Manual Focus

I had a welcome little payout from Getty Images a couple of weeks ago and decided to use some of it to buy the Nikon 50mm f1.2 ai-s manual focus lens I have long wanted.  With many of Nikon's lenses now being made in China with mainly plastics used in their construction, a 'traditional' manual focus lens is something of a rarity.  This lens is still listed by Nikon and I was pleased to be able to order it whilst it's still available.  A bit of searching the web revealed fluctuating prices, anywhere up to £800+ on Amazon, which is an outrageous price for a 50mm, even a fast 50!  I found  H Dew Cameras website  and they were advertising the lens at £409 including p&p.

As I'd never heard of them before, I called their number to find out more about them and where they source their stock.  I spoke to a very polite person who confirmed that they are an established bricks-and-mortar shop and, as I suspected, the lens and other photographic equipment they advertise is imported through unofficial channels.  In other words some of their stocks are 'grey imports'.

H Dew Cameras offer their own 12 month guarantee and repairs if required are undertaken by Nikon approved repairers.   I was given a lead time of 3-5 days for delivery.  At a little over half the advertised cost of an officially imported 50mm f1.2, I couldn't resist the lure of the grey import.  I ordered the lens and it arrived today, well-packaged in the usual Nikon gold box and with all the expected paperwork, except the 'official' yellow Nikon UK cards.

Does it matter that I have bypassed official Nikon UK channels? From my point of view, I've never had a Nikon ai-s manual lens break or develop a fault or need any kind of repair in nearly 40 years of photography.  This lens is built like a brick,  in the same way that Nikon carved out their reputation for quality and durability. Feeling the weight of the glass and metal construction when taking it out of the box was reassuring and, unlike the Chinese-made plastic bodied lenses of today, harks back to a time when lenses were built to last throughout a lifetime of professional use.   I've already tested it on a Nikon D4.   It is sharp enough at f1.2 and very sharp one stop down at f2, which of course is why I wanted it.  I have absolute faith that this lens will be around and working perfectly well for several decades as long as Nikon continue to build cameras that can utilise manual lenses.

Most high street camera shops have now disappeared and the blame is usually pointed towards internet pricing.  Grey importing has been around for many years, long before the internet which has made the world a much smaller place, so inevitably there are casualties.  In fact, many camera retailers never stood a chance in the face of online trading.  As noble as it may be to support official outlets, money talks and I would guess most people would eschew noble principles for their own financial benefit in such a purchase.  It's a quality lens at a price that is a reasonable one to pay.  The 'official' price is not reasonable and doomed to fail.