Every photographer, whether just starting out or shooting as a pro for more years than can be counted, wants the best lenses. And while there are some bargains to be had in the full-price market, pro-quality optics are never cheap. As well as this, there seems to be a never-ending list of lenses we really "need" to have!
A solution to all this is to look into buying second-hand lenses. Buying used camera lenses for your DSLR is a far cheaper option for most photographers. To do this successfully, however, you need to know what to be cautious of when shopping around. Use these tips for buying used camera lenses to have a successful buying experience.
- Don't be put off by scratches and dents on the outer casing. A sturdy professional lens is built to last, and it's built to be used. Marks and knocks just mean that it's had a life, and you shouldn't disregard it because of its outer appearance!
- Switch the lens to manual focus and twist the focusing ring back and forth to listen for any "grinding" noises or a feel of grittiness. If the ring does not move freely, this could cause problems for the camera in focusing correctly.
- Switch the lens to autofocus mode, and listen for any strange noises coming from the motor or the mechanics of the lens. Check that the camera doesn't struggle to focus.
- Check the contacts on the lens mount for excessive wear and tear and for scratches indicating rough handling when mounting the lens.
- Examine the outside of the lens for evidence of it having been dropped. This would produce some fairly serious dents! If the lens has a filter, take it off to see if the lens has any uneven edges. Take some test shots and examine them -- a dropped lens will often produce shots that are completely out of focus.
- Look through the lens to check for any dust or dirt on the internal elements.
- And finally (and most importantly) check the front and rear elements for scratches. It's the rear element that's most important, as any scratches on here will show up on your photos.
Many photography shops buy and sell used camera lenses, and some will even offer a 1-year warranty or guarantee with the products. A lot of people will choose to look for lenses on sites such as eBay, and this too is fine ... as long as the seller is reputable and will accept returns if the lens doesn't match up to its description.
Just remember these tips, and you won't go wrong when buying a used camera lens for your DSLR!