Photography Lenses On The Cheap... If You're Risk Acceptant

Photography Lenses On The Cheap... If You're Risk Acceptant

Campbell Faulkner
Sep 22, 2010

We suggest not to attempt to fix a lens that looks as bad as the one above...

SLR Photography is an extremely expensive hobby. Between camera bodies and lenses, the cash that the average shutterbug has around their neck is astronomical. One way that we have been able to grow our fleet of lenses has been through taking risks and buying broken ones and then having our camera manufactures repair them.

The process of buying a broken lens is nerve wracking especially if done online. You could end up with a lens so trashed or costly to repair that it would have been better to have purchased the lens new. That being said, you can get lucky and save yourself some serious cash if you do your homework.

  1. Investigate the price that the lens normally goes for in a used condition. It is also advisable to ensure that you have a good idea of how much it will cost to repair the lens. Talking with a reputable camera shop can help you ballpark what the repair costs might be for a particular lens. We also suggest only purchasing lenses from reputable individuals or on well established sites online to help protect you.
  2. Look for lenses that have broken image stabilizers or focusing motors. In our experience, these are usually relatively easy to get fixed. Additionally if a lens is sent to a manufacturer authorized repair center, they will clean them thoroughly internally, giving an old lens crystal clear optics.
  3. If you can physically investigate the lens, it makes it much easier to ensure that none of the lens elements are broken. If any of the glass or fluorite elements are broken (unless this is an extremely high end professional telephoto lens), we suggest not attempting to purchase it. Replacing lens elements is prohibitively costly. Sellers who post photos of lenses that allow you to look through and see that the lens elements are clear and intact means that a lens will be much easier and cheaper to repair.
  4. Purchase the lens at the lowest price possible. Do not become wed to any particular lens; if the price is wrong, walk away and look for other lenses. Obviously you must have realistic expectations of how much value a lens has even when broken.
  5. Find either a camera shop or a repair center online for your brand of lenses. We suggest the camera store route due to the additional leverage and help they can give you with a big repair center. We have seen a store get lenses turned around much more quickly because the camera store was facilitating the repair.
  6. Get your lens back and enjoy your new addition to your photographic stable!

(Top image: Flickr member richardmasoner licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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