Helpful Tips for Buying a Secondhand Lens

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Purchasing a used lens, whether from an online auction, an individual, or in a brick and mortar store, can be a nerve-wracking experience. There are a number of things that can affect the quality and usability of a lens, and if you are not savvy as to what to look out for, you may end up with a lemon. In the video below, you can learn how to examine the lens before you purchase it to make sure you are getting what you are paying for:

Things to Look for When Buying a Used Lens

  • It may seem obvious, but the first thing you should do is to check and make sure it’s the right lens. Check the numbers on the lens to ensure it is the correct focal length, aperture, etc.
  • Next examine the physical condition of the lens. Look for any scratches, dents, or dings on the outside of the lens. You should be able to get a good feel for how well the lens was cared for by its outside appearance.
  • You should also give the lens a slight shake to hear if anything is loose or broken inside of the lens. The lens shouldn’t make any rattling noises.
  • Another trick you can use is to hold a flashlight up to the back of the lens and look in the front of it to see there is any dust or mold inside of the lens.
  • Turn the focus and zoom rings to make sure they all turn smoothly and without issue.
  • You should also put the lens on your camera to make sure it works. Check all the apertures and take test shots. Check the test shots for dust spots and scratches.
camera lens used

Use a flashlight to check the lens for internal mold and dust.

If you are buying a lens online, you may not be afforded the opportunity to inspect the lens before purchasing it. In situations like this you should always try to work out a trial arrangement or ensure there is a return policy in place that will grant you the right to return the lens should it not be in the condition you expected.

Secondhand gear is a smart investment for photographers on a budget. With the proper check for function and quality, you can purchase used lenses at a fraction of the cost of brand new camera lenses.

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One Comment

  1. Hjalmar says:

    Good information, thanks!
    All lenses I currently own are second-hand. Most of them purchased from eBay sellers. Some offer return policy and other not at all.
    So far I have been lucky to receive all lenses in like-new condition, working flawlessly. My advise is also to check for detailed description of the item and ask questions in relation ot the conditions of the lens to seller before bidding so, you can increase your level of confidence.

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