Danny Low , Feb 13, 2010; 02:05 a.m.
Refurbished usually means someone cleaned the equipment and ran some tests to make sure everything works. Used means someone inspected the equipment to check for obvious flaws but nothing more.
Used can be good. I once went into my local store and saw a complete Minolta SLR system that looked brand new in the used equipment shelf. It was originally purchased at the store by someone with more dollars than sense as he traded it in for a complete Nikon system only 3 months later. OTOH I saw equipment at the store that looked like it had been used by a war correspondent who covered all of WW2 with it. It is very definitely a caveat emptor situation to buy used.
Refurbished is usually a safer bet as they are usually returned or demo equipment.
Over the last 20 years about half my lenses were bought used or refurbished and they have all been as reliable as the ones I bought new. If you are careful and buy from reliable sources, used or refurbished are both equally as good as new.