21 May 2009

Used DSLR Lenses Buying Guide

If you are or planning/planned to be a budget conscious photographer, it is inevitable that you will shop for used 2nd hand lens which cost a fraction of the price of a new one.

In this case there is a few things you must know, there are terms you gotta learn about and you should ask for ref, do some cross checking, ask questions and lastly nego, nego and nego for a good deal.

I bought enough used lenses to write a checklist of things you nned to ask/know before you hand the seller your hard earned $.

Here is a checklist for those who will be venturing into purchase of used lenses.

A fungus infected Len (source)
  1. Survey for price! Ask more experienced photographers about it ... make fwens in forums and get their opinion. it doenst hurt to ask ... but if you kena con ... ouch farking painful sial! The first reason why you wanna buy a used lens is bcoz you dont wanna spend alot on it .. but if you kena conned then might as well use the $ to buy new lens rite?
  2. Dont give credit card information to seller! (unless u purchasing from ebay or lelong etc ... if its an individual seller .. dont give credit card infos!) if seller asked u for credit card infos ... u can ask him go fly kite!
  3. Ask for photos of the products/items/lens - a piktures tells a 1000 words, ask for photos of the front glass element, the back glass elements, the external conditions and all. Make sure the lens do not have fungus growing inside or else you are FARKED! dust is ok coz they can be cleaned but fungus is bad news for lens. So .. No photo no fark!
  4. Ask about warranty, if the lens is still under warranty ask for receipts and warranty card (ask if it comes with the box, manual, lens hood, lap front and rear caps, lens filter, lens case or any other items that comes with the purchase) if the lens warranty expired then ask for personal warranty (if the item were to be shipped by courier instead of COD) bcoz if you opened your parcel and the lens is broken due to packaging issue ... who is liable? Its not your fault the seller dont pack it nicely you know?
  5. C.O.D is actually the best way to deal ..... C.O.D. is the abbr. for Cash on Delivery .... which means you actually meet the seller face to face and test the items/products/lens/camera in front of the seller and if you are satisfy with it, you pay him on the spot and take the item/products/lens/ camera home with you. Also if the item(s) that you gonna buy is worth thousands of bucks, get a friend/bodyguard/bouncer to go with you, meet at a public place. You set the location ... better be safe than sorry.
  6. Postal methods ... register post? poslaju? fedex? nationwide? etc? Who pay? tracking number? Sometime seller will request buyer to pay for the postal service, as far as my experience goes .. most of the time i will only seal the deal when the seller agreed to include postal service charge into the agreed price (free postage) and i also stated i want my item to be properly packed and to be send via poslaju with tracking number provided.
  7. Get the seller's name, address and contact number ... make sure they are genuine! if anything goes wrong u know where to find him!
  8. Ask questions, ie .. why u selling the len? what is the conditions? why so cheap/expensive? got oily blade? image quality (IQ) sharp at all focal length? what is is Min. focusing distance (MFD)? any scratches on the glass (front and back)? etc etc dont be sked! its your own hard earned $ you giving away! dont get conned!
  9. Ask in writing all the items to be included in the package, get it in black and white before handing over your money.
  10. Negotiate, negotiate and negotiate! Its our rights as consumer to negotiate, if the seller is a genuine seller he will understand and he will also respect your rights as a customers to negotiate. If the fler tok big and LCLY .... you tell him he can goan fark himself la! If your own money and you might as well buy from someone you like.

After all that being said ... yes i myself encountered arrogant LCLY seller also. There is this lens i saw on sale at his website in Jan ... in his descriptions he mention like this ...

(click on the above image to enlarge)

The seller claimed the manual focusing ring is abit gritty (sandy). WTF is that suppose to mean? I asked a few flers but they also never see this term being used to decribe a len, therefore i decide to ask the seller what does gritty means and how does that affect the Image quality? This is his reply to me.

(click on the above image to enlarge)

He said ...
"sorry lens already sold! p.s. Please read the description before you ask questions..."

WTF response is this? If i dont read the desc how the fark i know he said the manual focusing abit gritty?? I replied his message ... in my message I told him that if i did not read the description i would not ask what does gritty means. I think that is very unprofessional kinda reply coming from a lens reseller.

And this is his reply ....

(click on the above image to enlarge)

Did you read this as well? "focus got problem? the lens not sharp enuff?" I answered in the vein of what you asked, which i think is very unprofessional of you in the first place. End of discussion. I do not wish to add anything further to this conversation.

I did not reply this message, its pretty clear now that this kinda arrogant lens reseller would not get any business from me. If i m a professional i dont think i would ever buy from him in the first place what else ask him what does he meant by "gritty manual focusing ring" if you are from alphanatics forum and you would like to know which lens reseller to avoid .... feel free to msg me or leave a comment here.

Its your rights as a buyer/consumer to ask questions, as you might think you are a newbie but still you are purchasing with real money! there is no such thing as a newbie money! Ask questions if you are uncertain! If the seller refused to give answer or he LCLY or he give very dodgy answer ... ask him to goan fark himself!

Hopefully this guide will be able to answer your doubt about getting a used lens. There is good copy and bad copy ... you just need to keep asking and test it out to make sure you dint get cheated.


  1. Great write up on how to buy things from a stranger. Yup, you are right, we take out our hard earn cold money to buy things for our own needs. Every penny spend is a blood drop of our own; the money never drop from sky for us. We need to work for it.

    As a consumer/buyer/customer, we have right to ask any question we don't understand. A good/professional seller will answer any kind of question asked from a potential buyer; be the question sound stupid. What for I want to ask if I understand what I read? True ?

    Well, like a proverb from Malay: Sepandai pandai tupai melompat, sure one day it will land on ground. So, I dare to say, those LCLY seller who earn their money LCLY-ly, will one day get to pay for his/her LCLY-ness.

  2. Tenkiu for your timely advice. I am in the market to buy some second-hand lenses to add to my collection.

    Yoon Lee

  3. wei si bei true. I bought one si beh jialat lens in alphanatics. ma de, when i saw the lens,... fulamak.. pek chek.. scarcth almost whole body liao... but cheap price ehehe.. i learned my lesson.

  4. sounds just good for ahbengs like me who low on budget but want something nice! XD!

    wah master templar also here!

  5. wah, your point #9, need so extreme meh? need sign contrack boh? hehehehe...

  6. add one more point... if you go to photography forum buy sell forum... and the seller said they don't know detail about the lens and sell it "As is".....don't buy... u will kena con... me kena one even thought i sell a lot of stuff..

  7. ^^ is my turn 2day to b seller @ noon 2.30pm on my SAL50-200mm and buyer @ evening 6pm on his Minolta 70-210/3.5-4.5 hehehe..

    wish me luck ya~
    (wong lai wong lai ...wong wong lai)

  8. i can stand people who tries to get rid of things they dislike without morale. they would push the lens out some how, when ppl wanna buy, they will push to sell to u telling how good the lens is, but when SOLD, then he will start telling crappy shit bout the lens he just sold.

    oh, and, good write up, i now can show my friends how to look out for 2nd hand lens. thanks :D

  9. I think I know who is the seller... hehehee..

  10. thanks for the info shared, and.. that conversation is really lansi from the seller lar, hahah, slap that fellar =P

  11. hmm better buy from friends who upgrade his dslr and want to get rid of the old one.

    you never know when you will get con.

    I myself is looking for a D5100. =)


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