I kind of have the opposite mindset. I think the pristine ones are fine and beautiful to look at, but its the beaters that tug at me. I would rather have one that looks well used, as long as the glass is clean and the aperture works as it should and it can focus properly, than a brand new one. Why? When I go shooting and lack inspiration, I will think about the lens I am shooting through and what it might have seen in its life. Usually get inspired there. A new lens (of this variety, MF) just...Show more →
I'm in this camp too. As long as the glass is clean, and the mechanics works as new, the appearance matters not. I'm impressed at how some pro photographers bang their gear around, not caring at all how it looks. Thom Hogan took a shot of a motor cross bike blasting by him at very close range. It was kicking up dirt and rocks like crazy, delivering 5 direct hits to the glass of his Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. What did he do? He kept on shooting and then wiped down his lens once done. Amazing. I lost a lot of my gear appearance obsession once I figured out it had nothing to do with photography.
Also, as you said, the history of a lens is told by its bumps and bruises.