No matter how long you try to make each piece of your gear last, a lens upgrade is inevitable from time to time. This raises the question – what should you do with your old camera lenses once they’ve outlived their usefulness?
If you’re anything like us, you might find the thought of passing with such an important piece of kit quite difficult. After all, you invested a ton of money in it at one point and it’s likely served you well over the past several years. This page is designed to take the stress out of repurposing your old lenses.
We’ll run through some of your best options, including some ways to earn a bit of money back on your gear. Read on to learn more.
Where to Recycle an Old Camera Lens(if it’s Working)
If your lens is still functional, there are plenty of ways to find it a new home. The specific option you go with will depend on the value of your equipment and how much effort you’re willing to put into any reselling or exchanges.
Sell Your Camera Lens via Facebook and Online Groups
Places like Facebook Marketplace and similar sites can be a great way to find a new home for your lens. Depending on the condition of your gear, you can make a fair bit of money back when reselling. It’s important to set clear boundaries for yourself and potential buyers on platforms like these.
Learn to weed out time-wasters quickly. What’s the minimum $ amount you’re willing to accept for your equipment? Stay firm to that amount when negotiating.
Use Lens Resale Websites
This approach may garner a touch less money, but involves far less hassle from negotiating and waiting on a random buyer. Sites like Keh and MPB will happily take old lenses off your hands. Just keep in mind that if you were hoping to make your fortune on sites like these, you may be disappointed with their offerings.
Trade-In Schemes for Camera Lenses
There’s a decent chance your lens manufacturer runs its own trade-in scheme. This of course will depend on the specific model and date of your product, but it’s always worth getting in touch to see what’s on offer.
If you already have a specific brand in mind for your new lens, you can save a substantial amount on the new purchase if you trade in your old model when buying. For a more universal approach, stores like Best Buy run their own schemes too.
If you have the time, get some quotes from a few options and see if you can leverage competitors against each other. Can’t hurt to try!
Sometimes it can pay to go the old-school route. It can take significantly more effort and time, but the rewards can often pay off. If you choose the right yard sale, your negotiating skills can earn you tons more than an online sale. Newspaper listings and newsletter postings might seem old-hat, but some collectors still check them frequently.
Your mileage may vary, but use your best judgement and see what you can find in your area.
Not everything has to be about cold, hard cash. If your equipment is decent quality and performs well enough, a donation can make a world of difference to the right people. See if your area has any schools, universities, charities, or charity shops that could benefit from your old camera lenses.
Imagine if someone had been kind enough to lend you a freebie when you were first starting out. While we’re on the subject, it’s worth thinking about any family or friends you know who might like to get into photography. Gifting old equipment can be a great way to get a younger sibling into a new hobby, for example.
Retro Film Cameras
Some people assume that their old film lens will automatically be worth a small fortune because of the format. While there has been a resurgence in film popularity in recent years, you’ll need a pretty choice lens if you want to make a big sale.
If it was manufactured before the 50s/60s and still performs well, a collector will be your new best friend. Otherwise, don’t set your hopes too high. It always pays to check, though!
Other Uses for Old Camera Lenses
So what if you don’t feel like selling or donating your old lenses? This section will run through some other ways to repurpose old camera equipment.
Experiment With Expired Film
If you’ve got an old film lens, there’s tons of fun to be had with various photography experiments. Picking up some good quality expired film, for example, can give you a chance to really get creative with your shoots. Check out ebay or local markets for expired film options that work with your old lens.
Keep Them as Backups
You might not think you need it now, but having a backup is almost always useful. Saving an old lens for a rainy day can really pay off in certain contexts. Of course, this all depends on how much equipment you already own so use your best judgement when deciding what you’d like to do.
Build a Hobby Project
This one’s not for everyone but we wanted to mention it just in case. If you’ve got access to decent tools and a good shop, old lenses can be turned into a bunch of different hobby projects. Coasters like these are just one example of this. When you know you don’t need to use a lens anymore, why not get creative with it?
When in doubt, a well-maintained lens can look great on a bookshelf or coffee table. It’s not the most inventive use for old camera lenses in the world, but it’s a heck of a lot easier than finding a local buyer!
What to do with Old Camera Lenses – Final Thoughts
We hope you’ve found the suggestions on this page useful. In an increasingly junk-filled world, it’s a good idea to think closely about how we repurpose our old photography gear. If at all possible, try to donate or recycle your lenses whenever you can.