Used 70-200mm advice

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by john_ashby|2, May 28, 2012.

  1. I'm thinking of buying a used 70-200 2.8 VR1 lens. I'm hoping I can get some advice on what to look for to make sure there's no problems with the lens before I buy. I can bring my camera body and play with the lens, but besides testing the autofocus and making sure it looks like the VR motor is at least humming and seems to stabilize the picture, I don't know what to test out. Can anyone tell me what to look for?
    Also, the price in my local market seems to range from around $1300 - $1600. What's a reasonable price to pay? For $1300 there's no accessories. At the upper end it's complete even with the box, which I'd rather have because it makes me more confident I'm not buying a stolen lens, but I don't want to pay $300 for a cloth bag and cardboard box.
  2. has several Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR lenses for $1700-1900. This includes a warranty, a good return policy, and the knowledge that you are dealing with a reputable dealer who stands behind what it sells.
  3. I purchased the 70-200 vr I used in good condition 1 year ago for $1,100 from a reputable dealer. No box, no case - but both lens caps, and lens hood - oh and tripod collar. To me those items are far more important than the box and case.
    I would check out the af action - it should not hunt, should not grind or strain.
    Also check for obvious scratches, finger prints, etc... on the lens elements.
    Finally check the aperture behavior - make sure that it functions at all f-stops and that you see a difference in DOF between f2.8 and f16.
  4. Hood, end cap and tripod foot are essential / soft bag, instructions etc and OEM packing are nice to have but non essential in the purchase of a neat 70-200mm VRI
    I have this lens and I'd be looking at the front and rear elements incl. coatings in good light and take a hard look at those lovely aperture blades to ensure they are clean and have uniform closure. It's very easy to perform an external visual inspection of the aperture blades on this lens.
    Aside from the usual operational tests like AF, aperture shift, smooth zoom ring action, AF-S manual focus overide, M/AF cutout switch and VR on/off and focus limiter, I'd also take a look at the wear on the bayonet mount to see how much rounding off and brassing there is on the lugs/tabs/contacts.
    Also check the trio of sliding switches are not gummed up with grit or dust etc and that they all have the positive snap-snap side to side clicking and that the collar tension knob really hold the lens tight and releases properly.
    In my experience purchasing 2nd hand glass often the most heavily used lenses are simply battered at either end (ie. mount and lens hood) to varying degrees so don't forget to look at the filter threads....
    If you can; take a tripod and shoot a couple of test shots to better your chances of getting a crisp image with the lens in question.
  5. $1700 is way too much for the VR1. Look at the classified markets. They don't sell when listed for $1500, and as noted above, they sell substantially below that.
  6. "'s complete even with the box, which I'd rather have because it makes me more confident I'm not buying a stolen lens"​
    It shouldn't. Thieves steal lenses in boxes too. Conversely, many users that take very careful care of their photo equipment do not keep the box.
  7. A lens in pristine condition that comes with the box and accessories also in pristine condition can be an indication of an owner who took good care of the lens.
  8. Matthew, that list was great, exactly what I was looking for, thanks. I think I'll print your post and bring it with.
    Jim, I was aware of the vignetting at some point but it had slipped my mind now. I'll be using the lens with a crop sensor for now but I'm definitely looking towards going full frame which is one reason I want to buy this lens. Actually I was surprised that the VR2 isn't much better.
    This thread has kind of widened the price range but I suppose if I'm buying locally I have to factor in local market conditions. The $1300 one doesn't seem all that cheap anymore though :),
    Michael, I guess thieves who break into a house can grab the boxes too. I just think most gear is stolen when people take it out to use it and then they wouldn't have the packaging with them. I also agree with Elliot that owners who keep boxes tend to take more pride in their gear and treat it more gently. Just an impression, but I am willing to pay more with a box and that's another reason why. The fact that there are people who think like me is all the more reason it's just worthwhile to keep boxes even if you don't value it yourself. is very overpriced, if I were going to pay them $18-1900, I'd rather just buy a VR2 new locally.
  9. B&H has a refurbished 70-200 VR for $1859.95. Adorama has one in E condition for $1649 and one in E- for $1549. When you buy from keh, B&H, and Adorama you are paying for reliability and for a warranty and a return policy that you can count on. Or you can look for a bargain which may or may not save you money in the long run.
  10. FWIW:
  11. @Mark Drutz
    Thanks for the feedback Mark, very much appreciated.
    To clarify: a used item from Adorama in E or E- condition comes with a 6-month warranty, which includes a 30-day returns period.
    @John Ashby
    I have a great guide to what to look for when choosing a used lens; it isn't an Adorama thing, just something sent to me by a customer several years ago, but it has some great tips. If you drop me an email: I would be delighted to forward it on to you.
    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

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