BUYING SECOND HAND LENSES
For a photographer, there isn't much more exciting than buying a brand new lens. Unboxing that pristine piece of glass, metal and plastic for the first time. Marveling at the feel. Savouring the smell and of course, trying it out on the camera goes without saying. Photography isn't the cheapest past-time though and in today's economic climate, many people simply cannot afford an unsullied lens.
Thankfully there are a multitude of bargains to be had in the secondhand market, which enable beginners and enthusiasts alike, access to more professional optics at a much cheaper price. While this is certainly an attractive prospect, it's not without its risks. Equally though, there is a certain level of paranoia about buying used lenses and so I have put together this guide, based upon a few years experience, to let you know what to look out for and also dispel a few of those concerns. Since I get all my used lenses on eBay, this guide will focus primarily upon that, but it can equally be extrapolated to buying elsewhere.
So you're pretty new to photography having bought a D3300 and kit lens a few month prior and want to get yourself a nice portrait lens to photograph your family and friends with. Having heard tales of the nightmares some people have had on sites like Craigslist, you opt for a safer option - eBay. This is a smart move in buying used equipment. eBay affords you buyer protection and money-back guarantees, provided you stay within their guidelines. Much safer than replying to an add you see somewhere else, with a request for a money transfer order which will likely result in no lens and no money either.
Now you begin searching for a lens for your camera. Lets say you heard great things about the Nikon 85mm f/1.8 and type that into the search field. It brings up a whole host of results, with prices ranging from maybe $100 to $500. Here is where you need to be particularly careful. The reason being is compatability. What you have to remember is that Nikon has been producing 85mm lenses in F-mount for over 40 years.
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Lens compatability - AF-D/AF-S/Ai-s - versions. 3rd Party. Other mounts.
Lens condition - scratches, dust, fungus, haze, dents, aperture, focus