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09-03-2009, 02:25 AM   #1
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Ways of finding cheap Pentax lenses - please add to thread


Just wanted to leave a suggestion for others like myself who are on the hunt for nice old Pentax lenses but cannot afford either new ones or the inflated prices on eBay.

I'm in the UK and there are a lot of charity shops here. Ie "help the aged" etc - shops where people donate items to be resold and the proceeds go to charity. Having gone into a few of them, there's a common pattern with SLR kit that gets handed in - it gets put in a cardboard box at the back and "a man" comes every so often to check what's there to buy it from them. Which is all well and good for that man but I'd like a piece of that action, especially if it's a half decent lens that I'll actually use rather than some dude hoping to make a quick buck on eBay. (yes, very large assumption there, I know!)

Anyhow so I put some contact details on a piece of paper, cell, work and answerphone, with a little message what I'm after. I just go in, explain what I'm looking for and leave my details. In every shop they've been really supernice and have promised to call me up if they get any Pentax stuff in. I figure that by the time I get to 100 charity shopw (50 round where I live, 50 round where I work), I should have enough of a 'network' to come across something reasonable once in a while. I'll let you guys know if it works.

How do you do it?


09-03-2009, 02:40 AM   #2
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there are several members who have posted garage sale finds, thrift shop finds etc.

I also check pawn shops occasionally.

My last 3 lenses cost a total of $31, that was for a vivitar 28mm F2.5 screw mount, a tamron adaptall II 28mm F2.5 (nikon adaptor attached) and a Helios 58mm F2.

I have also passed up many many zoom lenses and bodies between 25-40 including a PZ-10 with 28-80 for $40 and a spotmatic with 50mm F1.4 super tak for 25. Why? I try to only purchase focal lengths I don't have or lenses faster than I already have. I will buy K-mount over M42, which is why I took the Adaptall II when I already had the vivitar 28.

my problemis that it is hard with the above concept of only getting focal lengths I don't have or faster lenses toi add anything to my kit.

At present for MF primes I have
24mm F2.5 Adaptall II,
28mmF2.5 Vivitar MM42 and Adaptall II
35mm F2 SMC Tak
50mm F1.4 SMC-Pentax
85mm F1.4 Vivitar (Samyang)
100mm F4 SMC-M Macro
105mmF2.8 SMC-Pentax
135mm F2.5 SMC-Pentax
300mmF4 SMC-Pentax
400mmF5.6 Vivitar

If you look at this list, there is not a lot left to add / replace that you can get easly. maybe a 200mm, but then when you consider my zooms SIgma APO 70-200F2.8 EX and Vivitar Series 1 70-210 F3.5 the only realistic things I would take are an SMC-P 500mmF2.5 or perhaps an SMC-A 200mm F2.8 neither of these will be cheap!

Thrift shops and pawn shops can sometimes be OK for the odd thing (like the 3 lenses I got) or the two bodies with lenses that I passed on, which are not uncommon lenses, but once you get a few lenses, you are kind of stuck.
09-03-2009, 10:05 AM   #3
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You can hang on to the strategy of trying getting a normally-expensive lens for cheap by looking in the right places and hoping to get lucky, or you can simply try to figure out which are the generally less expensive lenses, and then pick them up for "normal" prices at your leisure. That's been my approach. Works fine if you don't particularly need the typically expensive ones. But there's quite a few excellent older lenses that virtually always can be found for $100 or less. Just in the M series, there's the 28/2.8, 40/2.8, all the 50's, the 100/2.8, 135/3.5, and 200/4. If you can make use of any of those, Ebay, KEH, and pretty much all the other used dealers price these lenses similarly. But if you're hoping to score one of the rarer / more expensive lenses, then yeah, it might help to have some off-the-beaten-path sources.
09-03-2009, 10:27 AM   #4
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Take a time machine back to January 2006 where I scored a SMC-A 50mm f/1.7 for $30, a Vivtar 28-200mm AUTOFOCUS for $15, a Sigma 70-300mm AUTOFOCUS for $36, and a Sears 135mm f/2.8 for $12, all on eBay

09-03-2009, 11:01 AM   #5
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Places I have looked in order of probability of success:
  • eBay
  • Used camera shops
  • Goodwill online
  • This site
  • craigslist
  • Thrift shops
  • Family/friends

09-03-2009, 11:56 AM   #6
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The only way I have managed to get decent lenses cheep in the UK is to buy faulty / broken / fungus infected lenses, mostly from ebay, and to fix them myself. This isn't the easyest way for most people but I have had a few bargains.
09-03-2009, 12:32 PM   #7
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Thrift stores have been the best place for bargains in my year and half of scouring them for photo equipment.

Pawn shops can be alright, but they aren't as willing to deal and are quicker to google something to find out the real value.
09-03-2009, 03:55 PM   #8
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I was out taking pictures earlier tonight with a mint condition 2 Super Travenar 28mm lens that I cleaned the crap off using Zippo lighter fuel and soapy water!

It's not a famous or sought after lens, which is why it was in a box under the table at the local camera fair.

I got a Tair 300mm ( mint ), Rikenon 135mm ( battered ) and a Helios 50 ( v. good ), complete with a Zenit camera ( door stop, but working ), for 45 at an antiques place.

There was probably 8 or 9 M42 lenses / cameras at the small boot sale I went to last weekend, and nothing over 10, just nothing that I fancied.

I dropped very lucky with the Tair, but the rest of the stuff is perfectly useable and makes photography a bit more interesting than the "spend lots of money on the newest, fasted, bestest lens" approach.

09-03-2009, 04:59 PM   #9
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What, and risk more competition? I'm not telling!

(Just kidding. I don't have any secrets, really. I have found decent lenses on eBay and at the local camera swap meet, though.)
09-03-2009, 05:37 PM   #10
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I have gotten the best "deals" by bidding on ebay what I am willing to pay for items that I know I want (no impulse purchases) - and not raising my bid if some bonehead comes in after me.

The best deals are on lenses that have surface dirt and don't photo well. I clean them up with Residual Oil Remover and a 1:10 solution of Windex with a toothbrush (for the rubber).

I have gotten some great lenses attached to so-so camera bodies (3x K35/3.5 that way) for nearly nothing.

For a while I traded stuff and made money doing it, but the time investment was huge (and at one time I had 17 Pentax camera bodies and 4 Domke F2 bags full of lenses in inventory - my wife found out and said, in that voice that we only hear once or twice in a marriage, "eBay them. Now.")

I've gotten a few at Church Rummage Sales and Garage Sales, but those are getting very professional here and the prices are close to market.

Lastly, I have had pretty good luck buying "Bargain" rated stuff from KEH - sometimes I can't tell the difference from EX rating.

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