Wasn’t planning this one.
I noticed an eBay listing for one of these lenses about a week ago. The price shot up early in the listing. So stupid for buyers to bid early on eBay.
But it got me interested. I’d read about this lens before and wanted one. It’s Nikon’s optimum answer to small-field indoor and night-time sports and for live performances in similar conditions (not too far away and indoor or night-time). If weight, size, and price are not a factor, this is the lens.
I found one listed in “Fair” condition on eBay for $2,531.98, with offers accepted. It looks cosmetically incredible though. Listing says:
This item is rated in Fair condition. That means that this item is between 65-75% of original condition. This item shows heavy wear and may have major cosmetic blemishes. The item has been fully tested as operational. The photographs are of the actual item for sale and this item only includes what you see in the photographs. The grade associated with this item reflects only the core item and not any accessories that may be included.
There is heavy internal dust and marks under the front element.
I can’t see problems in the listing’s photos. This seems to be cosmetically superior to lenses I’m seeing sold on eBay for $3,400 and $4,000.
Seller accepts returns. It’s a real shop that I’ve bought from before. Let’s do it. I used up all my offers working up to $2,400. Every offer below that price was automatically rejected.
I consider this about a thousand dollars below the used price a clean one of these lenses, at best. The wildcard is dust and “marks” “under the front elements”. Are the marks in the element, or outside — maybe it’s just the dust that’s inside and the exterior of the element is marred? If the front element really is messed up, I could send it to Nikon for repair. If that cost only $500, I’d consider the lens to still be a great deal. If the dust impacts photos, I could send it to Nikon for cleaning. Sometimes you need to get things cleaned. It’s okay.
Cosmetically, this does not appear to be in “Fair” condition. It appears to be in considerably better cosmetic condition. But we’ll see if the “Other Notes” points from the listing make this a bad situation.
This is a buy it and keep it kind of lens. (If I like it.) I think I’m going to like it.
B&H has laudatory user reviews: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/734998-USA/Nikon_2188_AF_S_NIKKOR_200mm_f_2_0.html/reviews
Ken Rockwell says good things: https://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/200mm-f2-vr-ii.htm
This is the newer model with slightly improved VR and, per that Rockwell analysis, unimportant coating improvement. Cool.
31 December 2022 11:35AM: It arrived last night. I opened it a few minutes ago. I see dust on the second element from the last element. Definitely there. Will it show up in photos (as blur or whatever)? I don’t know. Marks on the lens? I don’t see them. I just don’t. Cosmetic condition: Ridiculous. Perfection. It even came with this Don Zeck C3 lens cap I was considering getting: https://www.amazon.com/Don-Zeck-Nikon-200mm-300mm/dp/B0030I2T1C
Wowza! I got so lucky with this lens find. I consider that I saved about $900 to a thousand dollars over what I could/should have paid for it. It’s got some dust. So what?
2 January 2023: I’m excited to own this. I don’t have any new information or experience. But I think I got a $4,000-grade lens for $2,400. Time will tell. And eventually it won’t matter. As long as I use this and get results with it, the relevance and memory of the price will eventually melt away.