In the market for a pre-owned prime? These classics are worth trying.

Photo: MPB If you feel stuck in a creative rut, one of the best ways to improve your skills and expand your photography is by picking up a classic used lens (or three). If you've got a modern mirrorless camera, or even an older DSLR, there are countless options to try. Not sure where to start? We teamed up with MPB, the largest global platform to buy, sell and trade used photo and video gear, to point you in the right direction. MPB is known for its attention to detail – its product specialists inspect and photograph every single lens so you can see what you're getting and purchase with confidence thanks to the brand’s six-month warranty. The best part? If you need to make room in the gear closet before pulling the trigger on a new-to-you lens, you can sell and trade in used gear, too. With that in mind, let's take a trip into the past to find some lenses that are truly timeless. Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM Photo: MPB Who says something timeless needs to cost a fortune? Canon's fast fifty from the 90s has a softer character wide open, but gets nicely sharp when stopped down — and it can be had for a song. It's still excellent on Canon's DSLRs, but with an adapter, it's also usable on a modern RF-mount mirrorless body, too. Buy Now at MPB Zeiss Otus 85mm F1.4 T* APO Planar Photo: MPB While this lens is from the 21st century, you won't find any autofocus motors, OLED screens, or other fancy modern accouterments adorning its simple, curvy form. Instead, Zeiss put all its engineering prowess into the Otus 85mm's apochromatic optics, and trusts you can do your own focusing. Sure, it’s not sealed against the elements, and it is big and heavy, but the sharpness is hard to beat. Buy Now at MPB SMC Pentax-FA 31mm F1.8 AL Limited Photo: MPB Somewhere between 28mm and 35mm is this Pentax SLR lens, one of the famous FA Limited lenses. It's all-metal, has a handsome built-in hood, and is touted for its rendering of subjects on digital and film camera bodies. This lens is useful for street photography, architecture, and landscapes alike. Buy Now at MPB Nikon Micro Nikkor 105mm F2.8 AI-S Photo: MPB If you need to get close to your subjects – like 314mm away – this widely-praised macro is a solid buy. While it’s not super fast, the 105mm is known for being consistently sharp when wide open or stopped down, making it a versatile pick for insects, plants, and product photography. Buy Now at MPB Leica 35mm F2 ASPH Summicron-M Photo: MPB Leica lenses are known for high performance and premium build quality. The F2 Summicron-M, as its name suggests, is for Leica's rangefinders but can also be used with adapters on just about any mirrorless camera. With its single aspherical element and compact size, it's one of the great lenses for street photography. Buy Now at MPB Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Zeiss Sonnar T* Photo: MPB One of the earliest lenses made for Sony's full-frame mirrorless system, the FE 55mm is a real peach. With all-metal construction on the outside, this is a sharp and fast prime that will earn its place in the camera bag of anyone who owns a Sony mirrorless camera. Buy Now at MPB Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art (DG HSM for DSLR, DG DN for mirrorless) Photo: MPB An instant classic since its introduction in 2012, Sigma's fast and sharp 35mm Art is available for just about every mount you could want, both mirrorless and DSLR. It won DPReview's Gold Award back then, and optically it's everything you'd want from a standard prime, staying wicked sharp even at F1.4. Buy Now at MPB Fujifilm XF 56mm F1.2 R APD Photo: MPB If you're a Fujifilm fan, you need to try this 84mm-equivalant portrait beast. With a special apodizing filter and Fujifilm's pixie dust all over it, the XF 56mm F1.2 R APD almost guarantees incredible portraits with sharp subjects and creamy, dreamy bokeh. Buy Now at MPB Canon EF 200mm F1.8L Photo: MPB If you have the money and the upper body strength, the legendary "Eye of Sauron" 200mm F1.8L from Canon is as hefty as it is impressive. Whether you're shooting action or using it to obliterate the backgrounds from full-body portraits, this is a lens that has no equal. Buy Now at MPB

Feb 27, 2024 - 22:50
 0  4
In the market for a pre-owned prime? These classics are worth trying.
Photo: MPB

If you feel stuck in a creative rut, one of the best ways to improve your skills and expand your photography is by picking up a classic used lens (or three). If you've got a modern mirrorless camera, or even an older DSLR, there are countless options to try. Not sure where to start? We teamed up with MPB, the largest global platform to buy, sell and trade used photo and video gear, to point you in the right direction.

MPB is known for its attention to detail – its product specialists inspect and photograph every single lens so you can see what you're getting and purchase with confidence thanks to the brand’s six-month warranty. The best part? If you need to make room in the gear closet before pulling the trigger on a new-to-you lens, you can sell and trade in used gear, too. With that in mind, let's take a trip into the past to find some lenses that are truly timeless.

Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM

Photo: MPB

Who says something timeless needs to cost a fortune? Canon's fast fifty from the 90s has a softer character wide open, but gets nicely sharp when stopped down — and it can be had for a song. It's still excellent on Canon's DSLRs, but with an adapter, it's also usable on a modern RF-mount mirrorless body, too.

Zeiss Otus 85mm F1.4 T* APO Planar

Photo: MPB

While this lens is from the 21st century, you won't find any autofocus motors, OLED screens, or other fancy modern accouterments adorning its simple, curvy form. Instead, Zeiss put all its engineering prowess into the Otus 85mm's apochromatic optics, and trusts you can do your own focusing. Sure, it’s not sealed against the elements, and it is big and heavy, but the sharpness is hard to beat.

SMC Pentax-FA 31mm F1.8 AL Limited

Photo: MPB

Somewhere between 28mm and 35mm is this Pentax SLR lens, one of the famous FA Limited lenses. It's all-metal, has a handsome built-in hood, and is touted for its rendering of subjects on digital and film camera bodies. This lens is useful for street photography, architecture, and landscapes alike.

Nikon Micro Nikkor 105mm F2.8 AI-S

Photo: MPB

If you need to get close to your subjects – like 314mm away – this widely-praised macro is a solid buy. While it’s not super fast, the 105mm is known for being consistently sharp when wide open or stopped down, making it a versatile pick for insects, plants, and product photography.

Leica 35mm F2 ASPH Summicron-M

Photo: MPB

Leica lenses are known for high performance and premium build quality. The F2 Summicron-M, as its name suggests, is for Leica's rangefinders but can also be used with adapters on just about any mirrorless camera. With its single aspherical element and compact size, it's one of the great lenses for street photography.

Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Zeiss Sonnar T*

Photo: MPB

One of the earliest lenses made for Sony's full-frame mirrorless system, the FE 55mm is a real peach. With all-metal construction on the outside, this is a sharp and fast prime that will earn its place in the camera bag of anyone who owns a Sony mirrorless camera.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art (DG HSM for DSLR, DG DN for mirrorless)

Photo: MPB

An instant classic since its introduction in 2012, Sigma's fast and sharp 35mm Art is available for just about every mount you could want, both mirrorless and DSLR. It won DPReview's Gold Award back then, and optically it's everything you'd want from a standard prime, staying wicked sharp even at F1.4.

Fujifilm XF 56mm F1.2 R APD

Photo: MPB

If you're a Fujifilm fan, you need to try this 84mm-equivalant portrait beast. With a special apodizing filter and Fujifilm's pixie dust all over it, the XF 56mm F1.2 R APD almost guarantees incredible portraits with sharp subjects and creamy, dreamy bokeh.

Canon EF 200mm F1.8L

Photo: MPB

If you have the money and the upper body strength, the legendary "Eye of Sauron" 200mm F1.8L from Canon is as hefty as it is impressive. Whether you're shooting action or using it to obliterate the backgrounds from full-body portraits, this is a lens that has no equal.

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