Given the choice I would buy brand new every time. It’s not that I am a snob and have a problem with used or second hand goods, it’s just that there is that “something” about being the person to remove a product from its original packaging, being the first person to read the user manual and make it dog eared and being the first person to hold the product and use it, and I am sure I am not alone in this and there are many people out there just like me.
Despite that warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I use a brand new product for the first time when I first started out in digital photography my first DSLR camera was a used Canon 450D. Unfortunately I didn’t get to experience releasing the camera from its factory packed box and neither did I get to press the shutter button the first time and snap the first photo it was to capture.
I am often accused of having fads, and before I bought my first camera that is what all my nearest and dearest reminded me of. Yep, most people told me it was nothing but a fad I would be interested in for five minutes and then move on to something else, wasting a lot of money in the process. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, these doubters had a point and made me seriously think about whether I was in photography for the long haul or not. This was impossible to answer, after all I hadn’t even picked up a dslr, let alone taken some photos with one (despite owning a cheap point and shoot) so the comments did make me think about whether dropping a lot of money on a brand new dslr camera was really a good thing.
A dslr camera loses a lot of value as soon as it is removed from its original packaging, regardless of whether it is actually used or not. Yep, once a camera is opened it instantly becomes second hand and loses a whole lot of value. Rather than being the person to suffer the loss in value you may as well be the person who benefits from it and pays the reduced amount right?
With used cameras being cheaper there is the chance to buy a higher spec used camera for the cost of a brand new low spec one, and whilst this may seem like a good thing to do it is not something I would recommend beginners do. I mean, the idea is to spend as little as possible to see if photography is going to be of interest or not and also learn the basics. Splashing out more money than you really need to doesn’t make sense so rather than buy a second hand high spec camera for the cost of a new low spec camera I would suggest spending less on a low spec camera (i.e. entry level camera) than a new one.
A beginner should buy an entry level dslr camera that is designed at the lower end of the market in the first instance. The budget DSLR cameras have simple interfaces and are user friendly, and also have all the features a beginner needs to learn the art of photography. Buying a prosumer level or professional level dslr as a first camera is a big mistake because they are too complicated, they have too many features and the learning curve using them will be so steep it will frustrate any beginner and is likely to put them off photography altogether.
In my opinion a beginners’ first DSLR camera should always be used or second hand and the reasons are:
If it turns out photography isn’t that persons bag they haven’t lost a great amount of money. The first owner takes the biggest hit in value when the camera becomes second hand. The second, third etc. owners will not take such a loss as they sell the camera on, so if you buy used you will be able to sell it on with little financial loss.
Beginners abuse their cameras, and abusing a cheaper camera (i.e. used camera) is easier to swallow than abusing an expensive camera (i.e. brand new camera). No-one like damaging or abusing their belongings, but it is a fact of life and something we have to deal with and consider.
Regardless of what anyone says they will upgrade their camera at some point in the future. As beginners improve their knowledge and skills, and want to branch out in to different areas of photography they will want to upgrade their camera accordingly. Trust me, your first DSLR camera will not be your last (if you decide you like photography of course) and you will upgrade the camera, so it’s better to buy used in the first instance.
Whatever you may read all the top brand entry level DSLR cameras are great cameras to learn the art of photography, and neither one is better than the others. The Canon 1300D, the Nikon D3300 and Sony A58 are all capable cameras and you will not be disappointed with the image quality, build quality and features of any of them. The only real differences between the cameras are the way they feel and the user interface, therefore the “best” one is down to personal preference.
I would always recommend a beginner going to their local camera shop, feeling each of the cameras, touching each of the cameras, taking some test shots with each of the cameras and checking out the menu systems before choosing the most suitable camera. The good thing is that when you find the best camera you will know about it.
Once you have chosen the best entry level camera I then recommend finding a used or second hand example to buy.
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.