Tip #569: Tips for Buying Used Lenses

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #569: Tips for Buying Used Lenses

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Used lens are affordable, but be careful.

Lens image courtesy of pexels.com

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This article, written by Caleb Ward, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

Used lenses provide a cost-effective way to get quality equipment, but know what to look for before you buy.

1. Look at the Focal Length

Lenses are broken up into two categories, prime & zoom. Prime lenses don’t zoom ‘in and out’ but typically let in more light than zoom lenses. They have a fixed focal length.

2. Check the Aperture Number

A good rule of thumb is: the lower the f-stop number the ‘better’ the lens.

3. Check the General Condition

Are there visible signs of use? It isn’t a perfect way to tell if a lens shoots great but it will let you know if the previous owner took care of the lens.

4. Shake the lens

On any lens you will hear a little noise when you shake it, but do you hear anything that sounds extra loose? Listen for screws or broken plastic pieces on the inside as these might be indicators of an unseen problem.

5. Shine a Flashlight Through the Back

Can you see any dust or scratches? If so you will probably have to send in your lens to get repaired which can get really expensive.

6. Does the Focus and Zoom Wheel Turn Smoothly?

Difficulty zooming or focusing can mean the gears on the inside of your lens are messed up…and there isn’t a lot you can do about that.

7. Are the Aperture Blades Closing Correctly?

You will need to connect the lens to a camera to test the aperture blades. It is imperative that they are in good working order. Do they all form a perfectly symmetrical shape when closed? Do they open up all the way?

8. Try the Lens!

Most camera shops will allow you to test a lens on your own personal camera. Put the lens on and shoot some pictures. Zoom into the image and check for vignetting or chromatic aberrations.

9. Ask about a Warranty and Return Policy

Be careful when buying on an online auction site like eBay. Lenses sold “as-is” should signal a big red flag.

10. Know the Seller

Tried and true retailers are the best companies to purchase used lenses from. Not only will they likely have a great return policy but they probably won’t sell sketchy lenses.


The source of these tips – Karl Taylor – has posted a video at the link at the top of this tip. Watch it to learn more.

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