NikonUSA, the Puffer Fish

(commentary)

Go to Nikon's Japanese Web site and you'll find 71 modern lenses and 8 older manual focus lenses: 79 lenses. 

Go to NikonUSA's Web site and you'll find the opportunity to "view all 94 D-SLR Camera Lenses." 

Say what? Is the US getting a bunch of new lenses the rest of the world isn't?

Nope. (Well, okay, if you believe the NikonUSA Web site you'll see we get a manual focus 2.8mm lens. Oops. Someone entered a lot of data wrong.) 

nikonusadb.jpg

If you look carefully, you'll find a bunch of lenses with a "B" at the end of their model number. Lenses with that designation:

  • 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR DX
  • 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED DX
  • 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED DX (older)
  • 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR DX (older) 
  • 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED VR
  • 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED (older)
  • 50mm f/1.8D
  • 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED DX (older)
  • 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED VR DX
  • 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR (older)
  • 85mm f/3.5G ED VR DX Micro 
  • 300mm f/2.8D AF-S II (older)
  • 500mm f/4G ED VR 


Where I've indicated (older) these are lenses of an older than current model. I'm basing that off of the model number, though, and there are a lot of errors in the database entries, so I can't be 100% sure that these designations are correct. Where the lens is the same as one currently offered, you can see a substantive discount. For example, the 50mm f/1.8D model #2137 is US$135 while the #2137B version is US$100. 

Say what? (again)

The B models are refurbished. I have no idea where this inventory came from—and it includes some high end lenses that have been out of production for awhile—but apparently NikonUSA sucked it up from somewhere, pronounced it good, and is now selling it. 

But why are these refurbished lenses in the "new" lens database? If NikonUSA were being consistent, they'd need B designators for all the lenses, and then we'd have "173 D-SLR Camera Lenses"! 

Seems unethical to me to pretend these are current lenses (admittedly, a few are, but why they'd need a refurbished entry in the database when other current lenses don't have one, I don't know). A number of them are not. They're lenses probably never sold previously, but were found in a warehouse or returned to Nikon by some dealer/distributor that went under and refurbished. 

As usual, I give advice when NikonUSA makes deals on products. First, be aware that these are refurbished. NikonUSA does not point out that this impacts warranty on any of the data pages that come up. You have to go to the warranty page on the site to find that these will all be covered by 90-day warranties only. (I would point out to the NikonUSA folk reading this site that the warranty page in question is actually contradictory. Refurbished Products have 90-day warranties, but Nikkor Lenses are claimed to "also include free Four-Year Extended Service Coverage." Refurbished products should be disclaimed in that section to be consistent and not form false impressions.) 

So, if you can stand a 90-day warranty, are any of these lenses worth looking at? Yes, one in particular: the 300mm f/2.8 at US$4000. If the database entry isn't incorrect, this is a very good price for a darned fine lens. Just make sure you test the heck out of it during the warranty period to make sure it doesn't need adjustment. The 500mm f/4 at US$7700 is interesting, but a bit too pricey to be considered a true bargain. Finally, for DX users, the older 70-200mm f/2.8 is preferable to the new one simply because it's sharp enough in the central imaging region and doesn't have focal length breathing like the new one. 

There are some clunkers to avoid here, though: the older 18-200mm, 18-55m, and 55-200mm, plus the 24-120mm all are under performers to other options, including newer versions of those lenses. 

All the rest I'd just consider the same as any old refurbished lens. If you can tolerate the loss of almost five years of warranty to get the lower price, go for it. 

But puffing up the database like this? Not so nice NikonUSA. Five of those lenses are current and shouldn't have been added back into the database as a refurbished option unless you're going to do that with everything, and then you should make it totally clear from the get go that they are refurbished on the database page. 

© Thom Hogan 2013 / All Rights Reserved bythom.com  @bythom #bythom