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Old Oct 28, 2009, 3:53 PM   #1
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Default What to look for when buying used lenses

As the title says, I'm wondering how to approach buying used lenses.

Unfortunately, I can't pull the trigger on a great deal I found last night (6 mo. old 12-60mm SWD @ 800$ flat vs. $1150+tax), but maybe in the near future I'll be able to. And if I do, I want to know how to proceed with such and endeavor.

Last edited by TekiusFanatikus; Oct 28, 2009 at 4:11 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old Oct 28, 2009, 4:19 PM   #2
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Where are you located? I am taking it from looking at that price you are not in the US where a new 12-60 can be purchased from B&H for $875 plus shipping with no tax if you do not live in New York.

Buying used is all about knowing the seller, so if you are using eBay you need to be looking at feedback. If I were looking to buy used Zuikos the first place I normally look at is KEH, which is an excellent store for buying used, and with a warranty to boot, which to me is very important with this type equipment.

Thus far I have not ventured into used Zuikos. Back when I was shooting film and using manual SLR's I never bought anything new.
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Old Oct 28, 2009, 4:34 PM   #3
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Well, I''ve bought used lenses from EBay, Craig's List, KEH. com, and B&H Photo. That doesn't make me an expert - just lucky, in that I haven't had a problem.

From an on-line perspective, B&H Photo and KEH.com offer the most security. Both rate used equipment conservatively and the pricing is usually competitive. KEH.com buys and sells used camera equipment. Because both companies fully inspect the lens prior to putting it online, I have and would buy a lens from either of them without hesitation.

Even though I've bought lenses from people on EBay, I prefer to buy from people who post on Craig's List. Just because you can see the actual item before handing over your hard earned cash.

I look for dings scratches and dents on the barrell and the front and rear lens elements. How smooth is the zoom? Inspect the contacts on the rear part of the lens for any damage. Is there any dust or particles behind the lens elements
On older legacy lenses, fungus can be a severe problem. I've yet to see any in a newer digital lens.

Finally, I always bring my camera, mount the lens and take a few shots to see how it responds.

The other site worth mentioning is Fourthirdsphoto.com which has a sell and buy section for members. Whille i've not purchased anything from the site, it looks like it is run very well and has stringent rules on how to post.

Hope this helps a little.

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Old Oct 28, 2009, 9:34 PM   #4
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I'm in Canada and new, the 12-60mm is priced @ $1150 pretty much everywhere. Give or take a few, but shipping takes it right back.

This lens was being sold in town, so I could have easily drove in and had a look at it. Guy was selling pretty much all his setup (E-3, FL50R, 70-300mm, 12-60mm, ect...)
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Old Oct 29, 2009, 12:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TekiusFanatikus View Post
As the title says, I'm wondering how to approach buying used lenses.

Unfortunately, I can't pull the trigger on a great deal I found last night (6 mo. old 12-60mm SWD @ 800$ flat vs. $1150+tax), but maybe in the near future I'll be able to. And if I do, I want to know how to proceed with such and endeavor.
I've got a really handy guide to what to look out for when buying a used lens.
The problem is, I came across it a year or so ago but can't remember who wrote it - so I wouldn't be comfortable posting it without being able to credit the author.

However, if you'd like to drop me an email, I'd be delighted to pass it on.
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Old Oct 29, 2009, 12:34 PM   #6
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I would also add - before I buy from an individual (as opposed to B&H, KEH, etc) a lens I want to see unedited photos taken recently with the lens (with exif intact). Widest aperture at full zoom and widest zoom. Also stopped down.

I want to see unedited (with exif intact) photos of front and rear lens element and photos documenting any physical flaws (scratches, bumps, etc) on the lens itself in addition to the description of those scratches.

Obviously it's great if you're buying local and can try out the lens before you buy but that's a luxury.
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Old Oct 29, 2009, 12:55 PM   #7
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Sticking with a reputable vendor like http://www.bhphotovideo.com or http://www.keh.com (and I've bought used gear from both) would be a good idea, and I've also used adorama.com (for example, I bought my Minolta 100mm f/2 Autofocus lens from the used department at http://www.adorama.com)

keh and B&H have good return policies with short term warranties on used gear (for example, the return policy is 14 days from invoice date from keh.com with a 60 day warranty, and 15 days return policy from B&H with a 30 day warranty.

That way, you can make sure the lens works OK (and return it if it doesn't live up to your expectations, provided you do so within the return window), with the comfort factor you get by knowing it's got a short term warranty, since any significant issue should show up relatively soon after you start using a lens.

Both keh.com and bhphotovideo.com have a very good reputation for fair [conservative] grading of used gear, too.
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Old Oct 29, 2009, 2:22 PM   #8
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Is Adrama any good? They have an E+ condition 50mm f/2.0 for $359 plus shipping. But, you can buy a brand new one for $450. So, not much saving actually.

BTW, all my lenses and camera are used or factory demo ones from ebay. So far so good.

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Old Oct 29, 2009, 2:31 PM   #9
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You'd need to price the same lens at competitors to see what it's selling for, as well as what's included (and from what I've seen of listings. adorama doesn't include a lot of info about included items like hood, caps, etc.). The last time I looked, their policies on used gear warranty, etc., they were not as good as competitors like keh.com either

I'm not thrilled with the way adorama.com has addressed quotes and handling of used gear they're buying (versus selling), based on complaints I've seen here in the forums (although, hopefully this has improved since then). But, I'd still buy from them if they had a lens I wanted with a competitive price.

I'd probably rate vendors of used gear like this in order of preference:

http://www.keh.com

http://www,bhphotovideo.com

http://www.adorama.com

Then, I'd look at other sources of used gear.

But, bottom line, I'd probably buy it from adorama.com if the price appears to be competitive, as they do have a much better reputation than most other sellers you'll find.
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Old Oct 29, 2009, 4:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
.... as well as what's included (and from what I've seen of listings. adorama doesn't include a lot of info about included items like hood, caps, etc.).
Jim-

That's exactly what I thought while I was checking their website last night.

Thanks much for your recommended vendor's list!


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