What to Do with Old Camera Lenses Instead of Throwing Them Away

Bret Leon Avatar
Bret Leon
18 January, 2023 • Updated 1 year ago
what to do with old camera lenses

For more than a century, technological and industrial advancements have led to significant improvements in the capabilities of camera lenses. As such, it’s only natural for a photographer to shift from the old ways of capturing moments to modern ways. And with each new model you buy, you push your old camera lenses further back into your drawers.

But the time has come for you to declutter your gear shelves. Whether you bought your old lens or it was passed down to you, it’s clear now that they have to go. The big question is, where can you take them?

Decluttering can be daunting, especially if you attribute sentimental value to items. But don’t fret. In this post, we’ll have a look at some of the creative things you can do with your old camera lens.

Helpful Post: How to Store Camera Lenses When Not in Use

1. Sell

Although your old camera lens doesn’t cut it for you anymore, it might be the golden egg someone else is looking for. If it’s still in mint condition, you can cash in and put it towards owning a new lens. After all, the more advanced the photographic gear, the more expensive it gets. Alternatively, you can use the extra money to meet your other current needs.

There are many avenues and platforms where you can sell your old lens. Nevertheless, to make the most out of your sale, you need to determine the value of your lens. This will be determined by its performance, model, release date, rarity, type, and popularity. The value of well-known models typically stays high, in contrast to lenses that haven’t received major updates in a while or have bad performance in the market.

After determining the monetary value of your lens, the next step is finding the right platform to sell it. You can assess the pros and cons of selling personally or to an established firm and whether you prefer to sell online or in person.

Whichever method you choose to sell your lens, detailing the gear’s condition will help persuade customers to buy your lens. Write down all the facts the customer may need to know to make an informed decision regarding the lens. This includes the size, weight, cosmetic appearance, brand or model, autofocus motor, weather resistance, and other relevant specs.

A good place to start is by enlisting your old camera lens on auction sites like eBay and Gear Focus. Ensure you conduct proper research to find out the price of other lenses which are similar to yours. To get started, you’ll need to create a detailed description of your lens, take photos, package the item, and handle shipping and payments, among other things.

Using an auction site gives you the freedom to set your own price and makes your listings available to customers all over the world. They also provide policies, transaction monitoring, and data systems, making them a safe space to buy and sell products.

Another alternative is selling your lens on local marketplaces such as Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, and OfferUp. These sites offer potentially faster transactions and higher market prices. However, it will require you to meet your potential buyers for them to inspect your camera lens.

If you are looking for a more secure and stress-free way of selling your lens, then considering an online business or a major dealer is the best option. KEH, B&H, MBP, and Adorama are just a few of the many options available. They offer perks such as instant quotes, free shipping to their stores, and even free returns if you are unhappy with their deal. However, they offer lower amounts because they have to have some room to sell the lens and make a profit.

Also Read: How to Remove Scratches from Old Camera Lens

2. Donate

Selling your old camera lens is only worth it if you make a decent profit. If it’s not worth a lot, donating is always a great option. Donating to the causes you care about not only benefits the charities themselves, but it may also be quite fulfilling for you.

If you have extra lenses lying around that you no longer need, consider donating them to a charity of your choice. Some organizations would love to receive your lens and ensure they are put to good use. Choosing where to donate is entirely up to you, but here are a few options to explore.

Educational Institutions

Some schools, colleges, and universities offer art and photography classes as part of their curriculum. In many cases, their budgets are limited, and some students may not be able to acquire photography equipment. Giving your old lens to an educational institution can help needy students on their way to a brighter future.


donate your lens to NGOs

Non-profits and community centers are always happy to accept any form of financial or material contributions. Gifting a working camera lens guarantees that someone less fortunate will be able to pursue photography as a pastime or a career. Additionally, countless photography-related charities accept used equipment, including lenses. Do some research and decide which one you want to donate to.

Here are a few examples.

Charity Shops

Charity shops are a way to give old lenses a second life. Thrifters visit these stores looking to score a good deal, and anyone short on cash will appreciate the discounted prices on camera lenses. Some stores may even take your camera lenses and sell them as spare parts or use them for another piece of equipment. The best part? Your lens still goes towards supporting the cause of your choice.

3. Repurpose

With a little creativity and DIY know-how, you can turn your camera lens into a variety of unique objects. This could be a good moment to try something new. You can make anything from a camera lens coffee mug to a lens night lamp. The choice is yours.

4. Recycle

recycle your lens

There are now more options than ever for responsibly disposing of old, unwanted digital appliances. Camera lenses are manufactured with valuable materials that can be put back to use. Major retailers with electronics recycling programs, including Best Buy and Staples, will take them off your hands at no charge.

There are also Freecycle groups that gift and receive items for free to reduce their carbon footprint. Luckily, there are a dozen of them, with some suggestions being:


If none of the above ideas work for you, consider reusing your old lens on another camera. There is a massive range of adapters available that can allow you to use an old lens on digital cameras. With the right lens adapter, you can get the best results as long as you won’t shoot in full automatic mode.

Camera lenses have a longer life span and a higher resale value if the optics are clean and the focus and aperture still work. Alternatively, you can donate them to charitable organizations and shops with the goal of improving someone else’s life. If you don’t like these ideas, get your creative juices flowing and repurpose your old lens into a work of art. Finally, if your camera lens has outlived its life, try recycling it instead of throwing it away.

Bret Leon Avatar
Written by
Bret Leon
Bret Leon is a photography enthusiast who indulges in all matters cameras, lenses, gears, themes, editing, trends, and the latest product releases. If he's not trying to freeze time by capturing moments during his grand ventures, you can bet he's looking for the next big content idea.
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