Buying gear is always a balance between risk and reward. There’s always a chance that your lens will be defective, but maybe you might just get the perfect lens for a great price. There are 6 things to watch out for when buying locally to decrease the chances of getting a dud in person.
1. Stiff Focusing/Zoom Rings
When you pick up a lens, put it in manual mode and just turn the focus and zoom rings to make sure they’re smooth. Sticky zoom or focus rings usually indicate that the lens has been dropped or damaged.
2. Dust or Mold Inside The Lens
Take off both caps and look carefully through the lens. If there is any gunk on the inside elements, it might need to be take apart and cleaned. Mold is especially bad. If it’s just dust, it’s your bet. Bring a flashlight to shine some light through the lens to make sure your can see anything that might be hard to see.
It’s actually pretty easy to cover up imperfections. But any scuffs or dents in the lens casing can’t be cleaned away to are dead giveaways that it had a rough past. But hey, sometimes it’s okay that they’re day. It really depends what kind of gear you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to pay.
4. Poor Focusing
Always take your camera!!! Mount it and shoot with it. Make sure to zoom into the shot on your LCD screen and make sure that it’s consistently focusing where you want it to. Some lenses are notoriously known to back focus or front focus.
5. Warranty (included or not)
Be careful with warranty because usually it means that it covers the item with the original owner. Don’t always trust the promise of warranty until you’ve read the manufacturer’s warranty agreement.
6. Stolen Gear
There’s no spot-proof way of finding this kind of information out, but you can do a few things just to make sure. In the best circumstance, the seller should have an original receipt, but sometimes this is always practical. Another sign that the lens wasn’t stolen is that the seller has the original packaging, but that can be unlikely as well.
You can also get a gauge on how well the seller knows the gear through questions like “why are you selling the lens” or “what did you use the lens for?” In most cases, a thief won’t be able to give you a legitimate answer. You can also try asking the seller if the lens would work well for something you know it wouldn’t work to see if they actually know the gear. For example, if you’re buying a wide lens, you can ask whether it’s good for head shots. A real photographer would know why that’s a no-no.
Being Careful is Good
Buying used anything is always a big risk. Try your best to not get scammed like not meeting in a parking lot, but in a public space. Usually keep in mind that cheap fixes don’t really go along with lenses, unless you know how to fix them and find the parts.
Goodluck! If you have any crazy lens stories, let us know in the comment section below!
IE Photo Rentals
558 W. 2nd St, Unit B
Pomona, CA 91766
Camera and Lens Rental Service for Inland Empire, Los Angeles and Orange County Areas.