- Choose the Best Stores
- Look for the Shutter Count
- Understand Condition Descriptions
- Every Lens has Dust
- Verify Compatibility
- Other Questions Similar to Shutter Count and Lens Mounts
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I don’t mind admitting that I am hooked on the online platform MPB for acquiring new-to-me cameras, lenses, and other photography equipment. Not only do I get the gear I want at lower prices, but I can also trade in or sell outright my own camera gear that I no longer want or need.
Buying your photography gear as used equipment may sound a little daunting at first glance, but with MPB’s 7-day return and exchange window and their 6-months inclusive warranty on virtually everything they sell, that lingering worry about getting taken is eliminated. You can trust MPB for having high-quality equipment and a team of experts to back you up.
You will want to be familiar with some basics about used cameras and lenses, such as the shutter count, condition descriptions, lens compatibility, and other things, so read on for some helpful hints covering used cameras and lenses.
Table of Contents:
Choose the Best Stores
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Has this ever happened to you? You’re at a pawn shop, garage sale, or estate sale, and you see a camera or lens that you think is a good bargain. So on the spur of the moment, you buy it and take it home, only to find out that not everything works right or isn’t compatible with your system. It’s disappointing and costs you money you could have used on something else.
Perhaps you’re actively searching for a particular focal length lens or camera model as used gear to save money. You get on an online auction site and find a good candidate, but you can’t really tell from the pics or description how pristine (or not!) the item is. You either hold off buying or bite the bullet and hope for the best.
There’s a better way to find the cameras and lenses you want at the lower prices of pre-owned equipment: MPB!
MPB is an online platform specializing in buying, selling, and trading high-quality used photography gear. It’s run by photographers and specialists in camera and lens repair. These experts find the best gear, thoroughly check it out before they even accept it, and then stand behind what they sell.
Besides the double impact of saving money and the guarantee that you’re purchasing a working item, I like MPB for a hassle-free trade-in experience when I need to offload something I no longer need.
Just go to their website buying page, type in your gear, and they will give you a preliminary quote. Next, you send it in for an official quote after they inspect it. Accept the trade-in deal and then enjoy your new-to-you camera or lens or just take the cash buy-out offer.
No worries, no hassle, just a straightforward transaction. If you purchase an item from them, they stand behind their inventory with that generous return/exchange window and warranty service mentioned earlier. Try out MPB for yourself!
Look for the Shutter Count
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On MPB or any other online listing of used cameras, the camera shutter count is an important piece of information to have. The shutter count is how many times the camera’s shutter has been triggered. It has a bearing on the life expectancy of the camera and how much longer it can work properly.
The camera shutter count indicates usage, just as the odometer reading on a used car. If the camera is relatively new yet has a huge shutter count, read the description carefully, as that may mean it was heavily used.
You can find out how much of a lifespan is expected of a camera by looking up the shutter count figures on many of the online tests and reviews covering that specific camera. Prosumer and full-fledged pro cameras have a longer shutter count life expectancy than entry-level and intermediate-level cameras.
Here is a good video from Desiree Rodriguez that shows this shutter count check in action:
For clarification, shutter count is a relatively new descriptor for digital cameras. While the shutter count actuations could be gathered from certain electronic shutters by repair technicians with specialized diagnostic equipment when electronic shutters were first introduced, in digital cameras, anyone can read the shutter count of their own camera by uploading a picture file to shutter count websites.
Understand Condition Descriptions
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One of the easiest things to see is the outward physical appearance of a camera or lens. This is a good indication of if an item was treated well or not. A camera with a large shutter count number could still look almost as good as a new item if the owner took good care of it, was careful when using it, cleaned it regularly, and stored it properly when not in use.
When shopping online for pre-owned cameras and lenses, you are at the seller's mercy about the physical description, which is why online platforms like MPB have a consistent and easy-to-understand scale that is applied equally to any item.
Also, a good seller will specify the condition beyond simple labels of Like-New, Excellent, or Good. If the viewscreen has a scratch, you want to know that. Worn edges, faded lettering, or sticking buttons or dials must be fully disclosed.
In person, you could hold the camera or lens and quickly notice things. With online sellers, you have to trust what they say, which is another reason to choose an online platform with a good reputation.
Every Lens has Dust
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Pick up any brand-new lens and shine a light into it. You’re going to see some dust. It’s just a fact of life; dust specks and motes are everywhere. Manufacturing anything on a mass scale involves some level of dust and imperfections. So, don’t worry if your high-intensity maglight shows some internal dust in your lens.
What is a concern, however, is a lot of dust. That could be a sign of harsh use or of lens elements becoming unsealed from the lens housing. That could indicate very rough use or poor storage conditions, which can affect the focus mechanism or lens aperture blades.
Even more worrisome is mold or fungus. While a bit of dust has virtually no effect on sharpness, a large amount impacts overall lens performance. And the slightest amount of fungus can render a lens totally useless.
A little dust is not an issue. But a lot of dust (or fungus), be careful investing in that lens.
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I bought a used third-party lens at an estate sale for my Nikon film camera once. When I got home, it didn’t fit because it was a Konica mount lens! I had looked at the mount, but I guess I wasn't as thorough as I should have been. I saw the “K” and an “N” of “Konica” and let myself think I was seeing “Nikon” on the mount. Oops!
With modern digital cameras and lenses, there may be compatibility issues even within the same brand. Taking Nikon as an example, there is a difference between AF-D, AF-S, F-mount, Z-mount, G, and other letter combinations. An AF-D lens won’t autofocus on an entry-level Nikon DSLR for instance, and a new Z-mount lens only fits their new mirrorless cameras.
There are similar differences in other brands, such as Canon FD, EF, and RF lens, Sony A-mount and E-mount or FE-mount, Fujifilm X-mount and G-mount, and Olympus OM vs MFT. Use a cheat sheet if you have to.
Compatibility also applies to accessories such as battery packs, camera grips, automatic flash units, and emery card types. A good online platform will list specifically what the lens or accessory is meant to fit or at least give the entire name of the item so you can consult a manufacturer's table
Other Questions Similar to Shutter Count and Lens Mounts
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Besides shutter count, lens mount, condition ratings, and full disclosure of wear and tear, you will also want to know where a camera or lens falls in regards to entry-level or pro level, what accessories are available, and whether or not the camera or lens you found has a specific feature you really want or need.
All of which can be read on an online platform like MPB. If your question isn’t answered in the thorough description and the pics of the actual item, chat with them live or email them for clarification. You’ll probably get hooked on MPB, just like me!