I'm looking at buying a used wide angle lens (specifically Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 ) for a crop camera. The question What should one look for when buying a used lens? covers the basics when buying a used lens.

I'd like to get tips about what to specifically look for when testing a wide angle lens. What are most likely to be flawed with a wide angle lens and how to test for these flaws. How to push the limits of the lens to make sure it's not one of the few with serious problems.

Keep in mind that the testing will happen in an uncontrolled environment, like a shop, public place or at the sellers house. This means that the test have to be quick and easy without using a rigid test setup.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you clarify what you mean about "the few with serious problems"? I assume this means some known problems specific to this lens? If so, please state what. If not: the accepted answer to the question you linked to applies just as much to wide-angle. \$\endgroup\$
    – djangodude
    Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ With all lenses there will always be some with production errors, of centre, soft and such. It's usually not a large percentage of lenses, but there is always some. Mass production is not flawless, and some lenses will be at the edge of the tolerances, and can show serious problems on cameras that's on the "other" side of the tolerance scale. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ In that case, this question/answer should also help (and also applies to any focal length): photo.stackexchange.com/questions/12215/… \$\endgroup\$
    – djangodude
    Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 17:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem with that answer is the amount of required time and equipment. I might have 30 min to one hour to test the lens around where the seller lives. The tests would have to be quick and dirty, just to figure out if the lens have serious issues. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 16, 2012 at 11:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Then you should consider buying the lens from someone else who will give you more time to test it and allow you to return it if you're not satisfied, or buy it new with a warranty/return policy. In any case, the point remains: there's nothing special for testing a wide angle that you would/wouldn't do for any lens, and there are lots of answers on testing a lens already. \$\endgroup\$
    – djangodude
    Commented Mar 16, 2012 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


It will be difficult under such circumstances to do anything but a cursory inspection. The best advice would be to know the lens you are going to buy and it's particular quirks.

Ideally, the seller could send you a picture taken with the actual lens in advance, so you could see for yourself, barring that, if you could bring a camera and a laptop, and try some tethered shooting, you could get a good idea of any issues pretty fast. If that's not practical, at least bring a lens and do some chimping.

Check for general condition and functionality. Specifically for wide angle, the obvious things to check for are corner sharpness, fringing, vignetting, and amount of distortion.

Obviously, any wide angle lens is going to go have all of those to some degree, which is why you have to know what to expect going in.


Check out photography review sites and see what they say about the lens and how they test. What I look for: clarity at the center, and edges of the images, at at least 3 aperture settings: wide open, mid (f/8?), and a smaller value, f/22 or so.

Also, look at fringing or chromatic aberration at the center of the field, and edges for same 3 aperture ranges.

This is really tough to do at a sellers house, e.g. when you pick up a lens through craigslist. You may consider paying a little more and buying used from a dealer that has a good rep., and maybe with a return policy on used equipment.


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