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Nikolai Lobanov
Nikolai Lobanov

Buy Used Lenses Online

Used lenses is not for everyone. There are certain risks involved and a decent amount of work for the buyer. Personally, I have bought several used lenses, and it has saved me hundreds of dollars. Most of these experiences have been positive, but there have been a few issues along the way. If you plan on buying a used lens, these tips and tricks should help you have the best experience possible.

buy used lenses online

The same is true for photography equipment and lenses. Facebook Marketplace and Facebook groups are a great opportunity to find used lenses. You have access to people who buy and sell all over the country, and there are no fees for you or the seller.

Another major player in the camera game, B&H is a large retail site with a special used equipment department in their gear store. Though they have many items, all you need to do is check a box to search used ones. Their lenses are tested and sold with a 90-day warranty.

Where many sites that sell used lenses lump them in with other gear, Adorama has a special used lens store that makes it easy to find the exact one you want without any hassle. You can quickly narrow down by brands and everything has a 30-day money back guarantee.

While it may not be as focused as the above options, dedicated or determined users can find good used lens deals on Amazon. The retailer site has a used market that enables sellers of all different types to put up used equipment. If you know how to search, there are plenty of lenses.

If there is a camera store in your local area, they may sell some used gear. There are a few advantages of buying from a local physical store. The biggest advantage is that you can actually see the product in person and hold it in your hands before buying it. You should even be able to test it out to make sure that it works as expected. Also, if you have a problem with an item that you purchase you may be able to return it, depending on the policies of the store.

The last option is to buy directly from the owner rather than at a local camera shop or through an online retailer. You can buy directly online or in person. Sites like Ebay make it easy to buy or sell used gear online. Other sites like Craigslist or local Facebook groups make it possible to find people in your area who are looking to sell something.

The camera body may show signs of wear, depending on how extensively it was used. This could include things like scratches and dings, rubber parts that are worn or starting to come loose, screws that are loose or damaged, or any number of things.

Use the camera with one or more of your own lenses and make sure that it performs up to your expectations. Open up the photos on a computer and inspect them at 100% to make sure that there are no problems.

If there are any filters on the lens, be sure to remove them. Check the front and back elements for scratches or imperfections. While a perfect lens is preferable, used lenses may have some minor imperfections that will not impact the quality of photos. If you find any scratches, dings, or other imperfections, be sure to take several test photos and check them thoroughly to see if they are visible in the photos.

In my 47 years of using Leicas, I've only bought 2 lenses new, all the rest have been used. There is no guide, other than what the others said and using good sense. Know what you want, so you don't get sucked into buying something you won't use. Set a reasonable budget so you don't overspend. There are books out there (yes they are expensive) detailing the various lenses Leitz has manufactured, and well worth acquiring once you become more familiar with the Leicas. If you're using the lenses on digital rangefinder bodies, understand that they may need recalibration and factor those potential costs into what you offer the seller. Lastly, in the beginnings of your quest, you are probably better off buying from reliable dealers than individuals.

In addition to fungus, scratches, and haze it's a good idea to look for element separation in older lenses that shows up as silvery, reflective smears around the edges of a lens. Older lens elements were cemented together using Canada Balsam, a natural resin from the Balsam fir tree, that degrades over time and re-cementing could cost s bit.

Shine a bright light through one end of the lens at look at it from the other and that should show up fungus as small trails or scratches on the element surfaces. Don't be put off by seeing dust or particles in the lens or by little, dark spots in the elements, which are likely to be bubbles in the glass and normally indicate an expensive glass formula. Also check whether there's oil on the aperture blades because that indicates the lens needs a CLA (clean, lubricate, and adjust), which will add to your cost. Check the smoothness of the focussing ring's operation and the aperture ring's. If the aperture ring's clicks are sloppy it might cost a bit to have them repaired but as long as the diaphragm opens and closes smoothly then that not be a problem to you. If you're buying online you won't be able to do these checks before you buy of course so there's added risk there.

To gauge whether an asking price is reasonable check out completed listings on the auction site and compare against prices offered by reputable dealers who offer second hand lenses, such as Red Dot Cameras. As said earlier you will risk less if you buy from a 'bricks and mortar' shop because they're likely to offer some guarantee and you'll be able to return a lens if it has a problem, although their prices are likely to be slightly higher than those offered through private sales.

Sound advice from Pete (post #9). Some people get way too obsessed with dust in a used lens; this should be last on your list of issues to look for. Dust in a lens is inevitable and does not affect image quality except perhaps in the most extreme cases. I got my f/1.0 Noctilux new seven years ago; if I shine a flashlight through it and check for dust today, it looks like it's snowing inside my lens. There is no image quality degradation that I can see from this; not to blow my own horn, but I have a very demanding eye compared to most of my photographer friends, I'm told.

When buying a used lens, there are defects that are best avoided and defects that are of no or next to no consequence; it pays to know the difference. The biggest "defect" to watch out for is probably an unrealistically high price tag.

This is interesting to me....New or used, I've always bought from a dealer (though today, I only have new lenses). I'm wondering "where" one buys used lenses nowadays. eBay? This forum (as mentioned above)? And, I realize it costs more to buy used from a store, but isn't that a good source nonetheless since it usually has some sort of guarantee and confidence level?

I've bought and sold Leica lenses on Ebay for over 10 years, with generally good experience. The buyer advantages are a wide selection which you may not encounter locally, a lower price than may be offered locally, and the depth of offerings, allowing you to access pricing differentials. The disadvantages are principally that you can't physically inspect the lenses before purchase. Having said that, I've only gotten two which didn't meet my I returned, the other I had CLA'd; and I've only had one which I sold, which the buyer wasn't pleased I believe it was affected by bitterly cold weather in transit freezing the diaphragm blades - in spite of offering a refund, he liked the price, kept it and had it CLA'd at his own expense. BUT it is always buyer beware...there are sellers who don't have a clue about how to gauge condition and then those who often misrepresent the condition.

New or used, I've always bought from a dealer (though today, I only have new lenses). I'm wondering "where" one buys used lenses nowadays. eBay? This forum (as mentioned above)? And, I realize it costs more to buy used from a store, but isn't that a good source nonetheless since it usually has some sort of guarantee and confidence level?

When lenses sit unused for an extended period of time, the special oil used to ensure that aperture blades move smoothly can leave shiny spots on the blades and cause them to stick. It will usually be visible on the blades as you adjust the ring, but if the lens has a depth-of-field preview switch, adjust to the smallest aperture and press the DOF preview button. Properly functioning aperture blades will snap smoothly into place without sticking.

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:

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.

There are plenty of different options to sell camera gear without managing a listing yourself. Some of them are designed specifically for used gear. Others are large camera shops that also sell new gear.Either way, having multiple options can help you compare prices and find the easiest solution for selling your gear.

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