Picking up from where we left off on the previous post. Once you have done your homework and determined which lens is the one your need, all there’s left to do is to actually find one with acceptable condition and price. Since lenses usually costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, you need to be extra careful when choosing the seller and verifying lens’ condition. You will also need to know how to take care of your lenses so you don’t end up spending a fortune on lens repairs and replacements down the road.

Where to Find Them

Unless you are willing to pay the premium and get brand-new lenses directly from the stores, you will find yourself looking for used lenses online. Online photography forums and photographer clubs are great places to find used lenses for sale. If you know what you are doing, you will get the lens you want at a much lower price because there’s no middle person and no outrageous markups. Sites like eBay and Amazon are also great places to start your search. Although there are some dealers who put a huge markup on their items, occasionally there are individuals selling the gears they no longer need at a much more friendly price.

Beware of dishonest dealers who operate networks of fraudulent website. These websites look just like any other retail websites, but they often offer goods at deep discounts to attract interest. Once an order is placed, they would “delay” the shipment or simply tell the customers that the items they purchased are out-of-stock, and suggest that they order something else that comes with a huge markup instead. It is also believed that some of these websites do not have any of the goods in stock at all, and when contacted regarding the orders they would purposefully provide bad customer service. When the customers get upset and cancel their orders, they would charge a “restocking fee” which is usually a certain percentage of the checkout price.

Lens Inspection

Once you get your hands on the lens for the first time, a thorough inspection is a must to protect you and your investment. If you are meeting the seller in person and you are not satisfied with the condition of the lens, point out the flaws to the seller and negotiate a more reasonable price. You always have the option to walk away if you and the seller cannot reach an agreement. If you order the lens online and are not happy with its condition when you receive it, return it immediately and ask for refund.

When inspecting the lens, aside from the usual wears and tears that are cosmetic, you want to make sure that 1) the lens is in working order, and 2) it has no fungus or oil smudge on the glass element. To check the lens, put it on your camera, shoot a few photos, adjust the aperture and focus and shoot a few more. Be sure to try auto-focus if the lens is an AF lens, too. Adjust the aperture to maximum, look through the lens with your eyes against a light source to see if there’s any fungus or oil. Finally, look at the images you took with this lens and make sure there are no unusual dark spots on them.

It is quite common to see dusts collecting inside the lens. There is virtually no way to keep it from happening, but since dusts generally do not affect image quality nor damage the internal mechanism, it is not a serious issue that requires immediate attention. Scratches are also common with used lenses. Although minor scratches do not affect image quality and are often disregarded, serious cuts into the glass could cause the lights to bend in unwanted direction, and would required the replacement of the glass element. Lastly, oil is another source of potential issues with lenses. When a lens has not been used or serviced for a long period of time, the oil that was meant to keep the internal parts lubricated may begin to collect at certain spots, and when it gets sticky it affects the functioning of the lens.

Take Care of Your Lenses

Because fungus is the number one enemy of lenses, you must store them in low-humidity environment and make sure the air stays fresh. If you notice any fungus growth within your lens, especially on the glass element, either get it cleaned yourself or find a professional to do it for you. Do not wait on it because some types of fungus could damage the glass, and the longer you wait the more likely you will have to replace it, which is a lot more expensive than you may think. When photographing in wet and cold environments, be sure use rain sleeve and avoid drop in temperature within the camera. This is because a sudden drop in temperature may condense the moisture inside the lens and turn it into an ideal environment for fungus.

Aside from keeping fungus from growing, make sure your lenses are out of reach for children or pets, and always have caps on when not being used. When you are travelling, keep them safely secured inside a padded camera bag and that there’s little space between lenses and the padding so they don’t tumble around. To protect the glass elements from scratches and falls, you can place UV filters on the lenses to add an extra layer of protection. Finally, regularly inspect your lenses and send them in for cleaning or repair if you notice any issues.