Buying Used Equipment: Good Idea or Not?
The big attraction of buying used gear is often based on the monetary savings. Buyer beware, today when I looked at ebay, two Nikon lens are selling for more than a new one due to Nikon's current $500 instant savings incentive. So be aware of instant savings promotions and price drops especially when a newer model is on the horizon.
Things to consider.
Most used items have no warranty or the warranty for used items is expensive.
Parts are only made for 7 years after the last manufacture date.
Compatibility issue with lens and bodies
Each manufacturer makes different lens mounts.
For instance, Nikon and Canon mount are not the same.
Some cameras require lens with motors in them to autofocus.
Even in the same manufacturer or company lens are not interchangeable.
In Canon an EF-S lens with damage a full frame DSLR.
In Canon a RF-S lens with damage a full frame Mirrorless.
Are the memory cards being made for the older camera?
Some cameras only take memory cards that are small in size.
the Nikon D50 only takes 2 gb secure digital cards that are impossible to find.
Are batteries made anymore?
Average life of rechargeable battery is only one year.
Rechargeable batteries die without warning.
Do they have the charger?
Is the charger being made?
How expensive is a charger?
How to evaluate the condition of used equipment
Looks for scratches on both the rear and front element.
Scratches on the rear element will be more noticeable in the photos.
Look at rear mounting area for scratches as well as check and see if screws are missing, contacts or glass element are scratched, or connection is loose.
Hold the lens up to light and see any signs of internal dust or mold.
Connect to your camera and check autofocusing. Listen for noisy autofocus or rattling. Remember on some lenses you will hear the vibration control working.
Try different aperture settings to confirm exposure.
Look for signs of wear especially where the lens mounts.
When was the camera last manufactured (7 year parts rule).
Look for dust on sensor.
Take a photo of the blue sky and see if you see any gray spots in the same location.
Try camera in various modes.
Make sure you take both vertical as well as horizontal photos to rule out connection issues often found when using heavier lenses.
Check the number of shutter clicks. Cameras are only good for so many shutter clicks.
Consumer models may last for about 80,000 to 100,000.
Professional models may last for about 150,000 to 200,000.
Any hint of sand or liquid damage is bad news.
Evaluation of film camera extra things to remember:
No parts made anymore.
Look at the shutter curtain carefully looking so signs of oils, holes or inability to lay flat. Do not touch the shutter just look.
Test meter and check for battery corrosion and battery availability.
Finally bring your camera or a memory card and take test shots. Bring your laptop and evaluate the images for dust and exposure before buying.