I Bought a Nikon 13mm f/5.6 AIS ‘Holy Grail’ Lens: Here’s the Unboxing

Late last Wednesday night, I was browsing the B&H Photo website looking for a refurbished Nikon D810. I entered “Nikon refurbished” as my search term, then sorted the results by price from high-to-low so that the D810 would float to the top. Lo and behold, right above the D810 as the first result was a “New Arrival” Nikon 13mm f/5.6 AI-S , refurbished with case.

Remembering Ken Rockwell’s “Holy Grail” article on this lens , my eyes nearly popped out of my head. The listing had no description and no photo, but after doing some research to make sure there was no other 13mm f/5.6 made by Nikon, I decided to pull the trigger and order the lens that night.

The next morning I called B&H Photo, and they verified the listing as accurate — I hung up ecstatic that it would soon be on its way to me. It arrived the next Monday evening via UPS, and I prepared a spot on the floor using a blanket to avoid damaging the lens.

Upon opening the B&H box, I found an unopened Nikon refurbished box with the correct product name and serial number on the outside.

I opened the Nikon box, and inside was a perfectly new lens case with the Nikon USA warranty card and Nikon 13mm f/5.6 AIS instruction manual held to it by a single rubber band.

Inside the case and under the lid was the filter pouch containing the drop-in rear filters.

The lens itself was wrapped in plastic and was in Mint/New condition.

I removed the front lens cap to verify the serial number, which did indeed match the box and warranty card. I took a few more photos and carefully put it all back in place as I had found it.

I’m still in a bit of shock to have found such a great find . I’m left with more questions than answers. How did this lens end up as refurbished? How and where did it sit so long sealed up like this? B&H is a busy place, and they could only tell me they guess one of their buyers bought it from one of their sellers, and then they listed it on their website.

I can’t decide if I should keep it and not use it, keep it and use it, or flip it for profit. Either way, I may need to stare at it just a little bit longer.


About the author: Jim Sullivan is a photographer and designer based in Placitas, New Mexico. You can find more of his work on Behance , Instagram , and SmugMug .

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