If you haven’t wrapped up your holiday shopping yet, consider buying secondhand in exchange for a great deal.
Lens Rentals, together with their sister site Lens Pro to Go, sell some of their less-used equipment on a site called Lens Authority. You might ask yourself: “why would I want to buy secondhand goods from a rental house? Won’t the items be heavily used?”
In my opinion, Lens Authority, the selling branch of their business, is one of the most reputable in the business. Often the secondhand market is filled with murky details and ambiguous claims. This service, however, tells it like it is.
What Makes Lens Authority Special
There’s a stark difference between buying from a stranger and buying from professionals. Here’s a small list of reasons why I have bought from Lens Authority.
A one-year warranty can be bought with each item, which is hugely reassuring. Over the Black Friday sales, these warranties were going for just one cent. It stands to reason that Lens Authority has faith in the quality of the gear being sold. There’s also a three-day inspection period to make sure the customer is happy. Their FAQ mentions that “if one day you start using the lens, and randomly, the autofocus stops working or the zoom jams, we will fix it for you.”
While each individual lens isn’t MTF tested, Lens Rentals is at the top of its game in understanding how sharp a lens should be. I’d trust them to know when a particular lens is looking soft, and it’s nice to know that they’re able to repair issues in advance too.
Most of the equipment on sale is less than two years old. This is because Lens Rentals and Lens Pro to Go want to keep their rental inventory looking sharp and will cut any fat from their operations.
Products are rated by cosmetics and functionality separately, and often, there’s more than one copy of a product available to choose from. If a defect doesn’t concern your work, then you could be in to save a nice chunk of change. Conversely, it’s not difficult to find items in great condition. Cameras are also listed with rounded actuation numbers, while video-centric cameras will be listed with an estimate of how many hours are logged.
Lens Authority ties nicely into Lens Pro to Go and Lens Rentals. Let's say you rent a lens for a week and don’t want to return it. The “Keeper Program” lets you buy the lens (or otherwise), while giving the customer credit towards the product with their rental fee. This can be a very good way to try before you buy.
Some Notable Items
I’ve picked up plenty of nice goodies from Lens Authority, like a GH5 and a Metabones adaptor. There are also a few items that might be of interest to our readers:
- Signficant discounts on Zeiss and Canon cine lenses.
- A decent selection of Micro Four-Thirds lenses.
- Fuji Medium Format lenses.
- Pieces and parts of DJI equipment.
- Panasonic’s G9 (which can be updated to match a GH5’s specs).
- Atomos monitor/recorders.
Often, the best deals on new gear gets snapped up quickly. The entire site can be sorted by most recent. Alternatively, you could set up Twitter notifications if you wanted to fanatically wait for good deals to come through. For items that are currently out of stock, an email alert can be set up.
Sometimes, the price offered by LensAuthority isn’t much of a deal. I’d make sure to price-check accordingly. Items that are almost new won’t usually have a large discount, for example.
Feel free to suggest your favorite secondhand market in the comments. I feel that I couldn’t write an article about this without mentioning Share Grid’s new second hand marketplace. They pitch it as an eBay for camera equipment. As a result, there are better suggestions, better descriptions, and a more open marketplace. While I haven’t needed anything from there, I’ve seen some great deals.
Then, of course, there’s the classic, B&H. Their secondhand market covers a wide selection, a wider variety than most I’ve seen. They have a decently healthy film photography section, where you can find your classic AE-1 and up.