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03-10-2016, 07:15 PM   #1
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How much of a chance do you take buying a used lens?

I'm just curious how much of a chance you take in buying a used lens. I read quite a
few lens reviews and it seems more than a few of lens being tested have to be returned
due to some kind of defect. It's no problem with a new lens which is under warranty
but a used lens is a different story.

03-10-2016, 07:29 PM   #2
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The only used lenses I've bought were local so I could fully test them out...
03-10-2016, 07:34 PM   #3
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I've been perfectly fine with it, out of the lenses i've bought (not including the kit lens), 2/3 of them were bought used. The Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, and the Tokina 400 f/5.6. To be honest the Tamron is a bit persnickety about its Auto Focus, but its not much worse than most Tamron 17-50 lenses, as i've heard. Tokina is great.

It's up to you - if you're buying from a good, authorized seller like Keh I wouldn't hesitate, especially if its something like a Limited Lens with few points of failure.
03-10-2016, 07:35 PM   #4
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Of course it depends.

In my case buying from B&H and KEH,** and mostly older lenses: Vivitar Series 1, Tamron SP Adaptall-2, and Pentax super Tak and K (smc), maybe I returned 20%--out of about 15 lenses purchased I returned 3 lenses. If purchased with money back guarantee, you only lose shipping, and usually not that. If using digital the process of checking lenses is very quick.

Personally I don't buy newer lenses, but if I did I would think there is greater risk with newer ones in perfect condition. Even w/ older lenses I prefer to get ones that are in BGN (KEH) or about 8 (B&H)--so long as it isn't so graded becasuse of dented filter ring/other signs of abuse. Not only because it is cheaper but because a better lens likely was used more. Anyway that's my theory.

**Really mostly KEH as w/ B&H it is my local store (so I have tested them in person) and anyway in the last decade most of my purchases were from KEH--but nothing in the last year so I cannot say how they are now--especially since they "ruined" their website presentation/information.

Last edited by dms; 03-10-2016 at 07:41 PM.
03-10-2016, 07:40 PM   #5
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Around here, I think it's not so big a risk. I trust that most forum users would notice if there's something really wrong with the lens, especially if they've got a lot of posts.

Front and back focus depend on the camera itself as well, so you can get that with a new lens.
03-10-2016, 07:43 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I find I make two kinds of lens purchases.

A). Expensive, new(ish) lenses. These may be brand new from a retailer, or second hand from a reliable source,
like the marketplace here or KEH. Either way, the lenses are well presented and I'm confident I'll receive a good product
and can easily return if a problem should arrive.

B). Used lenses with little provenance and much uncertainty of quality and uncertain return policy. This includes
shopgoodwill, ebay and local pawn shops, among others. For all of these sources, I only scavenge for bargains,
typically less than $100, very often less than $50. I do my research and never pay full market. I've scored quite
a few gems from these avenues, (pristine copies of SuperTak 85/1.9 and SMC K 28/3.5, each for about $20),
and the occasional rare stinker, with most falling somewhere in the middle, (bargain, but requiring some work;
cleaning, helical lube, etc).

Ultimately, if the cost is high, I go for a reliable source and will pay a premium for that reliability. If the cost is low,
I'm wiling to gamble.
03-10-2016, 08:22 PM   #7
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At least half of my lenses were bought used--in the marketplace, from KEH or on eBay. I can only remember getting a problematic lens twice (one each KEH & eBay): in both cases, I got a full refund.
03-10-2016, 08:36 PM   #8
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The only place I've been burned is ShopGoodwill, where I've had one I'm sure was deliberately misrepresented, but it wasn't expensive. I've got a few bargains there too.

03-10-2016, 08:39 PM   #9
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I like to gamble on lenses at I've won more than I've lost. The best deals on goodwill were several years ago. Too many people know about it now, and there are snipers just like on evilBay. Even worse, there is no feedback system to let you know which sellers are good and which ones suck. And many do suck.

I currently own more than 70 lenses and almost all of them were purchased used. I had a DA L that came with my K-x, and a DA L 55-300 purchased OEM white box. I have a Q 02 that came with my Q10, a 18-135 purchased OEM white box, and a Sigma 150-500 that was purchased retail.
03-10-2016, 08:57 PM   #10
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I have bought (at least) the following lenses second hand:

FA43/1.9 (two copies)

They have come from a combination of the PF Marketplace, eBay and an Australian Pentax Buy/Sell facebook page. They have all been excellent, including the ones I did not keep.

I have recently placed an apparently successful bid for an FA20/2.8 on and I must admit I'm more nervous about that transaction than any before it. We shall se....
03-10-2016, 08:59 PM   #11

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I've bought used lenses on the goodwill site but mostly on ebay. Oh as well as through B&H and KEH.

IIRC I had to return one to B&H while another one was pristine. The one lens I bought through KEH (for parts listed as a poor copy) ended up being blemish free and fully functional. Ratings are all over the place in my experiences.

Ebay, however, is where the really scary stuff has happened ime.. I bought a lens through there where the seller claimed AF not working. Only to find the lens was missing contacts haha (which actually was the reason I bought the lens from KEH). It was also missing the weather seals around the zoom ring (which wasn't documented). But was a sharp copy so I deal with it.

Another ebay lens also reported poor AF but it worked yet had trouble focusing at infinity. Even after multiple repair attempts Precision couldn't get it right. Ricoh stepped in and just replaced the whole lens (which does focus at infinity just fine).

Yet another ebay lens was missing the BB that adjusts the aperture ring. Which was undocumented in the listing. But he threw in a few filters and a cheap rubber hood and it came with the original asahi lens cap so I kept it haha.

I think it is similar to buying a used vehicle -- there are generally 2 types of sellers. 1 type are the honest kind who are just looking for something different to meet their wants or needs. The other type have had problems with the car or are expecting problems with the car and are looking to unload it before it becomes their headache.

With both car buying and lens buying, you have the issue of running into these low integrity/moral buyers. So do your due diligence. Since we have no way of taking a lens out for a 'spin' when shopping online, the best thing to do is ask lots of questions in email (get it in writing). And also, what I like to do, video record yourself opening the shipping box and show the condition of the lens upon receiving it. Take the lens out on camera and turn all the rings gently, try to show the surface condition of the front and rear glass. try to also show the shutter actuation and the rear mount condition. If there is anything visible wrong you will have proof you weren't the cause.
03-10-2016, 09:01 PM   #12
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I've bought dozens of lenses mostly used. I've had issues with 2 or 3 out of 50 more more. I've bought 3 lenses brand new. Two of those have been sent back for repair. Not initial defect, repair after several months. One under warranty the other not.

So at this point I tend to trust used more than I do new
03-10-2016, 09:21 PM - 1 Like   #13
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I have bought almost all of my lenses in used condition from eBay & Gumtree.

Sellers that understand Cameras and Lenses tend to be ultra conservative in their descriptions typically saying there is dust in the lens, and cleaning marks (even if there isn't) and exaggerating insignificant issues.

Sellers that don't understand don't see things like Haze & Fungus and don't do too much checking, if the external appearance looks good.

I price lenses on the worst case scenario, and clean and repair them if required.

If you are looking at 3rd party lenses (Sigma, Tamron etc) there is some interesting data here:
03-10-2016, 09:26 PM   #14
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I bought most of my lenses used and have had excellent luck so far. I've also had excellent luck with my new ones too.
03-10-2016, 10:16 PM   #15
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I buy used lenses 90% of the time.

In the last year I've probably bought about a dozens lenses through the for sale ads on this forum. In each case I received a lens that was as good, or better, then the seller described. You can totally trust any seller on this site who has lots of positive feedback.

Over the last 15 years I've purchased hundreds of used lenses through Ebay. Sure I got a few lemons that were not as described, even from camera savy sellers with great feedback. Yet I continue to purchase lenses on Ebay because of Ebay and PayPals' return policy.

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