You Don’t Have to Break the Bank
I bought my favorite Nikkor lenses “new” 10-16 years ago. (I have been a Nikon shooter for a long time.) The technical quality of the images produced from these old lenses is consistently excellent. It is usually "user error" when I am dissatisfied. Thus my recommendation for those of you who cannot afford to buy new is to buy a high quality lens used, even a much older lens.
Buying refurbished equipment is also another consideration. One of my favorite lenses for ease of use and flexibility, particularly in low light, is a 50mm 1.8 prime Nikkor lens, which I purchased new last year for less than $140 (U.S. dollars). I just noticed it is available refurbished by Nikon for $99. It is an incredible lens for the price.
Of course buying new would be my preference, but until I win the lottery, my next camera will probably also be “gently used” .
FYI, all of my images on this page are from one of my oldest lenses, shot with my Nikon D300. I don't remember when I bought the lens, but it is at least 16 years old.
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Photo credits: Adeliepenguin.