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New Contributor
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎12-09-2014

what are the major risks buying used lenses ?

i just bought my first dslr,  and i was wondering what are the major risks buying used lenses ?

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 4,954
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: what are the major risks buying used lenses ?

-  That the lens has been dropped or otherwise abused, leaving the optical elements slightly out of alignment.

 

-  That dirt has gotten into the lens, leaving it in need of an expensive cleaning.

 

-  That the autofocus motor has worn out and become unreliable.

 

-  That the lens was a lemon in the first place, and that's why it's for sale.

 

-  That the model has been supplanted with a better one that could be obtained for only a little more money.

 

And probably other risks that I haven't thought of.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎02-28-2013

Re: what are the major risks buying used lenses ?

[ Edited ]

In my mind, the only real risk (outside of complete flukes) in buying a good quality used lens, providing you do some level of inspection, is reliability.  Any major issues will present themself upon inspection.  It depends on how in-depth your inspection is, but I'd check how sharp the lens is before buying a used one.  I'd check the action of the focus and zoom rings, basic visual inspection, function of any switches, quality of mount and mounting ring, feel of the barrel, check the front and real element, and verify it can AFMA with my camera.  I'd also run it through some basic focusing tests and make sure it's as smooth, fast and accurate as it's supposed to be (depends on the lens of course).  The only thing you can't really check is something intermittent or a reliability issue.

 

Here's a good article on checking out lenses:

 

http://www.canonrumors.com/tech-articles/how-to-test-a-lens/

 

VIP
Posts: 11,107
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: what are the major risks buying used lenses ?

"... what are the major risks buying used lenses ?"

 

First it depends on which lens you buy. <--- Most important!   If you are looking at an off brand used lens, Sigma, Tamron or Tokina, etc, check it very thourghly.  They are simply not built like Canon does.  Try it before you buy and get a return clause.

Some of them are not worth getting brand new let alone used.

 

Second, some Canon lenses are also not worthy of buying used.  Like any of the Rebel kit lenses.  Apply the same rules as the off brand.

 

Now for "L" lenses, you are pretty safe.  Plus they are worth repairing if need be.  Generally that is, depending on the repair.

I have seen some "Great White" L lenses that looked like something the dog dragged in.  But they still worked fine.  Some of my frieds used to throw their equipment into a case. Of course it wasn't actually theirs so that's partly it.  They are tougher that you might think.

Good luck.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, even less and less other stuff.
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 4,954
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Re: what are the major risks buying used lenses ?


@ebiggs1 wrote:

"... what are the major risks buying used lenses ?"

 

I have seen some "Great White" L lenses that looked like something the dog dragged in.  But they still worked fine.  Some of my frieds used to throw their equipment into a case. Of course it wasn't actually theirs so that's partly it.  They are tougher that you might think.

Good luck.


A true craftsman treats his tools with respect. Anyone who literally "throws their equipment into a case" deserves whatever he gets.

 

A year or two ago, I had to swap out a flash unit while the City Manager and his family waited to have their picture taken. That night I ordered a new 600EX-RT.

 

All the equipment I use is mine, except the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II. (And when my manager let me buy that, I got it from B&H on sale.) You can bet the rent money that I don't "throw" anything into my camera bags.  Smiley Happy

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
VIP
Posts: 11,107
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: what are the major risks buying used lenses ?

[ Edited ]

Bob from Boston,

You need to get out more!  Smiley Surprised

 

But you have a point.  I treat everybodies equipment like it was my own but in the end it has to get the job done.  Cameras and lenses are just tools to the profession.  They are not jewels like us retired and hobby shooters treat them.

Don't believe me take a closer look at some of the sports photographers "Great Whites".

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV, even less and less other stuff.
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,807
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: what are the major risks buying used lenses ?

You need to be able to inspect and test the lens.

 

Look for obvious signs of physical damage, drops, etc. (cracks, dents, etc.)  A lens normally will get some signs of wear but as it's a used lens, you expect *some* wear... you're really looking for signs of damage.

 

Remove both front and rear caps.  Look through the lens into a bright no-contrast background (a white wall, a blue sky, etc.) and check the optics.  You're looking for signs of mold growth or damage to coatings.  Minor dust on internal optics wont impact the lens performance... so while you wouldn't want major amounts of dirt... don't worry too much about minor bits of dust (I've actually helped prove this to someone by clipping a 3M PostIt note down to a tiny 1/4" x 1/4" size and sticking it on the front glass.  Take a photo... nothing shows in the photo (even a piece of "dirt" that big wont show because the camera cannot focus on anything that close to the lens.)  

 

Rotate the focus ring from end to end.  You should feel a smooth and consistent amount of friction as you rotate the focus ring.  There should be no rough spots.  Listen to the lens as you do this... there should be no grinding noises.

 

Do the same with the zoom ring but in addition to checking for smooth consistent performance (no sticky or rough spots) you're also checking to make sure nothing seems excessively worn (nothing wobbles loose... very heavily used lenses can do that after enough wear.)

 

Connect the lens to the camera and make sure the camera can completely operate the auto-focus motors without a problem and/or if it's an image stabilized lens that the IS components are working.

 

Set the camera to max aperture (e.g. f/22, f/32.. depending on the lens) and press your camera's "depth of field preview" button (if you don't know which button is your DOF preview, check your manual.  Canon tends to move that one around a bit but it's almost always on the front side of the camera near the lens mount.)  You want to press and release it a few times.  This will cause the lens aperture blades to stop down to the aperture you set.  Release... do this while watching the lens.  You should see the aperture blades move in and out (well... they snap in and out very quickly).  You want to make sure it works ok, the camera gets no error codes, and there's no signs that anything is sticking.

 

And then there is the focus test... 

 

Focus the camera preferably at a FLAT surface that has lots of detail.... such as the brick wall of a building.  Make sure the camera is level and that the camera's focal plane is parallel to the plane of the wall.  Take a test photo at low f-stop and inspect.  You're checking to verify that the focus works and that the focus is reasonable across the image.   As you inspect from left ot right and top to bottom you are looking to make sure the focus is more or less equal (if the right side of the image is focused... but the left side of the image is soft... it would indicate that lens elements are skewed (lens isn't collimated).  It's difficult for a lens to get into this situation unless it was dropped and you'd probably see signs of damage.  

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎08-01-2014

Re: what are the major risks buying used lenses ?

Don't know if you're following this post anymore but I'll chime in.  I have bought 2 L lenses used so far, have always questioned the quality of one but overall have no real complaints.  Maybe I was lucky, but I prefer to believe that most photographers are picky about equipment and take good care of it.  Seeing as I believe there are more honest people than dishonest, and feeling that most are picky - I always felt odds were good one could get a good honest deal.  Oh sure, the old visual inspection tells most of the story, and while there still could be issues I think an observant buyer could steer clear of bad deals easily.  IMO!

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,861
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: what are the major risks buying used lenses ?

Macro lenses seem like something you should always buy used. Most of them seem to have very low mileage.

There are surely some people out there who shoot macro constantly but the majority of people seem to buy one and then sell it on with a listing that reads "it is sharp as heck, and I thought I would use it a lot, but it just sits unused, so I need to sell to buy a .....".
Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?
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