- All dials must work effortlessly, without pressing too hard.
- Open the card door and the battery door to make sure nothing has rusted
- Look for scratches and any marks that might indicate it was dropped in the past.
- Take a good look at the sensor. Make sure you find no finger prints, dust spots, or anything that shouldn’t be there.
- Fire a few shots, in all shooting modes.
- Test the flash, in TTL, Manual and commander mode.
- Bring one of your own lenses to test the autofocus. Go through all modes and shoot static and moving objects.
- Check the LCD screen for dead pixels. If you see any, walk away because you won’t be saving that camera.
- Check the viewfinder for dust or scratches.
- Test the video mode.
- Check for internal dust or fungus
- Make sure the focusing and zoom rings run smoothly and accurately.
- Test the autofocus to see if there isn’t any front or back focusing.
- Normal wear should be expected, but look for alarming signs that could mean the lens has been dropped.
- Look for scratches on the glass surface
Photography is expensive, no matter how you look at it. It makes no difference if you do it for a living or on Sundays, you still need a camera and a few lenses. If you’re really in to it, it means you might have to save for a while for a dream lens or who knows what expensive piece of equipment. Buying something new is always the best option, but it’s not affordable for everyone especially with recent economy, and frankly, not every new camera that comes out is worth its money. There are countless good deals online for used cameras and lenses, but you have to be careful nonetheless. Here are some of the things you need to loock at before shaking hands with a seller.
With digital cameras, especially DSLRs, one can never be absolutely sure about the wear and tear. With a film camera it’s simpler because it gives you access everywhere and you can see the shutter with your own eyes. The first thing you need to know about a used camera is how many times has the shutter been fired. Most amateur cameras are guaranteed between 50k-100k shutter releases, and a pro, full frame camera between 150k -300k. But you have to be aware that some cameras will die after 30k, others after 400k. It does have to do with luck as well. But the important thing to remember about the shutter count is that you should look for a camera that is the farthest away from the maximum guaranteed number. Shutter clicks are like the miles on a car: the less, the better.
The best way to buy a used camera is to see it live, but of course that’s not always an option. If you do find a local seller however,
If you want to buy the camera online, which is also very likely, make sure the seller includes all the necessary information. Ask them to send you a test photograph without putting it through any software. The first things you need to look for are dust particles and scratches. Then, have a look at the EXIF data of the image to see the actual shutter count. It should be very close to what the seller has mentioned. Detailed photos are also a must and a warranty is preferable.
With lenses, most of the principles still apply, but there are some specifics you need to watch out for if you get to test the lens before buying it.
If the purchase will take place online, ask for a test photo and detailed images of the product.
Whatever buying method you choose, there is always a risk of getting a bad product. But there are also amazing deals that will leave you with money in your pocket, beside a camera or a lens.