Buying Used DSLR Cameras

A while ago, I wrote an article offering tips on buying used lenses . In this follow-up on how to buy utilized DSLR cameras, I will try to provide some advice on how to buy the other section of a photographer’ s kit – the camera itself. You will see that most of the lens buying guidelines are also suitable here, so lets not waste materials any more time and get started!

Precisely why Buy Used Cameras?

Just like with lenses, we all don’ t always need or even can afford the latest and greatest. Particular cameras, such as the now discontinued Nikon D700 or the soon-to-be discontinued Canon 5D Mark II (B& H has it for $1699 brand spanking new, which is a steal), will hold a lot of appeal for a minimum of a couple more years in the utilized market. Because of that, they make a fantastic choice as entry FF models (I’ m quite sure I will be making use of my D700 for a while even with the particular Nikon D600 and the D800 around) or even as backup cameras. It comes with an even larger market when it comes to basic DSLRs, such as the Nikon D3100 , which can be purchased very cheaply and be a great understanding tool, even exceeding some aged semi-professional models in image high quality.

It is also quite typical to see many professional, amateur as well as beginner photographers purchase the latest products as soon as it becomes available and sell old gear before it starts to reduce value. That, in turn, gives additional photographers a chance to upgrade to previous-generation gear (which, mind you, is still greatly up to quality standards) and conserve a lot of money.

If an Used Camera is usually On Sale, Does It Mean it is Faulty?

If you’ ve read my lens purchasing article, you probably know the answer to that will question very well. In short – simply no, most often it doesn’ t. There are several reasons why a photographer would be ready to sell a camera: upgrading, changing systems or minimizing the amount of products owned, are some of the popular types. We tend to change our digital cameras more often than lenses with new items being announced more or less every year.

Just like with lenses, nevertheless , certain people will try to sell taken gear (which may have several components missing, such as body cap plus battery charger), as well as otherwise faulty, but not apparent at first glance, cameras. For this reason it’ s important to thoroughly make sure that great-looking Canon 5D before in fact giving up your hard-earned money for this!

Before We Start

Do you have trouble choosing a digital camera system? Buying your first DSLR could be a tricky choice with most producers having both advantages and disadvantages in their products. Make sure you read Nasim’ s “ DSLR Purchase Guide” – I’ m sure it can help those of you new to the DSLR planet decide!

General Guidelines

Here are the most important things to examine before buying an used DSLR camera:

1) Buy From a Trustworthy Source

As with lenses, eBay can be an excellent place to buy an used DSLR. After that there are Fred Miranda forums dedicated to buying/selling gear. If you are planning to buy online, both of these places have got reliable ranking and feedback techniques, so that you know if a person you happen to be about to buy from is trustworthy. These types of ranking/feedback systems can provide excellent details about the seller.

Make sure you learn how to contact the person you’ re purchasing the DSLR from, as well as their complete name. Having an option to return the digital camera is very useful, so check if there’ s a return policy in place. Allows hope there’ s no need to come back though!

2) Bring Your Laptop computer Along

The laptop will help you check for any flaws and imperfections in the image by itself as you photograph, such as AF inaccuracies, serious sensor defects or deceased pixels.

  • Check the Sensor For Dead Pixels : in order to do that, you need to consider an image with the camera, preferably NATURAL, at its base ISO environment (usually ISO 100 or 200), with the lens cap on, so you get a dark frame. Examine the with your computer – any deceased pixels should be easily noticeable whenever viewed at %100. Don’ to worry if there are some – it’ s normal, especially if the digital camera is quite old. Three or four dead -pixels don’ t mean much, you’ ll still have several million still left. However , if I saw a lot more, after that I’ d be worried that something happens to be wrong with the sensor.
  • Check the Shutter Count: while some cameras manage to proceed way above their tested shutter actuation number, some shutter systems fail much more quickly. Camera producers rate their cameras for fifty, 100, 150 or 300 1000 shots and there is no guarantee that you receive that far. Make sure you know the anticipated shutter life of the model you happen to be about to buy, then use the exact same RAW image you took regarding checking dead pixels (or consider another one) and open it along with PhotoME . A free tool, PhotoME is great for finding any kind of information there is certainly to find in an image file regarding your camera. There, at the bottom from the program window, you will find a “ Filter” option – enter “ shutter count”. There’ s your own number! If it’ s no place close to the theoretical limit provided by the maker, your camera is most likely to be great for a while. In either case, price should reveal the amount of photographs taken with the digital camera.

    Another quick way to discover your shutter count without setting up anything is to try uploading the JPEG image to a website such as CameraShutterCount. possuindo

    How long prior to the shutter mechanism needs replacement generally depends on how the camera was utilized. If it was often used in high speed mode at its max’ body rate, there’ s a good opportunity that the shutter mechanism will fall short sooner than it would than if the digital camera was used in single shot setting most of the time. That does not necessarily mean it will fall short soon, however , so don’ big t worry about this too much.

    Shutter count tests are good to discover if the seller is lying. Occasionally you will get those folks that will state “ Never Used, like New” or “ Used Once”, then you definitely see 100, 000 shutter actuations…

  • Examine With regard to Sensor/Chamber Dust: usually, dust specs on a sensor aren't a deal breaker. Quite the in contrast, it’ s rather expected for the camera to have some dust onto it. However , if there is a significant amount of dirt on the sensor and the chamber appears terrible with all kinds of stuff within it, then you might have to send it towards the manufacturer for cleanup. Therefore , in case you see something like this, you should aspect this into the negotiated price. Once again, some dust inside the camera will be OK, but do look for various other potential issues such as scratches to the sensor, etc . The easiest way to examine the particular sensor is to take a picture of the clear sky and then scroll with the photograph at 100%. Any sensor-related issues will show up on the picture, even at lower magnification. Near down the aperture of your lens completely to the highest f number such as f/16 and you will quickly see any kind of problems.

Nasim has a few very good articles created on the topic. Check them away:

3) Examine Mechanical Condition

You can tell a lot about how exactly a camera was used and exactly how old it really is by the way it appears. Make sure you remember – any defects must be reflected in the price, however not all of them are at all important!

  • Scratches plus Dents: you shouldn’ t worry about minor scratches – they happen and have no impact on mechanical condition of a camera, yet can show you how it was used (pro’ s usually don’ t treatment much for cosmetic condition of the gear in favor of doing all it will take to capture the shot). Bigger scratches and dents may suggest that the camera was dropped. Similarly, such cameras as Nikon D300/D300s and D700 are made to be really tough and withstand such mistreatment, on the other hand, however , such a strong surprise may have damaged camera internals (those cameras are heavy, after all). Unless the price is very tempting, I might avoid such equipment. Take exclusive care when examining the memory compartment – if the camera you’ re buying uses CF credit cards, it is vital that none of the pin number connectors inside card mount are usually bent or damaged in any way. Curved pins may short-circuit and harm your cards or the card viewer itself. Fixing the memory card area alone can be very expensive.
  • Rubber Coming Off: rubber cover on the hold and the back of the camera may begin to come off if the camera had been used in moist conditions, as observed in this picture:

    It’ s not quite to look at and gets worse along with use, but can be replaced in a professional service center or even on your own. In any case, it’ s not a serious fault and can happen quite often, however, you should remember that, as always, price ought to reflect such imperfections.

  • Check Viewfinder and FLAT SCREEN Screen: be sure to check out both for scratches and, regarding an optical viewfinder, dust, which may be rather annoying and distracting (especially when it is stuck in a place exactly where it cannot be easily removed). The scratched LCD screen can be quite costly to replace, so make sure it is within good condition and shows accurate colour (within reason).
  • Examine The Lens Mount: the lens mount on the camera should be in pristine situation – there should be no dents plus bends, and contact pins ought to be clean. If there are dents and bends on the camera, it could suggest the camera was dropped or even used with a heavy lens carelessly. Make sure that your lens mounts securely and doesn’ t fiddle about (a quite slight movement under pressure can be normal).
  • Overall Toughness: it is quite normal with regard to older plastic cameras to noise a little every now and then when held tough – they are used, after all, plus far from being new. However , fairly new cameras, such as D3100, D5100, D7000 or even a good condition D90 ought to feel quite tough. If they don’ t, they may have been dropped or even banged around. Make sure the used digital camera won’ t fall apart after only a few months of use. It has to really feel securely in your hand even with heavier lens attached. Also, no buttons ought to feel loose – some might fall out, which means you will need to send the particular camera for repair.

5) Autofocus Operation

It’ s not just the zoom lens that needs to be checked for AF mistakes. Put a lens on the digital camera and see if it focuses well. Certainly, shooting a test chart as defined in Nasim’ s how to test your DSLR intended for autofocus issues is not really an option during the process of buying a digital camera, but if you focus on a faraway subject using live view and regular phase detect, you should be capable to spot nasty AF issues plus differences. If you want to do more cautious testing, I would take something like LensAlign with you to perform quick AF tests, as described in the Lens Calibration guide. If focus problems are very noticeable, then you may be better away with a different body, because that certain may either have an AF problem or just does not work properly with the zoom lens you own. Make sure AF operations are certainly not slow when the light is good (and always try to be wherever light great when testing gear) and examine both single and continuous AF performance.

And Last, But Not Minimum!

Be secure. Try to meet with the seller during day time and in public places, and don’ t pay upfront. Bring somebody with you if you can not only for safety factors, but also because you might need some support. If you have a feeling that the deal appears too good to be true, it probably is. Be as comprehensive as you can, and you will save yourself a lot of spirit, money and time in the process. Buying used digital cameras can be great, and even professionals get it done all the time – just make sure to keep the above mentioned in mind. <

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