Vintage Lenses

An archive of some vintage Nikon glass worth a peak.

New is not always better.  One of my favorite DSLR lenses was an old 105 f2.5 Nikkor lens from the 70’s.  It was built like a tank, and the photos it produced were out of this world. Its the only lens I have regrets about selling.

Old Nikon lenses feature incredible build quality, and most importantly incredible glass for a fraction of what new lenses run for. They are often made of solid metal, with real rubber grips, and a feel to them that cant be beat by modern plastic versions.

Here are some of the gems I have found so far.  I dont own these lenses yet – its more of a vintage wishlist based on spending far to much time reading about others thoughts about these pieces of glass.


Nikon 35-70mm f/2.8 AF


80-200mm 2.8 AF


180mm f2.8 AF



200mm f4




Other Options + Notes

  • Nikon Nikkor 35-135 mm F/3.5-4.5 AF  $75 Used
  • NIKON NIKKOR 70-210MM F4  $200 Used
  • Vivitar Series 1 135mm 2.3 – $200


Nikon 35-70mm f/2.8 AF

It preceded the 28-70 f/2.8 and 24-70 f/2.8 and was not AFS, but equals it in IQ in my opinion and in build for half the price used. It was made up through 2006, so it’s not that old. I think any of these used Nikkors trumps the Tamrons or Sigmas here.

One nice thing about the Nikon 35-70 f/2.8 AFD over the 28-70 f/2.8 AFS is the size and weight. They don’t call the 28-70 f/2.8 “The Beast” for nothing. It is a beast of a lens, though optically excellent. I bought my 35-70 f/2.8 new towards the end of the film days and used it very little when Nikon only sold DX cameras. When I got my first FX model things changed and that old war horse came back into the kit and does a wonderful job and much smaller and lighter in the bargain without suffering any loss in build quality. At around $500 or less for an excellent copy, I think it’s a true Nikon bargain for mid range zooms.

This is a metal lens with rubber grip rings. Very little plastic here, yet fairly lightweight and handy for a pro-grade optic. It also has a somewhat useless pseudo macro mode at 35mm only.