Let’s face it.  The economy is still not the powerhouse it was five years ago.  We’re all still reeling a little bit and saving money is at a premium, while spending excessively is a luxury only for those with deep pockets!  Count me in the former group too, so when someone asked me recently if it’s worth saving the coin to buy used I answered…“It depends”! I know, you thought I’d say yes, but it really does depend.  Here’s where and when it can be a good idea when upgrading your camera!

Buying used cameras versus new cameras

It’s no secret by now that the best place to invest the bulk of your money is in your lenses.  However, you still gotta have a camera, right?  So, should you opt for using last years model and risk having a client show up with better gear than you?  Or, should you just step up, spend the bigger dollars and always be on the leading edge?  If it’s a matter of economics, and there’s no gear limitations that stand in your way (slow shutter speed/clicks per second, etc), my answer is to always go used.  There are some of the perils and pitfalls of buying used gear though, so here’s a few tips to keep in mind when shopping around for used gear:

1. Shutter count – the shutter has an expected lifecycle of clicks it is built for. If you can get the shutter count (lots of software programs to do this) make sure you have at least 50% of them left.

2. Overall camera condition – check the camera for nicks scratches, scuff marks, and the like. If it’s all beat up, that cold be indicative of interior problems.

3. Sensor and other internals – Some problems aren’t as easily determined on a visual inspection, and it’s always best to take a few shots with the camera. Check to see if the sensor is scratched, nicked, has dust spots, etc. If it’s dust, that can be easily cleaned, but nicks and/or scratches can be a deal-breaker.

There’s obviously more to it than that, but those are the basics in looking at used camera bodies. In general, my rule of thumb when buying/selling used gear is to start at retail minus 10-15%. If the price is in that ballpark, it’s likely well cared for. I also look at seller ratings whenever possible. Fred Miranda is one of the better places to buy and sell, but Craigslist can be good since they are most often local and you can go do a visual inspection before throwing money out the window…

What experiences have others had with buying and selling new gear?  Any places that are preferred?  Places to avoid?  Sound off in the comments with your own thoughts and experiences!  In the meantime, remember, it’s really not about the gear – it’s who’s behind it, so keep on shooting!

One last thing to mention today – the April contest is live (I announced it over the weekend in the free newsletter blast), and the winner will get an 8×10 image of their choice printed and mounted in a pretty cool Backlitbox!  Very cool prize and thanks to the folks at Backlitbox for sponsoring the April giveaway!  I promise more details are forthcoming here soon in the form of a product review, but time’s a-wastin’, so be sure to get your entries in soon!  Congrats also to Evelyn for her win of the March giveaway!  She’s getting a very cool Tether Table from the folks over at Tether Tools – just drop me an email to claim your prize!  Here’s her winning image up in lights!

Flat Tire

One thought on “Everything Old is New Again

  1. I have bought and sold much of my equipment through Precision Camera & Video in Austin, TX. They are very reputable for the used gear they sell because every camera, lens etc.. goes through an inspection and cleaning in their repair dept before it gets put out on the shelf. And yes, you can buy used gear online through their website, but if you are in Austin I recommend going in person to check it out. The sales people there are amazing.

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