Preowned Lenses: how do you know they are OK?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by buywisdom, Aug 3, 2007.

  1. buywisdom macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2005
    #1
    I have been taking pictures for a few years now and recently got the rebel Xti. This was a real upgrade from my point and shoot. I am now thinking about getting a lens. I was talking to my friend who knows allot more about photography and she said not to get used lenses. Her reasoning was that it is very hard to know if the lens was dropped. I was thinking about it and I don't really understand. Can someone explain to me how to quickly examine a lens and tell if it is ok. Or alternatively if this is not possible explain why. Technical details are welcome.
    Thanks
     
  2. cube macrumors G5

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #2
    Buy from a shop giving you a 3-month warranty. Auction sites are not worth it.
     
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #3
    You can look at a lens and check it out pretty easy. They are not hard to check out. Lenses typical out last bodies and will work well for decades. Some of my Nikon lenses were made in the 70's and in one case late 60's and I'm at least the third owner. I have a Carl Ziess lens made in the 50's. that is as good as new. They still make images as good as what is sold as new today.

    1) Look at the aperture blades. Make sure they are not "stuck" and open and close freely when you work the linkage. A common problen is that oil or lubricant was leaked onto the suface of the blades making then stick or run slowly. Repair is possible so if it's a $1,800 80-200mm
    lens offerd for cheap it's worth it but low-end lenses are not worth the cost of repair. This is what kills most lenses and it's pretty easy to see oil on the blades

    2) The other thing that is common is a dented filter ring making it so yo can not add/remove filters. This is easy to check for by adding/removing a filter.

    3) Of course you want to look for scratches on the glass on either end of the lens but a small scratch does not effect the image and greatly de-values the lens. So it may be worth buying if you can get it for 1/2 price.

    4) see that the focus and zoom controlls work smoothly with no binding.

    5) finally take some photos with it and be sure to take some at small apertures around f/11 or so as well as wide open.

    The problem with eBay is that you will not get the chance to check out the lens prior to buying it. Also the prices there are inflated. One of the best places to buy is a local camera shop or maybe a brand specific photography forum but only after you've been on it long enough to know the others
     
  4. glennp macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #4
    What ChrisA said although I'll add one more:

    6) Check for lens fungus. Fungus is hard to clean off and will often recur. Even if it is successfully removed, the lens elements may be irreversibly damaged - it can etch and blemish the glass coatings. You can check for lens fungus by flicking the aperture pin near the rear element to keep the aperture wide open. Then shine a bright light down lens.

    Well, maybe one more:

    7) Large amounts of dust. It can be cleaned but it may indicate a larger problem, so I will usually avoid these.

    Don't be afraid of buying a used lens. Things like cosmetic marks, a few dust specs or (tiny) chips in the glass effect resale value only not the optical qualities. Follow the above steps to avoid the dogs and you can save quite a bit on quality lenses.
     
  5. disdat macrumors regular

    disdat

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Location:
    New England USA
    #5
    What are some reputable online sites that offer used lenses?

    I know B&H and Adorama are good, but are there others?

    Thanks!
     
  6. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Location:
    51st State of America
    #6
    All my lenses are bought used off ebay, all of them for the Canon FD, never had a problem and will continue to do so, most photographers keep their lenses in good condition, they have to! So predicatably the lenses on the whole are good.

    I've just bought 3 used lenses this week as well from ebay as well funnyily enough.
     
  7. jlcharles macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wenonah, NJ
    #7
    keh.com is the only place I usually go for used equipment.
     
  8. buywisdom thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2005
    #8
    Thanks for all the replies. I think I am going to get the Canon 17-35mm lens L series EF 2.8 used does $500 seem like a good price? Also I was wondering if you think I will see a noticeable difference between the 18-55 that came with my Xti?
     
  9. McCord9 Suspended

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2003
    Location:
    New York City
    #9
    I buy/ sell all my lenses on Craigslist. New York is great because so many people buy and sell there, so you can often find a great deal or get rid of an unwanted lens.
     
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #10
    Another vote for craigslist: I've bought and sold a D70, bought a D80 and a 80-200 zoom, all with zero problems. As long as you stay reasonable (try before you buy, cash only, no shipping), you'll be fine. I haven't had a problem with used equipment yet, in particular lenses.
     
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #11
    Add KEH,com to the list, they have "everything". ut watch their rating when they rate is as "ugly" it is.

    At least around here in So Calif. there are many good camera shops with larg stocks of used inventory. Likely the same in other places.
     
  12. jlcharles macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wenonah, NJ
    #12
    You'll notice a huge quality difference between an L series professional lens and a bottom of the barrel consumer lens.

    Keh rates very conservatively in my experience. I've bought a ton of stuff in bargain condition without a problem. Most of the time the items are cosmetically beat up but optically excellent. I haven't bought anything in ugly, but a friend of mine has and as long as the mechanics work fine, who cares what they look like. Plus, if you purchase something from them and don't like the condition it's in, they have a fantastic return policy.
     

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