Podcast Episode

The Lensrentals Podcast Episode #23 – How to Buy a Used Lens

Published April 2, 2020

Each week Roger Cicala, founder of Lensrentals.com, hosts conversations about the art and science of capturing images. From photography to videography, film, history, and technology, the show covers a wide range of topics to educate and inspire creators of all kinds.


How to Buy a Used Lens

After 2 years in rental rotation, we sell a good deal of our inventory at our sister site, LensAuthority.com. Roger talks with Connie who runs LensAuthority, and Joey, our Senior Photo Tech about what to look out for when buying a used lens, and when not to buy used gear. They discuss some of their favorite lenses that hold up well over time, valuable resources to reference before and after you’ve purchased a used lens, and share their opinions on if glass scratches and dust are considerations you should worry about.

Gear Referenced in this episode:

Tamron 35mm f/1.4 and f/1.8.
Tamron 45mm
The f/4 versions of Canon 24-70
Tokina 12-24mm f/4
Sigma 28mm Art is one of the smallest of the Sigma primes
Sigma 40mm Art


B&H used
How to Test a Lens article


00:30 – Roger Cicala introduces Joey Miller and Connie Candebat

01:30 – Roger talks with Joey and Connie about how to not buy a used lens

03:00 – How one great copy of a $300 lens does not mean all of those lenses are great

04:20 – Connie talks about how to find a bargain when buying a lens

06:30 – Roger laments about primes verse telephotos

07:30 – The gang talks about third-party lenses and what to know about each of them

09:20 – Roger talks about servicing lenses when you buy used

10:10 – While hard to service geographically, Leica servicing does offer free repairs and servicing

11:10 – Joey talks about buying used gear online, and what marketplaces to look for

13:00 – Roger talks about the risk of buying gear that might be stolen

13:50 – Finding bargains when the brand releases a new version of a lens

15:00 – Finding cosmetic defects to help find deals

17:20 – Differentiating a scratch, a ding, and a dent

18:00 – Roger talks about some of his biggest bargains when buying used

18:45 – Roger talks about finding a spider in a lens, and the optical changes it caused

20:00 – Wheeling and dealing with used prices

21:00 – BREAK

21:30 – Joey talks about buying extended warranties on used gear

22:15 – Connie also talks about third party warranty providers

23:30 – How parts can be hard to find for older equipment

25:50 – How to assure you give time to inspect gear before committing to buy it

26:50 – Why you should take photos of the box upon receiving gear

29:00 – Roger asks if you should be concerned about a lens age when buying used

30:40 – Why higher-priced gear often holds up better over time

33:00 – Connie and Roger talk about pricing out used lenses

34:00 – Roger talks about what you should do the moment you get your purchased used lens, and what to look for

36:00 – Joey talks about Image Stabilization units, and what to look for

37:00 – Connie talks about how to test a used lens

39:00 – Connie, Roger, and Joey talk about zoom creep and barrel jiggle

42:00 – Joey talks about looking for buffed out scratches


The Lensrentals Podcast is a production of Lensrentals, founded by Roger Cicala. Our production staff includes Drew Cicala, Ryan Hill, Sarah McAlexander, SJ Smith, Julian Harper, John Tucker, and Zach Sutton. Other contributors include Roger Cicala, Joey Miller, Ally Aycock Patterson, Joshua Richardson, and Philip Robertson.

Thanks to Jacques Granger for our theme song.

Submit a topic idea, question, or comment, leave us a voicemail at 901-609-LENS, or send us an email at podcast@lensrentals.com.


Author: Lensrentals

Articles written by the entire editorial and technical staff at LensRentals.com. These articles are for when there is more than one author for the entire post, and are written as a community effort.

Posted in Podcast Episode
  • Ralph Hightower

    I can vouch for B&H and KEH.
    I’ve bought the following used lenses from B&H:
    1) Canon 20mm f/3.5 Macro Photo Lens (for Bellows)
    2) Canon Wide Angle 28mm f/2.8 FD Manual Focus Lens
    From KEH, I’ve bought used camera gear:
    1) Canon Auto Bellows
    2) Canon F-1N with AE Finder FN, AE Motor Drive FN, and metering prisms for spot, partial, and center-weighted. I told my wife in 2013 that KEH had a Canon F-1N for sale. She asked “Is that their flagship camera?” I answered “Yes, for the 80’s.” She said “Buy it.”

  • J-Y Hervé

    Thank you for a very informative podcast. Your point about dust inside the lens is a really important & valid one. I used to freak out whenever I found a speck of dust inside one of my lenses; not so much anymore. I guess I’ll have to relax a bit about scratches on the front element from now on as well.

    What I know about the history of my own lenses compared to the way they look outward and the way they perform is what sometimes makes me hesitant to buy used gear. I have a Sigma 18-35 that survived seemingly unscathed a motorcycle accident and a Canon 24-105 that “face planted” three times (resulting in broken front filter each time). The last time the zoom ring ended up stuck. I had to force it with a sharp twist, and now it runs smoothly again. Both lenses look and work great and would probably sell at a good price for their age, but I would never do that because I don’t know how much their durability may have been compromised. On the other hand, I have a Sigma 10-20 that has led a pampered, cushioned life, yet one can hear a loose screw moving inside it. That one also works great, but would probably not sell as well.

    Incidentally, I recently purchased a µ43 lens with LensAuthority and I couldn’t have been happier with my purchase: speed of delivery, quality of packing, and of course the quality of the lens. So, congrats and thanks to Connie & Team. I am looking/lusting for an other lens in the store, but will wait until I can see a model of that lens that still has its hood. 🙂

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