What is The Best Place to Buy Used Camera Lenses

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Buying used lenses have almost become an industry by itself. There are a lot of high-quality second-hand lenses out there, which means you can fulfill your needs and still save a good bit of money if you’re smart. In this post, I’m going to answer the question: what is the best place to buy used camera lenses?

As we all know photography is an expensive hobby and an even more expensive profession. You certainly need a camera body, speedlights, reflectors, memory cards, lighting equipment, backdrops, batteries, stands, hard drives, tripods, back-ups, gear bags, etc. Besides the camera itself, the most important item in the gear is the lens, quality lenses make up the most expensive part of that gear because they are expensive and you need more than one.

digital camera lenses

Check your local market

Try buying locally if you can. The important benefit of purchasing locally is the fact that you can have an actual visual and physical examination of the lens before you buy it. Being able to check it out and– more importantly– put it on a camera and test it is going to be the two most important factors in your decision to buy the lens. The main disadvantage of buying lenses locally is that your choices will be very limited, and it is difficult to find what you are looking for, maybe, you have to wait long to find what you are looking for.

camera lenses

Buy from trusted retailers

The other alternative is to buy online from trusted retailers. Although you will pay first before receiving your lens and that is a risk. The good news is that those retailers examined professionally the lenses they bought before offering them for sale. Also, it is important to check the return policy of the seller before placing the order.

There are several places to find camera lenses and gear online, each with both benefits and risks involved. Below is a list of places to find cheap used gear. You can find great items at these shops no matter what lens type you’re looking for.


KEH is considered one of the largest places for selling and buying used camera equipment. They apply 14 days “no question asked” return policy. They also have a separate store on eBay

KEN applies a Lens Inspection Process when selling or buying lenses, the process includes the following activities:

  1. Visually inspect the lens for any wear, damage dents or dings
  2. Rotate focus, zoom and aperture rings through the full range
  3. Mounts on camera and check focus at known distances along with AF function and stabilization features
  4. Examine glass for anomalies like haze, fungus, scratches, damage, etc.

KEH grading system is respected as the industry standard, offering an option for every need and budget. The grading system criteria are used whether buying or selling cameras or other equipment. All ratings are made by KEH Camera’s top-rated technicians.

KEH rating system

You can also sell your camera gear on Keh. Read this post about some useful tips to sell on Keh.


B&H’s used equipment is a separate department from their new gear store, and what’s awesome about the website is that you can check a box next to the search bar that will permit you to search the used store only. All Used Equipment is tested and sold in working order, and there is a 90- Day warranty policy

Lenses and cameras are rated for their condition, this is an excellent way to decide how low you can go and still have the quality you want. The following scale is for cosmetic condition only.

N         Brand new/Never used – In original manufacturer’s packaging

OB       Open Box with full manufacturer warranty

D          Never owned – Used for demonstration purposes only

R          Refurbished by the Manufacturer to original company’s specifications

10        Preowned equipment, but appears as new

9+        Shows little or no signs of wear

9          Shows signs of use, but very clean

8+        Shows moderate wear or finish marks

8          Well used – may exhibit “dings” or finish marks

7          Shows a considerable amount of use – More than average wear

6          Usable, but has considerable optical or mechanical imperfections


Adorama has a special store for used lenses and also for featured brands, so it is very easy and useful for narrowing down your search. Adorama inspects, rates, and guaranteed the used lenses. They provide a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee. The following is the rating system for their used equipment.

Adorama Ratings

Condition       Lenses

N         Product is brand new and was never used, includes the full manufacturer’s warranty.

D          Little or no signs of wear.

E+        Barrel may have slight wear but only visible under close inspection. Lens glass is flawless.

E          Barrel may show signs of slight wear and/or usage. Lens glass is very clean.

E-         Barrel shows signs of wear and/or moderate usage. Lens glass may have some dust/spots that should not affect picture quality.

V          Barrel appears well used and may include dings, scrapes/scratches, heavy brassing. Lens glass may have marks or haze that should not affect picture quality.

G          Barrel appears to have been used heavily, showing multiple dings, scrapes/scratches, heavy brassing. Lens glass may have fungus, excessive dust, and/or scratches that can affect picture quality.

F          Item works with certain malfunctions. Read comments for exact details.

X          For parts only Final Sale, Sold As-is



Although Amazon is a retailer site, it also offers a used market for other sellers to present their lenses for sale. The following are their condition guidelines.

  • New: Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unopened item in its original packaging, with all original packaging materials, included. Original protective wrapping, if any, is intact. Original manufacturer’s warranty, if any, still applies, with warranty details included in the listing comments.
  • Certified Refurbished: A product that has been inspected and graded by a qualified manufacturer or a specialized third-party refurbisher to like-new working condition with no visible cosmetic imperfections when held 12 inches away.
  • Used – Like New: An untouched item in perfect condition. Original protective wrapping may be missing, but the original packaging is intact and pristine. There are absolutely no signs of wear on the item or its packaging. Instructions are included. Item is suitable for presenting as a gift.
  • Used – Very Good: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly.
  • Used – Good: Use only if noted in the Category-Specific Condition Guidelines. The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. It may be marked, have identifying markings on it, or show other signs of previous use.
  • Used – Acceptable: Use only if noted in the Category-Specific Condition Guidelines. The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. The item may have identifying markings on it or show other signs of previous use.

The following is a comparison table of the rating systems of the above-mentioned retailers selling sites

Lens Rating sysytems

Personal Sales via Major Retailer


Used camera lenses bring a premium at eBay (good for sellers), but the selection is usually large. I placed it in a category on its own because while it may be a peer-to-peer transaction, eBay typically provides a money-back guarantee to ensure you receive the item as described in the auction. Be sure to check auction details carefully to see if your transaction is backed by eBay’s coverage.


Gear Focus is the online marketplace for buying and selling new and used photography and videography gear. Founded by Photographers and Videographers as if you with a vision to create the best experience for buying and selling used camera equipment in a focused marketplace. They have designed this platform based on your feedback – provide buyer and seller safety, low seller fees of only 3.5% and the best customer support anywhere.

Their goal is to create a community where creatives can safely buy and sell gear at fair market value so they can pursue their passions. Join the thousands of Photographers and Videographers already buying and selling their new and used camera gear online!

Sell Your Used Camera Gear

  • Unlimited Free Listings
  • Only 3.5% Seller Fees
  • Targeted Market

Why Sell with Gear Focus?

Personal Sales markets

These marketplaces need more precautions for handling the buying process because the risk is higher than shopping at well-known retailers. If you can check a person’s selling history, it is often enough to see if they are going to be trustworthy enough or not. And if you can see their previous ads for selling used gear, you will be able to figure out if they are honest about their gear condition or not. Things such as dents, chips, and cracks should always be reported by the seller, along with high-resolution images of the gear on sale. Also, you should be aware of the return policy adopted by the buyer in case the lens doesn’t get your satisfaction.


One of the most active camera equipment buys/sells forums on the net and rich in used lenses.


Many used lenses show up in the classifieds section.


A buy/sell forum that usually has many used lenses. Login required.

camera lens

What are the refurbished lenses?

It is a special type of used lenses. The majority of the refurbished lenses are retail returns. The other source of lenses is from retired in-store demo units. In both cases, the equipment is usually in perfect running order, possibly with slight cosmetic issues. No matter how good their condition though, they are no longer “New”, and can’t be sold as such. Each piece of equipment is tested in a standard manner and adjustments are made when and if required. At the end of the repair, the piece of equipment is readied for packaging and sale with different Warranty conditions. The difference is usually the duration, which makes a significant difference in retail price. Canon and Nikon offer refurbished lenses at their stores.

How to check your lens

Many places do lens reviews. Read over those reviews as they sometimes list common problems to look out for on used equipment. Be an informed buyer and it might save you some trouble in the long run.

There are a few things that you should check when receiving your used lens.  I’m putting them up here in the hope that you might find some of it useful.

Physical Examination

  • Examine the outer surface of the lens Are there any scratches, marks or swirls on the lens’ coating?
  • Check the lens mount for brassing, also check the threads of the filter mounting.
  • Check that the lens contacts are clean and in good condition.
  • Hold the lens towards a light source and look through it. If the lens has an aperture ring, open it all the way and try looking straight through it like a telescope. Is there dust or fungus on any of the inner elements? While some dust is normal on almost all lenses, the fungus is not. The fungus is a very critical issue because it etches the glass and can never be fully removed without a re-polishing.

Test your lens

  • Mount the lens to the camera, make sure the camera doesn’t show any kind of error message when moving the lens and holding the shutter halfway down.
  • Use manual focus and be sure it’s smooth, and it is working. Also, check the zoom.
  • Take close, mid-range and far focus images at multiple apertures, and in small increments along with the entire zoom range of the lens. Check the resulting photos.
  • Cheek AF, and make sure that the lens focus to infinity and up close through the entire zoom range. Use AF and select a focus point; take a picture. Review the picture and check the focus. Set the lens to infinity focus and focus on something up close. Does the lens AF as fast as it’s supposed to? Different lenses will have different focusing speeds, but knowing how slow or fast it should be is important. If it’s slow and it’s supposed to be lightning-quick, there’s a problem.
  • If the lens has IS and other switches, be sure these features work. On most image-stabilized lenses, you can hear the IS motor working.

Related posts

How To Rent Camera Lenses Online?

Canon lens Reviews

How To Clean Your Camera Lens? – Protect your asset

Best Place to Sell your Camera Gear



Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the article if you have any questions just post them below & I will be happy to answer you.

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  • Hi, I’ve just gone through this amazing post you’ve shared with us here about the best place to buy used camera lenses. Well, I think here I agree with you 100% that buying lens locally is best because you can examine everything and put everything into test despite limited choice. I’m not a photographer but my uncle is, when I showed him your post, he said from now he’ll be following every advice you give from your site. Thanks for sharing helpful knowledge and information.

  • Dear Amin,

    Thanks for putting together such a comprehensive site on the cost effective way to buy camera lenses. I appreciate the detail you’ve put into it including what to look for when finding a used camera lens. You were right that this is a subject and it’s on right and there are a lot of technicalities that should be taken into account.

    Keep me posted.

    L, Sammy

  • Hi Amin just want to congratulate you on a awesome site, your info helps a lot and your visuals is nice. My daughter does photography and i never knew that you get used lenses online, I will definitely make use of it when buying the next lens for her camera. Congrats on a awesome site.  

  • Really enjoyed your article and thanks for mentioning that Adorama Camera sells refurbished Canon cameras and lenses.

    I’m always delighted to answer questions or respond to queries (or complaints….) regarding Adorama Camera or AdoramaPix, whether concerning Canon refurbished photographic equipment or any other items that we stock.


    Helen Oster

  • Hi, I live in an area where it is really difficult to find stores specialized in lenses, I was reading your article and seen that you mentioned both Ebayand Amazon. I have never bought anything on eBay but bought little stuff from Amazon a few times. Would you really think it is ok to buy items such as lenses from Amazon? Have you bought any yourself and what was your experience? Thank you

    • Thanks for your comment, I’m a regular user of Amazon and I do buy photography stuff from their shop, both brand new and used items. My shopping experience form Amazon is great till now. Remember that you can easily return any delivered item easily and refund it. 

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