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So I just bought a lens [AF-P DX 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR] from Amazon and it came in clearly a repackaged box with the lens wrapped in bubblewrap, a milky white rear cap and lacking the lens documentation or the usual cardboard holder Nikon lens usually come in. The serial number on the box, warranty card and the lens itself matched though.

I have no doubt that the lens is at best second hand. So to confirm my doubts, I took an image and looked at its EXIF data and this is what I got

Lens ID Unknown (A3 38 5C 8E 34 40 CE 8E)
Lens 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3

Everything points to it being a fake lens. Now my doubt arises because the image quality seems to be fine. Does anyone know what's up with that and if anyone has any experience with something like this.

Thanks.

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    What are you using to list the Lens ID? I found an image taken with this lens and exiftool identified it. I took a look at exiftool's source code and it has "A3 38 5C 8E 34 40 CE 8E" as the lens id (line 318 here ). – StarGeek Oct 30 '18 at 15:57
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    If you bought it new and were shipped a used lens then you should immediately send it back regardless. When you reorder it I'd recommend ordering through B&H or Adorama. On Amazon they mix all the seller's items into the same box and pick them at random. – Hairy Dresden Oct 30 '18 at 16:23
  • @HairyDresden I agree that the very simple solution is to return the lens. On the point of Amazon mixing stock from third-party sellers with their own, I've seen this claim before, and would like to see a reference. How do you know they do this? It's my suspicion that they don't. – osullic Oct 30 '18 at 23:19
  • @StarGeek I used Jeffrey's Metadata Viewer exif.regex.info/exif.cgi – DragoonHP Oct 31 '18 at 4:38
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    @DragoonHP Ah, that uses exiftool, but appears to use an out of date version. – StarGeek Oct 31 '18 at 18:42
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This lens is most likely a genuine Nikon lens. The identifier your EXIF reader gave is the correct raw ID code for that lens. The application you used to read the EXIF information just doesn't know the "friendly" name of lenses with that ID code.

Whether the lens is "new" or "used" or "refurbished" is an entirely different matter.

What is most likely is that the lens is new and was part of a "kit" that was broken up and sold in individual pieces. Such lenses and accessories are often called "white box" items because they tend to be sold in the plain white boxes that hold them inside the larger "retail" box. The retail box contains all of the "kit's" items, such as a camera body, 18-55mm lens, 70-300mm lens, battery charger, battery, camera strap, etc.

It is certainly also possible that the lens may have been used for a short time. Absent of any evidence of usage, such as light scratches or wear marks, there's no real way to prove a lens is "used" rather than "new" since most camera lenses do not come inside sealed packaging.

It may even be a refurbished lens. Refurbished lenses often come in white boxes, rather than "retail" packaging with all of the colorful pictures and features prominently printed on the exterior of the box. Most lenses and other photographic products refurbished by the original manufacturer are discreetly marked in some way. Canon paints a small red dot in an existing hole on the rear mounting flange ring of lenses refurbished by Canon Service Centers. Nikon imprints two "dimples" on either end of the camera or lens' serial number to designate a Nikon refurbished product.

Refurbished products aren't necessarily bad, though. Most refurbished lenses and camera bodies are tested far more thoroughly after they have been repaired than an average product sold new has been tested before leaving the factory. They can be a good way to get a deal on gear. I've bought a couple of refurbished 'L' lenses and a FF body directly from Canon and have had no quality control issues whatsoever with any of them. I've had one lens since 2011, the other since mid-2017. I bought the body in 2014 via the Canon Loyalty Program.¹ Altogether, I've saved about $1,000 buying those three items refurbished versus paying the prevailing "new" price at the time I bought each of them.

¹ I traded in one of my Mom's dead cheap Canon point-and-shoots on an EOS 5D Mark III, LOL. I did ask the customer service rep if that was acceptable before completing the transaction.

  • After reading this...I'm eying my 20D and it's getting worried for it's life in my cabinet... – Hueco Oct 30 '18 at 20:31
  • @Hueco When I used the CLP in 2014 the discount was 10% on a select list of refurbished cameras. I've heard there is no longer a % discount and the maximum credit for returning an old camera is something like $60, so it's not as good as it once was. On the refurbed 5D Mark III I bought using CLP, I saved almost $300 off the regular refurb price! Canon direct does charge sales tax based on the state you are from, though, so a lot of that discount went right back to the tax. – Michael C Oct 31 '18 at 3:25
  • With the CLP discount and paying 8% sales tax on the pre-promotional price, I came in about $500 cheaper for the refurb camera body direct from Canon than I could have bought a new body from B&H or amazon, who was not charging sales tax at the time. – Michael C Oct 31 '18 at 3:28
  • Thank you for the very detaled answer; I learned a lot after reading your post. I looked at the raw ID list and you were spot on about it being correct. Now I don't think it's a white box item because it's missing the rear black cap and instead it has a milky white rear cap with no branding. As far as I'm aware, the kit lens have their rear black cap (it may be that the seller has decided to sell the rear cap too). I also checked for dimple marks and there are none so it's not a refurbished lens. The lens doesn't appeared used; no scratches and scuff marks. – DragoonHP Oct 31 '18 at 4:49

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