Are you a photography enthusiast looking to expand your lens collection without breaking the bank? Buying used lenses can be an excellent option to save money while still acquiring high-quality equipment.

In this article, we’ll explore the best places to buy used lenses and provide you with valuable tips to ensure a successful purchase. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned photographer, this guide will help you make an informed decision and find the perfect lens for your needs.

Benefits of Buying used Lenses

Used lenses offer several advantages over their brand-new counterparts. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Cost savings: The primary advantage of buying used lenses is the significant cost savings. Used lenses are often priced at a fraction of their original retail price, allowing you to access high-quality lenses within your budget.
  2. Wider selection: When buying used, you have access to a wider selection of lenses, including older models that may no longer be available new. This expands your options and enables you to find lenses that suit your specific needs and shooting style.
  3. Value retention: Unlike many other electronic devices, camera lenses tend to hold their value well over time. By purchasing used lenses, you can often sell them later at a similar price, minimizing your overall investment in photography equipment.

Factors to consider when buying used lenses

Before purchasing a used lens, there are several important factors to consider. Taking these into account will help ensure that you make a well-informed decision and avoid any potential issues down the line.

Condition of the lens

The condition of the lens is crucial when buying used one. Pay close attention to the following:

  • Optical quality: Inspect the lens for any scratches, dust, or fungus that may affect image quality. Minor cosmetic wear is usually acceptable, but any significant damage should be considered carefully.
  • Mechanical functionality: Check the focus and zoom rings, as well as the aperture blades, to ensure smooth operation. Look out for any signs of stiffness or excessive wear.
  • Compatibility: Confirm that the lens is compatible with your camera model and mount type. Research compatibility guides or consult with experts if needed.

Reputation of the seller

When purchasing used lenses, it’s essential to buy from reputable sellers. Consider the following:

  • Marketplace rating: If buying online, check the seller’s rating and reviews on platforms such as eBay or dedicated photography marketplaces. Look for positive feedback and a history of successful transactions.
  • Return policy and warranty: Understand the seller’s return policy and whether they offer any warranty or guarantee on the lens. This provides additional peace of mind in case you encounter any issues after purchase.
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Compatibility with your camera

Ensure that the lens you are interested in is fully compatible with your camera system. Consider the following:

  • Camera mount: Different camera brands use various lens mounts, so make sure the lens you want to buy matches your camera’s mount type.
  • Autofocus compatibility: Some older lenses may not have autofocus capabilities on certain camera models. Research the lens and camera compatibility to avoid any surprises.

Price comparison

One of the advantages of buying used lenses is the ability to compare prices and find the best deal. Consider the following:

  • Research and compare: Before making a purchase, research the average price for the lens you want. Check multiple marketplaces and listings to identify the best price for the lens’s condition and seller reputation.
  • Bargaining: In some cases, you may be able to negotiate the price with the seller, especially if the lens has been listed for a while. Polite and respectful negotiation can lead to additional savings.

Best Online Marketplaces for Used Lenses

The internet offers a plethora of online marketplaces where you can find a wide range of used lenses. These platforms provide a convenient way to browse through a vast selection and compare prices from different sellers. Here are some of the best online marketplaces for buying used lenses:

1. B&H Photo Video

B&H Photo Video is a renowned online retailer specializing in photography equipment. They have an extensive collection of used lenses, ranging from vintage classics to modern gems. B&H thoroughly inspects and rates each used item, providing detailed condition descriptions and accurate grading.

2. Adorama

Adorama is another reputable online retailer that offers an excellent selection of used lenses. They have a dedicated used gear department where you can find lenses in various conditions and price ranges. Adorama also provides a detailed condition report for each item, ensuring transparency in the buying process.

3. KEH Camera

KEH Camera is a trusted source for pre-owned photography gear. With a stringent inspection process, KEH guarantees the quality of its used lenses. They offer a wide range of brands and models, allowing you to find lenses suitable for your specific needs. KEH’s grading system provides accurate descriptions of each lens’s condition.

4. eBay

eBay is a popular online marketplace that hosts a vast number of sellers offering used lenses. While there is a wide variety of options, be cautious and thoroughly research the seller’s reputation before making a purchase. Check the seller’s ratings, reviews, and return policy to ensure a secure transaction.

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5. LensAuthority

LensAuthority is the used gear division of LensRentals, a well-established lens rental service. They sell their used inventory, which consists of high-quality lenses that have been well-maintained and thoroughly inspected. LensAuthority’s offerings are often in excellent condition, making it a reliable platform for used lens purchases.

Local Camera Stores and Photography Communities

Aside from online marketplaces, local camera stores and photography communities can be excellent sources for finding used lenses. These options provide opportunities for personal interactions and a chance to inspect the lenses in person. Here’s why you should consider exploring these avenues:

Benefits of Buying Locally

When you buy from a local camera store, you have the advantage of examining the lens physically before making a purchase. You can test the lens on your camera, assess its condition, and ask questions to knowledgeable staff. Additionally, local camera stores often offer warranties and after-sales support.

Camera Store Recommendations

Research camera stores in your area and check if they offer used lenses. Seek recommendations from other photographers or join local photography groups to get insights on the best camera stores with a reputable selection of used lenses.

Photography Community Recommendations

Photography communities, both online and offline, can provide valuable recommendations for buying used lenses. Engage with fellow photographers in forums, social media groups, and photography clubs to seek advice and find out if anyone is selling lenses within the community.

Classified Ads and Online Forums

Classified ad platforms and photography forums are additional avenues worth exploring when searching for used lenses. These platforms allow you to connect with individual sellers and negotiate directly. Here are a few popular options:

Platforms like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and local newspaper classifieds often have listings for used lenses. Exercise caution and verify the seller’s credibility before meeting in person or making a transaction.

Photography Forums and Communities

Photography forums, such as FredMiranda and DPReview, have dedicated sections where users can buy and sell equipment. Participating in these forums enables you to engage with experienced photographers, ask questions, and potentially find great deals on used lenses.

Rental Services and Buyback Programs

Renting lenses before buying and taking advantage of buyback programs can be an alternative approach to acquiring used lenses. Consider the following options:

Lens Rental Services

Renting a lens allows you to test it extensively before committing to a purchase. Companies like LensProToGo and BorrowLenses offer a vast selection of lenses for rent, giving you the opportunity to evaluate their performance and determine if they meet your needs.

Buyback Programs

Some retailers and manufacturers offer buyback programs, where you can trade in your used lenses for credit towards a new purchase. These programs provide a convenient way to upgrade your equipment while minimizing the financial impact. Check with local camera stores or visit the websites of lens manufacturers to explore buyback options.

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Tips for buying used lenses

To ensure a successful purchase, follow these tips when buying used lenses:

  1. Research and educate yourself: Learn about the lens model you are interested in, its features, and potential issues. Familiarize yourself with common pricing to identify a fair deal.
  2. Inspect the lens thoroughly: Check the lens’s optical quality, mechanical functionality, and overall condition. Look for signs of wear, damage, or any performance issues.
  3. Test the lens before purchase: If possible, test the lens on your camera to ensure it performs as expected. Check autofocus accuracy, image stabilization, and overall image quality.
  4. Check for warranty and return policies: Understand the seller’s policies regarding returns, warranties, and guarantees. This protects you in case the lens doesn’t meet your expectations.
  5. Trust your instincts: If something feels off or the deal seems too good to be true, trust your intuition and consider other options.


Buying used lenses can be a rewarding experience that saves you money without compromising on quality. By considering the factors discussed in this article and exploring the best places to buy used lenses, you can find great deals and expand your lens collection.

Whether you choose online marketplaces, local camera stores, classified ads, or rental services, remember to prioritize quality, research sellers, and thoroughly inspect the lenses before making a purchase.


Is it safe to buy used lenses?

Buying used lenses can be safe if you follow certain precautions. Research sellers, examine the lens condition, and check return policies before making a purchase.

Can I find rare or discontinued lenses when buying used?

Yes, buying used lenses opens up the possibility of finding rare or discontinued models that may not be readily available as new.

What should I do if the used lens I bought has issues?

If you encounter issues with a used lens after purchase, contact the seller to discuss a return, warranty, or potential repairs.

Are used lenses covered by a warranty?

It depends on the seller and the lens. Some sellers offer their own warranties, while others may offer limited warranties provided by the manufacturer.

Can I negotiate the price when buying used lenses?

In many cases, sellers of used lenses are open to negotiation. It’s worth politely discussing the price to see if there is any room for adjustment.

Can I trust the quality of used lenses?

While purchasing used lenses does involve some risks, buying from reputable sources, examining the lens thoroughly, and researching the seller’s reputation can help ensure you receive a quality product.

Is it worth investing in older lenses?

Older lenses can offer unique characteristics and optical qualities that can enhance your photography. However, it is crucial to research and understand the lens’s performance and limitations before making a purchase.

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