View Full Version : How NOT To Buy Someone Elses Rejected Lenses ?

Scott Fleming
24-Jan-2005, 11:04
I would highly suspect that retailers put rejected lenses in the front of the showcase and attempt to sell them to the next person who comes along. "One man's reject is some amateur's favorite lens", perhaps they tell themselves.

Has anyone got any ideas how to get lenses from the back of the display case? Or is there another way to insure fresh stock?

I don't know of any great retailers of LF gear around here. I went to Houston once ... maybe I missed them. Maybe in Dallas? If I could walk in I could see where they grabbed the lens from but I've always mail ordered so far. How many retailers of even substantial LF stock have more than one or two lenses of any given size or brand ... anyway?

Will I have to fly to New York?

(B&H probably puts them in back in anticipation of guys like me.)

Dan Fromm
24-Jan-2005, 11:11
I think its wonderful that you have the resources to buy lenses and nothing worse to worry about than whether they've failed someone's acceptance tests.

Andre Noble
24-Jan-2005, 11:15
Good guys from EBAY (yes you can tell), Badger Graphics, Robert White, and B&H come to mind.

Steve Hamley
24-Jan-2005, 11:20

You taken your medication today? ;^D

"I would highly suspect that retailers put rejected lenses in the front of the showcase and attempt to sell them to the next person who comes along."

I doubt anyone "rejected" any new or near-new lenses in the showcase. If they did, 99% of them wouldn't know what they were doing. People sell used lenses all the time for a lot of reasons that don't have anything to do with performance; I know I have.

"Has anyone got any ideas how to get lenses from the back of the display case?"

Ask them. They don't care which one they sell.

"Or is there another way to insure fresh stock?"

Didn't know LF lenses got stale. I have some Heliars so sharp I'd hate to think what they'd be like if they were fresh.

You could buy Linhof or Sinar branded lenses; they were individually tested at one time.


Scott Fleming
24-Jan-2005, 11:20
Thanks Dan. I'll take that to heart.

Scott Fleming
24-Jan-2005, 11:29
Thanks Steve,

I guess I need to Talk to Bob Soloman (sp?).

So Bob ... what sort of premium am I looking at to get a new Linhof selected lens? I'm looking at three or four lenses compromising an average landscape kit. Say a 58mm WA, a 110mm SA XL, a 180mm and a 240mm.

Not asking for prices ... just a general idea of the premium for a 'selected' lens.


Bob Salomon
24-Jan-2005, 11:36

Retailers return lenses that are new with a problem for replacement.

Distributors return those lenses to the factory for replacement.

Manufacturers may use those lenses as dummys in future shows or just scavaange them for useable parts.

Linhof tested lenses will add a 200 to 400% premium.

Scott Fleming
24-Jan-2005, 11:53

Thanks ... and YIKES!

Maybe I'll accept the standard deviation.

It's jus that Kerry's tests show large differences between samples of the same model lens. A little bothersome.

Also the incessant talk here abouts regarding lens quality makes a hobbyist like me nervous. In other forums I've heard people talk of sending as many as three samples of a given lens back before getting one one they liked. Again ... paranoia producing. Although these were Canon lenses and not LF.

PS: Just occured to me. Someone out there is willing to pay twice and up to four times normal retail to get a perfect lens. Is this professional driven or 'more money than sense' driven?

Gem Singer
24-Jan-2005, 12:02
Hi Scott,

Overlooking the issue of whether or not this is a serious case of paranoia, after nearly sixty years of dealing with camera stores and photographic suppliers across this country, I finally found a dealer who I can trust unconditionally. There are several others on this forum who can bear witness to the fact that Jim Andrecki, one of the owners of Midwest Photo Supply, will bend over backwards to serve his customer's photo needs. I wish I could say the same for the other photo dealers I have dealt with.

I realize that you believe that Midwest's new website "sucks", but if you want the best quality for the price, on new or previously owned, equipment, getting to know Jim really pays off in the long run.

By the way, according to Jim this morning, the new website is a work in progress. Improvements are on the way. Please be patient.

Scott Fleming
24-Jan-2005, 12:16
Thanks Eugene,

I have nothing against Mid West. I just get ticked when I click on 'Meters' and a little grey box pops up that will not let me chase it down. I'm sure they will get it straightened out. They must be a good outfit as so many folks rave about them. Indeed rare. Thanks again.

Ralph Barker
24-Jan-2005, 12:25
Most reputable dealers offer returns, particularly if the lens is defective. These dealers, as mentioned, would return any defective lenses to the distributor for credit, rather than risk the hassle with other buyers. Check the dealer's web site for details, or call and ask if the return terms aren't clear. Other than the mega-discount emporiums, most dealers want to sell you more stuff in the future, and behave accordingly. B&H, traditionally one of the better dealers, has been getting a bit of a black eye lately on mail-order gear (search the archive for the related thread here). But, Badger, Calumet, KEH, MPEX and several others have maintained their reputations pretty consistently.

Ted Harris
24-Jan-2005, 12:30
More important Scott, if you do have spare time and have issues with their new website call them and tell them about the problems, they will welcome the call. Tell either Jim or Stu.

Further, as you have often see from me too Midwest is absolutely rock solid honest and straight forward in their dealings. So, for that matter, is Jeff Tauger at Badger and Robert White.

Scott Rosenberg
24-Jan-2005, 12:49

like anything else, if you buy a lens from a reputable dealer, and find it to be less than satisfactory, within a reasonable amount of time, i'm sure the dealer would take it back. but then, i only deal with jim at midwest, so i am applying his ethics to others - i may be wrong in that assumption. if you're concerned, just buy from jim.

and scott, organic milk sold in paper cartons has an expiration date much further out than regular milk sold in plastic cartons... now you don't have to reach into the back of the fridge.

Kevin Crisp
24-Jan-2005, 13:00
Just curious, Scott, but what yardstick are you going to apply to a lens to determine whether it is acceptable to you, or a reject?

Donald Hutton
24-Jan-2005, 13:02
I would suggest that a difference of 5-10lpm between two samples of the same lens is just never going to be noticable in a photograph - EVER. These sort of tiny differences are only discernable when shooting test charts. Anyone who spends time worrying about 5-10lpm between two different samples of the same lens is really making an effort to avoid the real issues in their photography.

Scott Rosenberg
24-Jan-2005, 13:25
i would say that for lots of weekend-warriors, myself included, that the lens is not the limiting agent in the formula...

Jim Galli
24-Jan-2005, 13:46
Scott, Here's (http://www.ocfoundation.org/ocf1010a.htm) the web site for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Good luck.

Kevin Crisp
24-Jan-2005, 14:34
Jim can you list that again?
Jim can you list that again?
Jim can you list that again?

Jim Rhoades
24-Jan-2005, 15:43
Thank you, Don Hutton. A few days ago I gave a smart @ss answer to a which lens is best question on the other L/F site. It went over some heads.

Edward Weston was well know for his still life's. He used a $5.oo Rapid Rectilinear lens. In Roanoke, Virgina is a wonderful museum of train photography by O. Winston Link. Mr. Link used Graphic View cameras with Wollensak-Optar lenses. To the best of my knowledge Mr. Link did not suffer from lens envy. He used what he had and invented what he needed.

Spend your money on film, paper and chemicals. Your photography will improve for it.

Steve Hamley
24-Jan-2005, 15:47
Jim (Galli),

I think Dr. Bob Salomon cured him!


Scott Fleming
24-Jan-2005, 18:40
Ok ... OK! I won't worry about it. Sheesh.

I was thinking of ordering my lenses from Rod at Photomark. Do y'all like him as much as some of the other folks mentioned in this thread. I kinda wanted to put one decent order together and angle for some 'consideration'.

Scott Rosenberg
24-Jan-2005, 19:20
scott, lots of people on this site have written glowing endorsments for jim at midwest. in fact, i have yet to hear one person with anything but praise for the man and his business practices. why don't you just order from jim? it seems to me that you are not very receptive to what people are saying to you, unless they are giving you the answer that matches what you've already decided on your own. if you're not looking for advice from others, why are you posting on this forum?

i'm sure rod has a lot of fans out there. i've never done business with him, but i know people that have. those people now only do business with jim at midwest.

good luck with whatever purchases you make... i sincerely hope you find what you are looking for.

Scott Fleming
24-Jan-2005, 19:46

What yardstick? Yes just what yardstick am I using?

Well, you see, that IS my problem. I'm not a scientist. In fact ... I'm not very smart! I'm just an oldish wannabee artist who likes making pictures ... or images, as the case may be.

Here are my pictures:

http://www.pbase.com/sfleming/the_good_stuff (http://www.pbase.com/sfleming/the_good_stuff)

I like it when I can see the little leaves and cypress needles. Like in 06_1620.jpg although this is just a MF shot with the Contax 645AF, 35mm Distagon T f/3.5.

Though I have sold several prints of this particular shot I want to go back and retake it with a camera capable of greater resolution. I don't really want to go through a lot of testing and hoopla trying to determine if my new LF lens is a sharp one. I will probalby just compare it to this shot and if it is better I'll figure its ok.

Does that answer your question? I'm lazy. I like to take photographs. I just want to believe in the tools I'm paying for. You know, like when you buy a new truck.

Frank Petronio
24-Jan-2005, 19:57
I don't think the dealers know which lenses are going to be better than the others, and I bet a lot of the below average ones are used by satisified pros and amateurs alike. About the only practical way to pick the best lens of the lot is to buy and test several, especially from a variety of stores in order to get different serial number batches, and use eBay to resell them or take advantage of a generous store's return policy (that is why you pay top dollar for new, isn't it?).

I also think that people return perfectly good lenses (I have) because they don't fit into a Technika, or I find that I can't afford them, or ? not only because they might not be the pick of the litter.

It is probably a waste of time with LF, but the digital forums that Scott is hanging out on are full of horror stories of people getting mediocre lenses for their high performance DSLRs - the Canon 1Ds2 and Kodak 14n seem to amplify any imperfections. So he is not as crazy as many of you are implying. And no, I do not have OCD either! (YOU are the guys that sell those expensive 110XLs to everybody... not me!)

I think that new Rodenstocks, and maybe those crappy Schneideritis prone lenses, may have enough quality control that even the bottom percentile of the batch is still pretty darn good, and considering all of the other factors involved, the ultimate lens quality is really hard to see in a 4x5 compared to a 35mm DSLR lens (the enlargement factor is so much less with LF). It's kind of like Doctors - even the last-in-the-class doctor has to pass boards and that weeds out the truly bad ones.

Jim Galli
24-Jan-2005, 20:23
Frank, I was with you until the Dr. comparison thing.......
Scott, kidding aside, and just to add to your apprehension, there's a very good reason that people go nuts over Gold Dot Dagor's. I have 2 lenses that can asign a full range of tones to individual pine needles 100 yards away. Both are Dagor's marketed by Schneider Kreuznach. To add to the hand wringing, even those can only do it when the light is perfect. Perfect contrast is actually more important than line pairs / mm.

Joe Smigiel
24-Jan-2005, 20:28
This sort of post always amuses me. Why obsess over which lens is the best, sharpest, etc., unless you really have a need for a specialized optic? If you think about it, most of the photographs we consider icons today were taken long ago with lenses nowhere near the quality of their modern counterparts.

Henry Ambrose
24-Jan-2005, 20:31
What Frank said - the difference between 645 and 4X5 is fairly huge even if the LF lens is not the very best.

John D Gerndt
24-Jan-2005, 20:34
I marvel at the number of responces and smile at how much I have gone through to maximize the quality of my images. Buying the lens is the easy part. If you want good images you must master the process. Much more than lenses, the alignments, the flatness, the degree of enlargement and of motion/vibration during exposure determine the fineness of detail and all this is without diving into the chemical end of things.

There are turkeys out there in the lens world so buy from someone with a reputation at stake. As others have said, most any lens with a brand name on it has already passed muster, that company had a name to defend. I cannot attribute any of my unsharp pictures to lens error.


Victor Loverro
24-Jan-2005, 21:44
This obsession over lens quality of modern lenses is almost a moot point. The quality of all the major manufacturer's lenses is so good that any differences in lenses, even from the same manufacturer, is minimal. Some of the most famous images we know of by well known photographers have been made with less than apo-optimal quality lenses. Several examples have already been given. Weston was contact printing, and may have gotten by with "inferior" lenses, but some of the best known images by Adams were done with a single element of a convertible lens. Never the best. But there are other things more important than the difference between lenses by the same manufacture. Have you verified that your ground glass is properly spaced? This has been discussed. Do you tap the film holder to seat the film before inserting it into the camera? Do you wait a minute after pulling the dark slide to let the film stabilize to temperature differences? These are even more important in time exposures. Do you use an adequate lens hood? And very important: how good is your enlarging lens? Every image you make with all those high quality taking lenses all project through one lens to get to the enlarging paper. Is your enlarging system aligned? The lens stage, film stage and easel? Do you use a vacuum easel? It can make a big difference, especially with large prints.
It seems to me there are other things I would consider in the choice of lenses. How will they be used? Is it a field system? Mention was made of Gold Dot Dagors. These are very compact and sharp lenses. I have a 210mm that I have used for many years and recently acquired a 210 apo-symmar. I made comparative prints, enlarged sections from each and no one viewing them can tell any difference. I use the Dagor all the time. It is compact (40.5mm filter - the Apo-symmar takes 72mm) and sharp. But my main use is in the field. For studio work, I would probably use the Symmar. It is sharper and more contrasty at wider apertures.
I think it is a good idea to buy the best lenses you can afford. But I think there are more important things to "obsess" over than whether the lens in the front of the case is a reject.
By the way, did you verify what day of the week the car you bought was made?
Just my opinion.

Scott Fleming
24-Jan-2005, 22:23
Good post Victor. Lots of good stuff.

I hear ya. Never on Monday or Friday.

Brian Ellis
25-Jan-2005, 06:50
What I've been wondering about is the Ph content of the paper on which retailers print receipts for lens purchases. Seems like if you put the receipt in the box with the lens, and the paper on which the receipt is printed has a high Ph content, this could damage the coating on the lens. Because of this possible problem I always put the receipt in my wallet rather than in the box with the lens.

Scott Rosenberg
25-Jan-2005, 07:20

i do that very thing. however, before handling the receipt, i don a pair of AciTek latex gloves... don't want any of those alkalides being transmitted transdermally, as i then might damage the lens the next time i use it.

i'm pretty lucky in that i have access to a class 1 cleanroom in which to store all my cameras, lenses, and film holders. one day i might actually take my camera outside to use, but not before finding an underwater housing for the TK45S... that should keep all containments away from my camera and lens while i'm working in the field.

Kevin Crisp
25-Jan-2005, 10:35
OK, now I understand. But make sure they give you a truck from the back row. Just in case. Seriously, if you buy a new lens from a busy distributor, you are getting a new lens. They move enough stock that they're not shuffling them around on the shelf like week old bottles of milk. If it isn't sharp to your standards, return it. Lenses made 30 years ago can do what you expect of them. So can ones even older than that.

David A. Goldfarb
25-Jan-2005, 16:07
New Yorkers are a tough crowd. Go behind B&H out by the shipping dock on any given day, and you'll find a couple of new employees trying to work their way up to jobs at the film counter, sitting with a couple of milk crates filled with rejected Apo-Symmar XLs, Apo-Sironars, Apo-Grandagons, and brand new Nikkor SWs on a folding bridge table, trying to unload them for pennies on the dollar, and there are homeless guys walking by saying, "Look at that crap! I wouldn't put that sh*t on my B&J Orbit!"

Steve Hamley
25-Jan-2005, 20:16
Hey David,

Ship me a crate or two of those rejects would you?


Ted Harris
25-Jan-2005, 22:11
Once you've found that perfect lens then you need this meter http://kmpi.konicaminolta.us/eprise/main/kmpi/content/ISD/ISD_Product_Pages/Display_Product_CS_200 (http://kmpi.konicaminolta.us/eprise/main/kmpi/content/ISD/ISD_Product_Pages/Display_Product_CS_200) the introductary discounted price is only $11,000 but make sure to get it from the back of the case to be sure.

Dan Fromm
26-Jan-2005, 05:10
Ted, in order to be sure that he has an absolutely perfect exposure, Scott brackets a lot. 1/10 th stop steps from five stops below his best guess to five stops above. That way he's sure to get just the shot he had in mind. Unless, of course, the sun sets before he's done.



J. P. Mose
26-Jan-2005, 12:59
Someone please pass the Mary Jane!

Scott Fleming
26-Jan-2005, 18:31
Oh come come. Surely that is not all ............?

The comic geniuses of the LFP site are not tapped out!? Surely!

Kevin Crisp
26-Jan-2005, 19:01
People are just working hard to come up with "fresh" jokes Scott, be patient.

Dan Fromm
27-Jan-2005, 05:06
Um, Scott, what DID you do with the haggis?

Calamity Jane
27-Jan-2005, 06:35
To make sure I get the freshest one in the case, I lick 'em all!

If ya see one with slobber marks on the objective, it's a C.J. reject!!!!!!!!

Dan Fromm
27-Jan-2005, 08:52
CJ, won't sniffing do for detecting rotten ones? Which flavors do you recommend?

Inquiring minds want to know,


Mike Tobias
29-Jan-2005, 00:33

In all seriousness, I think that what you are asking for is overall a moot point, as very nearly all the lenses made for LF, if used properly should likely achieve the detail it sounds like you want. You haven't mentioned what format you are going to shoot, but 4x5 should make your 645 look like a p&s, with almost any lens you strap on, and 8x10 and up.....I'd be far more concerned with scanning/enlarging than the most razor sharp lens known to man. For the record I have everything from DSLR to 35mm to 6x7 to 8x10, and by far and away my 8x10 creates the sharpest photos, certainly with the most detail, yet I don't think I own an 8x10 lens over $110 (although, I don't have any shutters either and barrel lenses are cheap) while a single 35mm lens cost me as much as my entire LF outfit. My guess is the chances of finding a lens that won't at least have 2x the resolution of your 645 (and even this would be pretty damn hard) would probably be ~ 1 in 1000. If you read these forums, I think you'll find that there are few, if any complaints about "unsharp" lenses. If you want a decently cheap lens with nearly legendary appeal, try picking up an Artar, I don't even think there are rumours of softness. Hope this helps.