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09-23-2018, 08:17 AM   #1
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Where to pick up a used bargain lens in traditional brick 'n' mortar store ?

I frequently hear folk here saying things like "I was rummaging around in a 'second-hand store' when I came across a collection of old Pentax lens" etc. etc.

Well I've never found anywhere where I've come across old Pentax gear? I'd love to find a shop that's got a shelf of used gear that the owner can't shift and/or has no idea what they're worth and pick up a bargain. I suspect that most second-hand/antique dealers when they come across, say a house contents sale, individually put items up on ebay knowing through easy research what the items are worth. Maybe it's being in the UK that's the problem? Anyone any idea where might I find such establishments or are these opportunities mostly behind us these days?

Maybe, if the owner has just priced the items from on-line search before fixing a price, they might not have any detailed knowledge of used lens problems - I don't really to be honest, beyond obvious dust, maybe slack adjustments and obvious fungus. I've little experience to actually quantify problems with old/used gear and thus be able to knock the price down. Any advice/suggestions of approach, please.

I suspect I may get a few bargain stories that will depress me , but hearing them might give me some clues if I get to find suitable stores ...

Thanks

09-23-2018, 08:29 AM - 1 Like   #2
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In the UK, Gumtree is worth a look. Occasionally some interesting items come up there, usually at way above market prices, but occasionally significantly under. I've found a couple of bargains over the last year or two.

Another thing to do is look for eBay UK auctions that end between 11pm and 8am, and use a timed proxy bidding (or "sniping") service to place a bid at the last minute, setting the maximum at the upper limit you're happy to pay. Most of the vintage lenses I've bought were acquired that way.

Finally, dig around at car boot sales and antique fairs and other large outdoor / indoor sales. One of my hobbies is amateur radio, and I've picked up a few nice lenses at amateur radio swap-meets from the flea-market and junk sale areas...
09-23-2018, 08:31 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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Charity shops and pawn shops are a likely source. At established second-hand shops, ask if they ever get camera gear. And if they do, you might give them your name & number so they can call you if they get any Pentax stuff. Church sales, boot sales, and flea markets can also offer bargains.

As for getting bargain prices, it all depends on the seller. Some sellers are sticklers for getting the highest price possible and think everything is a vintage treasure. Others just want to move the junk out as fast as possible. I always haggle unless I know that that seller won't or can't budge.

Oh, and always bring a camera when you shop so you can mount the lens and test it on the spot.

Happy hunting!!!
09-23-2018, 08:46 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
Oh, and always bring a camera when you shop so you can mount the lens and test it on the spot.
Good advice. Alternatively, I tend to carry a small flashlight in my pocket, to shine through any lens I might consider purchasing. It can help to show up fungus, haze, scratches, oil on the diaphragm blades etc...

09-23-2018, 09:14 AM   #5
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In recent years the thrift stores have been taking almost anything photographic and putting it on ebay, which is kind of a lose-lose situation in my opinion. The merchandise is often inaccurately described and sells for more than it would from a reputable seller; Goodwill is the worst offender. I have found a few things on Etsy and have had a little luck with garage sales. In estate sales run by an agent the prices are usually high. Some of the smaller thrift stores still have photographic items, generally the ones that are closer to affluent older suburbs are your best bet. How any of this relates to your conditions in the UK is unknown.

Ebay sellers from Japan are generally very good, with accurate descriptions of an item's condition, shipping and import fees might negate any savings.
09-23-2018, 10:07 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
Charity shops and pawn shops are a likely source. At established second-hand shops, ask if they ever get camera gear. And if they do, you might give them your name & number so they can call you if they get any Pentax stuff. Church sales, boot sales, and flea markets can also offer bargains.

As for getting bargain prices, it all depends on the seller. Some sellers are sticklers for getting the highest price possible and think everything is a vintage treasure. Others just want to move the junk out as fast as possible. I always haggle unless I know that that seller won't or can't budge.

Oh, and always bring a camera when you shop so you can mount the lens and test it on the spot.

Happy hunting!!!
Thanks for advice. Taking a camera is useful to save a second trip. helpful when a long way from base.

---------- Post added 09-23-18 at 06:10 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Good advice. Alternatively, I tend to carry a small flashlight in my pocket, to shine through any lens I might consider purchasing. It can help to show up fungus, haze, scratches, oil on the diaphragm blades etc...
Tanks, Mike. Gumtree/ebay advice useful, but it's the finding the treasures in person that especially appeals. I've rarely visited boot fairs etc, maybe I should - armed with a flashgun - that's helpful. I probably need to look up what to look for inside too, having only ever handled new lenses...

---------- Post added 09-23-18 at 06:13 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Cipher Quote
In recent years the thrift stores have been taking almost anything photographic and putting it on ebay, which is kind of a lose-lose situation in my opinion. The merchandise is often inaccurately described and sells for more than it would from a reputable seller; Goodwill is the worst offender. I have found a few things on Etsy and have had a little luck with garage sales. In estate sales run by an agent the prices are usually high. Some of the smaller thrift stores still have photographic items, generally the ones that are closer to affluent older suburbs are your best bet. How any of this relates to your conditions in the UK is unknown.

Ebay sellers from Japan are generally very good, with accurate descriptions of an item's condition, shipping and import fees might negate any savings.
I thought I'd have guessed right and many use ebay. The suggestion of target near affluent areas is interesting. Ref the Japan suggestion, this does seem to be a well held belief that I should take more note of. Many thanks.
09-23-2018, 10:20 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BarryE Quote
Tanks, Mike. Gumtree/ebay advice useful, but it's the finding the treasures in person that especially appeals. I've rarely visited boot fairs etc, maybe I should - armed with a flashgun - that's helpful. I probably need to look up what to look for inside too, having only ever handled new lenses...
You're welcome

Using a flashlight to examine the optical condition of a lens is very helpful, but you have to learn what to look for and what to ignore. You might be surprised how much dust and debris you'll find in most lenses (even newer ones, to some extent), but this isn't anything to worry about unless the dust is really, really bad, or debris quite large. Small inclusions and bubbles in glass might look worrying, but they're rarely a problem. Same with very minor scratches and coating marks. But fungus, haze and de-lamination are potentially more serious, and will certainly require some servicing by a qualified professional, capable amateur, or - as a learning exercise (with risks attached) - yourself.

I'm not a fan of Ken Rockwell, but one of his more useful articles is on "the flashlight test":

https://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/flashlight-test.htm
09-23-2018, 10:48 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
You're welcome

Using a flashlight to examine the optical condition of a lens is very helpful, but you have to learn what to look for and what to ignore. You might be surprised how much dust and debris you'll find in most lenses (even newer ones, to some extent), but this isn't anything to worry about unless the dust is really, really bad, or debris quite large. Small inclusions and bubbles in glass might look worrying, but they're rarely a problem. Same with very minor scratches and coating marks. But fungus, haze and de-lamination are potentially more serious, and will certainly require some servicing by a qualified professional, capable amateur, or - as a learning exercise (with risks attached) - yourself.

I'm not a fan of Ken Rockwell, but one of his more useful articles is on "the flashlight test":

https://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/flashlight-test.htm
That's a useful link - thanks again, Mike.

I found a youtube link that has some useful pointers. The language is less than perfect (rather an understatement) and it is a little repetitive, but it has some useful info - pity about the presentation:


09-23-2018, 11:00 AM   #9
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I've found some good stuff on eBay from time to time, but it's always hit-and-miss. Lately it's mostly been miss. Prices have really jumped up in the past year or so and I'm also saturated with the stuff I can afford. I really need to make some tough decisions, list pieces that are redundant or that I just don't use and pare down to a smaller array of essential gear. For what it's worth, I've never found any worthwhile camera gear at thrift stores around here other than a couple of decent camera bags and a nice Velbon tripod.
09-23-2018, 01:02 PM   #10
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Whenever you go past a shop that sells used stuff, make time to pop in. Sometimes you get lucky. I once picked up a broken Cosina camera for $15 in a shop full of junk. What is so great about that, you ask? The pristine SMC Pentax M 50mm f/1.7 that was attached to it!
09-23-2018, 01:24 PM - 1 Like   #11
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Well, we don't have a lot of thrift stores in my area, and the ones we do have rarely have decent camera gear. My best bet is the 'Flea Markets' in the area. Every now and again I come across something interesting. I recently landed a Yashica Electro 35 GS rangefinder kit for 20.00. It had the case, table-top tripod, 3 magnification lenses and release cable. I purchased "as is" they gave me no guarantee the camera worked, but everything checked out when I gave her a test run.

This is her:



Last edited by kevinWE; 09-23-2018 at 02:43 PM.
09-23-2018, 01:39 PM   #12
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Camera repair places and stores that offer in-house camera repair are a good bet. What they sell has generally received a CLA and will often carry some sort of warranty.


Steve
09-23-2018, 06:37 PM   #13
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I found a crazy good deal at a pawn shop once, but usually they seem very high priced and have nothing that I want. I have very seldom seen any gear in thrift stores. I used to find some good deals on eBay, but very seldom anymore, occasionally shopgoodwill will have something, but they usually sell well above the value, plus are often misrepresented. There are three camera stores that I occasionally visit, two rarely have any used Pentax. The other specializes In used gear (they also have some new) and will generally have 20-30 Pentax lenses at any time, but never any that I want. But a store in Columbus, Ohio won’t help you much.

I did buy a macro lens from a Craigslist ad once which was not a bad deal. Unfortunately a lot of the people lidStimg on there think their property never depreciates. Some one has been listing a K-5 and da 16-50 on there for about two years thinking it is worth what they paid for it.
09-23-2018, 11:37 PM   #14
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USA is still a paradise under this point of view, even with lots of brick 'n mortar stores folding.
There are pawn shops, there is Goodwill... and NYC is the center of the universe, for both new and used equipment.
In the EU the best solution was to go to a fair/swap meeting. I've been told that the best were held in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Today prices have risen, the good stuff is rare, and there are fewer vendors. Private sellers have almost completely disappeared, the vendors do it for a living (owners of small shops or selling online).
The last time I attended to one of these events I came back empty-handed. I don't think I will go again.
In my city (Bologna, Italy) there were a number of shops selling second-hand. Two of them were huge, and had a lot of high-level equipment for sale (large and medium format, collectibles, Leica, studio stuff... and always a good number of Pentax cameras and lenses, often also high-end). Most of the really good stuff I own come from those two shops, and from that time (two A Star's, the 28mm Hollywood, A 20mm, A 15mm... the A* 2.8/300mm came from a famous shop in Milan that's still active, and is the best brick & mortar second-hand source inside of the country).
In Bologna only one shop is left, and has moved to much smaller premises.

Where I live today (Thailand), finding anything interesting would be a huge stroke of luck.
Second-hand street markets would be the only hope. To this day, I still have to find anything worth buying.
In Bangkok it would be different, but I am afraid prices aren't so convenient. Maybe some old collectibles...

Last edited by cyberjunkie; 09-23-2018 at 11:45 PM.
09-24-2018, 05:22 AM - 1 Like   #15
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Lenses free for the taking

Outside the famous B&H Photo store in Manhattan on a Sunday ten or more years ago
I saw a small crowd of customers digging through a small commercial garbage dumpster.
Inside were several dozens old manual focus lenses, probably mostly 50-55mm, many likely M42 mount.

Though some may have been defective though I suspect many were not;
their used department probably deemed them not worth putting into stock.

I wonder if they'd do the same thing today?

Chris
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