Camera equipment in Peru is expensive and challenging to find. Save yourself the hassle and buy all the equipment you need in the U.S. BUT, if you’re stuck in a bind, check out these options:
You can buy basic lenses at the chain stores Saga, Ripley and Hiraoka. There’s also Media Solutions Peru, Roditec and ZF Store. Everything at these chains will be pricey because of Peru’s import taxes. Your best bet is to buy something used.
To find quality used equipment, try surfing Mercardo Libre or OLX.com—the Peruvian equivalents of EBay. Visit Calle Porta in Miraflores, which is a street lined with (mostly) reputable camera shops. Or frequent CompuPalace on a regular basis. They often have great deals on used glass.
If you’re really desperate visit Polvos Azules, Lima’s go-to for every pirated DVD and computer game ever. They’ll also have what you’re looking for—just be suspect of the quality.
In preparation for a last-minute trip to Argentina, I purchased a “lente gran angular” from a camera seller I found on OLX.com. I managed to get him down 100 soles, but it was a good deal for both of us. He had a quality lens, which I needed quickly and couldn’t afford to buy new, and I paid in cash. Everyone loves cash!
Now, I’m no expert on buying used cameras, but here’s a check list I threw together from reading hours of Internet forums:
How to Check a Used Camera Lens
- Check the outside of the lens. Scratches are OK. Dents mean the lens could’ve been dropped. Walk away.
Same goes for fungus. If you suspect a lens has fungus inside (which is pretty common in Lima), do NOT put it on your camera body. Run far, run fast.
- Lens creep: point the lens up to the sky and down at the ground. Does the lens “creep” aka slide forward or backward?
- Look through the lens like a telescope
- Is the mount clean?
- Check autofocus speed
- Check manual focus
- Smell it: If the person was a smoker, you’ll know it. Not necessarily a deal-breaker, but good to know.
- Use a bright light and shine it inside the lens to look for scratches that will reduce quality. Don’t worry too too much about dust.
- Rotate lens and listen for loose material moving around
- Zoom in and out while listening for loose material or grating sounds
- Make sure the lens hood stays locked
- Check weather sealing
- Make sure the filter screws on and off easily
- Take a picture all the way open
- Take a picture all the way closed
- Check for center defects
- Turn on and off IS
- Take a picture of a newspaper to check clarity
- (I recently learned this!) If a lens isn’t used for a long time, you can get oil marks inside. Check for the oil marks using preview.
- Take photos using autofocus in single AND continuous mode
- Take photos in light setting AND dark settings
- Is there a warranty?
- Check for centering defects
- Take a picture of a pattern and check to see if there’s distortion
- Bring your laptop and take a look at 50-100 photos on your laptop.
- Enjoy your new lens!