Buying Used - ACHughesPhoto

Thinking Of Buying Used Lenses?

It's a fact that photography gear is expensive. Even beginners equipment can quickly start racking up the pound (or Dollars, Euro, etc) signs .

There is however a financially viable option available to everyone, and that is buying used lenses, as the equipment does not deteriorate (as long as it has been cared for properly).

That said there can be some pitfalls in acquiring used equipment, so after alot of searching around for gear, and I do mean alot (I am a beginner, and a gear nut that unfortunately has a very tight budget), I wanted to share some tips I found along the way into safely purchasing used lenses, so here we go.


1. Check out the person/retailer your buying it from. There are loads of good reputable stores and online retailers that sell used gear. That said it's good practice to look into them before hand, especially if you're thinking of buying from ebay, check their ratings and feedback before you even consider buying from them.

2. This may not apply to everyone, but find out if the item is from smoke free home. Cigarette smoke clings to everything, and I know holding something up to my face that stinks like an ashtray could be a deal breaker for me.

3. Check for damage. Look for scratches on both front and back elements, do this under a bright light source and slowly move the lens back and forth looking for any irregularities in the glass. Dings are no good, or if the seller states there has been light damage to the lens, leave it alone, there are no cheap fixes when it comes to photography equipment. That said there maybe some light scuffs or rub marks on the body, do not dismiss a lens by the condition of the body alone, it's the optics that are important.

4. Check for dust. Shine a light through the lens, but don't be put off if you see small particles in the lens, this is normal, and even some brand new lenses will show dust. That said however larger particles or clumps can affect the picture quality and could lead to an expensive cleaning bill.

5. Listen for damage. While you are looking through the lens, rotate it slowly and listen for any rattles or anything that sounds loose.

6. Check the aperature blades. Change the aperature settings to ensure they are not stuck or have any damage.

7. Check the mount rings and contact points. Ensure that the mounting rings aren't cracked or split, if you can, mount it onto your camera to make sure it locks into place properly. Also check the lens hood (if applicable) and make sure that also fits securely. Whilst checking the mounting rings also check the contact points, these should be gold in colour, and a good indication that the seller has looked after it, as these can collect dirt and grime if left uncovered.

8. Check the filter threads. Ensure filters can be screwed on and off easily. A common flaw can be caused by a cross threaded filter, stripping the thread, making it impossible to attach filters.

9. Check the zoom. Ensure you can zoom in and out through the entire range without it getting stiff or stuck. It should be smooth throughout, regardless if it is a spin or push-pull type zoom. Listen out for any gritty sounds coming from the lens, it could be an indication of sand or grit that has worked its way into the lens. Do this also for the focus ring.

10. Check the focus. If you can, use a focusing chart, or if you can't get a hold of one, a simple newspaper will do it. Check that the auto focus if operating as it should, and also test it whilst in manual.

11. Take it for a test run. Use the lens on various settings, opened all the way out (F1. and stopped down (F22) throughout the entire focal range, and check the results for any irregularities that wouldn't show just by looking at it, which could be caused by a misaligned element or a back/front focussing issue.

12. Don't be afraid to ask the seller why they are selling it. It could be a perfectly legitimate reason, like upgrading equipment or changing platforms. If they tend to avoid the reason, it could be an indication of a hidden problem.

And last but not least, use common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, it's because it is.

I hope this was of interest to some of you, and will help you with any purchases in the future, if you have any further hints or tips, please feel free to post the below.

Cheers, Andy.



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