Would You Buy a Used Lens?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by savitri_wilder, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. When reading about the different lenses and customer reviews I came upon a lot of talks about returning a copy or even two to finally get a good one (or get a different brand/model all together). With that in mind, why would one want to buy a used lens? Some lens are not that much lower than buying a new one. But at least with the price of a new lens you get the warranty.
    I've purchased refurbs but there's a guarantee/short term warranty to them and often time you can extend the warranty. But if you buy used, what's the chance or how do you know you'll get a good copy. Just trust the seller? I mean some have no clue why they bought the lens to begin with. I wouldn't want to trust that type of person.
    Don't get me wrong. I love used stuff. I am a consignment type of person and most of our furniture are vintage but for lens I'm a bit leary since it seems like there's a good chance that you might get a bad copy. So I'm posting this to better understand the used lens arena.
  2. If you buy a used lens on eBay, you take your chances -- though lately I've been buying old manual focus Nikon lenses very cheaply for use on my new G1, and these lenses are way beyond any kind of warranty anyway.
    If you buy from somewhere like KEH.COM, they have evaluated the lenses and they have a return policy within the first two weeks, so your chances of being stuck with a bad copy are slim, assuming you test the lens yourself in the first two weeks for obvious defects.
    It seems to me buying used lenses is no different than buying anything else used. You pay your money and you take your chances, and on average the good deals hopefully outweigh the occasional lemons.
  3. My main lenses at the moment are: Tokina 11-16mm f2.8, Nikon 17-55mm f2.8, Nikon 28mm PC, Sigma 30mm f1.4, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR, Nikon 80-400mm VR, Nikon TC-17E. Of that list, only the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 and 80-400mm VR were purchased new, mainly because the spread between new & used wasn't big enough. I've had no issues with any used lens I've ever bought, and that includes the four Bronica 645 lenses and four LF lenses. I agree that KEH is highly reliable and have bought a few lenses from them, mostly LF.
    Kent in SD
  4. If the outer lens surfaces are free from abrasions, aperture blades are clean, snappy in action and dry, there's no mold and not much dust on inside elements, and if the focusing collar turns smoothly and the mount looks clean, with no bent or sticking pins, and nothing rattles inside, it ought to be alright. Finally, will the seller commit to giving your money back if it's not right?
  5. I bought my D700, 17-35/2.8 and 28-70/2.8 off of Creigs Lost (edited to avoid the photonet filters) in FTF transactions. No regrets at all and I saved a bundle. In fact I could sell the lenses any day for way more than I paid for them.
  6. I've bought a couple of lens from KEH and both were as advertised. And they have a return policy as been discussed. I would be very hesatent to buy anything of real value on ebay or one the other auction websites.
  7. I have bought lenses on ebay, and even the occasional one on the photo.net classifieds - all MF Canons, Zuikos and Nikkors - maybe 20 in total. I have returned one because it was simply more "battered" than described. All of the others were as described or better than described. While I accept that you never can tell what you've bought until it arrives at your door, my experience with used lenses has been overwhelmingly positive.
  8. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I buy my used lenses from places that offer warranties and have decent return polices. When I bought the latest lens, I took my camera into the store and tried out two 24mm lenses and bought the one that seemed sharper. I also bought Hasselblad lenses and a body and a back from them, and returned one of the Hassy lenses (kept two). With Craigs List, buy local, and try out on your camera before actually buying the camera (I prefer the store, actually, because I know where to find them if I want to take the lens back and they will take anything back in the first 14 days without question).
    Sometimes, people sell lenses because they're crudded up inside or scratched. Sometimes, and especially with manual lenses in the autofocus age, people sell lenses because they're not autofocus. And some older autofocus lenses won't work on the cheaper digital cameras. My D300 had taken less than 500 shots -- I think it was traded in for a D700.
  9. I have bought several Nikon lenses used, some ebay, some FtF, one Adorama.
    Saved a lot of money.
    20mm f/2.8D
    35mm f/2D
    50mm f/1.4D
    60mm f/2.8D
    85mm f/1.8D
    17-35mm f/2.8D
    28-70mm f/2.8D
    70-200mm f/2.8G VR
    80-400 f/4-5.6D VR
    Almost no problems. The 17-35mm had the expected focus squeak.
  10. Thanks for all the responses. Very enlightening and that website is one I've never been too. Looking at KEH, do you go for EX or better?
  11. I have purchased a lot of lenses used - from B&H, KEH, and ebay; I also sold a quite a few lenses and I describe them as good as I possibly can - so far, everyone liked what they purchased from me. About half the lenses in my bag were purchased used. The only problem I had was with the first copy of a 17-55 purchased from KEH - AF stopped working within 15 minutes of me receiving the EX+ lens. KEH took it back without a problem, refunded the purchase price and overnighted me a second EX+ lens. I intentionally did not look for the 17-55 on ebay - prices were almost as high and thus the risk too great. A 50-135 lens I received (and intended to sell off) with the purchase of a Nikon FA off ebay was full of fungus - I took a bit of a hit selling it to someone who wanted to try and clean it (and succeeded).
  12. I could not afford to buy all my lenses brand new - so I buy used with caution. Checking the records of the seller and thorough inspection of the lens has been important to me.
  13. I bought two lenses on Ebay. The first, an AF-D 20mm f/2.8, was promptly delivered and exactly as described by the seller and at a fair price.
    I had less luck the second time around. I bought an AF 24mm f/2.8 for around $150, which I considered at pretty good price. However, the focus ring was stuck. The seller 'trackbarron' said that it must have happened after he sent it. He obviously lied, because the ring was in the same stuck position on the pictures he had published on Ebay. I returned it, but he claimed he never got it. I guess I could have had a refund from Ebay if I had been a little more active.
  14. I bought two lenses on Ebay. The first, an AF-D 20mm f/2.8, was promptly delivered and exactly as described by the seller and at a fair price.
    I had less luck the second time around. I bought an AF 24mm f/2.8 for around $150, which I considered at pretty good price. However, the focus ring was stuck. The seller 'trackbarron' said that it must have happened after he sent it. He obviously lied, because the ring was in the same stuck position on the pictures he had published on Ebay. I returned it, but he claimed he never got it. I guess I could have had a refund from Ebay if I had been a little more active.
  15. I bought only one used lens, my 55mm f3.5, but it's been great, and it's a 30-year-old lens.
  16. Would I? Is this piece of string long enough? Buy used if there's a big enough difference in price, and even then only with a warranty.
  17. Savitri.....I buy from KEH all the time. You can buy from Bargain on up when it comes to lenses. Bargain on KEH is just that......a good bargain. I've gotten Bargain stuff from KEH I swear it looked like it came out of the box the day before. Never had "bad" optics from them at bargain level....few nicks on paint, smal cosmetic stuff like that on occasion.....but the glass is always good.
  18. For me the question is whether I'd ever buy a new lens, buying new is a great way to waste lots of money. I've sent 2 ebay lenses back and 1 back to a second hand dealer but every other lens has been great.
  19. I currently have six lenses and purchased all but one secondhand and all of them from ebay. All the lenses are excellent my AI'd 85mm 1.8 is older than I am.
    The benefit to me has been the exceptionally low cost for the second hand gear. I was not going to list my lenses but I want to explain my reasoning and experiences. I have: 20mm 3.5, 35mm 2.8, 50mm 1.2, 85mm 1.8, 135mm 2 dc (new), 2x TC and an 80-200 f4.
    My first camera a few short years ago is a second hand FE and I purchased the 35mm and a 50mm 1.4 to go with it, not really understanding much of anything I purchased faster lenses as I did not like the effects of flash I saw in my friends photos so I wanted to use natural light.
    Even though I did not yet have a zoom I loved using my primes and was soon looking for others. I remember fighting off other people in an auction at 4am for my 85mm lens as it finished then.
    I was having a great time taking some landscape with the 35 and candid shots of my friends at parties and such with the 50 and 85.
    I have not purchased a bad piece of gear from ebay I know enough now to know I have been very lucky, my photographer friends told me they hated me when I said my 85 cost me $100 including freight from the US. :) (they did ask first. I did not volunteer the info.)
    I have been willing to take the risk of the goods being damaged, misrepresented or lost for the cheaper price for my lenses and it has certainly paid off. Until the advent of the D700 manual focus primes were very cheap. The market has tightened up considerably since then.
    My one attempt to purchase a new lens from a shop ended without purchase. After I had paid the first shop they declared the lens to be out of stock and I would have a 3 month wait whilst Nikon manufactured more.
    This is the 135mm F2 DC. They refunded my money when asked and I have done more business with them and had only good experiences. When I initially rang around looking to check prices and availability several shops told me it was in stock. When I rang to purchase they had no stock, one store told me it had eight of them two weeks earlier when I rang.
    So I went looking on ebay and found a Hong Kong seller with, at the time, 22 thousand positive feedback. I felt that I REALLY gambled on this purchase and ordered the lens. It arrived in less than a week.
    So as others have mentioned check the feedback and see if there is a return policy. I have had a great run and am happy to recommend ebay as a purchasing step, you just have to be careful. The ebay store is chinaarts if anyone is interested.
  20. i'm a little less enthusiastic about buying an AF-S lens used than an MF model. my one attempt to do so was unproductive. KEH sent me a 300/4 AF-S lens that looked absolutely beautiful, but it had internal troubles. KEH took it back, no questions asked, of course -- which is their policy, so you lose nothing but shipping if your purchase doesn't work out. as for MF lenses, a 24/2.8 AI had a major abrasion on the front element, rendering it useless. since it came from my local brick-and-mortar dealer, i simply returned it.
    compared with many whose experiences i read about here on PN, i think i'm pretty much a chicken. i read their amazing stories and think, i could never do that! every person has his/her own comfort level...
  21. pge


    I have 14 lenses and so far have only purchased one new.

    I have purchased 15 lenses in my life and I have only had one go south on me, a 50mm f1.8 ai lens after about 8 years of use.
  22. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Absent fungus or scratches or serious damage from being dropped (focus ring damage is something to look out for), not much can go wrong with a manual or screw-driven auto-focus lens that can't be fixed fairly cheaply.
  23. I buy used lenses when available in almost like new condition and at a lower price than the same product new. I haven't had bad experiences with used - but I avoid the beaten up copies.
  24. I've bought probably 50 used lens over the past 10 years and had had only one intstance where the lens did't perform as advertised. In fact, the only new lenses I have purchased have been an 18-200 and a 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor. If you do your homework and buy only from online sellers with good feedback you probably won't get burned. Be wary of anyone who starts an auction listing with "I don't know anythjing about cameras (or lenses) but. . ."
  25. Another vote for KEH. I have two, three lenses right now that came used from them and they are as good as new and substantially cheaper. KEH is acknowledged as the best place out there to buy used gear because of their rating system (very conservative), their return policy, and their general excellent customer service. I MIGHT buy a lens from Cregs Lost but not without trying it first. The auction site - no way. I won't buy a used lens form anyone except KEH, or maybe Adorama without trying it out first.
  26. heck ya!
  27. I have bought a used lens from KEH and it's performed perfectly. I only saved about fifty bucks, but hey--that's fifty bucks! If you buy from KEH, make sure you know what you are getting. Sometimes the lens is listed without accessories that are normally included (case, hood, caps), but it is always advertised as such.
    I would consider buying from my local internet sales listing site in some instances. I often see kit lenses for sale when a photographer buys a kit but doesn't need the included lens. It is usually unused and still in the box at a nice price. In that instance, I wouldn't hesitate. I'm not sure I'd buy from ebay though, unless there was a return policy. I"ve bought a few items that arrived in much worse condition than was advertised.
  28. I think you've got to ask, as with all used stuff, why is the seller selling? A lot of acceptable but poorer versions of lenses get dumped online. Some dealers sell online and let you trade up, at a price, if you don't like what you got. Pre-auto focus lenses can be bargains, but newer lenses might be stolen or poor quality. I've only bought a couple of lenses online, with marginal satisfaction. Ask questions if possible.
  29. A year or so ago I picked up what I think is a really useful guide to selecting used lenses, and what to watch out for; if anyone is interested, drop me an email.
    As I can't recall where I came across it, it really shouldn't be posted in a forum, as the author can't be acknowledged.
    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

  30. There are two types of used lenses: one that comes from a dealer or reputable person or it is in your hand and you are examining it while the second is from an auction site where the seller has a questionable reputation or states that they do not know about the lens. I personally have met buyers who sell on the internet items that they know are non functional (including cameras & lenses) and when I questioned them about it they unequivically stated that they knew that knew and did not care...basically their attitude was buyer beware.
  31. I have bought a few lenses off of Ebay and they were used. You have to be careful who you buy from. If I see one and they have like that power seller thing, such as they have sold 12130 items or 1023 items. I do run away. This tells me that they are like a pawn shop online. Have really no experience with or in the camera, lens what have you field. So you really dont know what you are getting and I dont think they do either. I have bought lenses for about $200 below street price. I usaully ask lots of questions and if I can call the person. You can get a good idea. I was going to buy a Canon 70-300mm USM IS f/3.5-5.6 and ask the guy the history and he stated that he was selling it for his mother to go on a trip. WHAT? Run, run very fast. Not the answer I was looking for. If it is too good of a deal. Your going end up wasting your money. I have never had a problem buying a used lens off the internet. Oh and another thing. If they can not answer all my questions. I turn the page.
  32. Lots of great info! Thank you!!!! I bought my D300 from Adorama. It was a refurb but looked new. I downloaded a software to see how many shutter clicks it's gone through and it showed 600-ish. A few weeks later it wouldn't auto-focus and I sent it in to Nikon and so far it's been working great. I did purchase extra warranty from Adorama too just in case.
    I've been looking at KEH. Nice place! The lenses I want now are not there though so I'll keep checking (but the ones I'm thinking of for later purchase are... dangerous there :)). I didn't know about Ebay and the power seller deal. I always thought the more they sell and good reviews the better. It does make sense now to avoid them for thing like lenses.
  33. I have bought several lens on ebay, the only one that was not quite as advertised was the 70-200 L, has a very slight scratch on the front. They had a return policy, after trying out the lens I decided to keep it as it was perfect in every other way, including the price that I paid for it.
  34. I own 8 lenses and only one was bought new. I own 5 cameras and only one of those was bought new.
    My rules for buying used? If in person, then inspect and know your shop's return or guarantee policy, and know what it's going for elsewhere so you can make an informed decision. Or haggle if you're at a swap meet. If from an online store, again, know the shop. I have bought from KEH & B&H and both were great. Whenever possible, I try to buy from friends or fellow photographers who are careful with their gear, but that doesn't happen too often. Finally, if it will be still be worth it in the end, and it's the deal of the century and it looks like it might be okay, try the bay.
    The big auction site has been fruitful. I've had a couple of problems, but they were generally well-resolved. I agree with the no power sellers rule. I want the guy who's in a bind financially and has to sell it, or the guy who used it well and enjoyed it but no longer uses it, or bought it thinking he'd use it more but didn't. A mid-sized photo-gear shop that has an auction-site presence and a return policy is usually okay too, but this varies. An estate sale starting off with "my Dad was a photo buff..." is good too, depending on the person selling. Whenever possible, I want to buy from the person who bought the item new and used it himself. I take most things in to my camera technician for CLA & repair after getting a bargain on an auction. That downgrades the "good deal" factor, but it will run like new after a CLA most of the time, so why not?
    My largest purchase there was my 50mm Zeiss ZF lens for about $375. That lens normally goes for over $500 new, and the person I bought it from was sorry to part with it, but didn't use it often enough to justify keeping it. He had all the original packaging and a careful, detailed description of the piece. I asked him a question about the item and he answered as a photographer would. It built trust. Oh, and the lens arrived on schedule in pristine condition in its original box, packed well on top of that.
    My most dicey lens purchase (from the bay) was a $250 steal for a large format Schneider lens about the size of my head in a Copal 3 shutter. It's a 360mm f6.8 APO Symmar lens, the glass is in excellent condition, but the shutter wasn't timed right. Upon close inspection by my camera guy, he showed me tool marks where someone had beaten the gear assembly to a pulp. Parts had to be ordered from the fatherland. It cost me $400 to fix that and take apart & clean the glass (no fungus). But the lens and the shutter together new or even used are worth more than $250+$400, so I feel okay about making the investment to fix it.
    I hope these details are helpful for your decision-making process:
    --KEH: Fujinon 180mm lens for large format camera - works great, will buy there again.
    --B&H: accessories used for the Rolleiflex TLR
    --Swap Meet: 105mm Nikon Macro lens - love it, should have haggled
    --Sidewalk Sale at Looking Glass Photo Store: Graphic View large format camera $95 w/new bellows
    --Camera Technician's consignment shop: 55mm Nikon Macro Lens $90 and 1-year guarantee
    --My friends: Rollei TLR accessories, Nikon F100 w/35-85mm lens, Nikon SB600 & Manfrotto tripod
    --ThE Bay: Noblex 135U camera in awesome shape, Rolleiflex TLR camera circa 1937, cheap 60s Bronica SQ with shutter problems that I wish I had returned, Zeiss 50mm f1.4 ZF mount lens, 15 Rollei filters, large format Schneider 360mm f6.8 lens, Tominon Polaroid MP4 type lens and shutter for large format, ground glass for the LF camera, and a 4x5 field camera that had major unadvertised problems which I successfully returned.
  35. oar


    I have ordered 4 used primes off ebay and one zoom.
    Only one prime seemed to have some problems. Some dust and a hair in the lens but it had no effect on the photos.
    I am a happy customer.
  36. I'm another happy E-Bay customer. I ALWAYS ask the seller 3 basic questions this way: "Greetings please describe the following: 1)Condition Of Mount - firm & in place, circular, dents/scratches? 2)Focussing Ring - Firm & Slow, or loose & slippery? 3) Optical Glass - Internal/External - scratches/dust/fungus? Thank You
    If they are unclear in any of these questions, don't buy.
  37. As long as you buy from a reputable place that offers a short-term warranty/return policy (even a couple of weeks is plenty of time to check out the lens or body to make sure it has no problems) you'll be okay. I've purchased used from KEH, B&H, and a reputable local camera store (Penn Camera in the DC metro area), but would also not hesitate to order from Adorama (where I've ordered new but not used). Based on my experience, B&H ratings are as described, and KEH ratings (especially "bargain) are typically better than described. Personally, I would be hesitant to purchase from eBay, etc unless the seller is in the area and you can check it out in person.
  38. I have two new lenses, a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 and Nikkor 180mm f2.8. The other nine are used. I follow D F's rules when buying on Ebay. If the description does not meet with the ebay lens I ask to return it. Only happen once, the rest have been great. KEH has been very good. I buy and sell on ebay to check out if a lenses does the job for me.
  39. Your chances of getting a good used lens depends a great deal on the type of lens itself. If you are buying an older manual focus Nikkor, all metal construction and most built like a tank; if the outside is not beat up and the glass surfaces are free of obvious defects, then your chances are very good. As you move up to the more sophisticated lenses, zoom, autofocus, VR, etc. the construction is usually lighter and less durable and there are more things that can go wrong.
  40. No. I have phobia of used lenses.
  41. I read these responses because I am bidding on a Canon 70 200 2.8 IS on eBay.
    My logic is that there are many used lenses out there, most of them probably working.
    :) Harald Meling
  42. I try and find what I need in the used depts of B&H or Adorama, and even being in Australia, they offer the best service and no questions return policy. Next I would look on eBay but only carefully. Prices there should be less than B&H due to the risk, so pick a seller who has a big presence...a specialist...and you will be ok. I have not had a problem so far.
  43. Thanks for the feedback re Adorama, Stephen.
  44. Maybe I haven't searched enough, but good quality used lenses are typically close to 90-95% of the new price, so you might as well buy the new lens. (unless you find a rare reasonable seller selling it for much less than that)
  45. All of my lenses are used. My idea is that most professional equipment, especially studio type equipment, is going to be well cared for by profressional photographers (I know there will be exceptions). So far this has been true, all of my lenses are in excellent shape, no scratches or mildue or oil spotting. I think one lens is a bit stiff on the focusing ring. It may be different if you're buying consumer level equipment.
  46. When Buying, Used equipment , I only do it three ways one being local thru the advertisments on the web site's and I get to look it over and then buy it , then Adorama, and last but not least is KEH.com and I buy their bargain not ugly one's : No problem at all: good luck :
  47. I've bought mostly used lenses — usually on eBay, both private sellers and stores, the odd time at a local camera store — and have been happy with the purchase 99 per cent of the time. I check their feedback rating, of course, on eBay. There are many great used lenses out there at decent prices.
  48. YES! -- 6X No problems
  49. eBay for me, too, eleven years and counting. Never been burned. Have bought from eBay --
    1. 1 CLA’d Pentax ME Super from a camera shop in Colorado with an eBay store.
    2. 14 used “classic” lenses, all keepers, all for nickels and dimes, from mostly individual sellers.
    3. 1 new Pentax 55-200 from an eBay store.
    Two years ago, my son bought all 5 of his used digital Sigmas off eBay from different sellers. All pristine then and still today.
    Goodwill’s auction site is another resource to investigate, even though there are no guarantees. 2 cameras from them – a new old stock Canon AE-1 Program with 50mm kit lens and gorgeous chocolate fitted Canon case with all the gold on the lettering still intact and a nearly new complete Nikon FG outfit with 2 lenses and other Nikon goodies, all for a song. (If anyone's interested, there are 3 boxed Nikon D40 outfits listed right now!)
    We wouldn’t have what we do without eBay and Goodwill.
    Agreed on the pointed questions. Also must have good close up photos of all angles of a lens. If a seller is “listing for” anybody but themselves and/or the photos of the item are such that you can’t tell anything from them and they won’t post better ones or email any to you – no sale.
    If a seller’s answers are vague and not particularly knowledgeable – no sale.
    “No returns” or as little as 3 days return – no sale. No less than 7 days for me.
    Won’t ship with a tracking number – no sale. Return policy time frame should start when you I receive the item, and a tracking number is the only way to document that. Same goes for insurance; must offer shipping insurance.
    Less than 99% positive feedback – maybe a sale. Read their feedback profile for at least 6 months past keeping in mind there are plenty of eBay buyers who leave unfounded negative feedback.
    There’s no need to fear eBay Power Sellers. If their offerings are mostly in the same “family” – photography, camping gear, etc., then I deem they specialize in what they sell. Plenty of well known, respectable brick and mortars also have an eBay presence these days. Getting tough to compete and survive without it, actually. Likewise, plenty of individual reputable sellers have eBay stores or a long term eBay presence. (Like me – 11 consistent years, 860 transactions as a buyer and seller, 100% positive! Go me!)
    Just use common sense and trust your instincts.
  50. Have purchased many used lenses. In every instance no problem. Great service and quality product from Tony Rose at Popflash.photo, B&H and KEH.
  51. More wonderful things to think about!!! I'll have to print this page out... or copy and paste it to my Google Docs.
    I am looking at some used stuff. Some are less than new but some others are only $20 difference or even more expensive. Nothing so far is exactly what I need right now.
    I'll keep looking so I can save a few bucks here and there. The more I save the more things I can buy with my budget :)
    I've been eye-balling some vintage dual lens cameras from the Bay. These things I'm not worries about buying used :)
  52. Savitri,
    See if you can get the optional 150mm for the Rolleiflex TLR. That and the 2.8 80....nice.
  53. If you buy from ebay or Craig's list, it's buyer beware. There are good deals though. It takes some research, knowledge, and common sense to avoid the obvious pitfalls and often there isn't much recourse if it goes wrong. That said, I've bought a couple of lenses off of ebay and it worked out great. But I bought more used camera's/lenses from KEH and I've had nothing but good experience. They rate very conservatively and stand by their product. I can't speak for Adorama or B & H as far as used equipment, though I've had no problems with them for new stuff.
    Another guy is Tony at Pop.Flash photo. Really stands up for what he sells, nothing but good things to say about his business.
    I'm not connected to any of these people BTW
  54. I refuse to buy lenses new. I think it's a waste of money when I can get used lenses for great prices from places like KEH and Adorama, and in my case I can get last generation pro lenses for the same price as new consumer lenses.
  55. Once upon a time with fleabay I had great results buying cameras, except for one from Canada that came misrepresented, a N90x, and complained loudly to the seller and suggested very negative feedback, and got a check to 'settle' things in return (he had seen an attorney).
    But with lenses, fleabay is a poor place to go looking for a used lens, as there is really no way to evaluate, and unless the seller has a HUGE number of positive feedbacks and a 'return' policy, then you're stuck. Many purchasers there say 'I just sell it to someone else' which compounds the problem.
    So, in the past I bought camera bodies.
    In the more recent past, I advertised all over, and bought equipment from people who didn't use it and got wonderful results - often multiple copies of a number of lenses and also met people who were camera/lens users and some even gave me their equipment (they wanted a 'good home' or sold it to me at far less than Fair Market Value because they say my work.
    So, I ended up with a huge number of good lenses and bodies, etc., (many were stolen)
    Now that I have (deliberately tardy) insurance proceeds, I've once again been buying, but find that 'refurbs' where I buy the (not everywhere) often are priced below or even well below used prices. So, I buy them whenever I can and have to call daily to 'see what's available or 'just arrived' as I am sure I pay among the lowest prices of anybody for them, being a volume purchaser (and for cash, taking nothing back)
    An advantage (despite paying sales tax) is that I can test 'on the spot and with great experience now, I almost always can spot a bad one right away. If so, I just pass, then wait for another. Also, if a bad one, I have built up a great friendship with Nikon's tech department in El Segundo and idolize their good treatment of me (and am EVER so thankful to them for wonderful, out of the ordinary, great treatment, so if there is an issue, I just make a call (especially if warranty's expiring) to 'hold' my warranty (90-days on refurbs).
    They always do it right.
    It's really pretty simple, but finding low-cost refurbs is the tricky part, and I ain't sharing my source currently (maybe later).
    John (Crosley)
  56. The whole "bad copy" thing is a bit overrated. A bigger risk with buying used is that you get a genuinely problematic lens, e.g. a cheap lens that needs a complete relube or some dust in the lens, or some big dent. Basically it works so that when buying used, the price should be the new price minus the risk aspect of not buying new (say 10-20%, basically new has manufacturer warranty and is tested right out of the factory), minus the age and wear of the item (made last year 0%, heavy use over 30 years 80%...you get my drift) and minus the risk factor of buying from a non-authorized dealer (e.g. KEH no or minimum risk, some guy on eBay minimum to high risk depending on feedback and general impression).
    Following these guidelines, you will get statistically the right prices since losses can be amortized over severall bys. However, if you're purchasing just one or tow non rare items, then it's best to stick to fairly new stuff from reputed dealers. There always be someone on eBay with a "buy it now" button and a 25%-75% premium and those can be safely ignored in favor of more reliable sellers.
    Now why do I buy used? Because a lot of the stuff isn't even available new, at least where I live.
  57. Savitri, don't listen to all this gargle, these novices are giving out.
    -there's no warranty
    -you don't know if the lens are scratched, dented, defective image etc
    Just check out Ebay for instance:
    This guy is selling his 70-200 IS for $1700, has 11 bids, and 20 odd hours to go.
    That's just bullcrap, by the end of the auction, those lens will reach 2500 when you can buy them brand new for 2100.
    I can't afford to spend thousands of dollars on something, "saving" a few bucks.
  58. People this thread who have deep pockets please keep buying new lenses so there are more available used and there is less demand.
  59. My two best lenses are a 135mm takumar that I purchased at ebay for $20 (including shipping) and a Vivitar series 1 90mm/2.5 macro that I got from B&H for $130. Very sharp & extremely well built lenses. Both are manual focus and m42 mount, which I like because they can be used in both of my canon 5d and pentax k20d and cameras that I might buy in the future (who knows, perhaps a Nikon). If you feel confortable using this kind of manual gear then it is an alternative that may offer excelent image quality at low cost. For newer lenses, however, the savings that you get from buying used might not be worthed. My rule of thumb is that if the price of the used lens is more than about 70% of the price of the new lens, I will purchase new.
  60. I've gotten 5 lenses used. There's no way I could have bought them new, and even if I had the money I never did have enough interest to pay full prices. I wanted a Canon 70-300mm IS lens, new ones locally would have cost me with local tax over $900.00 and that was not going to happen. Found an earlier 75-300mm version on eBay, won it for $405.00 and it included the hood. I didn't mind it being the earlier version, and it was like new.
    I've had luck with the free local online site Kijiji (its owned by eBay, and we do not have Craigs List locally). A fellow was offering Tamron 11-18mm and an 18-200mm lenses, both new in the box for $700.00. He was also going to include a Canon 75-300mm (non IS) used lens in the deal. I got them all for $600.00, sold the Canon for $135.00, so the two Tamrons cost me $465.00, less than half the new price locally. The guy said he had just bought the Tamrons and broke his Canon camera body so decided to switch to Nikon. The lenses were still in the plastic wrap in the boxes, with no fingerprints or other signs of use.
    Later I got a Sigma 17-70mm lens from a person saying they just did not use the lens. Cost me $200.00. I wasn't actually looking for the lens, but it was such a nice looking one and I bought it again at less than half its new price.
    I'd been checking out 500mm mirror lenses, but again wasn't really interested in what they are going for new. Just last week I got one off the same Kijiji list for $50.00, which suited my interest just fine. Nice and clean, original box and lens cap, and even came with a Canon T mount adapter.
    So buying used has been great for me, but would probably not be interested in a used camera body.
  61. I have a used Nikon 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 from the auction site which is very nice, and more recently a used 85mm f/1.8D from Aperture UK in London, which is incredible.
    Just today I have received a Tokina 80-200 f/2.8 AT-X PRO from an italian seller on the auction site, which is in beautiful condition. Whether it is optically a great lens is another matter still for research, but I think secondhand is a fairly good risk.
  62. I've sold Nikon film and DSLR bodies on eBay and have sold Leica M and Contax SLR bodies on eBay. I purchased a 50mm Summicron on eBay in 1998 and use it all the time. I've had none of the gear I've sold come back to me and I've been very pleased with the 50mm Summicron.
    After about six months of use I learned that a Rollei 3.5 that I bought on eBay was in need of significant repairs. I sold it to the repair shop for $100. Buyer beware!
  63. "...I came upon a lot of talks about returning a copy or even two to finally get a good one (or get a different brand/model all together). "
    That is the problem. Those who are not satisfied with their first or 2nd copy, is purely based on subjective criteria while making the decision. I have not yet seen some one producing scientific tests to reject the 1st copy. Though, there is a possibility, but very remote.
    As you can see in the post that overwhelming majority have bought used lenses and they are very happy, including me.
  64. You get what you pay for. I shoot old Minolta cameras, the only lens` I can buy are used. I only buy Minolta lens' now. I have never has an issue with a Minolta lens. Different story with all the second party lens'. I suppose they were good for the time they were made but are not the quality as a prime lens.
    Only exception is a Sigma 600mm mirror lens, which is a good lens but very hard too use.
    When I buy a digital slr I am only going to buy prime lens'. --Joe
  65. There are actually quite a few problems with a lot of new lenses, though obviously you increase your (negative) odds a bit by buying used.
    I mostly buy used lenses and I'm very happy. I highly recommend KEH in that regards.
  66. You don't increase your negative odds by buying used.
    Just like vintage furniture, you can easily end up with crap if you don't know what you're looking at/bidding on/buying.
    You can end up with a crap lens buying new just as easily as buying used. You increase your negative odds by buying from shady dealers and retailers, or by taking a chance on eBay.
    KEH is excellent, never had a problem, and have purchased plenty of used gear (bodies, lenses, and accessories) from them over the years.
  67. 90% of my equipment is used or a very old generation model.
    • My Rebel XT was bought new in May of this year for $200
    • I own a $150 ball head I only paid $45 for and all it was missing was 1" length of comfort rubber.
    • I picked up two quick release plate setups for that ball head for $35 total when both combined new would have been over $80.
    • I bought a tamron 28-75mm + multi-coating Omega close-up filters for $250 total and it works great. New It's about $375-$495 depending on who you buy from, and then you don't even get the close-up filters.
    • I have a tamron 60-300mm adaptall-2 sp lens that I only paid $10 for. I then bought a 2x teleconverter to go along with it for $35, and a adaptall-to-eos w/ af confirm chip for $40 so now I have an equivalent 120-600mm lens with good image quality (albeit a slow lens) for less than $100.
    • And my last bargain is my tripod which came with an attached ball leveler I paid $75 for which brand new sold for $300+. The bubble levels have evaporated and part of the twist handle to raise the geared column snapped off, but two bubble levels are $15 total and I'm handy enough to DIY myself a durable handle later for less than $10.
    So in the end, I'm a huge fan of buying used when I only spent $515 for close to $1000 in equipment (doesn't include cost of the new XT).
  68. bmm


    Another for "YES" to used, including eBay.
    I have 6 primes and 3 of them were bought used.
    As many have mentioned above, there are many levels of 'used' as well. In one case my purchase was from a private guy but he was really cool, answered questions, and gave me a good 30 mins of inspection time including shooting numerous images through the lens before the deal was done. Also it was for a 24/2.8 prime so not heaps of $$.
    The other 2 used lenses were both more costly (135/2DC andd 180/2.8) - however both were bought from an eBay dealer in Japan with whom I'd already had good dealings, and both lenses were as-new including full packaging, paperwork, accessories etc and little if any use at all. In fact the 180 was still in its original plastic with stickers never opened.
    The one thing I'd advocate is patience. While I've had the good experiences above, I've had to wait weeks or months for the right item and the right level of comfort to occur. But it has been worth it in terms of savings, and also in terms of getting some trusted relationships (eg the guy in Japan knows what I want next and emails me whenever something comes in that suits - which is awesome).
  69. I have purchased three used lenses, from Nikon Cafe members and the last from Murphy Camera in Kentucky which a Nikon Cafe member alerted me to on one of the threads. All have worked perfectly and all saved me quite a bit of cash...the last one (200 f2) I saved over a thousand on that lens alone! So it can be a very big help for acquiring camra gear and saving a little money also. Between the three I have saved over $2200 by buying used instead of new. There is no distinguishing these lenses from brand new...literally not one single scratch or cosmetic imperfection whatsoever. Well worth looking for good used equipment. So many people get a lens to try and don't like it and then sell it. Bargains are sometimes out there!
  70. Wow, Keith, $2200 savings is amazing!!!
    Based on some recommendation from this board I am looking at getting a 105mm 2.5 manual AI(S). Adorama and KEH has them (E- and Ex) with slightly different prices. I guess go with the cheapest?
    Thanks for sharing your experiences and purchases. It's really nice to know. Gives me more confidence in buying used -- which I prefer for anything if possible. It does take patience since the one I really want isn't available anywhere but so far I'm still happy with just having a 50mm, I can wait!
  71. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    If you can talk to them, see if the cheaper lens is the older version with the smaller rear lens element (Sonnar type) or the newer version with the larger lens element (Gauss type). The one with the larger rear lens element is the better version, I believe, and is the one I've got. Price differences may be based on that. The large rear element is unmistakable and distinctive, and they'll know precisely what you're talking about if they have the lens in hand. KEH can get a lens out of the warehouse and check. Don't know if Adorama will or not, but if the lens isn't described as either Sonnar or Gauss, you'll want to find out. Sonnars aren't bad, though, just that the Gauss is considered to be better at closer focusing (not terribly close compared to the 50mm lens or the 24mm lens I suggested to you, but better at its closest focus distance than the Sonnar.
    I can post a picture of the back of my Gauss when I get home if you can't find pictures on line and want to see what I'm talking about.
  72. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Google images didn't have anything showing, so here's a shot of the back element. It focuses down to a meter, but will show a 17-80 lens at half height of a portrait frame at that distance.
  73. Awesome! Thanks so much for this bit of info!
    I have been a lousy Ebay bidder. There was this 17-50mm and I emailed the owner and got great responses. I felt confident and that night the auction ended I fell asleep. My almost 5-mo-old have been sick and I just passed out while tucking the oldest one to bed. Her bed time story put me to sleep!
    Today there was another one - same deal, I emailed the owner in advance and got good answers. I got ready, 17-minutes it said. Twenty minutes later I remembered. I got into grading and totally forgot about the lens. AURGH!!!!!
  74. Of my collection of lenses, 13 were bought new, 5 were bought second-hand from a dealer, face to face, and 3 were bought sight unseen from reputable dealers (KEH, Grays of Westminster, and Leica Shop - Vienna).
    The only lens that I bought privately sight unseen, was one that I had advertised "wanted". It was subsequently sent to SK Grimes for modification, and they provided a very comprehensive report on the condition of it. Considering what I paid for it, postage to and from SK Grimes, and their fee for their modification work; I consider that I got a bargain for something that only one camera manufacturer has ever made, in small quantities, for a very high (original) price.
    The camera collection comprises 4 new cameras, 7 second hand cameras bought from dealers face to face, and 3 second hand cameras bought sight unseen from reputable dealers (KEH, Leica Shop - Vienna and Aperture Photographic - London).
    So for I have not been disapointed with any of the second hand purchases of lenses or cameras.
    My one and only experience with Ebay and Pay Pal turned out to be a disaster.
  75. Only if it was a Nikkor?

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