What about used Canon lenses?
Many of us look to used products to save a significant amount of money over similar new items. Used Canon EF lens shoppers are not so fortunate as used Canon lenses (especially Canon L Series Lenses) retain much of their original value. A popular Canon EF lens in good condition can generally bring 85% or more of the cost of a new lens.
And what about the risks? We are paying nearly new lens price - getting used glass - and we are taking a risk.
When dealing with an unknown individual seller, can you determine if they have a positive and verifiable online reputation? Is the seller a new member of the forum with very few posts - or have they been a member for a long time with lots of posts? Has he/she been proven honest and reliable? And is the person who he/she says they are - or has the seller's online account been hijacked? If the seller provides an eBay account or web site for reference, be sure to contact them through those sites - anyone can say a site or account is theirs.
Is the seller giving full disclosure of the condition and history of the lens? A lens can look great on the outside, but may have taken a beating on the inside. leaving non-visible damage. Are you certain that the lens was not stolen?
Is the seller providing a warranty? The original Canon EF lens warranty indicates that it is non-transferable. However, Canon's practice has been to honor an EF lens warranty if they are provided with a valid receipt from a Canon authorized dealer. So, you just may get warranty coverage on a Canon EF lens you purchase used if you have a valid receipt. Some commercial retailers provide their own warranty.
Is there a return policy if you are not satisfied with your purchase? Most commercial retailers allow returns on used Canon lenses if you are dissatisfied, but transactions with an individual vary - to whatever is negotiated.
What if you get a used lens with a non-visible problem? What if the used lens is not as sharp as it should be? What if the used lens has a focusing problem? Will the seller accept the return? If not, what will you do with the lens? You can either have it repaired by Canon or re-sell it. If you re-sell it, you will have to disclose the problem or risk your reputation.
How are you going to pay for your purchase? Most retailers accept credit cards directly, but most individuals cannot. PayPal has become the most popular person-to-person payment service that utilizes credit cards. You probably need a PayPal account setup if you are going to be serious about buying and selling used lenses online.
PayPal has risks as do most of the other payment methods generally accepted by sellers. Many sellers will accept personal checks but will hold your lens until the check clears. Money orders and bank checks are often used. Wire transfers between bank accounts get used sometimes, but not frequently within the US. Cash works great when dealing directly in person.
How much is your time worth? How much time are you going to invest in your used lens search and resulting transaction? With such high demand for used Canon EF lenses, you can easily spend 5, 10, 20 ... hours trying to find and catch the right deal - the right lens in the right condition from the right seller at the right price.
I purchase most of my lenses new from the retailers supporting this site (at their regular price). That is my recommendation for you. You pay a little more, but you get a new Canon EF lens with full warranty. You can return it if you don't like it (providing your retailer has a good return policy). Many credit cards will double the warranty on a new Canon EF lens - basically a free second year warranty. You will know the complete history of the lens - and you'll love how it looks.
One exception to my recommendation is for a discontinued Canon EF lens. These are no longer available new and are often a better value than a current model Canon EF used lens.
Another exception to my recommendation are the reconditioned Canon lenses. These look like new and are typically a good value. They selection of these lenses is not typically strong - order fast when the lens you want shows up.
Caveat emptor! Buyer Beware! Be careful! There are good deals out there - and there are reliable sellers, but keep my above points in mind as you make this decision.
If you are set on buying a used lens, bookmark the following page and hit all of these links every day (or many times a day) until you are successful in your search.