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Simos Xenakis
23-Oct-2016, 15:39
I'm shopping around for lenses and was wondering if anyone could give me some tips on what to look out for when buying a used lens online and sight unseen. I'm noticing a lot of the lenses are being sold by sellers in Japan (not sure why that is), and they often mention that the shutter "sounds good" and that there is no fungus, fog, haze, or balsam separation. However, almost every listing I've come across lists that there is some dust inside the lens that "does not affect image quality."

Okay, so I guess fungus, fog, and balsam separation is easy to spot, but it sounds like dust is super common, so 1) is it okay to buy a lens with dust inside it? and 2) aside from a seller's feedback rating, how does one validate subjective claims like shutter "sounds good" and "image quality not affected?"

Lastly, any general tips for buying a lens site unseen (aside from feedback rating and return policy, that is)? Any specific questions you'd ask?

Oh, and why are so many coming from Japan?

BrianShaw
23-Oct-2016, 15:58
Tough questions. Don't know why there are lots of lenses in Japan but noticed the same thing. Nice lenses too.

There is no way to validate seller claims other than doing ones best to validate the sellers reputation. Sometimes 100% 5-star ratings is true but other times not so much. Good pictures with no "weasel words" is what I look for in all types of sales. I like reasonable return policies but go way out of my way to avoid returns - a hassle for both parties and too prone for complications.

Attitude is the major part of the answer. Expecting old stuff to be mint, like new, and in perfect operating condition is unrealistic. I plan on the potential for having a shutter or camera overhauled when looking at them.

The one thing I very carefully scrutinize is the possibility that it has been "user serviced". While that isn't always bad it often isn't a good situation.

BrianShaw
23-Oct-2016, 16:00
P.S. Dust in the lens and most "cleaning marks" don't affect image quality to any extent that I've ever noticed. Those two things don't scare me away nearly as much as some things do.

Jac@stafford.net
23-Oct-2016, 16:04
If the seller has any negative feedback whatsoever. AVOID. That's the stats. Zero tolerance. And zero negatives still does not guarantee quality.

Alan Gales
23-Oct-2016, 16:34
I recently purchased a Fuji lens from Japan and was very happy with it. A lot of others here and on APUG have been happy with purchases from Japan.

Almost all large format lenses will have at least a few specks of dust in them unless you are buying a brand new Cooke or something. Older lenses are bound to have more dust. A little dust won't hurt. A lot will. Most Sellers don't have shutter speed testers so they test the shutters by ear so they "sound good".

As a rule of thumb I assume any lens I buy from Ebay will need the shutter CLA'd unless it comes with a receipt from a recent CLA. If it doesn't then I am pleasantly surprised.

Greg
23-Oct-2016, 16:48
As far as I am concern...
dust no problem
bubbles in the glass, no problem
"cleaning marks" or separation, problem
"untested" problem
"fungus" problem
"shutter sounds OK" no problem, can always get it cleaned and calibrated
I would postulate that why so many lenses coming from Japan - cause of the exchange rate?

Dan Fromm
23-Oct-2016, 17:05
I'm with Alan and Greg. Can't stess too heavily that all used lenses' shutters need to be overhauled (the dread clean, lube, adjust) until proven otherwise.

OP, I don't know what you mean by "older." Nearly all LF lenses from, in alphabetical order, Fuji, Nikon, Schneider and Rodenstock offered on eBay are fairly recent. What we think of as modern lenses came in in the 1890s. Most of the major improvements in LF lenses since then have had to do with increased coverage given maximum aperture (big gains since the mid-50s) and flare resistance (huge gains immediately after WW-II, when coating became nearly universal, not so large since then). Modern (post mid-50s) wide angle lenses and modern telephotos (since ~ the mid-80s) beat older ones. Note, I'm talking about LF lenses, not lenses for smaller formats.

It is hard to make a horrible mistake buying a used lens represented as in good order through eBay, especially if payment is by PayPal or a major credit card. Never pay with a cash equivalent (check, money order, Western Union, ...).

I'm not sure how many used lenses are being offered on eBay by Japanese sellers. I've been fantasizing about getting a 125/5.6 Fuji for a while and have been watching them on eBay. About a dozen or so are on offer. And every several days to a week or so they're all relisted.

BrianShaw
23-Oct-2016, 17:25
I include the 1980s in my definition of 'older'. Seems just like yesterday but now it really was the 'good old days'. :o

Tim Meisburger
23-Oct-2016, 18:28
There are so many used LF lenses being sold from Japan now because for decades there were almost none being sold, due to language difficulties. Lately (the last few years) a few sellers have discovered ebay, and have the language skills to sell out of the country. The boom in LF lenses is matched by the boom in other photo gear, and reflects the fact that the Japanese have been camera mad for a long time, and so have a large stock of stuff siting around in the closet. Eventually all that loose stock will get sold off, and the market will even out.

For what its worth, I've always had good results buying out of Japan.

Tips: Stick to major brands and common sizes (90, 135, 150, 210). These will provide the best bang for the buck. If you can find them, sometimes you can get major brands re-branded as Caltar for a little cheaper. To avoid the vagaries of ebay, figure out what lens you want (say 150mm G-Claron), check completed listings on ebay to determine average price, then post a WTB add here on the forum. If you get an offer from someone well known on the forum, you can be relatively sure they know what to look for in a lens, and will stand behind their lens.

Jim Jones
23-Oct-2016, 18:58
Some of the lens designs still in production, such as the Tessar and the dialyte, have been around for a hundred years. Perhaps the most significant improvement in them has been in the coating that became the norm after WWII, and multi-coating many years later. If in good condition these lenses are capable of recording good images now as well as then. Such lenses in older shutters may not sync with strobes.

My few purchases from Japan have been totally satisfactory.

I second Tim's advice to buy from the For Sale/For Trade pages here as soon as you are eligible.

David Karp
23-Oct-2016, 19:28
Stores like Midwest Photo used to go to Japan and come home with lots of great used Fujinon lenses for us to purchase. After Ebay was around for a while, those lenses started showing up on Ebay.

I have purchased at least four used Fujinon lenses from Japan. All were in excellent condition, unless the seller described a problem. In that case, the description was dead accurate. (The lens was missing an aperture scale on the bottom of one shutter.)

neil poulsen
23-Oct-2016, 20:20
Here are some guidelines that I would suggest . . .

> I tend to stick with lenses made in the '70's or after. If they're multi-coated, then they'll meet that criteria. For example, Symmar-S lenses are high quality, could be single-coated, but are likely made during the '70's or after. Some lenses were only single-coated though, like Schneider G-Clarons. (These can be very good performers.) Of course, there are golden oldies like Dagors, or Kodak Ektars that have their own value and can also be excellent performers.

> Make sure that the description includes all aspects of condition, glass and mechanical condition. If it doesn't, then skip or ask. In particular, if Schneider, ask about Schneideritis. (Silver speckles on front optic.) I would avoid lenses that have this affliction. If it's not mentioned, ask if the shutter is slow or sticky on slow speeds like 1sec, 1/2 sec. Make sure they say that the glass and coating have no blemishes, scratches, etc. Skip if they do. (In my view.) By asking, you have a record of that aspect of condition that EBay can see later. If there's a problem, the return will include shipping both ways. If the lens doesn't comply with the description in the listing or their responses to questions, then it can be returned, and they pay shipping both ways. All questions should be asked through EBay messaging.

> If there's any sign of a dent in the front or back optic, move on. If you're not sure based on the photos, then ask. If there's a dent in a lens sent to you, even after asking, then send it back. (Seller pays shipping both ways, if not disclosed.)

> Check feedback. (Including written.) If it isn't at 98% or 99% or better, then move on. (Better at 99% or 100%, then 98%.)

> Buy US. (Or same country as you.) In this way, shipping can be verified and insured during the entire trip. Plus, if the lens needs to be returned, you can verify and insure the return. I'm currently considering a Japan located Nikon. But, I will make sure that feedback is at 100%. Even then, it's a risk.

As an enthusiast, versus a pro, I rarely have lenses CLA'd. I have a shutter tester that gives me the accuracy of each speed. Knowing this, I can correct inaccuracy to within about a 1/6th stop by adjusting the aperture. As long as the shutter is snappy and doesn't slow down on slow speeds at purchase, then it tends to work just fine.

I've never purchased an LF lens new, and I have a nice selection of lenses that work just fine for my purposes.

Greg Y
23-Oct-2016, 20:21
In the past Japan used to send buyers overseas to buy up clean examples. No matter what you want....Nikon F w/ prism, black like new in box? Nikon F2 titan? Leica M4 black paint in box? They can be found in Japan if you are willing to pay the price. Pretty cool to walk into stores with stuff like that on the shelves. There are sites other than ebay.... like yahoo auctions with Japanese sites.

Bernice Loui
23-Oct-2016, 21:27
In all cases, test the potential lens for purchase to ascertain what that specific lens performance really is. There are variations in any given lens, more so in older lenses than the most current lenses manufactured using state of the art production.

There are many incidences that can happen to a lens post production before arriving in the current lens holder's hand. From normal image activity to a big oops that could damage the lens without visible damage.

The real challenge to this type of evaluation is having a point of reference for how any given lens should perform.



Bernice

Xipho
23-Oct-2016, 23:28
All my LF lenses are used ones, all bought locally in Germany on ebay. Lenßes all ok, sometimes the compur had to be relubed, but most of them work well without CLA.
Here in Germany there are a lot of good Schneiders and Rodenstocks in the market, Fuji or Nikon are very rare in LF.

BTw, as far as I know, all Symmar-S are MC, even if it is not stated on the lens.
I have a MC 150 and an " non-labeleded" 210 whoch has apparently exactly the same coating! It is from the first Symmar-S production year... A 13.9 Mio Number.

EdSawyer
24-Oct-2016, 05:20
There is a lot of nice gear from Japan on Ebay these days - not just LF but tons of medium and small format as well. I bet currency fluctuation and economies (Japan vs. USA) has a something to do with it - some of the pricing is aggressively good (as in cheap for us in the USA) - the dollar is somewhat strong vs. the Yen lately, as compared to a few years ago.

Randy Moe
24-Oct-2016, 07:24
There is a lot of nice gear from Japan on Ebay these days - not just LF but tons of medium and small format as well. I bet currency fluctuation and economies (Japan vs. USA) has a something to do with it - some of the pricing is aggressively good (as in cheap for us in the USA) - the dollar is somewhat strong vs. the Yen lately, as compared to a few years ago.

I agree Japan sellers are very hungry right now.

I 'Watch' lenses, and some I put in my "Cart', the seller sees that on his interface and if the lens sits in my cart for a while, the seller will sometimes temporarily drop the price to nudge me into buying. Pretty common technique these days. It works.

DrTang
24-Oct-2016, 08:10
for me: flash sync untested or doesn't work: Big Problem

jp
24-Oct-2016, 17:03
Good advice so far. If it's a truly rare lens, check completed auctions to see if it's been sold before, new seller uses the exact same photos, etc... See if the seller is selling other related things. Basic research and legwork. Flipping a well bought lens is fair game, but there have been some frauds and I personally think some of the big ticket ones are money laundering rather than actual market sales but have no interest in proving it.

William Whitaker
24-Oct-2016, 18:22
If a seller writes a clear description that sounds knowledgeable, intelligent and confident, that says a lot in my book. If a seller sounds like he's trying to sell you snake oil, the most likely he is.

It's like walking in a store and the guy behind the sales counter starts giving the pitch. You can tell right away if he's full of bull. And you can tell if you're dealing with somebody trustworthy. The same rule applies.

Two23
24-Oct-2016, 18:31
1. I'm shopping around for lenses and was wondering if anyone could give me some tips on what to look out for when buying a used lens online and sight unseen.

2. is it okay to buy a lens with dust inside it? and 2) aside from a seller's feedback rating, how does one validate subjective claims like shutter "sounds good" and "image quality not affected?"

3. Lastly, any general tips for buying a lens site unseen (aside from feedback rating and return policy, that is)? Any specific questions you'd ask?

4. Oh, and why are so many coming from Japan?



I buy a lot of historical camera gear from ebay and have been for the last 16 years. Almost everything I have comes from ebay, and the rest from a buy/sell board somewhere. I have some thoughts.


1. Research the lens--coverage etc. Know what you are buying. Know what prices they generally sell for in that condition. Don't rely on what the seller says--a lot of them seem to be ignorant.

2. All lenses are likely to have some dust in them. It's not a big deal unless extreme.

3. I'd ask about return policy if it's not clearly stated. Also be SURE you look at the shipping charges. A $200 Petzval might look like a bargain until you see the seller is going to hit you with a $50 shipping charge. I also carefully look at photo to see if there are any flaws the seller missed. You can also spot misidentified stuff if you look closely and have done your research.

4. This seems to have started about two years ago, and it's all kinds of camera gear. I bought a pristine Nikon F3T a year ago from a Japanese seller, and also a couple of like new AiS lenses. I think there are several things happening. One is the age of the collectors is getting older, and there just aren't that many younger people in Japan interested in this stuff (and population growth is stagnant.) The dealers are loaded with stuff that hasn't been selling domestically. The Japanese have long been "camera crazy" and they seem to have taken fanatical care of their items. A decade or so ago their economy was booming, now not so much. I think a lot of collectors/dealers are finally letting go of their hoards. When they were buying they seem to have mostly bought the very best stuff. I've come to prefer buying items from Japan because everything I've received so far was in immaculate condition, and the Japanese sellers were not only knowledgeable about what they have (no misidentifying,) but they've also been quite professional and polite. Maybe I shouldn't be encouraging people here--sort of like telling everyone where your favorite fishing hole is.


Kent in SD

neil poulsen
24-Oct-2016, 18:37
. . . BTw, as far as I know, all Symmar-S are MC, even if it is not stated on the lens.
I have a MC 150 and an " non-labeleded" 210 whoch has apparently exactly the same coating! It is from the first Symmar-S production year... A 13.9 Mio Number.

This is not correct. If Schneider lenses are multi-coated, then they are labeled as such.

I've had Symmar-S lenses that, from their appearance, were clearly not multi-coated.

Two23
24-Oct-2016, 18:42
> Buy US. (Or same country as you.) In this way, shipping can be verified and insured during the entire trip. Plus, if the lens needs to be returned, you can verify and insure the return. I'm currently considering a Japan located Nikon. But, I will make sure that feedback is at 100%. Even then, it's a risk.



I will disagree here. My experience with a number of sales from Japan is that the Japanese post office is probably the best in the world. My own experience over the past 16 years is that buying from a Japanese seller with good feedback is less risky than buying from a U.S. seller. If something goes wrong with a sale from U.S. seller (happened to me twice) you are still screwed if ebay doesn't intervene. As for 100% positive, if a seller has sold a thousand items in the past year and has 98% positive, I give them the benefit of a doubt and assume 2% of their buyers either didn't understand what they were buying or were just assholes. As a seller I've had a couple issues with some real assholes over the years. When checking feedback and I see 97% positive, I look to see what those 3% were complaining about and what the value of the sale was. If it's a $2,000 item that's one thing, but if it was a $2 item that some jerk got his underwear in a knot over that's another thing.


Kent in SD

Randy
25-Oct-2016, 12:27
Simos, you don't mention if you are just now getting into large format or have been for a while. If you are just now getting into it, buy ONE "affordable" lens and use it for quite some time before branching out to other focal lengths - just a suggestion.

I have purchased several lenses and cameras from Japanese sellers and have been nothing but pleased - but as others have proclaimed - check their feedback. The only time I have ever been bitten is when I didn't check their feedback until after I received the item...and it only took that one time for me to learn my lesson.

Simos Xenakis
25-Oct-2016, 14:26
Wow. You guys have been incredibly awesome. When I get some more time, I might directly respond to a few of the responses but all in all, I feel much better about buying used online thanks to all of your tips. I'll most likely end up going with something from Japan because they just have such a nice selection and a few of the sellers have pretty good feedback ratings.

Oh, and I should have mentioned in my original post that I'm looking to pick up a 150mm lens to start with, something in the $200-$400 range and shoot with that exclusively for a while until I learn the craft. And yeah, I'm new to large format completely. I only have experience shooting digital. Will be on the lookout for a Fuji W, Nikkor W, Sironar-N, or APO-Symmar. I think those are the 4 I've been tracking.

Thanks again, everyone!

Luis-F-S
25-Oct-2016, 15:07
Had a similar experience bying a Copal 3 shutter from Japan. Ad and shutter said it was a Copal 3 but it was actually a 3S. Seller took it back no questions asked and even paid for return shipping. Most of my used lenses though have been bought privately or through this forum. Typically the best and cheapest way to buy from knowledgeable sellers.

Jac@stafford.net
25-Oct-2016, 15:16
Had a similar experience bying a Copal 3 shutter from Japan. Ad and shutter said it was a Copal 3 but it was actually a 3S.

Perhaps there should be a reference thread that describes differences in shutter sizes including the 3 and 3S, and another I cannot recall as, I think, a 0 and 0+"

John Kasaian
25-Oct-2016, 15:42
First off, know what you want.
Will the lens have adequate coverage? Will it fit on your lens board? What coatings, if any, do you require?
Check the review articles on the LF Home Page (see the blue banner at the top of this page) for real word specs.

Has it been dropped? Is the rim or filter ring dented?
Does it come with a flange or retaining ring?
What condition is the shutter in?

neil poulsen
25-Oct-2016, 22:49
I will disagree here . . . Kent in SD

I may be a little overcautious here. Reading your post is reassuring, because I just today bit the bullet and made a $299 purchase from Japan. :) (Very good seller feedback, though.) Hope it goes well, and that a return won't be needed. One reason I hesitate to purchase out of country, is that returns (if needed) can be very expensive. Bear in mind that descriptions of EBay items in Japan (and perhaps in other countries?) can be the product of software translators. So if there's any doubt, ask the seller questions.

I think that my EBay habits are influenced by the fact that I do most of my transactions in the U.S. In both buying and selling, I take steps to make sure that, if indeed I need EBay (or PayPal?) to intervene, they'll most likely do so in my favor. As a seller, I always ship insured with tracking and signature required on receipt. (For example, in case a buyer falsely states that the package never arrived.) This is often not possible with international sales. As a seller, I also use my phone to photograph every step of my packing.

With this said, it's interesting that all my > $1000 sales have gone to international buyers. But to meet my postal needs (tracking, etc.), they've worked with U.S. based intermediaries who receive my shipment, and who themselves take the responsibility to reship the package overseas. Expensive for the buyer; safer for me.

As one might see, I'm very cautious, and as a result, I probably miss out on some really excellent opportunities.

Michael E
26-Oct-2016, 03:54
I have bought most of my lenses on ebay (here in Germany). I found some very good deals and many lenses that would never turn up locally. Very few bad experiences among several hundred transactions. I have bought and sold internationally, too. As a seller, I go the extra mile for international bidders, checking if the buyer really understood the whole text (I once sold a broken Nikon lens to Spain, for example), because I don't want the hassle of an international return.

Concerning your lens choice: Modern 150mm lenses were standard tools of commercial photographers everywhere - until it all went digital. They are easy to find at good prices. As long as the lens is not obviously damaged and the shutter runs OK, I wouldn't worry. "Shutter sounds good" is fine for me. If 1 sec. runs smoothly, the shutter is usually in working order.

Luis-F-S
26-Oct-2016, 06:00
Perhaps there should be a reference thread that describes differences in shutter sizes including the 3 and 3S, and another I cannot recall as, I think, a 0 and 0+"

From the literature, one of the obvious differences is approx 2 mm in the front & rear mounting threads.The Copal 3S is 56 mm while the Copal 3 is 58 mm diameter. My Copal 3 shutters are marked Copal, or Copal 3, or unmarked, so you can't go by the markings. The Caliper below is in inches; the reading is meant only as a guide not an exact diameter, but you can see the inner silver mounting ring is twice as thick in the Copal 3S than in the Copal 3.

Here is a Copal 3S:

156653

Here is a Copal 3:

156654

Hope this helps.

Luis-F-S
26-Oct-2016, 06:01
Deleted, duplicate Post

Dan Fromm
26-Oct-2016, 07:09
Perhaps there should be a reference thread that describes differences in shutter sizes including the 3 and 3S, and another I cannot recall as, I think, a 0 and 0+"

A reference thread won't work because people can't or won't search.

A FAQ won't work because people can't or won't look at FAQs.

There are several web sites with partial information on shutters' sizes. The most complete is http://www.suaudeau.eu/memo/pratique/Les_obturateurs_centraux.html The few people who read this post will forget that the site exists.

Alan Gales
26-Oct-2016, 09:06
A reference thread won't work because people can't or won't search.

A FAQ won't work because people can't or won't look at FAQs.

There are several web sites with partial information on shutters' sizes. The most complete is http://www.suaudeau.eu/memo/pratique/Les_obturateurs_centraux.html The few people who read this post will forget that the site exists.

;)

jnantz
26-Oct-2016, 10:13
i've no experience with buying lenses from people in europe or japan. but i have bought falling plate + regular box cameras
from people in england. but i have bought lenses +c, from folks in the states via ebay,
my only advice is ask questions about condition and keep the emails and a copy of the sell page. if the seller
gives you all sorts of " i don't know, i don't understand i don't ... " chances are they are just flipping it and dont' know / or
are play/acting ignorant. i've only had one of bad experience on ebayout of 86,but that was back in the day
when people could harass you / retaliate with negative feedback if you were honest about the transaction.
just make sure you use PayPal and within 45 days ( or is it 90? ) you can return it if it isn't as described.
(just like you would if you purchased something at a store, or used a credit card elsewhere "buyer protection" )
paypal might help pay for the return shipping too.

good luck!
john

R.K
26-Oct-2016, 10:57
I bought 4 or 5 times lenses from Japan sellers and all of them was as described in almost new condition. Shipping was free and much faster than inside of US.

Jim Galli
26-Oct-2016, 14:34
This will be the counter-point post. People stress way too much. Dust between the lenses and most of the other concerns, at the end of the day, even worst case scenario are responsible for the final .02% of the image quality. It just doesn't matter. What does matter is getting something in front of the lens, whatever it is, that's worth making an image of.

I've gotten lenses from all over the planet and have been pleased 98.4 percent of the transactions. The other disaster or two, I re-listed with painfully direct and accurate descriptions and got most of my money back from the next guy that was looking for a bargain.

We're just not talking about money your kids are going to miss in their inheritances. This morning I bought a world class 8X10 - 11X14 lens for $113. It's a buyer's market (why the stuff is flowing out of Japan), so . . . enjoy.

Ari
26-Oct-2016, 15:00
This will be the counter-point post. People stress way too much. Dust between the lenses and most of the other concerns, at the end of the day, even worst case scenario are responsible for the final .02% of the image quality. It just doesn't matter. What does matter is getting something in front of the lens, whatever it is, that's worth making an image of.

I've gotten lenses from all over the planet and have been pleased 98.4 percent of the transactions. The other disaster or two, I re-listed with painfully direct and accurate descriptions and got most of my money back from the next guy that was looking for a bargain.

We're just not talking about money your kids are going to miss in their inheritances. This morning I bought a world class 8X10 - 11X14 lens for $113. It's a buyer's market (why the stuff is flowing out of Japan), so . . . enjoy.

+1000
I buy from anywhere I can, the only thing that stops me is shipping costs. Oddly enough, the highest shipping costs tend to come from US sellers on eBay, especially those using the Global Surcharging Program :)
I was surprised at USPS costs for shipping outside the US; I sent a winning bidder in Arizona three LF lenses for $19 including tracking; he decided to return one of them, and it cost me $45 to cover return shipping costs with USPS for the one lens.
Japanese sellers are great, I've never had a problem with one; if a product is not as described, they take it back and pay return shipping, but this has occurred only once, and profuse apologies were forthcoming.

Alan Gales
26-Oct-2016, 15:14
+1000
I buy from anywhere I can, the only thing that stops me is shipping costs. Oddly enough, the highest shipping costs tend to come from US sellers on eBay, especially those using the Global Surcharging Program :)
I was surprised at USPS costs for shipping outside the US; I sent a winning bidder in Arizona three LF lenses for $19 including tracking; he decided to return one of them, and it cost me $45 to cover return shipping costs with USPS for the one lens.
Japanese sellers are great, I've never had a problem with one; if a product is not as described, they take it back and pay return shipping, but this has occurred only once, and profuse apologies were forthcoming.

Shipping to Canada costs twice as much as shipping across the United States from St. Louis. The Global Shipping Program is expensive. I've sold many, many photography related items to our Canadian neighbors and have never had a problem. I don't know why any U.S. Seller would bother with the Global Shipping Program for Canada.

Dan Fromm
26-Oct-2016, 15:33
This will be the counter-point post. People stress way too much. Dust between the lenses and most of the other concerns, at the end of the day, even worst case scenario are responsible for the final .02% of the image quality. It just doesn't matter. What does matter is getting something in front of the lens, whatever it is, that's worth making an image of.

I've gotten lenses from all over the planet and have been pleased 98.4 percent of the transactions. The other disaster or two, I re-listed with painfully direct and accurate descriptions and got most of my money back from the next guy that was looking for a bargain.

We're just not talking about money your kids are going to miss in their inheritances. This morning I bought a world class 8X10 - 11X14 lens for $113. It's a buyer's market (why the stuff is flowing out of Japan), so . . . enjoy.

Jim, must you be so sensible? Why can't you just let people enjoy their irrational fear of making baaad mistakes?

Cheers,

Dan

Simos Xenakis
27-Oct-2016, 11:14
Did any of you guys who live in the US and purchased from Japan (or outside the US) have to pay import duties, taxes, or any additional charges?

Dan Fromm
27-Oct-2016, 11:16
No. Never.

Simos Xenakis
27-Oct-2016, 11:26
This will be the counter-point post. People stress way too much. Dust between the lenses and most of the other concerns, at the end of the day, even worst case scenario are responsible for the final .02% of the image quality. It just doesn't matter. What does matter is getting something in front of the lens, whatever it is, that's worth making an image of.

I've gotten lenses from all over the planet and have been pleased 98.4 percent of the transactions. The other disaster or two, I re-listed with painfully direct and accurate descriptions and got most of my money back from the next guy that was looking for a bargain.

We're just not talking about money your kids are going to miss in their inheritances. This morning I bought a world class 8X10 - 11X14 lens for $113. It's a buyer's market (why the stuff is flowing out of Japan), so . . . enjoy.

Jim, those are great points. When I shot digitally, I had to correct myself after a year or two of being gear-obsessed when I came to the realization that vision and skill are the only things that matter in the end. My T2i shot similar images as my 5D Mark III, and those kit lenses were 99% as good as L-series lenses costing 4-5x more (at least for general photography). As long as I don't end up with a LF lens that makes my images super soft due to fogging or some other weird problem that destroys my output, the goal should be to get out there and start shooting.

I love everyone's pointers here about refunds, disputing charges, etc.. but you make another good point that worst case scenario, re-sell it, take a little loss, and move on.

Simos Xenakis
27-Oct-2016, 11:33
No. Never.

Sweet!

I recently had interest (from int'l friends) in some lenses I was selling on Facebook but they expressed concern about getting hit with extra import charges, so I was wondering why those charges sometimes apply. Wonder if it's a luck of the draw kind of thing?

goamules
27-Oct-2016, 11:52
People in OTHER countries have to worry about excessive VAT taxes. Sometimes they forget the laws they allowed, and are shocked when they buy a $300 lens, and get a $100 VAT tax added. That's where you'll get people asking a seller in the US to "claim it's only worth $32 please?" and such.

Dan Fromm
27-Oct-2016, 11:57
In general, goods that enter the US through the postal system somehow escape duty. Goods that are brought in by a courier service are another matter. Couriers, e.g., UPS, FEDEX, ..., have captive customs brokerages and charge outrageously for their services needed or not. If you search here for complaints about the costs they impose on innocents importing camera gear from Canada you'll find many. But goods sent from Canada to the US by mail -- I've brought in, among other things, a slide projector and just recently a Cambo part -- aren't subject to that piracy.

And its not luck of the draw. I've brought photographic equipment and car parts -- up to an overdrive, NOS, for my Scimitar -- in from European countries and Canada with no duty ever charged.

Two23
27-Oct-2016, 14:28
Most of the photo things I've ordered over the past decade & half came from other countries. There is no tax/duty. It's other countries that are ripping buyers off with punitive taxes.


Kent in SD

Dan Fromm
27-Oct-2016, 15:30
Most of the photo things I've ordered over the past decade & half came from other countries. There is no tax/duty. It's other countries that are ripping buyers off with punitive taxes.


Kent in SD

At the risk of taking your digression into politics farther, you're mistaken. Countries that charge import duties aren't ripping anyone off. Buyers who live in those countries know what they're in for and make buying decisions accordingly. Countries that charge value added tax on all purchases apply it to all purchases and don't discriminate against domestic sellers. Again, buyers in those countries know what they're in for and make buying decisions accordingly.

This is much fairer than our patchwork system of state and local sales taxes that aren't always applied to interstate transactions. If your state charges sales tax on an item, it should collect the tax on all sales of the item to its residents. Here in NJ, we're supposed to report taxable out-of-state purchases on our state income tax returns and pay use tax (same rate as sales tax, different name) on them. Cheating is rampant. That its rampant doesn't make it right.

Randy Moe
27-Oct-2016, 15:35
My accountant made me pay 5 years back 'Use Tax'. Then somehow the whole issue disappeared and nobody is paying again...

Illinois...

Two23
27-Oct-2016, 18:09
At the risk of taking your digression into politics farther, you're mistaken. Countries that charge import duties aren't ripping anyone off. Buyers who live in those countries know what they're in for and make buying decisions accordingly. Countries that charge value added tax on all purchases apply it to all purchases and don't discriminate against domestic sellers. Again, buyers in those countries know what they're in for and make buying decisions accordingly.

This is much fairer than our patchwork system of state and local sales taxes that aren't always applied to interstate transactions. .


Not fair at all--I think it's excessive. One of the reasons wife & I decided against moving to Iceland when we retire. We work hard for our money and intend to keep as much as possible for our own family. :)


Kent in SD

IanG
28-Oct-2016, 01:32
In general, goods that enter the US through the postal system somehow escape duty. Goods that are brought in by a courier service are another matter. Couriers, e.g., UPS, FEDEX, ..., have captive customs brokerages and charge outrageously for their services needed or not. If you search here for complaints about the costs they impose on innocents importing camera gear from Canada you'll find many. But goods sent from Canada to the US by mail -- I've brought in, among other things, a slide projector and just recently a Cambo part -- aren't subject to that piracy.

And its not luck of the draw. I've brought photographic equipment and car parts -- up to an overdrive, NOS, for my Scimitar -- in from European countries and Canada with no duty ever charged.

That's the way it was at one time here in the UK. We have to pay Import Duty on the Item, then VAT on the Item. Duty and Postage (shipping) that can add between 30-33% to the cost of an item.

What's been happening here is lack of resources meant Customs went for the larger and more obviously commercial packages first, often letting small items slip through so for years I paid no taxes on lenses etc. However the Customs & Excise realised how much revenue they were losing and have slowly been tightening up. Some customs centres near airports are more efficient than others so more and more packages are being assessed and taxes applied.

More worrying is many big US stores now take these taxes on behalf of U/EU Customs making it no longer worthwhile buying from them. Along with exchange rate changes due to the drop in the £ it's currently not really beneficial buying from abroad unless the prices are very low.

Ian

Steven Tribe
28-Oct-2016, 06:35
Perhaps I could add a little to Ian's overview seen from a Danish (Also EU) angle.


We pay slightly more in Import VAT (25%), but do have an antique exception which says that items over 100 years old only pay 1/5th of the 25%. I am a real expert in inundating the authorities with old catalogues and series numbers as a consequence of this rule and the delays involved. Nothing is taken for granted and every single package is searched.

APart from the dangers of a physical search (damage), there is always a admin fee to be paid. I have paid over 20 usd in admin for an item that had a levied VAT of 3 usd.

Apart from the reasons given by Ian, the driving force is a wish by the Post Office to keep their staff to offset the quite rapid demise of bulk letter post sorting and delivery during the past decade.

Randy Moe
28-Oct-2016, 07:22
Last time I flew back to USA, was June 2001 from Italy.

I was amazed to watch nearly every passenger of a very large airplane, simply walk right by US Customs. I knew then, I was again the fool.

I had bought a few things and of course I declared them. I think 5 others also did so. :(

David Karp
28-Oct-2016, 08:30
Did any of you guys who live in the US and purchased from Japan (or outside the US) have to pay import duties, taxes, or any additional charges?

Four lenses from Japan, a bellows from Hong Kong, an ARCA Swiss Discovery from Canada, miscellaneous parts and pieces from Canada, lensboards and other stuff from China, all mailed to me and all without any import duties, taxes, or any extra charge.

IanG
28-Oct-2016, 09:50
Thanks Steven, I'd forgotten to mention the admin charges of the host countries Postal or Courier services who pay the Customs then collect from the buyer before or on delivery.

It's wort mentioning that US stores collecting the Taxes when shipping abroad charge substantially more in Postage/Shipping/Delivery to cover the additional admin costs, and that's with all the so called "Free Trade" agreements.

Ian




Perhaps I could add a little to Ian's overview seen from a Danish (Also EU) angle.


We pay slightly more in Import VAT (25%), but do have an antique exception which says that items over 100 years old only pay 1/5th of the 25%. I am a real expert in inundating the authorities with old catalogues and series numbers as a consequence of this rule and the delays involved. Nothing is taken for granted and every single package is searched.

APart from the dangers of a physical search (damage), there is always a admin fee to be paid. I have paid over 20 usd in admin for an item that had a levied VAT of 3 usd.

Apart from the reasons given by Ian, the driving force is a wish by the Post Office to keep their staff to offset the quite rapid demise of bulk letter post sorting and delivery during the past decade.

Randy Moe
28-Oct-2016, 09:58
When I was selling container loads of Made in England motorcycles to U.K. Citizens they paid no tax for any goods being repatriated. That was 35 years ago.

Mark Sawyer
28-Oct-2016, 10:27
Any tips for buying older/used LF lenses on the auction site?

Yes, don't do it. Oh sure, it's all fun and games at first, buying Dagors and Heliars and Commercial Ektars...

But all too soon the bank account is drained, and you'll find yourself in a dark alley on the seedy side of town, trying to trade a kidney for some unmarked projection lens with a fungus infection...

tonyowen
28-Oct-2016, 10:49
I'd like some input on the reliability/quality of eBay listed items from countries that were part of the USSR or Eastern Europe (ie Ukraine and Poland).
I note, and agree, that an increasing number of eBay photographic items are being offered by Japanese sellers.
However, I have also noted an increasing number of listings from the Ukraine that pertain to 'USSR' cameras and lenses.
I'm well aware that the bottom line, as usual, is caveat emptor, but some observations would be useful.
regards
Tony

Steven Tribe
28-Oct-2016, 14:33
Tony, you may not be aware that quite a few of the ex USSR sphere of influence country listers are actually present here.

I have had some dealing with them.

Postage, packing and tracking works as well as anywhere. I can't comment on the USSR lenses, but the later production of wood cameras have always been identified as Russian, rather than sold as antique German models.
IDentification is average, but condition is generally worse than from other countries. This is easily seen in photos. There are lots of exceptions - there is a Polish gent who seems to have an inexhaustible collection superb early mahogany cameras which he has been listing over many years.

Like everywhere, the insane listing prices of certain people in certain Central European countries, means that listing prices are often very unrealistic. There is a difference between a large Hermagis Petzval and a small Hermagis aplanat.

Simos Xenakis
13-Nov-2016, 13:34
Just wanted to thank everyone again for all the tips and assistance in this thread. I bought my 150mm lens from user shinjiii2012 in Japan who had a 100% positive feedback and I'm happy to report that it arrived in seemingly brand new/mint condition even though he advertised it as "excellent." He was also very responsive and shipped super fast.

neil poulsen
13-Nov-2016, 14:22
Four lenses from Japan, a bellows from Hong Kong, an ARCA Swiss Discovery from Canada, miscellaneous parts and pieces from Canada, lensboards and other stuff from China, all mailed to me and all without any import duties, taxes, or any extra charge.

As it turns out by pleasant surprise, nor have I in the few, overseas transactions in which I've recently been involved.

The reverse may not be true. For example, in shipping something to Canada, the buyer earnestly requested that I not ship by Fed Ex Ground. He indicated that they can add quite a large surcharge.

neil poulsen
13-Nov-2016, 14:35
I may be a little overcautious here. Reading your post is reassuring, because I just today bit the bullet and made a $299 purchase from Japan. :) (Very good seller feedback, though.) Hope it goes well, and that a return won't be needed. One reason I hesitate to purchase out of country, is that returns (if needed) can be very expensive.

Interesting. Received the item, and it was exactly as described. It's a combination 600mm bellows and 300mm extension for my Wista SP. After trying it on my camera, I decided that, even for a 355mm lens, it's too prone to vibration. Seller had a 14 day return policy, so I sent it back. Cost me over $70 in shipping fees. (Jeepers!)

HMG
23-Nov-2016, 17:42
Make sure the item is listed as"used" which by eBay rules mean working. Then, if not working when received, file a "not as described" claim so seller pays shipping both ways.

Don't get too wrapped up with 100% favorable rating as it only takes 1 jerk buyer to ruin that. But 99% or better is reasonable.

Ask specific questions. It's surprising how many sellers will leave out important details but will admit when asked. (I.e. "speeds seem right by ear", "did you check all speeds", "I only checked speeds over 1/100"). Also ask if they've actually used the lens.

When selling a lens, I always say something like"minimal" or "very minor" dust since any used lens will have some dust if you look hard enough.

I avoid sellers who don't know anything about what they're selling (like the many eBay selling services).

I always prefer to buy from forums like this over eBay.

David Karp
24-Nov-2016, 13:35
I just purchased some minor items on Ebay from a Japanese seller. The price for a few Bronica rear lenscaps and a couple of body caps was lower than I could find for two rear caps alone in the states. Once again, no import duties, taxes, or extra charges. The only hassle was that the seller required me to sign for the package. I had to go to the post office to pick it up. They must have been burned in the past.

B.S.Kumar
24-Nov-2016, 17:03
In Japan we have many cheap shipping options, almost all requiring signatures. Recently, one SAL shipment went missing and two were delayed. All were to the US. I refunded the missing shipment since it was only 6,000 JPY, but I'm thinking of dropping the SAL option for the US from now.

Kumar