Concerns about a used lens?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jstegman, Aug 27, 2008.

  1. jstegman macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2008
    What would be some concerns about buying a used lens? I am looking at one at B&H which they say is an 8+ Shows moderate wear or finish marks. From what I have gathered, when a lens is taken care of it lasts a long time, but is it worth the extra $150-$200 to buy an unused lens as opposed to saving some cash and buying used?
  2. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    It would really help if you told us what lens you're considering ;)
    As a general rule (if it were me!), if it's a plastic lens, I'd tend to say no, if it's a metal lens, I would consider it.
  3. jstegman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2008
    Nikon AF Zoom Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX VR II is the lens in question.
  4. operator207 macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2007
    Is this the lens?*&bhs=t&Go.x=0&Go.y=0&Go=submit

    If this is something your going to keep for a while, or use as a primary "walk around" lens for the next few years, I would go new.

    Seeing the reviews on Amazon:

    I am inclined to still say go new. I use amazon primarily for reviews, as there are usually some reviews by pro users on there. Especially if the lens is a year or so old.
  5. jstegman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2008
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Used lenses can be good deals. B&H will let you return it. You can check it out and if it works, it works. But look around B&H's price sound high if it is only $150 off their new price. For that lens I'd pay 2/3's of the new price if it is in very good condidtion.

    If it were me i'd MUCH rather have an f/2.8 zoom then a slow VR lens. Why not spend the same money on a true legend and get the 80-200? The 80-200 has much bettr build quality and really will last "forever"

    Yes say you are planning touse the lens for "nature shots". I assume this means wildlife. In that case you really want a faster lens. VR is no subsitute for Aperture. The VR helps with camera shake and that is all. If yo are shoting wildlife you are using a tripod, bean bag or some other camera support so VR is not going to be used. May as well buy the old 70-210 f/5.6 lens. these sell for about $200 now and are better optically then the 18-200 but the 80-200 f/2.8 is one of the best lenses ever made.
  7. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    I've only recently bought any used lenses - one from Adorama and one from KEH. Based just on those two purchases... Adorama's rating system seems accurate; KEH's seems conservative (which is a good thing from a consumer standpoint). You pay more buying used from a retailer; but you can think of that extra as being insurance.

    I think as long as your expectations are reasonable, used is a good way to go.

    There are a few things you should check as soon as you receive your lens, though. The list I'm linking to is from Nikonians, but it's a valid list for anyone purchasing used glass.

    Used Lenses, and what to check
  8. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000


    Nov 16, 2006
    Bay Area
    Used is usually fine, but I've found that B&H is the opposite of KEH when it comes to used rankings. They up rank. If an item would be a 5 or a 6 at KEH, its an 8 or a 9 at b&h. For that reason, I would never buy used from BH, but they're great for everything else.
  9. carfac macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2006
    I LOVE that lens. I use it every day, and it is great. The used is probably fine... but i would say it depends on how much you shoot. If you shoot a lot, get new; if you shoot for fun (which I guess, as you are asking the question- a pro would know), you are probably fine with the used.

    Other than a specialty lens, this is such a cool lens.
  10. H2Ockey macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2008
    I love the lens. Read some of the reviews like on Kenrockwell. For an amature even if you have a few others this one will take 90% of your photos maybe even more. Also on his site it talks about this particular lens' durability being very good/high. I'll attest to that as I have my own "drop test" story that matches any on his site.

    My concern would be two fold however. 1) I would want to save ~30% on a used item, not 5-10% that's just not enough savings to justify the potential pain in the back side if it turns out to be a lemon.
    2) that lens is less than a year on the market and all the reviews have it as the single does it all never take it off your camera. Now the only folks I would see selling it would be Pro types who need better quality at the low and high focal lengths, and I doubt they would have beat up the lens so much. I'd be VERY hesitant to buy a lens this new with ANY wear let alone as was said here B&H commonly upgrades. My feeling is this particular lens was abused.
  11. jstegman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2008
    Well, the more I read replies, read through the forums, and compare prices it seems I might be better buying used after all. I am ,right now, a hobbiest at best, moving up from the p&s. I do take a lot of pictures, currently around 1100 of just my daughter, but looking to get more serious with my subject matter and techniques.

    I will keep my eyes peeled on the used lens' out there and see what I find. I am guessing that a used lens loses less of its value then a new one so I should be able to get closer to what I paid for it, allowing me to try different lens' finding what I like best. Make any sense? Thanks
  12. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yes, but, the OP has a very specific use for lens. I really do like my 85mm f.1.8 lens but if someone wanted to photograph birds I would not recommend the 85mm as much as I like it. The 18-200 is very good for the person on vacation who wants to shoot snapshots and does not want to carry and second lens or camera bag. This is the person for whom the 18-200 was designed. If the intended subject is wildlife and landscapes there are better options.

    Ken Rockwell says on his site that for serious landscape work he does not use 35mm format equipment at all. He goes with medium or large format. He only uses the Nikon stuff for quick snapshots. So of course his usage case is very close to what the 18-200 was designed for.

    I read in Ansel Adam's book "The Camera" where his advice is to always use the largest camera that will get the shot. Then after saying that he gives an example of a shot he could only have taken with his Leica 35mm rangefinder, a camera smaller then any current SLR. that fits in a coat pocket. If you think about it, Mr. Rockwell and Mr. Adams are saying the same thing.

    So Rockwell when he talks about his Nikon gear is talking about his "walk around and react to what you see" camera, not is studio setup or his landscape setup. So I wonder if his advice applies to the person who can only afford one DX format Nikon camera. I think you should follow Rockwell's advice only to the extent that your style and usage matches his.

    Most Nikon lenses are not "good" or "poor" in and of them selves but they are either good or poor matches to a given class of photographic subject. All of the lenses are good for something and not good for other things. This is why you can't get usable advice about which lens to buy without telling people about how you intend to use the lens.
  13. operator207 macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2007
    OP, are you having doubts that you may not like the range of this lens?

    There is always renting a lens, which would obviously be used. You can see if you like used, the range, and possibly talk to someone at the rental place and see if they can give you an idea of B&H's ranking system to the used lens your renting.
  14. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    1. Element(s) out of alignment
    2. Scratches in coating or glass
    3. Worn coating
    4. Focus system problems
    5. Excessive dust or other foreign matter in barrel
    6. Aperture blades damaged
    7. Filter threads stripped
    8. Stuck or malfunctioning aperture
    9. Contacts damaged
    10. Grey market import which won't be serviced by Nikon

    That's about all I can think of.

    For that little money, I'd consider a manufacturer's warranty worth it- if you keep the lens for 10 years, that's $15-20/year difference.
  15. jstegman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2008

    I am not doubting whether I would be happy with the range or not. What I gave some thought to was buying used lens' at first since I am starting out, then I can get a better idea of the ones I would use most often and which ones would get left behind all the time. When the time came for replacement I would purchase often used lens' new and sell off the the unused ones for which I should get closer to what I paid considering I would have paid used prices to start with.

    Man, my head hurts.:D

    Thanks for the informative posts and knowledgeable insight. I have read many of your postings throughout this board and you always have a wealth of information and what seems like an endless amount of experience to share. The VR issue you mentioned gave me some thought. The reason I was wanting VR was because I planned on carrying the camera through the woods and shooting on the fly, not necessarily always having a tripod or other rest available. I don't feel I have a steady enough hand, maybe after more experience it will get better, so I figured the VR would help that. I kind of figured VR would be a hemper of sorts, but again until I get more experienced every little bit helps. I understand some may think, if you don't learn to work without it, you will be forever dependent on it but I feel confident that I will grow and move past the need for the little crutches as time goes by.
  16. operator207 macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2007
    Welcome to the club. ;) I went through the same things your going through when I bought my first (DSLR) camera. I decided I would try my best to buy new, unless there was a deal too good to pass up. Such as my pro photographer friend who occasionally blesses me with an L lens to play with (remember I shoot with Canon, not Nikon), and gives me a sweet deal on his used equipment. (550ex diffuser and asoftbox diffuser for $250, just the 550 was going for $350 at the time)

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