Around 10 years ago, I was visiting a camera shop in Bangkok well known for its good selection of used lenses. I was looking for a good telephoto lens to supplement the Tamron 24-135mm and Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 that were the lenses I owned for the relatively recently acquired Fuji S3, my first DSLR after 30+ years with an Olympus OM-1.
The lens that first caught my attention was a nice Nikkor 300mm f/4 priced at around $600, more or less the maximum amount I could afford at the time. But there were more lenses to choose from, and soon, I noticed two copies of the 80-200 AF-S, one in mint condition and one that seemed to have a lot of "experience". Having been using Olympus SLR cameras for decades, large zoom lenses was rather unknown territory to me, but the friendly guy at the shop indicated strongly that these were very good lenses. So, after cleaning out the tiniest little spec of dust from the deeps of my wallet, I managed to gather the $900 that was the asking price for the giant metal tube thing, the cheapest of the two obviously.
10 years and 7 camera bodies later, it looks more banged up than ever, the hood is attached by velcro tape that is peeling off and the repair shop refuses to service it for fear that it won't work after re-assembly. I don't know how many photos that I've taken with this lens, but it's easily a seven digit number. It's been to car races, air shows, festivals etc. and travelled to most of the countries that I've been to during these years. I use it as a walk-around street lens frequently, and it balances so perfectly on the D810 that I often walk with the camera and lens hanging from two fingers only. At f/4, it's totally sharp, corner to corner, at all focal lengths. Other apertures are mostly for emergencies. It focuses like a steam train charging through the Siberian tundra and works flawlessly on any F-mount body I have ever used.
I've considered changing it for the newer, lighter and in most respects better 70-200 f/4, I bought a 180mm f/2.8 earlier this year to use when I think I don't need the zoom, I have two 70-300 plastic things but, but... I mostly come back to this marvel of a lens. Even if it doesn't really make sense, I consider buying another 80-200 AF-S, one in mint condition, which is probably cheaper than re-building the old one when it finally gives up. I don't know how the old banger would feel about that though, so it's on hold for the time being.
When used for street photography, it works as a statement, scary to some, flattering to others, but in any case, nobody doubt that I'm taking their photo. Stealthy, it's not. Here, from General Santos City last Sunday, locals waiting for the big parade:
D810 with 80-200 AF-S @ 200mm and f/4