I bought new legacy lenses

Started Sep 22, 2017 | Discussions
Charley123 Contributing Member • Posts: 765
I bought new legacy lenses
2

I've been looking for 50mm Olympus OM and Minolta MD legacy lenses (F1.7 or F1.8) to use on my Olympus M10 Mark II with Metabones Speedbooster Adapter. I prefer Oly OM and Min MD lenses photo character, quality, and I like their small size and weight.

I assumed there were no new legacy lenses I wanted since they're 30+ years old. So I wasted a bunch of time on Ebay, Etsy, and other websites looking for excellent+ or mint used lenses.

I got ripped off 3/4 of the time with sellers lying about condition. Often they sold me mildew stinking trash they claimed was mint. Some accept returns, which is a hassle, and some refuse returns. It's also become common for dishonest sellers to spray cologne or air freshener on nasty items in an attempt to mask the mildew smells. Sometimes the fungus can't be seen, but smelled strongly, which is still not desirable.

I learned to be suspicious, careful, and ask a lot of questions with Etsy and Ebay sellers. Amazon sellers didn't even answer any questions. So I bought nothing from Amazon.

I ended up with two nice used lenses and a bunch of trash that needs to be returned or thrown in the trash can.

Ebay used to be a lot safer and more honorable place a few years ago (when I used to buy used Canon gear). It's really gone down hill in the last few years. Now it seems to me the crooks outnumber the honest sellers (and Etsy is no better). I'm a US citizen and I hate to say it, but other US citizens are the most likely to rip me off. All Japanese sellers and one European treated me well as a buyer. Some US citizens are good sellers, but many of them are crooks these days. That's my recent experiences. Ebay needs to crack down.

I recently learned there are still new old stock (new in the box) Oly OM and Min MD lenses out there and a new lens only costs $0 to $35 more than used (allegedly) mint lenses. I was still suspicious and asked a lot of questions to vette sellers and products. Worked out great everytime so far buying new old stock, new open box, new in box, or new other from US and Japanese sellers. I've got some nice new lenses for excellent prices.

Buying new legacy lenses is still possible, safer, and only costs same or slightly more.

For example, allegedly mint condition used Minolta MD 50mm F1.7 lenses typically cost $50 to $75. I bought one new one for $65 and another for $75.

Same with Olympus OM 50mm F1.8, except they cost more (used or new) than Minolta. I don't think Oly OM lenses are better than Minolta MD. The OM are just different color balance and contrast, equally good IMO, and cost double.

P.S. - new legacy lenses are not always available, but if you shop Ebay twice a week, within 1 to 2 months you'll find gold. New legacy auto focus lenses cost half as much and are much easier to find than the slightly older manual focus lenses I like.

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Suave Senior Member • Posts: 1,587
Re: I bought new legacy lenses
1

There is no such thing as mint used lenses, and sellers who use this word are, by definition , dishonest.   Nevertheless, there is a ton of honest professional lens sellers on ebay who sell lenses that will be exactly the way they are described, and priced reasonably, too.   An MD 50/1.7 in great condition should not cost more than $35.   As to the NOS stuff, it's been decades since these lenses went out of production.  It's hard for me to believe that there are supplies left.

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Sjak
Sjak Senior Member • Posts: 3,209
Re: I bought new legacy lenses
1

Suave wrote:

As to the NOS stuff, it's been decades since these lenses went out of production. It's hard for me to believe that there are supplies left.

That's a viable line of thought. However, I still find NOS car part from models that most people don't even remember anymore. So it is very well possible that there are some never sold, or never used, lenses out there too. Actually not so long ago I bought a never used Jupiter 11, and for a very reasonable price at that.

Re. OPs comments of ebay going downhill: I can relate to that too. Years ago, ebay was mainly filled with small sellers with interesting vintage stuff. Now it is overtaken by bulk sellers of nobrand junk.

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OP Charley123 Contributing Member • Posts: 765
Re: I bought new legacy lenses

Some of the allegedly new legacy lenses really are new. I certainly couldn't guarantee that all are new, but some certainly are. The new Minolta lens I just bought is obviously new in the box with the paper work. The seller said it was new old stock that had never been sold.

Good Minolta MD 50mm F1.7 lenses selling for $35 may have been true in the past. Not anymore. Now they usually go for $50 to $65 like I said, and new ones $65 to $75.

SiFu
SiFu Veteran Member • Posts: 5,770
my experience with NOS lenses...

Hello!

... has been mostly negative, as in there obviously being a reason for the lenses to be forgotten in the first place. The sellers did not disclose or maybe actually know about it, but an alarming number of "found-in-the-back-of-the-warehouse" lenses turned out to be optical duds for me.

The reason for me wanting to get NOS lenses was that I was looking for backup lenses for proven ones I had been using for many years (in case of lens defects after the use and abuse I put them through).

To make a long story short, except for a 22 year old NOS Leica R 280/4.0 I bought from my local camera store No.1 (the Leica Store in Vienna, the guys also running the Westlicht galleries and auctions) all others, mostly premium priced, lenses suffered from at least one optical or mechanical defect (mis-aligned elements, balsam separation being the most common; and I never thought about seeing an optically crippled NOS Noct either), impacting performance to a lesser or greater degree. This was easy to detect because of the optically good copies I allready had.

In the end I myself abandonned NOS lenses (and ebay for that matter)  alltogether and put my trust in actual user-lenses on the local-photog-listings.

As for Minolta, over here people almost pay you to take them off their hands... on offline listings; good for playing around on a Speedbooster. The following snap was for another thread but it shows a random selection out of the 20+ Minoltas I picked up so far - these were 150 Euro combined, the 85/1.7 being the most expensive at 45 btw:

The most expensive Minoltas so far were an Auto 100/2.0 and 250/5.6 mirror. Still far from internet prices and after trying them out and picking them up in person.

On the other hand, Leica Rs go for many times the current internet rates here... always a mixed bag.

Best,

Alex

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Sjak
Sjak Senior Member • Posts: 3,209
Re: my experience with NOS lenses...

SiFu wrote:

Hello!

... has been mostly negative, as in there obviously being a reason for the lenses to be forgotten in the first place. The sellers did not disclose or maybe actually know about it, but an alarming number of "found-in-the-back-of-the-warehouse" lenses turned out to be optical duds for me.

Yes there seems to be a fine line between actual NOS, and "used once or twice / discarded and forgotten".

Also, NOS lenses are not immune to storage conditions. Metal may oxidise, grease may deteriorate, etc. So even an actual NOS-lens which was perfect when it left the factory, may have some issues 50 years later. It could be safer to get a user-lens well taken care of.

Same as with NOS car parts, which are sometimes rusted right out of the box, or the lubrication is hardened out, etc. For that reason, with classic car pars, I only buy NOS for cosmetic parts, I try to avoid it especially for suspension parts and brake parts (except disks and rotors)

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SiFu
SiFu Veteran Member • Posts: 5,770
Re: my experience with NOS lenses...
1

Hello!

Most of the NOS lenses I got reminded me of samples returned by dissatisfied buyers that were never tended to ever after and sat there for years and years.

Best,

Alex

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Sjak
Sjak Senior Member • Posts: 3,209
Re: my experience with NOS lenses...

Yes, that is what I refer to with the fine line between actual NOS, and some stuff sold as NOS but isn't. By definition, an item sold, used even once, and then returned, isn't NOS anymore.

Of course this is difficult to check.

In general, I agree with being cautious when buying online. With lenses above say 50 or 100 euro, I do some research on the seller, or go pickup the lens in person.

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OP Charley123 Contributing Member • Posts: 765
Re: I bought new legacy lenses
1

It was just a few years ago that I used to buy NOS & used mint Canon, Nikon, and Sigma stuff on the Internet, mostly from eBay, and it was always fine. I never got ripped off in the past. Things have changed. Now I get ripped off most of the time. I heard a rumor that eBay is aware of the problem and trying to crack down on it.

OP Charley123 Contributing Member • Posts: 765
Re: my experience with NOS lenses...

Sjak wrote:

SiFu wrote:

Hello!

... has been mostly negative, as in there obviously being a reason for the lenses to be forgotten in the first place. The sellers did not disclose or maybe actually know about it, but an alarming number of "found-in-the-back-of-the-warehouse" lenses turned out to be optical duds for me.

Yes there seems to be a fine line between actual NOS, and "used once or twice / discarded and forgotten".

Also, NOS lenses are not immune to storage conditions. Metal may oxidise, grease may deteriorate, etc. So even an actual NOS-lens which was perfect when it left the factory, may have some issues 50 years later. It could be safer to get a user-lens well taken care of.

Same as with NOS car parts, which are sometimes rusted right out of the box, or the lubrication is hardened out, etc. For that reason, with classic car pars, I only buy NOS for cosmetic parts, I try to avoid it especially for suspension parts and brake parts (except disks and rotors)

It may be that some user lenses are stored in warm dry homes, while some NOS are stored in cold unheated warehouse that maybe damp.

osv Veteran Member • Posts: 9,970
Re: I bought new legacy lenses

Charley123 wrote:

Good Minolta MD 50mm F1.7 lenses selling for $35 may have been true in the past. Not anymore. Now they usually go for $50 to $65 like I said, and new ones $65 to $75.

i've probably tested half a dozen of those lenses on the a7r, including a couple of copies of the af version... there is no way that i'd spend $65-75 on a new one, or even $50, it's a weak piece of glass, you'd be much better off with a canon fd 50/1.4, for similar money.

in general, getting a brand new lens is no guarantee that it won't be decentered, or soft on one side... so your quest to find these holy grail new lenses is a bit of a red herring; what you really want to do is find lenses that are not optically defective.

if you are going to be in the legacy lens game, you really need to be able to disassemble these primes, and clean the glass surfaces inside... what i do is evaluate for soft sides by shooting big landscapes, and if the lens looks good, i'll then tear it down and clean it up.

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dan

Suave Senior Member • Posts: 1,587
Re: I bought new legacy lenses

Sjak wrote:

Suave wrote:

As to the NOS stuff, it's been decades since these lenses went out of production. It's hard for me to believe that there are supplies left.

That's a viable line of thought. However, I still find NOS car part from models that most people don't even remember anymore. So it is very well possible that there are some never sold, or never used, lenses out there too. Actually not so long ago I bought a never used Jupiter 11, and for a very reasonable price at that.

Re. OPs comments of ebay going downhill: I can relate to that too. Years ago, ebay was mainly filled with small sellers with interesting vintage stuff. Now it is overtaken by bulk sellers of nobrand junk.

The difference is that car parts stores never really have gone out of business, whereas cameras stores are long gone.   So, yes, somewhere in Iowa there's a garage owner whose great grandfather ordered a headlight for Ford T that a customer never picked, but that's not the case with the camera gear.

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Suave Senior Member • Posts: 1,587
Re: I bought new legacy lenses

Charley123 wrote:

... I used to buy NOS & used mint Canon, Nikon, and Sigma stuff on the Internet, mostly from eBay, and it was always fine. I never got ripped off in the past. Things have changed. Now I get ripped off most of the time. I heard a rumor that eBay is aware of the problem and trying to crack down on it.

I've bought a multitude of lenses on ebay. I could tell you the number,  but you will have a hard time believing it.  There were just a couple of cases where the seller deliberately lied to me; moneywise it's about 0.5%.

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MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 35,461
Re: my experience with NOS lenses...

I agree.  I think that many NOS lenses were actually either factory rejects that failed quality control that were shelved for later reworking that never happened because their market failed.  Or duds returned to dealers also shelved in the back room.

But they are still usually in otherwise brand new condition.

FSU made NOS lenses can still be had.

My experience: Obviously new Helios 40-2 with almost unworkably stiff focus action - re-greased now is silky smooth. New black Jupiter-3 lens with broken screws and mis-aligned aperture control.  Still figuring out how I can get suitable replacement screws. Obviously new MIR 10A, Tair 11A, Russar MP-2 - all perfect.  Jupiter 37A - stiff focus needed to be cleaned and re-greased.

You can usually tell a FSU NOS lens - if it comes in its original case it simply reeks of the original machine oil preservative (or lathe oil).

Some of them are obviously passed QC stock that was never sold and left in warehouse storage.

Soligor 38mm D mount lens - obviously part of a set in box - obviously not used, other lens missing.  Infinity focus not correct.  Adjusted it for infinity - now an excellent lens.  Whether this was NOS or not the lens was obviously not used because it was not adjusted properly.

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Tom Caldwell

MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 35,461
Re: I bought new legacy lenses

Suave wrote:

Sjak wrote:

Suave wrote:

As to the NOS stuff, it's been decades since these lenses went out of production. It's hard for me to believe that there are supplies left.

That's a viable line of thought. However, I still find NOS car part from models that most people don't even remember anymore. So it is very well possible that there are some never sold, or never used, lenses out there too. Actually not so long ago I bought a never used Jupiter 11, and for a very reasonable price at that.

Re. OPs comments of ebay going downhill: I can relate to that too. Years ago, ebay was mainly filled with small sellers with interesting vintage stuff. Now it is overtaken by bulk sellers of nobrand junk.

The difference is that car parts stores never really have gone out of business, whereas cameras stores are long gone. So, yes, somewhere in Iowa there's a garage owner whose great grandfather ordered a headlight for Ford T that a customer never picked, but that's not the case with the camera gear.

Not necessarily true.  Camera stores buy goods on a no-returns basis.  Their unsold stock if their business was liquidated may have items sold for a pittance that the buyers never used and ended up in attics or as liquidated stock having been bought by other camera retailers and so on ad infinitum.

I once bought a NOS part from the bargain box of a camera store that still had the price sticker on it from anoher store that had ceased business over 25 years earlier.

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Tom Caldwell

MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 35,461
Caveat emptor N/T
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Tom Caldwell

Suave Senior Member • Posts: 1,587
Re: I bought new legacy lenses

Tom Caldwell wrote:

I once bought a NOS part from the bargain box of a camera store that still had the price sticker on it from anoher store that had ceased business over 25 years earlier.

I once bought, well, not the entire inventory, but a huge chunk of it, and I agree with your general argument, but where I live there're no retail camera stores any longer, the last one closed three years ago or so, and even that catered to high end/pro crowd, so IMO that stock has nowhere to go except to KEH.

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Sjak
Sjak Senior Member • Posts: 3,209
Re: I bought new legacy lenses

Suave wrote:

The difference is that car parts stores never really have gone out of business, whereas cameras stores are long gone. So, yes, somewhere in Iowa there's a garage owner whose great grandfather ordered a headlight for Ford T that a customer never picked, but that's not the case with the camera gear.

Not really... models disappeared, brands disappeared, manufacturers disappeared. And the number of dealerships and carpart stores also steadily decreases (the latter due to cars getting less and less home-mechanic-friendly.)

More importantly for the NOS-availability, the remaining dealerships or carpart stores (or wholesaler behind them) do not keep (to them) obsolete stock forever, and besides also tend to merge into fewer but larger and more generic places. The stuff that somehow did not end in the shredder sometimes ends up for sale.

So maybe not that different than the situation with camera stores, where some old stock may somehow not have landed on the garbage heap....

Or, to get back to your example: a local photo-store may still have some old stuff in a forgotten corner. Not very common, but it does happen, just like the shiny model T-part

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Sjak
Sjak Senior Member • Posts: 3,209
Re: my experience with NOS lenses...
2

Tom Caldwell wrote:

You can usually tell a FSU NOS lens - if it comes in its original case it simply reeks of the original machine oil preservative (or lathe oil).

And that smell alone is already worth purchasing such a lensĀ 

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MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 35,461
Re: my experience with NOS lenses...

Sjak wrote:

Tom Caldwell wrote:

You can usually tell a FSU NOS lens - if it comes in its original case it simply reeks of the original machine oil preservative (or lathe oil).

And that smell alone is already worth purchasing such a lens

Of course that smell quickly disperses once the lens is actually used. I have never known it on any lens made outside the FSU.

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Tom Caldwell

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