The first lens I received from eBay was not the first — or even the second — lens I bought off eBay. Indeed, waking up to realize I’d bought this lens in a moment of impatient insomnia was like one of those drunken memories you’re not entirely sure you’re happy with when you wake up. In this case, I wasn’t 100% sure which lens I’d even bought: the title of the listing said “80-200 AF-ED (non-D),” which could have been either AF-S or the original AF. At a glance I obviously didn’t want the original AF, and the AF-S was pictured, and well, you can see where this story is going. Knowing who the seller was, I even went and tried to figure out based on online samples which lens I’d bought — so I could prepare myself either way — but with no luck.
Spoiler alert: I don’t like this lens, but the lens was returnable, and that’s where it went.
So I’m new to this and I’m sure my format will evolve over time, but for now, I’m just gonna try to break it down into some basics:
Lens: Nikon 80-200 AF ED, circa 1990.
Pros: Weoponized my D90. Took some nice handheld shots of the moon. Occasionally delivered another nice shot.
Cons: It’s heavy — uncomfortably so on the D90. It’s doable on the D300, but not pleasant. The push pull zoom is very loose and slides and thumps back and forth when I put the lens at my side or pick it up. The focus limiting ring on the copy I used was pretty janky, to the point that I’d fear it would break with moderate use.
The copy I used had a scratch on the front element which didn’t seem to *hurt* things, but it certainly didn’t help its case. Also on the cosmetic scale, the handgrip looked like it’d had a bath in baking soda. Both of these cosmetic issues were listed in the ebay listing, and the seller also claimed that he had included photos of his actual lens in the listing at some point (I never saw them,) but that’s not really the point: I’d be totally fine with the cosmetic problems if I *otherwise* liked the lens, which I didn’t. When weighing whether or not I was going to keep the lens, they definitely fell into the “also not to not have” column.
The lens ghosted and was otherwise washed out when shooting in many situations — poor contrast pretty much all of the time. The lens came with a filter (and no lens cap), but the filter seemed to just make the ghosting and flaring worse in some tests in my apartment, so I didn’t even try to shoot with it in the wild.
Autofocus was slow and loud and indecisive on certain subjects — also known issues with this lens, and also nice to not have.
It didn’t actually come with the tripod collar, which makes it unusable on a tripod — which, given everything else, is the one scenario I could have maybe imagined using it.
Annoying twist aperture lock. No manual focus override. As above, “nice to not haves,” not deal breakers by themselves.
Conclusion: In aggregate, this lens was simply not worth the effort to try and use given its keeper rate and other optical qualities that were only “meh” in my eyes. I was hoping I could at least use it at baseball games, but I’m not excited by it enough to even try, even for the relatively moderate price I paid for it. I’m happy with my 70-300 VR for now, and maybe some day I’ll find some better options for baseball. If I didn’t already have a 70-300, and an 85 f/1.8, and a 105 f/2.8, and a 135 f/2.0, then my calculus on keeping this lens would have been totally different, but as is, it simply wasn’t the best use of my money or effort.
Lessons learned: if you’re gonna buy something stupid on eBay, check the return policy. Given my lens coverage, the only reasonable lens to augment the long end at this point is probably some 70-200, maybe something like the “Bigma,” or maybe a 180 f/2.8, 200 f/2.0, or 200 f/4.0 macro.