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01-03-2014, 01:10 PM   #1
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Retiring A Lens

Just curious.


Have you ever had to "retire" a lens, not because it got dropped, or terribly scratched, or something traumatic, but just because it just sort of wore out?


Like maybe one of those plastic mount lenses? Did it get so worn and wobbly on the mount, that it was just finished, and that was just that? Or, like, did you ever have a situation where, say, maybe the motor got real slow or jerky, or was maybe just no longer reliable, or something? I mean, I dunno. Little things can go wrong with lenses, just like any other mechanical device, right? And with so many tough, old battleship lenses around, and some newer lenses that appear cheaply constructed, I wonder if this sort of thing ever happens? You know, it just got so beat up and worn out that you had to let it go? You know, like an old car with just too many miles on it?


I guess what I'm wondering as I'm shopping around is if lenses have a "typical lifespan" or "shutter count" so to speak. I mean, I realize some people really care for their stuff compulsively, while others are rough with their gear and toss it around like hammers and nails, but in general?

Like, say, maybe I spot a used, higher-end lens that would be good, but brand new would be way more expensive than I could afford, and in the pictures its clearly got scuffs and scratches and showing significant signs of use, but the guy says the glass is fine and it still works perfectly. If it looks beat up should I assume it might be near the end of its service life? Should I steer clear? Or could a used lens be downright ugly, but still work just fine, with plenty of use left in it, and actually be a really great find?


If you see things like "a little bit of dust inside" or "zoom is a little stiff" or "faint marks on front element that won't affect picture quality" do you just say "eh" and click on to the next ad, pretty much?


And, on a side note, have you ever bought a lens, and it was just so hands down better than what you had been using that you just retired or sold or threw another lens away, just tossed it right in the trash, end of story?


Last edited by DavidSKAF3; 01-03-2014 at 05:53 PM.
01-03-2014, 01:27 PM   #2
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I've never had an AF lens fail, though I have heard stories about newer Canikon lenses.

I did sell a few M series lenses (50/1.7 & 28/3.5) after acquiring a Sears 50/1.7 and a Sigma 28/2.8. Not because they were so much better but because I paid so little for them and wanted more funds to feed my LBA. Besides, I also acquired an A50/1.4, 2 A50/1.7s,, and an A28/2.8 around the same time...
01-03-2014, 01:56 PM   #3
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Let's see here -
  • Super-Multi-Coated Auto-Takumar 85mm f1.8 [M42 Screw mount] - built in the late 60's. Second owner and still going perfectly.
  • Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 55mm f1.8 [M42 Screw mount] - bought in 1970, operating perfectly
  • SMC Pentax (K) 28mm F3.5 Shift - built in the mid 70's - operating perfectly
  • SMC Pentax M 150mm f3.5 - built in the mid 70's - operating just perfectly
  • SMC Pentax A 50mm f1.7 - built in the mid 80's - operating just perfectly
  • SMC Pentax A 300* f4 - built in the mid 80's - operating just perfectly
  • Contax Carl Zeiss 28mm f2.8 - built in the mid 80's - still doing just perfect - I swapped the mounts.
  • Contax Carl Zeiss 85mm f2.8 - built in the mid 80's - still doing just perfect - I swapped the mounts.
  • Leitz Wetzlar Elmarit-R 28mm f2.8 - built in the mid 80's - still doing just perfect - the mount was swapped
These lenses are all metal and glass. They are 100% mechanical for the most part. The "A" models do have some electronics in terms of the lens type and aperture reporting within the mount interface. There is little that can wear out.

If you want to retire an old all mechanical lens because you feel that it is all worn out - just send it to me and I'll "dispose" of it properly.

01-03-2014, 02:06 PM   #4
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Short answer is no. And don't fall into the "plastic mount" trap. As long as I've been on this forum I have seen one (1) reported failure of a plastic mount, and that was the result of a drop that likely would have killed a metal mount as well.

Cameras have shutters that seem to have a particular life span and even rated life. But lenses don't at least the well made ones. I have several made in the 1950's that work just fine. 60 years old and going strong. So I don't think there is any danger of them wearing out, drops and rough use that's different but you can usually tell.

I bought a Pentax-F 35-105 at auction that looked absolutely pristine and only after close examination did I discover it must have been dropped at some point. I doubt the seller knew there was problem either. But without the impact damage there would have been nothing wrong with it.

01-03-2014, 02:24 PM   #5
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Though I'd take almost everything out of his mouth with huge grains of salt (he contradicts himself regularly and some things he claims are nonsense), Ken Rockwell has a pretty good guide to check for nastiness in used lenses.
The Flashlight Test
01-03-2014, 02:41 PM   #6
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RioRico had a good guide to pawnshop and other lenses...

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/54-pentax-lens-articles/59245-pawnshop-le...ers-guide.html

Newer users would do well to look through his posts. Sadly he stopped posting in June 2012 and posted a goodbye in October...
01-03-2014, 03:32 PM   #7
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Thanks for the link!
01-03-2014, 04:56 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by davids8560 Quote
just tossed it right in the trash, end of story?
My hair stood up when I read that!! How could you even think of a fate like that for a poor defenseless lens!!! My rule! Never sell!! I don't have top end lenses, but I like what I got! And they like me! Why would I ever want to part with any of them!! It would be like selling one of my kids!(Although I did contemplate doing that to finance a K-3)


Last edited by Joel B; 01-03-2014 at 05:57 PM.
01-03-2014, 05:49 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
Let's see here -
  • Super-Multi-Coated Auto-Takumar 85mm f1.8 [M42 Screw mount] - built in the late 60's. Second owner and still going perfectly.
  • Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 55mm f1.8 [M42 Screw mount] - bought in 1970, operating perfectly
  • SMC Pentax (K) 28mm F3.5 Shift - built in the mid 70's - operating perfectly
  • SMC Pentax M 150mm f3.5 - built in the mid 70's - operating just perfectly
  • SMC Pentax A 50mm f1.7 - built in the mid 80's - operating just perfectly
  • SMC Pentax A 300* f4 - built in the mid 80's - operating just perfectly
  • Contax Carl Zeiss 28mm f2.8 - built in the mid 80's - still doing just perfect - I swapped the mounts.
  • Contax Carl Zeiss 85mm f2.8 - built in the mid 80's - still doing just perfect - I swapped the mounts.
  • Leitz Wetzlar Elmarit-R 28mm f2.8 - built in the mid 80's - still doing just perfect - the mount was swapped
These lenses are all metal and glass. They are 100% mechanical for the most part. The "A" models do have some electronics in terms of the lens type and aperture reporting within the mount interface. There is little that can wear out.

If you want to retire an old all mechanical lens because you feel that it is all worn out - just send it to me and I'll "dispose" of it properly.

Haha okay will do!

But seriously thanks for your reply. I just got my first older prime lenses. Without a doubt they seem remarkably tough, they feel really solid in the hand, and fortunately in this case the glass looks really good.

Guess they're in for the long-haul...
01-03-2014, 05:58 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by davids8560 Quote
Guess they're in for the long-haul...
Unlike things made these days, which seem all too often to be designed for obsolescence, those old lenses were designed to simply last. Other than possibly having them CLA'd every 30 years or so there really is nothing that can go wrong with them with normal use. The saying "cameras come and go, glass is forever" comes to mind.
01-03-2014, 06:07 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Cameras have shutters that seem to have a particular life span and even rated life. But lenses don't at least the well made ones.
The non-toy Q lenses, and the 645 LS 75/2.8,
are as well made as the Pentax lenses that don't have shutters.
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