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A Short Guide to Buying Used Camera Gear

Buying Used Camera Gear

Let’s be honest, photography can be an expensive hobby. Thankfully the quality of most camera equipment today is high enough that they can last a long time. This means if you know how and where to look, you can find a good deal on a used camera or lens that you can enjoy for years to come.

What Should you Buy

So what equipment should you buy used? The two main pieces are of course camera bodies and lenses. This is where you will get the most savings/value when picking up gear second hand. Lenses in particular are good to buy used as they don’t have the same number of moving parts and components that cameras have. This helps them to last longer. 

While bodies and lenses are the big two, you can find good deals on other equipment as well. In particular lighting, tripods, and even camera bags. However, there are some items I would not buy used. One being memory cards and the other camera batteries. I prefer to buy my memory cards and camera batteries from only reputable retailers to avoid the chance of getting a knockoff.

What to Look Out For

If you are going to be buying used, there are a couple of things to watch out for. First, for both camera bodies and lenses you should look at their overall condition. Look to see if an item has any scratches or damage to the screen, viewfinder, sensor, or the glass elements on a lens. I would also test out all of the buttons and shooting modes you plan to use. The second thing to look at would be the shutter count on cameras. Each camera's shutter has a lifespan on how many actuations it can be expected to last. From what I found, most shutters are rated to last from 150,000 for lower end cameras to 300,000 for higher end cameras. Each camera is different on how you find its shutter count. So do your research with regard to the models you are interested in. If it’s over 50% of its lifetime shutter count I would keep looking.

Best Places to Buy

When it comes to buying used camera gear you have a few options. Visiting your local camera stores and pawn shops can be great places to find a good deal. Personally I’d stick with a camera shop over a pawn shop as the employees at the former are more likely to know what to look for when they buy/sell used equipment. You also have a lot of options for purchasing used gear online. Some companies specialize in used gear while others have a used section in conjunction with their normal merchandise. Here are my recommendations:

There are of course other options for buying used gear. The ones that come to mind are Facebook Marketplace and the old standard for person to person selling Craigslist. I’ve also heard some good deals can be had on eBay, but I’ve never checked myself.

Final Thoughts

In all I would say it’s a good idea to keep an eye out on the used market if you aren’t in a rush and you know what to look out for so you are getting a good deal. Personally, I would only buy from a reputable company such as the websites I listed above or a local camera shop.

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