Upload & Sell: On
| p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · about to buy a Canon 180mm L lens. Need guidance |
Welcome to FM.
Having a face-to-face deal will let you determine if the lens is in decent shape. OTOH, as you said, $600 is pretty cheap. It usually goes for $915 to $1070 on eBay, used, depending on condition. Chances are good that it's hot.
Also, remember that buddy knows that you have a wad of cash in your pocket. Make sure that you meet in a public place, with people around. I like coffee shops or banks.
I haven't used the EF 180/3.5L Macro, but I do have macro lenses (including an SP 180/3.5), and many L lenses. First step is to do a quick overview of the exterior body, to see if there are any significant dings or dents that might be evidence of a drop or impact. Next, have a close look at the front and rear glass. You'll need a small flashlight to illuminate the rear element. If there's a filter on the front, take it off. The exterior glass should be smooth and without any chips or scratches. There may be "cleaning marks", "rubs", or streaks on the glass, but these can usually be cleaned up (esp. for $600), as long as the surface "multicoating" hasn't been eroded or penetrated.
Shine your flashlight into the rear of the lens while you look into the front of it. Some dust (a few specks) is normal. Anything else, like a "film" or haze, spots, or things that look like they're growing in there, are bad.
Mount the lens on your camera and check that the AF and aperture are working. Macro lenses don't have 'snappy' AF, so I suggest you point it at something within three to ten feet. If it locks on, then the AF is probably OK. Stop the aperture down to f/11 or so using the camera controls, and compare a few photos stopped-down and wide open. The overall exposure of the stopped-down and wide-open shots should be the same (showing the the lens aperture does stop down, as it should). Also, the difference in depth of field (DOF) should be obvious between stopped down and wide open.
Put it on a tripod and take a close-up of something flat and with texture from about 2 feet (with the camera/lens at right angles to it) - say a brick wall, or the ground, using LiveView manual focus. Then, look at the photo on your camera LCD, zoomed in, and scroll around. It should be sharp everywhere, unless the camera isn't lined up at right angles to the surface.
Regardless, pay attention to the seller and go by your instincts.