- Amazon, eBay and Craigslist are some of the websites that has lots of 2nd hand gear to choose from. Just be sure to check the feedback and reviews of a seller's account before actually purchasing the item, just to be sure.
- If possible, avoid shipping the item if you are not sure about the seller. It is better to see and to test the actual item to avoid disappointments.
- Many disappointments happen when we do not read the actual details of the item posted online. Be sure to have a copy of the ad printed on a piece of paper or screen-captured to your mobile device for future reference.
- Check whether the items presented to you or received are the same as stated on the post that you saw.
- Double check to see if the item's condition is as stated on the ad.
- If you did meet up, pull out the copy of the ad he or she posted and compare it to the actual item.
- Check the front and rear element of the lens. It’s better if you are in a well-lit room to better see the glass.
- Watch out for dents or deep scratches. If the lens has dents, chances are that it has been dropped several times.
- These are normal for a used lens. The hood is there to protect the front element of the lens. But if you get a mint hood, better.
- Lens should not make any noise when shaken.
- If there is noise, remove the hood of the lens, if attached, then shake the lens again.
- One reason why lenses make noise is because the focus and zoom rings are loose. It's also possible there’s something wrong with the internal condition of the lens.
- If you are buying a zoom lens, fully rotate the zoom ring to the point that the barrel is fully extended. Place the lens on its rear cap, on a flat surface, then wait to see if the barrel creeps down. This is a common issue with zoom lenses that don’t zoom internally.
- Fungus is the result of moisture or humidity that has penetrated the lens after a long period of time. This looks like tiny snowflakes or spider webs that will spread out eventually if not cleaned by a professional.
- Bring a small flashlight or use the flash of your camera phone to shine light through the lens. Peek through the lens on both sides, shining light on the opposite sides to better see if there’s fungus present.
- Another way is to just point the lens at an available light source and then inspect it closely on both ends.
- Sometimes, having dirt in your lens isn't an issue. It may not cause any effect on image quality. Make sure you consider the cost of cleaning when negotiating a price.
- Some of the middle elements of the lens are cloudy.
- We commonly see this, especially for old manual lenses; this means the glass elements need replacing.
- Focus should be accurate. Shooting the lens at its widest aperture should help you determine whether the lens needs calibrating.
- The ring should be rotating smoothly but not loose.
- Rotate the aperture ring and see if the aperture blades are responding. An older lens should have a satisfying clicking sound when rotated.
- Blades should be snappy, clean and free of oil marks.
- This should be tested with auto focus and manual focus mode in your camera. This identifies any calibration issues in auto focus mode, and if the image lacks contrast and sharpness when manually focused due to glass element issues.
- To engage the stabilizing mechanism, flip the switch that is labeled IS/ VR/ OS then half press your shutter button. You should feel the motor inside the lens moving. This is the time to listen for any unusual noises.
- Put you camera in live view mode (if available) or video mode, then lightly shake the lens attached to the camera. While shaking the camera, half press the shutter button to see the mechanism working in real time.
- Auto focus and manual focus switches
- Image stabilization switches
- Focusing limiter switches
- All switches should be working properly. Flick them on and off and see if it takes effect on the lens.
- The switches should not be too stiff or too loose.
- Ask the seller if there were any defects prior to selling the lens.
- Look for signs of repairs like stripped screws or accidental scratches due to improper tools, etc.
You just bought a camera body and you are considering a used lens because of your budget constraints. Don’t be afraid, not all second hand items are in bad shape. Here are some things to look out for when buying lenses that are used.
1. Find a reputable seller or reseller
2. Study the item’s information
3. Check the package for other inclusions or freebies
4. Examine the Physical Condition
Look for the following when checking the item:
- Scratches on glass
- Scratches on barrel
- Scratches on the hood
- Unnecessary noise from the lens.
- Lens creep or barrel creep (for zooms)
5. Test the performance
- Auto focus
- Manual focus ring
- Aperture ring (for manual lens)
- Aperture blades
- Image Quality
- Image Stabilization/ Vibration Reduction/ Optical Stabilization Mechanism
6. Inquire about the warranty / history of repairs
7. Ask about the date of purchase and to see proof of purchase
- Ask how old the lens is and if they still have the receipt for future reference. You may find that the lens still has a local warranty.
8. Compare the price given vs. the price from other sellers
- Browse other sellers’ pages and compare the details mentioned above. You might be missing a better deal, even if only by a couple of bucks. The last thing you want is to regret your purchase because there’s a better deal that you didn’t see first.
PHOTOS & ARTICLE BY BRIANN DY/YD PHOTOGRAPHY