While it’s always preferable to buy lenses new, sometimes financial difficulties get in the way. If you’re looking to buy a used dslr lens, whether its from Craigslist, Ebay, or some other source, you need to be sure to thoroughly check the equipment for any issues before purchasing.
If you’re buying a lens online, then you probably won’t have the opportunity to use the lens before you purchase it. If you’re buying the lens through a friend or are meeting up with somebody in person, then take the opportunity to test out the lens as much as possible. Here is a list of things to look for so you can use to ensure that your second-hand lens is in working condition before making your final purchase.
To see most of these issues, it helps to have a small flashlight handy. Shine the light through the lens to illuminate the inside. If you can do this test in a dark room, the imperfections will become even more prominent.
One of the most common things you will find in an older lens is dust. Some dust may not actually be a problem and usually occurs in most lenses that aren’t brand new. Unless there’s so much dust that you can’t see through the lens, this most likely won’t be an issue.
Another common thing to see on older lenses are scratches. Scratches usually occur when the lenses have not been handled or cleaned properly. Again, scratches may look bad but they don’t always cause problems when taking pictures. Take pictures with the lens to see the true extent of the damage.
If you see fungus in your lens, then it might be cause to worry. Fungus usually looks like soft, fluffy dots when held up to the light. Fungus usually appears because the lens was not stored in a cool, dry place (fungus grows in moist, warm conditions). If you see fungus, be wary that you will need to send the lens to a cleaning service, and even then the lens might be beyond repair.
If you see a smoky or oily haze in the lens, be wary as well. While haziness in and of itself might not be an issue, the haziness could extend to the images. Take some test shots to be sure that isn’t the case. Even if you don’t see any issues right now, the haziness will usually become worse with age unless you get it professionally cleaned.
At the end of the day, what really matters is what kind of shots the lens takes. If you’re unsure of your findings in the previous tests, take a couple of pictures with the lens and load them on to your computer to check the quality of the shots. If you’re happy with the quality of the photos, then you should feel confident in purchases the used dslr lens.
Do you have any tips for buying a used dslr lens? Let’s hear about them in the comments!