My lens broke down so I am in a market for a new one. Ideally I would love to purchase one lens for both macro (I photograph jewelry) and portraits (I am an amateur striving for a creamy bokeh). I narrowed down my choice to two lenses and my understanding is Nikon 105mm f/2.8D delivers perfect clarity and NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G takes beautiful portraits. Which one would you choose?

Also, would you ever buy a used lenses with a condition rated 10 from a reputable photography store?

2 Answers 2


As lens choices are very individual, what other people like may not but what you like. Perhaps you can rent or borrow each of these, and decide which suits you most.

On your second question, I have bought a lot of used equipment - over the years, two camera bodies and four lenses I am pleased with (and one camera body I returned, and one lens I wish I could return). Do make sure you can return your purchase without being out of pocket, if it does not fulfill expectations. (This means not making a mistake I made once, of shipping across borders that involved having to pay an import tax!)


Which type of photography will you be doing more of? If macro, I'd get the 105mm. If portrait, I'd get the 85mm and supplement it with a set of extension tubes to allow very close focusing. Disclaimer: Although I used to own the 85mm, I never tried using extension tubes with it. They work better with some lenses than others.

If you choose the 85mm, look for extension tubes that support autofocus for AF-S lenses. These have all of the CPU contacts required to pass the full set of signals to AF-S lenses from the body and vice versa. You can find them on Amazon and eBay.

Ideally, though, you should get the 85mm for portrait AND a real macro lens. You don't need a macro lens that autofocuses. As long as the camera is supported (e.g., on a tabletop tripod) and the subject doesn't move, manually focusing a macro lens is easy. I highly recommend the Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 AI-S lens. This lens is still available new, but you can find used ones on eBay and elsewhere for $100-$150. With the 55mm, you'll need to get closer to the subject than with the 105mm for the same magnification, but I don't think that's a problem for jewelry. The only caveat: since this is a non-CPU lens, it won't support metering or autoexposure on lower-end bodies like the D3x00 and D5x00 series.

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