Buying a lens can be a daunting task if you consider all the factors. Add in additional factors like lens condition as well as accuracy of the seller to give you an honest picture of what you are buying and you get a real chance for problems. There are many ways to buy lenses ranging from risky to reliable such as random Social Media for sale groups, auction sites like eBay, lens dealers that have been in business for decades, to expertly curated marketplaces like LensFinder.com.
Questions to ask when buying a lens
- What is the condition is the glass? Check for the following;
- Fungus on the glass inside the lens (often white specs inside the glass or haze)
- Scratches on the front or rear element.
- Divots or pits in the glass from sand or other environment damage
- Cleaning marks (often swirly shape marks to the sensitive lens coating)
- What is the mechanical condition? Check for the following:
- Dents on the lens barrel or front ring/filter threads
- Separation of plastic parts like focus or aperture rings
- Function of switches on auto/manual focus selectable lenses
- Smoothness of rotation on iris, focus, and zoom control rings
- Oil leaking onto iris blades, lens control rings, or glass elements
- Lens marking wear or fading
- Chips and scratches in the metal barrel coating or paint
- Aftermarket modifications like permanent cinema gears, declicked iris, rubber replacement, or signs of previous service
Know Who You Are Buying From
All of these factors are significant and should be considered when buying a lens. This makes the source you buy from even more important. Does the dude on Facebook really know all this stuff? Does he warranty the lens against such defects? What will you do if you need it fixed? Payment services like PayPal provide some protection against these dangers however it is a great hassle to deal with if you get burned.
For these reasons a dealer who specializes in lenses and has sold hundreds to thousands of lenses will be your best bet for safety and service. Professional dealers have experts trained in lens evaluation and will give you the best chance for an accurate accounting of the lens’ true condition.
In summary, consider the source of your lens purchase and consider buying from an expert source. The little bit extra you pay may end up being a large savings compared to buying a bad lens or one that has been misrepresented. LensFinder offers expert dealers as well as fraud filtering and transaction mediation to make your lens purchase secure.