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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> I need advice on buying a used lens
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03/09/2013 05:20:44 PM · #1
I might meet a guy tomorrow that listed his Canon 28-70mm f/2.8 lens on Craigslist. I figure I need to look closely at the glass for scratches, make sure the zoom is smooth, and mount it to my body and take a few shots and look at them on the LCD zoomed. What else should I be doing before handing over any cash?
03/09/2013 06:00:00 PM · #2
Start here. Skip to step 3, obviously. Pretty much when I buy a used lens locally, I do the following...

1) Ask a few questions. If they don't have a clue what they're selling (especially if it's high end gear), consider the fact that it might be stolen. If they're claiming it's theirs, good questions might be, "What kind of photography do you do?" and "Why are you selling it?"

2) Look for exterior damage. Does it look like it might have been dropped or banged hard? If it does, you should get enough of a discount to fix any damage, either visible or not. Lenses are expensive to repair. I steer clear of ones that look abused. A few scuffs on the finish, however, are no big deal.

3) Do the focus ring and zoom ring work well?

4) Does the glass look good? Some light scratches are no big deal if the price is right, but the price better be *really* right if there are heavier scratches. The article says to shine a flashlight through it. I've never seen that lead to anything but heartache and hurt feelings, since it makes even a perfectly good lens look horrible. But do look through the lens at something bright and make sure nothing terrible is in there, like fungus.

5) Do the aperture blades look good? Stop the lens down and look at it in good light, and look for oily junk. The blades should look clean. They should also move freely.

6) Put it on the camera. Does it autofocus quickly and correctly? Take a shot and look at the lcd. Does it look okay? Is it properly exposed and in focus?

Another thing that I've learned is to check on the internet to find out what common problems are with the lens, and look for them when buying. Squeaky autofocus, tight zooms, that kind of thing.

Mostly, though, when buying in person, my experience has been that lenses tend to be in pretty good shape, and sellers are pretty good at disclosing problems.
03/09/2013 06:19:34 PM · #3
This is perfect. It will let me go into this feeling a lot better. Thanks so much, Ann.
03/09/2013 06:22:02 PM · #4
To check for front or back focusing, stick 3 post it notes on a wall and shoot the middle one from an acute angle with the lens wide open. Check to see that the right note is in focus.
03/09/2013 09:23:16 PM · #5
I'd bring a friend if you're meeting a stranger. Meet in a very public place (police station lobby?).
Ask if they have the original box/packaging (that would make me feel more comfortable that its not stolen).

That's my $0.02. Best wishes on getting a new lens.
03/10/2013 10:35:10 AM · #6
If possible, take some shots that would show sharpness and look at them in Photoshop, Lightroom (or?). Hard to tell anything from a 3" screen. Even better if you can use a tripod and focus manualy because the AF could need some adjusting. If you have a camera that you can adjust AF, it's no big deal to adjust.
03/10/2013 11:01:10 AM · #7
I appreciate the sound advice. Thanks everyone.
03/10/2013 11:33:41 AM · #8
Here is a great tutorial on how to inspect used lenses.

Buying Used Lenses

Tim
03/10/2013 02:12:16 PM · #9
Originally posted by The_Tourist:

I'd bring a friend if you're meeting a stranger. Meet in a very public place (police station lobby?).
Ask if they have the original box/packaging (that would make me feel more comfortable that its not stolen).

That's my $0.02. Best wishes on getting a new lens.


Agreed, I always meet in a public place, but fears of someone jumping you and taking your money or camera gear are overblown. In 2010 (the year I found statistics for), there were 330 crimes related to craigslist nationwide, out of 573 million postings, and 200 of those were related to prostitution and the like, not robbery or assault. There were 74 robberies. The typical robbery scenario involves buyer and seller meeting in a public place at night, then the victim getting lured into the bad guy's car. So the real moral of the story is don't get in a stranger's car when carrying a wad of cash. And just use some caution and common sense. If you're buying a lens from someone, and they don't seem to have the lens when they show up, don't let them lure you someplace out of the public eye. The same goes on the other side. If you're selling a lens, and the buyer shows up without any camera gear, especially if you're selling high end gear (newbies will show up and just fork over the cash if it's shiny, but experienced people will always want to try it out), be especially cautious.
03/10/2013 02:53:00 PM · #10
A friend of mine bought a Iphone off craigs list a year ago cash deal. He asked me to go with him since I pack heat. We roll up two guys start approaching him so I hung back. They looked shady, but everyone does to me. I just dont trust the general public. They started getting pushy about the money even though we had a print out of the add so I slowley started walking towards them. The kind of did a double take and then they saw the tale tale signs of I was the backup plan. Turns out the phone was stolen. When we booted the phone up it had a message saying please call me if you find my stolen phone in the message section. Needless to say things got uncomfortable at this point. We backed out they got mad. I told them I did not want any trouble they walked away pissed. We then reported the phones EIN and craigslist contact info to the local police who did nothing.
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