot of lens.
    • You have to understand well the client’s needs.
    • You have to also be good with prices (it’s one thing to recommend a 720 lei lens and another to recommend a 2,000 lei one).
  • I think that for the above combination, the seller from F64 was the right person to ask for more information.
What changed my mind about the lens?
  • First, the price. I would not pay the value of my camera one more time, to get better pictures. I’m sure a lens which is very expensive takes better photos than the kit lens. I’m very sure. But I’m not willing to pay this price.
  • Second, the affirmation that I’m rather an amateur photographer at events if I shoot with the kit lens in low light conditions and standard flash. This hurt. :)
  • Third, the specific abilities of the lens – good in low light (I don’t need to buy the flash also), good quality, good compromise (I can perfectly understand that I need to be close to the subject to take good photos, even if this means that, at some conferences I will actually make either very poor photos with this lens + crop the image or I will have to disturb some people and move around with my camera). And all for a good price.
  • I was willing, even before, to pay 700 lei to get a good improvement on my lens. This was a fair price. But when I read on the Internet, “basic” improvement included a lens which started from 1,100 de lei and for that lens you also needed a Flash, so 2,000 lei and you got, out of this, a minimum. Too much.

About the buying process.

  • First, I looked around and saw that the prices range between 760 lei to 840 lei (more or less). If I wanted to buy from (what I perceive as) a quality store, I would pay 800 lei for the lens.
  • Then I looked at second-hand. I’ve read recently that I should buy from professionals (photographers), rather than amateurs (they tend not to care about the camera / lens that much). So, I headed for Nikoniști.ro’s forums. One was selling his lens with a 50 lei discount. Brand new, but still, it’s a very small discount. If they were relatively new, they were like 650 lei for the lens. 550 lei was for old lenses.
  • I went to eMAG resigilate (refurbished) and found a product for 730 lei. Considering it came with a bag & a filter, the value was more like 650 lei.
  • I could have waited for a discount time for the lens, they’re usually 100 lei less, and the extra products (lens + bag, let’s say) are very small in that case, for this type of lens. So, if I waited I could have got the lens at 700 lei.
  • So, five options:
    • Buy now, new, with 800 lei.
    • Wait to buy new with 700 lei (+ filter, let’s say).
    • Buy now really old with 550 lei,
    • Buy now relatively new, but second hand with 600-650 lei.
    • Buy now with 650 lei (after you take the bag & filter) from eMAG refurbished, with warranty and option to return within a timeframe (10 days it says on the bill, but it’s still 30 days, like for the usual products).
  • OK, to me eMAG refurbished was the best option.

About the product:

  • The bag was untouched before.
  • The lens filter seemed new.
  • The lens seemed new.
  • The product was, all-in-all in very very good condition. Very good.

About my handling of the product:

  • Within one hour of putting the lens on the camera, I dropped the camera and the lens have a small mark now. :) So much for returning the product (if it’s the case) intact. The lens seem to be fine otherwise, they work fine, so not too many worries.
  • I put the filter and a sun cover only after I got home, I should have prepared better for a drop. :)

Quality?

  • I’ve taken just one batch of photos, the quality seems to be much better.
  • I’ll probably come up with a later review of the lens. :)

Conclusions?

  • I feel a bit bad for talking with F64 and buying from eMAG instead. It’s not that ethical. On the other hand, I just put some questions, it wasn’t a contract between me and the store – “I’ll buy from you”. I guess I’ll link to them more.
  • One person told me that F64 have an insurance for the camera + lens. Yes, but it’s only for that kit, not if I buy lens only. Also, Lifehacker generally advise against stuff like that, although I’ve read a lot of comments on their site with clients very being happy with the extra warranty, from personal experiences. I bought some IT stuff along the years and rareley if ever I needed warranty, and when I needed there were instances which didn’t cover it, so it’s not that much of a fuss.
  • The lens seem fine, just now, and it didn’t cost me that much, I can shoot without flash.
  • I have to think what to do with the old lens. I can keep them for not caring about them and taking them to the mountains (with that much light, they handle it OK, and you do have a basic zoom), or I can sell them, but they’re only 500 lei when new, and pretty much every new camera sold comes with lens like these. On the other hand, they actually seem to be one of the most sold type of lens. Puzzling, to me. Also, they seem, looking in perspective, quite a poor choice.
  • At some point, I regretted not buying a kit 18-55 with 55-200 for 200 lei more than my current kit (body + 18-55). Strictly financially, buying 55-200 new and selling it for at least 600 lei second-hand the next day would have been a wise choice. On the other hand, I’ve read not-so-good things about the lens itself, so the lens doesn’t attract me that much.

So, go and get:

I am a Digital Marketing Manager for The KPI Institute. My expertise is in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) / UX (user experience) / WordPress. Co-founder of lumeaseoppc.ro (series of events on SEO & PPC) and cetd.ro (Book on branding for MDs). On a personal level, I like self-development - events, sports, healthy living, volunteering, reading, watching movies, listening to music.

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