How to buy a used camera and not to regret it

Prices for a new camera and a used one can differ by 3-4 times.

Canon cameras older than 2014 are not even mentioned on the official website, but if you have a modest budget, you can buy a camera even from 2003 year. In this article I will tell you how to prepare for buying a used DSLR: what to look for in ads and how to check the camera before handing over the money.

I bought all three of my Canon 550D, Canon 40D and Canon 7D cameras by hand. The first two – through bulletin boards, the third – from an acquaintance. The last option is the most reliable. But if you do not know a photographer who sells old cameras from time to time, you should study ads carefully and foresee the risks of buying equipment by hand.

On the secondary market you can come across DSLRs with defects, after repairs, stolen or counterfeited, and you can’t check them, this is not a car, which has a unique VIN number for checking. And not the fact that the seller will warn you about all this. That’s what happened to me: the first camera had a defect, which I found out about after the purchase. I did not check how the flash works, and only a few days later I found out that it does not open.

How to know what the right price is

Each seller has its own methodology for evaluating a camera with mileage, there are no unequivocally correct options here. Someone is guided by the average price on the market and the demand, someone looks at the lowest price and puts on 100 P cheaper, and someone does not like dumping and evaluates the device based on its price in the store and wear and tear. Everyone finds buyers, but at different rates.

The price depends a lot on the reason for selling – you can tell what is more important for the seller – to sell the camera as soon as possible, or to make more money.

How to buy a used camera and not to regret it

  1. Switching from cropped to full frame;
  2. Switching from Canon to Nikon, Sony, etc;
  3. Switching to a mirrorless camera;
  4. Switching to film;
  5. ending a career as a photographer;
  6. need a more expensive model;
  7. given as a gift – does not use;
  8. need money, have a spare;
  9. broke down, needs repair;
  10. bought cheaper, sells more expensive.

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Cameras that are sold complete with a lens and other gadgets are likely to belong to someone who is not a first year in photography. Often he is either finishing his career or moving on to a full frame or other manufacturer. The price of the camera itself in such a case tends to be lower than the listings for a single unit without the extras. Everything else that came with the camera can be sold individually. For example, the price for a single 64GB Compact Flash card can go up to $100.

Additionally there are ads in which a kit lens is attached to the camera, i.e. a standard kit lens of not very high quality. The owner of such camera most likely tried himself as a photographer and has changed his mind. You should not expect him to advise you how to use the camera.

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Here’s what else affects the price of the camera:

  1. mileage, that is, how many times the shutter has been triggered;
  2. External damage: chips, scratches, cracks;
  3. Internal defects: backlash, broken pixels, damaged contacts;
  4. availability of receipt, box, manual in Russian;
  5. availability of a valid warranty card;
  6. date of purchase;
  7. package contents;
  8. whether the device has been repaired – you can see traces on the threads and around the screws;
  9. original parts;
  10. how many previous owners;
  11. dollar rate.

You can ask for a discount if the inspection reveals that the camera has been dropped, drowned, or been repaired.

How to buy a camera by hand

  1. Choose several ads from different sites and compare the main characteristics: prices, shutter mileage, equipment.
  2. Make an agreement with the seller about checking it before buying: either at a service center or by yourself.
  3. Prepare for the self-check: take the lens, memory card, notebook, USB cable and external flash.
  4. Before buying, make sure there are no signs of moisture, dropping or repairs on the body. Check the serial number and mileage of the camera.
  5. Check all operating modes and separately for dirt and problem pixels on the sensor.