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Features to consider when buying used digital cameras

Buying used cameras offers numerous advantages, making it a savvy choice for photographers. Firstly, it presents substantial cost savings, enabling access to higher-end models or additional accessories within a budget. Used cameras often retain their value well, providing excellent performance at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, these cameras are tried and tested, with any potential issues likely identified and resolved by previous owners. Not only is it environmentally friendly by reducing electronic waste, but it also grants access to older models that may suit specific needs perfectly. Overall, buying used cameras is a smart way to acquire quality gear affordably.

closeup of a camera lens

When buying a used digital camera, several key features and considerations can help ensure you make a smart purchase:

1. Condition:

Assess the physical condition of the camera body, including any scratches, dents, or signs of wear. Check the LCD screen, buttons, and dials for functionality, and inspect the lens for scratches, dust, or fungus.

2. Shutter Count:

The shutter count indicates how many photos the camera has taken. A lower shutter count generally means less wear and tear on the camera's mechanical parts. Many DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have a rated shutter life, so knowing the shutter count can help gauge the camera's remaining lifespan.

3. Sensor:

Check the sensor for any scratches, dust spots, or dead pixels. These issues can affect image quality and may require costly repairs. Test the camera at different ISO settings to ensure the sensor performs as expected in various lighting conditions.

camera on a gimbal

4. Image Quality:

Take test shots with the camera to assess image quality, focusing accuracy, and color reproduction. Look for any signs of aberrations, noise, or other artifacts that could indicate sensor or lens problems.

5. Features and Functions:

Ensure that all the camera's features and functions work as intended. Test autofocus, image stabilization, exposure metering, and any other settings relevant to your photography needs.

6. Compatibility:

Verify that the camera is compatible with your existing lenses, accessories, and software. Consider whether the camera supports features such as Wi-Fi connectivity, NFC, or Bluetooth for wireless file transfer and remote control.

7. Battery Life:

Check the battery life and condition of the camera's battery. Older batteries may have reduced capacity or may not hold a charge as well as new ones. Consider purchasing a spare battery if necessary.

8. Accessories:

Determine what accessories are included with the camera, such as the original box, manuals, straps, chargers, and cables. While these items may not affect the camera's functionality, they can add value and convenience to your purchase.

9. Price and Value:

Research the market value of the camera model and compare prices from multiple sellers. Consider factors such as the camera's age, condition, included accessories, and any remaining warranty or guarantee.

10. Seller Reputation:

Buy from reputable sellers with a track record of selling quality used camera equipment. Check online reviews, ratings, and feedback from previous buyers to ensure a smooth and reliable transaction.

By carefully evaluating these features and considerations when buying a used digital camera, you can make an informed decision and find a reliable camera that meets your needs and budget.

The three best places to buy used cameras are:

1. Camera Specialty Stores:

Many dedicated camera stores offer a selection of used equipment alongside new products. These stores often have knowledgeable staff who can provide expert advice and assistance, ensuring you find the right camera for your needs. Additionally, some stores offer warranties or return policies for used gear, providing added peace of mind.

2. Online Marketplaces:

Websites such as eBay, KEH Camera, and B&H Photo Video's Used Department are popular choices for buying used cameras online. These platforms offer a wide range of options from individual sellers and reputable retailers, with detailed descriptions and photos to help you assess the condition of each camera. Be sure to check seller ratings and reviews for a smooth transaction.

3. Camera Forums and Classifieds:

Online communities and forums dedicated to photography, such as and, often have classified sections where members buy and sell used gear. These forums can be a great place to find well-maintained cameras at competitive prices, as well as connect with fellow photographers for advice and recommendations. Just be sure to exercise caution and verify the credibility of sellers before making a purchase.

Jason Vong made an excellent video about buying used camera gear.


My name is Jason Logan. I'm photographer and content creator from Jersey City, NJ.

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