7 Things to Check Before Buying Used Camera Lenses

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Whether you’ve chosen photography as a hobby or it’s your profession, you’ll know the importance of using the best camera lenses. Unfortunately, these lenses are expensive.

Besides the cost of the camera itself, buying new, high-quality lenses will likely cost you an arm and a leg. This is why many photographers choose to buy used lenses.

There’s nothing wrong with buying used lenses for your camera, but is it a good idea?

Why should you buy used camera lenses?

Right off the bat, photography will cost you dearly. You’ll need a range of camera equipment and gear, like batteries, reflectors, tripods and gear bags.

Besides the extras, buying the basics like the camera body, memory card, and lens can easily cost you thousands of dollars.

The most common reason people buy used cameras and equipment, like lenses, is to save money. A used lens will often cost half the price of a brand new one, and if you’re lucky it will be in good condition.

Buying used camera lenses is up to you. It’s not for everyone, and it all depends on how comfortable you are with the risks. That’s why you need to take the time to do your homework and think about a few things before you jump in.

Here we are going to help you with some valuable tips so that you can buy a used camera lens without being disappointed.

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1. Check the reputation of the seller


camera lenses for sale on Facebook Marketplace

When buying used products, especially a camera lens, it’s best to always buy from a reliable source.

There are so many places to buy used gear, whether you visit your local thrift store or shop online using Facebook Marketplace or eBay. That being said, always do your homework beforehand about who you are buying from and if they have a good reputation.

The more you know about a seller, the more you can trust them. It is essential to judge their reputation. Be careful if you can’t find any information or reviews about them.

2. Pay attention to any damage inside and out

Before doing anything else, perform a general visual inspection of the lens. Pay attention to severe scratches and dents, as this will tell you a lot about whether the seller took care of the lens or not.

If the scratches are minor on the outer casing, there is nothing to worry about. A camera lens is well built, and a few small marks don’t mean you should neglect it.

On the other hand, if the seller has dropped or misused the camera, the glass will be damaged and it will not work properly. To spot any visual evidence of this, watch for bumps and uneven edges.

3. Examine the optical condition of the lens


Woman wearing hat taking picture using vintage camera

Once you’ve visually inspected the camera lens, it’s time to test its optical condition. To do this, shine some light on the lens so you can see through it. This step will help you see any flaws between the optical elements.

Be on the lookout for large collections of fungus or mold. Minor dust or dirt is no big deal, but larger clumps may mean they need professional cleaning.

If you are looking to buy a vintage camera lens, this is something important to be aware of. Older lenses are more susceptible to fungus growth, and therefore if you find something bad with the lens, stay away or ask for a much lower price.

4. Check the lens aperture blades

People often tend to overlook this, but checking the aperture blades is extremely important. To test the aperture blades, you will need to attach them to a camera body, then open and close them.

Before attaching them to your camera, visually inspect them for any damage. Then use your hand to manually open and close the aperture blades. There should be no delays in opening and closing them.

If at any point the aperture blades feel like they aren’t moving smoothly enough, step away and find a better working camera lens.

5. Take a few test shots with the lens


Woman outdoors holding camera and taking test photo

Don’t skimp or feel embarrassed to test out the camera lens before you buy it. You have to be careful not to skip this step, because you’ll be wasting money if you buy a second-hand lens that doesn’t work.

Always bring your camera with you, attach the lens and test it thoroughly. Don’t take a single photo or two; take multiple photos and capture a range of different things. Do whatever you need to do to make sure everything works the way you want it to.

Related: Things to Consider When Buying Your First Camera

If the seller doesn’t allow you to take test shots with the lens before buying it, they’re probably hiding something. At this point, it’s best to move on to a more trustworthy seller.

6. Check the focus of the lens

While you’re busy taking test shots, you’ll want to be sure to examine the focus. Take a few photos at different focal points and distances.

If you hear strange sounds coming from the focus motor when shooting, it means that it will fail soon. Then switch it to manual mode and then use your hand to adjust the focus ring.

If the ring makes a squeaking noise or sounds like there’s sand stuck in it, that’s another sign that there are possible issues. A noisy focus motor does not necessarily mean that it is damaged. However, crackling noises are something to be wary of.

7. Always ask the seller why


question mark drawn on a blackboard

One of the most important tips to remember when buying a used camera lens is to start by asking, “Why are you selling the lens?” There are a range of valid reasons they could give you such as if they no longer use the lens or if they just upgraded to another camera.

The number one warning sign to look out for is if they have no real reason to sell the lens. It could mean that the camera lens has a serious problem and they are hiding it. Avoid these sellers to avoid buying a dud.

Don’t go wrong when buying a used camera lens

It’s exciting to buy a new camera lens, but it’s not exactly cheap. Don’t make the mistake of looking at used camera lenses because you think they won’t perform as well.


Remember that camera lenses are tough and made to last, so just because they’re second-hand doesn’t mean they’re worthless. If you follow these tips and take the right precautions, you’ll be well on your way to owning a high-quality used camera lens that will last you for years to come.


A bunch of camera gear.
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