What to look for if buying a used lens?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Dao, May 30, 2008.

  1. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I am thinking about getting a used Canon EF 70-200m F/4L lens. When I look around, there are newer or older one out there. If assuming the lenses are in mint condition like no physical/visible damge and able to take good photos . But one clams as few months old with 1000 shots and the other one claim as few years old with, lets say, 10000 shots.

    Beside the price difference, what will be the main difference between the two? Is it the few years old lens need more service since it is older? Or in general, we need to take the lens to the Canon service service center once in awhile to have them do some maintenance, so in that case, it doesn't really matter that much? Or those lens usually is maintenance free and the few years old one usually will last very long as well (in general).

    Thanks
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    In this case, it's a Canon 'L' lens...which means that it's top of the line. With normal use, it should still be in great shape, even after a few years.

    When looking at a used lens. You will want to make sure that the focus and zoom rings are still smooth and don't grind, stick or are too loose. You will want to make sure that the aperture blades are not sticky. You can also look though the lens and make sure there is no mold growing in or on it.
     
  3. dEARlEADER

    dEARlEADER TPF Noob!

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    I was curious about this thread because I have purchased a couple of used lenses recently.

    How do you inspect for sticky aperture blades?
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Activate/close down the aperture to different settings and make sure that they spring back to fully open.
    With a Canon AF lens...you would mount the lens on the camera and hold the DOF preview button while looking into the front of the lens. You will be able to see the blades stop down. Run though the aperture range to see that they are opening and closing without any problems.
     
  5. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Get a bright pin point light (LED keyring light for example) and shine it through the front and rear elements while looking through the other end. The idea is to have the light pass through the lens (and all the elements) but not shine directly into your eye. You will be able to see any particles, imperfections, or more importantly fogging within the lens.


    * Activate the aperture to the smalllest and check that no oil has collected on the blades and they operate without hesitation.
    * Focus quickly far and near using AF motor. Make sure there is no hesitation nor sounds. For L's with USM, it is nearly silent. If none USM, the motor should not sound like it is overloaded or straining.
    * Turn the focus ring manually. Make sure the action is smooth and consistent. If the lens is equipped with full time focusing, make sure it works and it doesn't bind with the AF motor.
    * Make sure the zooming action is also smooth without any "grit" in the action.
    * Make sure the electronic contacts are good and clear.
    * Mount to a DSLR and bring a focusing printout... or simple a ruled sheet of paper (printed lines) and mark a dot in the center. Focus on the dot and take a photo. Make sure the lens is not back-focusing.
    * Check cosmetics. It might not be important to you if it doesn't affect the function of the lens.
    * Does the lens have play when mounted between the camera and the lens mount? All lenses and cameras have a bit of play but it should not be significant.



    As much as Canon L's quality are highly regarded, I just recently sold an L lens that had one of its internal elements slightly hazy. The new owner is fully aware of the issue at the time the lens was sold at a fairly substantial discount. Looking through the lens normally, it looks totally clear.
     
  6. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Got it. Thank you so much!

    In that case, especially for the older lens, it is much better to get it locally , if available, so that I can try it and take a closer look at the lens such as the area you mentioned.
     
  7. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    In general yes... Its good to develop a good relationship with a reputable local camera store.

    On the other hand, often the lenses are not available locally and an online reseller is your best option. MOST reputable used camera online dealers have pretty laid back return policies. This is just the nature of their business. Make sure you read their return policy (and fine print... restocking fees?) prior to purchase.

    I'd say 90% of the lenses I own are purchased used.
     
  8. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Great Tips Usayit. Thanks so much for your time. I need to save this information just in case I forgot and could not find this thread again.
     

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