Should I consider buying a pre-owned lens?
Buying a new lens is not always cheap. In order to be able to save a penny or two if possible, the second-hand market can be an alternative.
Are there any disadvantages to buying a pre-owned lens?
Buying a used lens always involves a risk. This regardless of whether you buy a car or a lens. It is not known how the lens has been used and what stresses it has been subjected to. It can sometimes also take time to find the right lens, at the right price and through the right seller.
Benefits of buying a pre-owned lens?
You can make real bargains by buying used products, especially if there is a warranty on the lens. Many people face the second-hand market with great skepticism, but often it is extremely serious people who sell their lenses and they have many times been as careful and afraid of their lenses as you would be if you had bought them new.
What should a used lens cost?
There is no given answer to this question. Depending on the condition of the lens, any remaining warranty and the current new price, pricing may vary.
What about warranty?
Most lenses are initially sold with a one or sometimes two year warranty. This warranty can sometimes be worldwide. Always check with the seller where the lens was purchased, if a receipt remains and if the lens has been sent for service at any time. Feel free to take the serial number of the lens and ask the manufacturer how it is with the warranty on that particular copy and any service history.
Buying a lens via a personal ad online often means that you as a buyer may never see and test the lens before buying, due to the distance between seller and buyer. The advantage of being able to look at the lens yourself before buying is great. You get the chance to test the lens and thus assess the lens' condition and performance.
If you as a buyer do not have the opportunity to go and test / pick up the lens yourself, you should ask the seller to send pictures of the lens and preferably also sample pictures he took with the same.
Things to try while testing the lens
When you are faced with a possible purchase, it is easy to rush without doing thorough tests of the product you are going to buy. Have ice in your stomach and create your own perception of the condition of the lens.
- Does the lenses have any scratches? Please look closely.
- See if you can test the lens in the environment you intend to use it in? For example, if you buy a macro lens, go to the nearest garden and take some cards on the flowers that are in it. Do you get the desired result?
- Try autofocusing on different objects. Does the lens react quickly and accurately?
- Test any built-in image stabilizer (VR, IS etc). Take pictures both with and without the image stabilizer turned on - does it give the desired effect? Does it work?
- Try changing and taking cards with different aperture values, eg f / 2.8, f / 4, f / 8, f / 13 and f / 22.
- Try focusing manually with the lens using the lens' own focus ring.
- Try mounting and lending the lens on the camera a couple of times. Does it feel ok?
- How does the lens sound? If you hear strange noises in connection with autofocus and the lens has a built-in image stabilizer, this is normal, as these stabilizers make a certain noise, but otherwise the lens should act relatively quietly.