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Thread: Life Span of a Lens.

  1. #1

    Default Life Span of a Lens.

    Hi, yea i know its kind of case to case basis and can be very subjective..
    i dont mean any brand but rather referring to lenses as a whole..
    whats the usual "life span" of a camera lens? erm say if i keep it in the in dry cabinet when i dont use.. i maintain it well...nv drop it nor getting it knock onto something before.. ( keeping and taking care of it in the "best" condition )
    roughly how long can it work for me? especially some lens.. the better ones have USM, SSM etc.. when will it start to fail or die? Since its still a item by itself.. meaning there is no way it will last "forever" Any idea? or any experiences photographer have 1 that is still working after X years?

    sorry..but im just curious.. cheers!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    Quote Originally Posted by TWmilkteaTW View Post
    Hi, yea i know its kind of case to case basis and can be very subjective..
    i dont mean any brand but rather referring to lenses as a whole..
    whats the usual "life span" of a camera lens? erm say if i keep it in the in dry cabinet when i dont use.. i maintain it well...nv drop it nor getting it knock onto something before.. ( keeping and taking care of it in the "best" condition )
    roughly how long can it work for me? especially some lens.. the better ones have USM, SSM etc.. when will it start to fail or die? Since its still a item by itself.. meaning there is no way it will last "forever" Any idea? or any experiences photographer have 1 that is still working after X years?

    sorry..but im just curious.. cheers!
    Keeping it in the dry cabinet and not using it a horrible way to preserve a lens, you will have sticky aperture blades and squeaking motors upon other problems

  3. #3

    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    Quote Originally Posted by spree86 View Post
    Keeping it in the dry cabinet and not using it a horrible way to preserve a lens, you will have sticky aperture blades and squeaking motors upon other problems
    yea i know what u mean. what i meant was yea u use it also of cos... etc etc.. so roughly how long a lens can serve u..
    ^^
    Like i mention earlier on..yea there is no REAL answer to it and the manufacturer also wont give a timeline.. so im curious.
    (for example..we know most PC will start to give problem after 2-5 years..)

  4. #4

    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    I have a 26 and a 38-year old lens that work perfectly. I've seen people attach 108-year-old lenses to their NEX and it still works. I don't think there is any way to generalize the lifespan of a lens like that.
    Alpha

  5. #5

    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    Like you said, it's very subjective -- conditions are never the same. AF lenses have been around for ard 25 years now, and some of the first generation are still in use. I have a mid-90s Canon EF lens that still works great. Zoom creep is extreme though, due to normal wear. I'm sure many CSers have even older working AF lenses.
    My oldest lens is my first - a Zeiss 50/1.8 from ard 1986. MF lenses are less complex, so there's less to go wrong.
    Rangefinder/large format lenses don't even have auto-diaphragms, and many of these are working after 50 years or more (Leica lenses, and even the old Communist block lenses)

  6. #6
    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    There is no fixed life span. Some lenses last for decades with no problems, some will have parts fail within the year. You will never know.

    Also, you noticed how new stuff tends to last shorter, while older things tend to last longer? Apart from less electronics in older stuff, you should also read up on "Planned Obsolescence".
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence

    Here is a couple of fun videos to watch on the subject.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2KLyYKJGk0
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW_7i6T_H78

    Another video, more informative, but more boring:


    Other interesting reads:
    http://www.ifixit.com/blog/blog/2011...anned-failure/
    Last edited by daredevil123; 5th July 2011 at 11:43 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    Quote Originally Posted by daredevil123 View Post
    Here is a fun video to watch on the subject.
    easy to say... extremely hard to implement.

  8. #8
    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    Quote Originally Posted by kei1309 View Post
    easy to say... extremely hard to implement.
    Such is life.

  9. #9
    Senior Member digitalpimp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    Quote Originally Posted by daredevil123 View Post
    There is no fixed life span. Some lenses last for decades with no problems, some will have parts fail within the year. You will never know.

    Also, you noticed how new stuff tends to last shorter, while older things tend to last longer? Apart from less electronics in older stuff, you should also read up on "Planned Obsolescence".
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence

    Here is a couple of fun videos to watch on the subject.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2KLyYKJGk0
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW_7i6T_H78

    Another video, more informative, but more boring:


    Other interesting reads:
    http://www.ifixit.com/blog/blog/2011...anned-failure/
    Bert, thanks for the links. Very informative.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    I know someone using a 30+ year old Nikon-mount Tamron lens that is still working great.

    I used to work in the chip-making business and we used to design chips to last at least 10 years. Then we shorten to 7, then 5. Now for the lower-end stuff, we design for 3 years. It saves on design (i.e. simpler layout, manufacturing etc) but most importantly most ppl would have upgraded/bought a new PC by that time so it makes no sense to built something too good.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    hmm ok thanks for all the replies and video links ^^

  12. #12
    Moderator ed9119's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    i still have LTM lenses from the 60's that I use occassionally with no problem

    but yes, make sure the lenses are at least sent in for servicing about once every 5 to 10 years especially the older manual focus ones

    .... and if you're going to put away or 'mothball' lenses that you wont be using for some time..... do not shrink-wrap them ... let them breathe .... i'd rather have an old lens that needs cleaning and re-oiling than one that has a fungal infection
    Last edited by ed9119; 6th July 2011 at 09:32 AM.
    shaddap and just shoot .... up close
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  13. #13
    Moderator rhino123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    Actually I have some very very old lens (Tair and old Tokina) that works very well. I handled a very very old pre-war lens before and it was fabulous.

    However I think, when more electronic stuff was incoorporated into the new lenses, life span might drop quite a bit... as electronic stuff can fail easily (I hope that my 300mm f4L (non-IS) lens don't fail on me just yet, though).

  14. #14
    Senior Member luckyorange's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    difficult to say lei... if lens want to die it will die

    if dont wanna die, die die also wont die..

    so just let it be =x haha...
    Lousy de My Flickr

  15. #15
    Moderator rhino123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    Quote Originally Posted by luckyorange View Post
    difficult to say lei... if lens want to die it will die

    if dont wanna die, die die also wont die..

    so just let it be =x haha...
    Wanna bet. I don't think that guy's lenses wanted to die just yet

    http://www.dchome.net/viewthread.php...ghlight&page=1

  16. #16
    Member Velectron's Avatar
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    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    I would also agree that the older mostly-metal lenses would tend to last longer than those "modern" plastic lenses. The less electronics inside the longer they would probably last, knowing how modern chips tend to be designed to fail within a span of few years. Some of my lenses were even older than my father but still works great. I wonder how long my plastic kit lens with in built motor would last...haha
    A850, A7 + LA-EA4 ~ I fool around with photographic equipment more than photography itself ~

  17. #17

    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    Quote Originally Posted by daredevil123 View Post
    Apart from less electronics in older stuff, you should also read up on "Planned Obsolescence".
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence
    Thanks. learned something new!

  18. #18

    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    Quote Originally Posted by rhino123 View Post
    Actually I have some very very old lens (Tair and old Tokina) that works very well. I handled a very very old pre-war lens before and it was fabulous.

    However I think, when more electronic stuff was incoorporated into the new lenses, life span might drop quite a bit... as electronic stuff can fail easily (I hope that my 300mm f4L (non-IS) lens don't fail on me just yet, though).
    Quote Originally Posted by Velectron View Post
    I would also agree that the older mostly-metal lenses would tend to last longer than those "modern" plastic lenses. The less electronics inside the longer they would probably last, knowing how modern chips tend to be designed to fail within a span of few years. Some of my lenses were even older than my father but still works great. I wonder how long my plastic kit lens with in built motor would last...haha
    same thoughts here. i think newer lenses could fail faster than old lenses due to electronics. i have two old Kyocera lenses that still work fine (i got them 2nd hand around 2000, not sure how old they are)... the autofocus on both lenses still works. unfortunately the tele lens (70-200/f4.5) has fungus.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Life Span of a Lens.

    i use a 1959 nikkor 5.8cm f/1.4 on a regular basis. works really well. and the average age of my lenses must be about 20+ yrs. no issues. it also depends on how much(or little) the lens was used. I do agree though that manual focus glass will prob out last AF, especially lenses with built in motors. I think the biggest issue facing old lenses now is that they're 'useless' either the lens mount is now obsolete, they ve been replaced by 'better' lenses, or their coatings just arent as good. they re still working as they should tho.
    F3, FTN, D700, just primes =)
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  20. #20

    Default

    My oldest af lens is also the 300 f4 non is. Bought for 2nd hand. Not sure is it the age or my body focusing might be a tad slower than other usm lens and there is this faint creak sound when the af motor is running. Hope it doesn't fail on me either. Other than that it us working well still.

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