Camera manufacturers are constantly developing and releasing new models. This is due to a number of reasons, including improvements in technology and a desire to keep up with competitors. Some photographers are obsessed with picking up the latest models as they appear, and this has created a market in used cameras and equipment. This is good news if you are happy to buy a camera that isn't brand new from the box, and there are great bargains to be had in used photographic equipment.
The differences between camera models in the same range can be very small. For example, Wi-Fi enabled versions of popular digital SLR (DSLR) cameras have been released in the last couple of years. If this feature isn't something you need, you could pick up a used model at a bargain price. By comparing the specification of new cameras with previous versions you can decide whether the compromise of buying a used model is worthwhile.
There are some pitfalls to look out for when buying a used camera, and the following tips will help to ensure you don't regret your purchase.1) Check what's in the box.
Assuming you're buying a used camera that's boxed, check that all the accessories are included. If it's been looked after, you should find a manual detailing what was included when it was sold. At the very least, you'll need the battery charger and the leads for connecting the camera to a computer.
2) Check for damage and corrosion.Give the body of a used camera a quick once over to check for wear and tear. A few scratches are nothing to worry about, but excessive signs of wear can indicate a camera hasn't been looked after. Open the battery compartment and check for corrosion. If the dials and switches feel loose or worn, it's a warning sign of heavy use
3) Check the lens and mount.
If a used camera comes with a lens, look for scratches on the front element. If you're looking at a DSLR, remove the lens and check that the fittings are in good order. The contacts should be clean with no signs of corrosion or water marks. If you have your own lens that will fit the camera, try fitting it and make sure it works as you would expect it to.
4) Fire off some test shots.The real test of the condition of a used camera is to shoot some pictures. If the shutter mechanism is noisy, it could be a sign of serious problems. There are apps and websites you can use to check how many times the shutter on a camera has been fired, and it's worth using one of these if you're buying a used DSLR. Replacing a shutter mechanism can be very expensive, and it may limit the life of a camera.
Take a picture of a plain wall or white sheet of paper to check for spots on the sensor. Zoom into the image and look for lines, spots and dark patches. These could be signs of dust, fungus or other physical damage. It's possible to clean a camera's sensor, but it's not an easy job.5) Compare the features and consider the value of potential savings.
Buying used photographic equipment is one way to save money and pick up a better camera if you're on a budget, but it's important to understand how it compares with newer models. Having to invest a few hundred dollars more may be worth it if the latest model has had a significant upgrade. For example, a higher resolution sensor or a faster focusing system would produce better quality pictures and offer greater flexibility. Check the technical specification of older camera models and make comparisons with newer models before purchasing.
As camera manufacturers update their models and ranges, there are opportunities to find a bargain. Always check a used camera functions correctly before buying, and look for the warning signs of excessive use and poor care.
Writen for Lux Optima by: Kaizen Marketing | Photo by: William Bayreuther