how old would you go?

mulo

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Aug 22, 2010
2,267
5
Behind you
When buying a lens used, how old would it have to be, for you to start considering the risks too great? like AF/IS motor failing etc.
 

TheReef

macrumors 68000
Sep 30, 2007
1,888
166
NSW, Australia.
It really depends on their physical shape, and how well they care for and present.
Performance and personality are other big factors.

Do some research into them, you know, a bit of stalking on the net - do they have any specific problem areas? I personally do not like it when they smoke.

Are they smooth, or jerky in action?
Check the mount.

If they look like they care for themselves, then go for it, might want to look into their history, see if they're the real deal.

Age is not always the right indicator - but if you're worried about going too old - look into that legal stuff - insurance, etc.

Good luck! ;)
 
Last edited:

WRP

macrumors 6502a
Jul 20, 2011
510
2
Boston
I have bought 1st generation Canon IS L glass for super cheap and have never had problems. If they look abused I would stay away, but if they look clean and feel good I would go for it. Just last year I bought a 70-200 f/2.8 IS L from 2001 for peanuts and the thing is awesome.

All that said, I wouldn't buy a very old NON-L piece of glass unless it was a manual prime.
 

gnd

macrumors 6502a
Jun 2, 2008
568
17
At my cat's house
The absolute gem in my small collection of lenses is the Vivitar Series 1 90mm f/2.5 Macro. It is very beautifully made, the only plastic pieces on it are the front and back lens caps. It's a manual focus lens and the rotation of the focus ring is like poetry, perfectly smooth and with exactly the right amount of dampening. As much as cross-platform tests can tell it's the sharpest lens in my family (and that includes a couple of L zooms and one L prime).
It was made in 1979.
 

peepboon

macrumors 6502
Aug 30, 2008
476
2
Don't care about the odd scratch on the outside, as long as the mechanics and the glass is free of dirt, fungus, etc then I am happy.
 

fitshaced

macrumors 68000
Jul 2, 2011
1,720
3,089
The title of the thread threw a very different type of answer into my head. Early forties probably :p

Regarding lenses, I only wanted to buy new for the warranty issue. Also, lenses don't really lose their value much. Well L glass doesnt anyway. So, buying new and second hand doesnt really make much difference. Brand new for me, but I think I have all the lenses I need for quite some time. Fingers crossed none of them break in my house move later today (or anytime for that matter).
 

avro707

macrumors 6502a
Dec 13, 2010
789
4
Well, if the lens is optically good and well cared for, I'd buy it. But if it looks abused - I'd stay well clear of it.

If it makes strange noises while focusing - I wouldn't touch it.

Good luck! ;)
Brilliant! ;)
 

SayCheese

macrumors 65816
Jun 14, 2007
1,008
174
Oxfordshire, England
Pretty much what the others have said. The condition of the glass is more important than the outer casing. I have seen and used lenses that have been used by professionals that have the outer casing scratched and looking tatty. The glass and functions however have been superb. Remember most pros look after equipment and the bits of it that matter really well. They need to as their living depends on it.
 

flosseR

macrumors 6502a
Jan 1, 2009
746
0
the cold dark north
Agreed with the others. if its an AF lens, the autofocus and manual focus for MF lenses has to be smooth as butter and no weird oases. fungus or mark free glass and you got a winner.

Personally I own a solilgor 350mm f5.6 that is made from aluminum. all manual but it works fantastic and its pretty damn sharp at 350mm...
not for speed shots though..
 

carlgo

macrumors 68000
Dec 29, 2006
1,806
17
Monterey CA
Old lenses were just fine, but their coatings weren't nearly as good and so they can suffer from flare and sometimes low contrast. There are articles on how to check for coatings.

Check for how it feels. The grease gets old and hard to the point where turning the focus is difficult and the aperture blades get sticky and inconsistent. A nice old prime costs about $150 to clean, old zooms much more, and they decline to fix some of the more complex ones.
 

mulo

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Aug 22, 2010
2,267
5
Behind you
The title of the thread threw a very different type of answer into my head. Early forties probably :p
oh no you didn't... :p

Old lenses were just fine, but their coatings weren't nearly as good and so they can suffer from flare and sometimes low contrast. There are articles on how to check for coatings.

Check for how it feels. The grease gets old and hard to the point where turning the focus is difficult and the aperture blades get sticky and inconsistent. A nice old prime costs about $150 to clean, old zooms much more, and they decline to fix some of the more complex ones.
Thank you, that was informative! :)
could you show me such an article?
 

mackmgg

macrumors 65816
Nov 2, 2007
1,414
37
I regularly purchase lenses that are from the late '70s or early '80s and the quality has always been great. If I need a specific focal length, I'll just buy a cheap old lens (usually for under $20) until I have the funds for a more modern lens.
 

carlgo

macrumors 68000
Dec 29, 2006
1,806
17
Monterey CA
oh no you didn't... :p



Thank you, that was informative! :)
could you show me such an article?
This is response to mulo's request for an article on how to check for lens coatings. Here is one source that is pretty direct and should be helpful:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/lenstech.htm#coating

There are lots more per Google search, but this one sums it up in an understandable way.

As an aside, I ordered a Sony Nex-7 for its ability to use old lenses. Luckily I have a couple of nice ones that were in a drawer for years and now I got one, a 55mm micro-Nikkor, professionally cleaned and lubed and another, an old Leica 90mm, had fungus and I thought that was worth fixing. My Nikkor zoom, 30 years old as well, was too expensive to fix so I took it apart and...it actually works! Then of course, since Sony tried to save money by buying land in a Thailand flood zone, their factories went underwater and no Nex-7...
 

Bear

macrumors G3
Jul 23, 2002
8,088
4
Sol III - Terra
When buying a lens used, how old would it have to be, for you to start considering the risks too great? like AF/IS motor failing etc.
Actually, other things to consider, how much of a price difference is there between that used lens and a new one with warranty? SOmetimes the savings is so little, that buying a new lens is a no brainer.

Does that lens differ from a new lens in a way that you prefer the old one?

And how do you feel about the person or place selling the used lens?

Also, have you checked for refurbished lenses? Some of those come in at a nice price with anywhere from a 90 day to 1 year warranty.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.