DECISIONS, DECISIONS: NEW vs. USED LENSES.

If you’re in the market for a new lens or a used lens and don’t know where to start on your quest to upgrade. This blog post might be able to help you. One of the things about photography is the fact that the hobby or profession can get quite expensive at times.

The cost of items such as a new camera body, a new lenses, or even other equipment such as a tripod, monopod or even a new bag can and will add up over time. In terms of the overall amount spend during ones hobby or carrier in photography.

A little over three months ago I had posted the following on my Facebook page.

“Yesterday I purchased a used Canon EF 80-200 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens, at a very low price. I cleaned it up and plan on testing it in the next couple of days. I will post my results and photos within the next few days.”

This blog post is based on my testing and using this used Canon EF 80-200 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. My reasoning for buying this Canon EF 80-200 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens was for the following.

  1. I wanted a lens that was not too large and bulky to travel with while I do general or street photography during my travels.
  2. I wanted a lens that did not go over 300mm but had the flexibility to go to 70 or 80mm. in this case I found this lens with a 80mm as it’s lowest focal length, originally I did want 70mm, but I was willing to accept 80mm at the time.
  3. I was just not willing to pay a whole lot of money for a new lens.

Since size was in issue for me, I thought that the Canon EF 80-200 mm was the perfect size to carry and travel with during my random photography outings. Compared to my Sigma 70–300 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens as you can see in the photo below.

Canon - Sigma Lenses.

Canon – Sigma Lenses.

As you can see from the photo above that the Canon lens is just a little smaller than my Sigma lens. This photo is of both lenses at the smallest size they can be for storage in ones camera bag. The lens hoods are not seen or attached to this photo for I wanted to just give a size comparison.

And I will say that the Canon lens does fit nicely in my small Lowepro camera bag. In case you are wondering what model Lowepro bag I was using, it was the Adventura 170. I can fit the lens with my Canon camera still attached to it into the bag with no problems what so ever.

If I was using the Sigma 70–300 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens, then I would be subjected to removing the lens from the camera body every time I pack the camera back into the bag. And that I find to be a hassle while out on the street.

As I mentioned earlier I was looking to get a 70mm, as the lowest focal length but I was willing to accept 80mm at the time. For the simple reason I have discovered. That when shopping for used items, you might not find the exact item that you want in a well condition. So you may have to go with the “next best thing.” And actually… 80mm has worked very well for me with this lens.

As for the condition of the lens at time of purchase. On a scale of zero thru ten, with zero (0) being a total failure and ten (10)  to be flawless/brand new. I would rate this used Canon EF 80-200 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens that I had gotten at 8.5. I given it an 8.5 rating for it “shows signs of use, but very clean.”

The photo blow is of the actual Canon EF 80-200 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens after I brought it home cleaned and inspected it again after purchase.

Used Canon EF 80-200 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens

Used Canon EF 80-200 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens

As you can see it really did not look that bad at all. Except for the worn, discolored marks around the rubberized grip portion of the lens. And that is more of a cosmetic issue if anything. If you can get past the “used look” of it, then you will be just fine with it as I was.

For the record and full disclosure of this “New vs. Used Lens” photography blog post. I will admit to the fact that the Hoya HMC UV (C) 52mm lens filter that you see attached to the lens is new. Some items I will not cut cost on, unless it’s a very good deal.

And actually this Hoya HMC UV (C) 52mm lens filter did have a good purchase deal.  For it was purchased at a used price. When I received it from the store rep that I was making the purchase from in the used department of a major local photography store in New York City. I had noticed that the original packaging was not even opened by anyone. So I brought it up to the attention of the store rep that had given me the item, thinking that they made a mistake and gave me a new filter. The store representative replied back saying. “Sometimes a customer will purchase a new lens filter, never open or use it for whatever reason. And will return the item back for a refund. So technically it’s considered used.”

As far as I was concerned… “That’s a good purchase deal.”

Now at this point you may be wondering. “So does this Canon EF 80-200 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens still able to take good photos?” My answer is “Yes… It’s still capable of taking good and great photos.” Below are just a few samples of photos that I have taken while out on the streets of New York City giving this used Canon EF 80-200 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens a full test run and putting it through its paces.

Afro-American male walking down the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, located in Brooklyn Heights, New York while looking to his left.

Afro-American male walking down the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, located in Brooklyn Heights, New York while looking to his left.

Sitting on a park bench.

Sitting on a park bench.

Headshot with depth of field.

Headshot with depth of field.

As you can see from the photos above, that the used Canon EF 80-200 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens still does a good job taking photos.

As for my final reason of why I made a purchase of a used lens is the fact that I paid less than one-hundred dollars for a lens and a filter that would normally go for a two or three hundred dollars if I had purchased them brand new.

A few points to remember as well if you are going to by a use lens that you should consider is the following.

  1. Find out what the retailers return policy is on used items is first. For you may get stuck with something that you might not be satisfied and can’t return it.
  2. Test and examine the lens at the store. Most stores will let you examine a used item before making a purchase. If you are making your purchase online. See my first point.
  3. Take the time to clean your used item once you bring it home. Even though a retail store will clean a used item before reselling it. I had discovered that when I had cleaned my used lens it was still a little too dirty for me that I would have liked. Overall the retailer did clean it… Just not clean enough by my standards.
  4. Test, test, and more test. Put the lens through its paces and just test it out to see if it works. Go outside with it and fire off some shots, not just indoor photos. A “real world” test as if you was out on the field doing street photography or on a photography assignment using it. You can get that done before the retailers return policy expires.

Some people might not agree with the purchase of a used items sighting “out of date equipment” or  saying things like “You are buying other people’s problems, that’s why it’s used.” And so on… But if you take the time to do your research examine and test your item, then you will be just fine.

So I would say “Go for it and buy used from time to time, nothing wrong with doing so.”

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