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Buying used lenses is certainly a far more affordable alternative to new lenses. Assuming you get them in good shape, you are essentially getting the same performance for far less money. Just remember to check them for these potential problems :

  • Missing parts
  • Damaged filter rings
  • Loose switches
  • Dust inside the lens
  • Tight or gritty rings
  • Loose zoom action
  • Damaged zoom action
  • Worn or damaged focusing helicoid
  • Damaged lens motor
  • Malfunctioning image stabilizer
  • Oily aperture blades
  • Sticky aperture blades
  • Eroded lens coatings
  • Scratched lens elements
  • Chipped lens elements
  • Separated lens elements
  • Loose lens elements
  • Lens fungus

Although you may prefer to stick to scrounging for used lenses in the local camera shops, online shops like Amazon, or auction sites like eBay offer a wide range of used lenses. Buying from online shops are generally safe, especially if you buy from a reputable shop.

Auction sites like eBay offer a wider range of used lenses and many at bargain prices, but they also come with the risk of fraud. So, you need to be alert and wary of deals that are simply too good to be true. We hope our short list of red flags can help you identify scams and zoom into the real deals.

Incidentally, if you have any pictures that can help make this guide more complete, please do let us know. Also, drop by the forums and chat with us about your latest used lens purchase! Till then, shop safely!

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Questions & Comments

Please feel free to post your questions or comments here!

Date Revision Revision History
10-03-2005 1.0 Part 1

Initial release. Part 1 posted.

24-03-2005 1.0 Part 2

Initial release. Part 2 posted.

27-04-2005 1.0 Part 3

Initial release. Part 3 posted.

14-10-2005 1.1

Added the Damaged Zoom Action section in Page 4.
Added the Separated Lens Elements section in Page 8.

05-08-2006 1.2

Improved the layout of the guide.
Corrected various mistakes.

20-06-2007 2.0

Revamped the entire guide with re-edited photos and an improved layout.

01-06-2008 3.0

Revamped the entire guide with an improved layout.
Added a new picture of scratched lens elements.

18-02-2011 4.0

Revamped the entire guide with additional details and photos.
Corrected numerous mistakes and streamlined the guide.

31-08-2012 4.1

Updated the guide with many new photos, and an improved layout.

09-10-2012 4.2

Added a new Damaged Lens Motor section.
Added a new Malfunctioning Image Stabilizer section.
Updated the Damaged Focusing Helicoid section.
Many thanks to Falcone!

06-08-2013 4.3

Added a new Damaged Contacts section.
Updated the Malfunctioning Image Stabilizer section.
Updated the Oily Aperture Blades section.

09-04-2014 4.4

Revamped the entire guide, compressing it from 13 pages to just 7 pages.
Added several new photos and links.


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Introduction, Pros & Cons
Tackling The Issues, Missing Parts


Damaged Filter Rings, Loose Switches,
Dust Inside The Rings, Tight / Gritty Rings,
Loose Zoom Action, Damaged Zoom Action,
Damaged Focusing Helicoid


Damaged Lens Motor, Malfunctioning IS,
Oily Aperture Blades, Sticky Aperture Blades


Eroded Lens Coatings, Scratched Elements,
Chipped Elements


Separated Elements, Loose Elements
Damaged Contacts, Lens Fungus


Buying Used Lens Online, Avoiding Fraud



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