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  • Cindy Ellis


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.

  • Warranty

  • 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

    • Lens

      • 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.

    • Camera bodies

      • 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.

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