If you want to save yourself a ton of money buying digital cameras then buying a used camera or pre-owned camera is a good way to go about it. Brand new cameras, as with all photography equipment, are stupidly expensive and as soon as you open the package and get it out the box the value significantly plummets, and it does this before you even use it! Yep, there are plenty of savings to be made buying second hand digital cameras.
There are risks associated with being pre-owned cameras and you need to consider these before parting with your hard earned cash. There are a lot of honest sellers where you can get top quality used digital cameras at good prices, and you won’t have any issues at all. On the other hand, there are crooks out there and people offloading second hand cameras that are damaged, broken, and basically don’t work. Whilst there is a potential to save a lot of money buying used cameras there is also the potential to waste a lot of money, and get ripped off too.
In a bid to save a few quid a few years back I thought it was a good idea to buy a used camera from eBay, and what a mistake that was. I am sure you are reading this thinking “Idiot – we all know that eBay is full of scammers, crooks and low lives” however after making the winning bid I was instantly contacted by the seller, sorted out payment and received the goods two days after. Happy days right? Wrong.
The camera arrived boxed, wrapped in protective bubble wrap and looked in great condition (as stated in the advert and demonstrated by the picture used in the eBay advert). Initially I was a happy chappy, but it started going downhill, and at a fast rate. I inserted a fully charged battery and SD card, attached a (one of my favourite L series lenses) and went to take some sample photos. Reviewing the photos on the LCD screen everything looked a little grainy (a little more than with my old camera) however the LCD screens are pretty rubbish for showing the quality of the photo so I wasn’t overly fussed. When I looked at the photos on my computer I was horrified as there were dust spots all over, and too many to clone out. I also noticed a strange “crack” in the top left hand corner, which didn’t make sense.
I was concerned my Canon 100 – 400 had given up the ghost so I changed lenses and took some sample photos with my Canon 24-70 f2.8L, and experienced the same thing. I also took photos with my Canon 70-200 f2.8L , Canon 8mm – 15mm fisheye and Canon 16mm-35mm f4L and had the same issues with every lens. I was obviously pleased my Canon 100 – 400 was fine, however I was more than a little annoyed that the camera I had just bought was utter rubbish and not fit for purpose.
The above experience not only put me off buying used cameras from eBay but used cameras from any individual. The second hand camera I bought looked fine and handled fine, but the sensor was not only cracked but also riddled with dust. There is no way I would have known about the issues with the camera without testing it (and I don’t have the necessary equipment to do this), and this could have happened regardless of whether I bought the camera off eBay or from some bloke at my local camera club.
Based on my experience, and in my opinion there is only one place to buy a used camera, and that is from a local camera shop. Camera shops rigorously test used camera stock before putting it out for re-sale, which means the camera shop will know about any sensor damage, sensor dust or any other internal issues the camera may have and sort it out as necessary. If the camera shop fails to get the camera up to the standards you require you can return the camera and get it sorted, exchange it for a different product or get a full refund. As a buyer, you get the ultimate protection buying a used camera from a camera shop than you do buying from an individual.
You will pay more for a used camera from a camera shop, but you do get the peace of mind you are buying a product that has been tested and is fit for purpose, and even if it isn’t you know it is going to be simple to get the problem sorted out or get your money back. This, in my opinion, is well worth the extra few quid. One thing to remember is that even though you will pay more for a used camera from a shop, but you will still make a huge saving buying used.
All camera shops test used cameras before putting them up for re-sale, and this is the case regardless of whereabouts in the country the shop is located. Despite this, I would only buy a second hand camera from a local camera shop. I only buy local second hand cameras because if there are any problems or issues, I can return it in person. The postal service is rubbish and sorting out issues over the phone/via email is an absolute faff so I only ever buy second hand cameras local.
So back to the question of “where is the best place to buy used cameras?” The answer is simple - your local camera shop.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.