If you are using a DSLR camera or a mirrorless camera then you will be looking out for different lens options for your camera. You would require a wide angle for landscape or a telephoto for sports or wildlife photography. So, the type of lens varies according to the type of photography. If you are looking to invest in more than one lens and if you don’t have sufficient budget to buy a new camera lens then buying used camera lens is a good option.

Before buying used camera lens you should ensure that the lens is in proper working condition. So, How do you ensure that? I will list out the checklist of things to be checked before buying a used camera lens. Consider reading, Tips for buying Used Camera Body in case if you are looking for a used camera body also.

Used Camera Lens Buying Guide

1. Check for any visible scratches or Dents on the body

The first thing to do is an exterior quality check. You can easily make out if it is a roughly used lens or a carefully used one. Look for the visible dents and scratches on the body. The exterior paint would have torn off if it is an old lens and the effect can be seen on the tripod ring collar (if it has one). You need to make sure that there are no serious dents which happen to due to lens drop.

2. Look for Fungus on glass Elements

tips for buying used camera lens

The fungus is the worst thing that can happen to a stored camera lens. If you are living in a humid place then you should definitely check out the inside glass of the used camera lens for any fungal infections. it would be visible in the form of small webbing. It can have a serious effect on picture quality.

In order to check this properly, you need to open both rear and front cap of the lens and look through the rear side of the lens against a bright white wall at all possible angles.

You can also check with the seller whether the camera lens had any history of fungus, which the seller would have got it cleaned. This is because certain lens comes with glass pieces with a special anti-reflective coating. So, when you give it for removing the fungus, the service guy would have removed the coating from the glass piece too. Before buying used camera lens make sure that it doesn’t have any fungus.

3. Look for scratches on the outside glass piece.

Sometimes, there can be scratches in the front element of the camera lens. This cannot be removed. The only way to remove it is to replace the glass piece. So, look for such scratches.

4. Visual Inspection on Lens contacts

Camera Lens Contacts Close up

There are gold plated contacts on the back side of the camera lens. You can see it after opening the rear cap of the lens. make sure that the contacts are intact and there are no scratches on these metals parts. These contacts should be in good condition to get a proper communication between camera lens and body. Otherwise, you may get a camera error in between.

5. Try it on a camera body

Make sure that you carry a camera body which is compatible with the lens you are going to buy. Put the camera lens on the camera body and click a few pictures. 

6. Check Autofocusing Speed

Try focusing on a subject using Autofocus and make sure that you get the focus lock as per the normal focusing speed for that specific camera lens. Make sure that there are no focus hunt issues, where camera finds it tough to lock the focus.

7. Ask for Bill of Purchase

Bill of Purchase is very important. This will ensure that you are not buying a stolen camera lens. So, make sure that you ask and check the bill before buying used camera lens

8. Test the Zoom Ring

If you are buying a zoom lens then make sure that there is no wear and tear on the rubber part of the zoom ring. Try zoom in and zoom out with your camera connected to ensure that the Angle of View is changing.

9. Test the Focus Ring

camera lens close up

Test the camera focus ring before buying used camera lens. Connect the camera lens to your camera body. Disable the Autofocus and put the lens in Manual focus mode. Mount the camera on a tripod and try focusing the subject using Manual focus by rotating the focus ring.

Take a picture after getting the focus on the subject. Zoom in the picture to 100% to ensure that the subject is in focus. Also, check the focus ring for any signs of wear tear like the zoom ring.

10. Test the Lens Buttons

The lens would be coming with lots of buttons which enables different features. Try testing each feature by connecting it to a camera body. Most of the buttons would be of sliding type. So, ensure that they slide properly without getting stuck. Test all the buttons before buying used camera lens.

11. Test the Camera Lens Thread

Carry a filter which matches with the thread size of the camera lens. if you don’t have one you can request one from the seller. You can try screwing it in to make sure that the thread is not damaged.

12. Test with Lens Hood

Most of the camera lenses would be coming with a lens hood. So, just try inserting the hood on to the lens. The is to ensure that it stays properly without falling down.

13. Check the Tripod Mount Collar

If you are buying bigger telephoto lenses then it would be coming with a tripod collar. For bigger camera lenses, the camera mounting on tripod happens at lens side to balance the weight and not on the camera side. So, mount the lens on the tripod with the camera body to ensure that the thread is not damaged.

Make sure that you collect all the additional accessories which had come with the camera lens. Bigger telephoto lenses come with lens strap, additional tripod mount collar and a lens carrying suitcase. It would be good if you can get the package box also along with the manual.