Pekka Buttler, June–September 2020
If you’re one of the increasing number of people, who have become enamoured with using older lenses (what JAPB generally refers to as legacy lenses) on modern digital system cameras (whether SLR’s or mILC’s), you probably spend a lot of time scouring garage sales, classifieds and auction sites.
But the sad truth is that many legacy lenses are decades – sometimes closer to a century – old, and that however excellent their build quality originally was, many of these lenses evidence both the signs of wear and tear, as well as – deplorably – neglect.
Therefore, it is imperative that people who scour the world for a good deal on vintage lenses, know how to ascertain the condition of a lens on first sight as well as possible, and – should the lens evidence a malady – understand the ramifications of that malady.
Most importantly, lenses are surprisingly resistant to many kinds of maladies, and while some (but far from all) maladies will affect image quality, and while some (but, again, far from all) maladies affect lens usability and utility, all of these maladies have a direct and concrete impact on lens resale value.
To this end, JAPB publishes a series of articles describing the most typical issues legacy lenses may have, including ways to identify these maladies, ways to ascertain the seriousness of said issues, as well as recommendations on what needs to be done. Furthermore, JAPB posts a short guide on how to ascertain the quality of a lens (as well as possible) in only a couple of minutes (coming soon).
Please note, that these articles are intended for legacy lenses, and do thus not touch upon problems and issues specific to state-of-the-art lenses. Thus there are a number of topics which will not be covered, specifically: auto-focus; optical image stabilisation and lens electronics in general. That said, even state-of-the-art lenses are liable to evidence the same issues legacy lenses suffer, and this guide can thus help anyone who buys used lenses, but is not comprehensive regarding modern lenses.
- Oil on the aperture blades (‘oily blades’)
- Lens fungus
- Element separation
- Control ring malfunction
- Lens surface defects
- Dust & debris inside lens
- Miscellaneous defects
How to ascertain a lens’ condition in only a few minutes
P.S. The list above is based on my experience with roughly 200 legacy lenses, and while reasonably well-researched, I do admit to not knowing it all. Therefore, I welcome your views, suggestions and all kinds of comments.