Things to consider before buying a used camera, because every Paisa you spend matters!
Who doesn’t wants a deal? Especially making a big ticket purchase. Sites like OLX, QuikR as well as Facebook’s marketplaces make it easy to buy and sell items privately, while many camera stores wants feature extensive second-hand sections, but they cannot due to heavy taxes.
If you’ve decided to buy a camera and want to get a little bit more for your money – or perhaps get your hands on a particular model of camera that’s no longer current – then buying second-hand might be the way to go.
At the first one should always refrain from buying a pre-owned Electro-Mechanical gadget like Camera. Brand new digital cameras aren’t necessarily prohibitively expensive, and as well as coming with that box-fresh feeling, they also have a full warranty, which means any problems that occur during that period can likely be fixed for free – or result in a you being given a replacement. There’s much less recourse for you to obtain a refund or replacement if you buy a camera second-hand, so the old adage of ‘buyer beware’ should be observed. However, some second-hand cameras may still be under warranty when you buy them, so do check.
All you need to freeze upon your specific requirement and budget. If budget allows you to buy a new gear as per your requirement never go for the pre-owned upgrade. But if doesn’t it is not a taboo to give up on used ones.
Use common sense when shopping for a second-hand camera – but we do have a few specific tips which should help you sort the wheat from the chaff…
DSLRs have a finite number of shutter actuations, after which their shutter mechanism will need replacing – so one of the most important steps to take before buying a used model is to check just how many times its shutter has been fired. To do so, you can ask the seller – but if you’d rather be totally certain, you can use a third-party app or website like EOSInfo (for Canon DSLRs) or myshuttercount.com (for Nikon and Pentax models).
Some cameras embed shutter count info in a photo’s EXIF data, so if you obtain a recent photo from the seller, you can use a program like PhotoME to check the EXIF and see if the actuation info is available there.
The sensor: Dust or dead pixels?
Because DSLRs have removable lenses, sometimes dust can get inside the body and on to the sensor. While this can be cleaned professionally, it’s better to buy a camera without the problem to begin with.
Ask the seller to take and send photos of a bright, flat subject like the daytime sky or a well-lit white wall with the aperture stopped down low to something like f/22 – this should reveal any dust specs, hairs or fungus (see the lens section below for more on that) that could affect image quality. Dead pixels on the sensor – which are ‘stuck’ and unable to capture light – can also be identified this way.
How’s the lens?
No matter if you’re buying a DSLR, a CSC or some kind of compact camera, always make sure you get some nice clear photos of the front (and back, for those removable DSLR and CSC lenses) elements of the lens (or lenses if you’re buying it with more than one).
Specs of dust can be cleaned off, and tiny marks may not have any discernible effect on your images, but look for any scratches, rub marks, hairs or signs of fungus – all of these can cause unwanted apparitions in photos and videos.
Fungus is probably the worst possibility, as it’s nigh-on impossible to remove and will get worse over time. It’s indicated by a spider web-like pattern in any images – if you spot that, best leave well alone.
Does auto-focus work?
More likely to be a problem on removable lens cameras like DSLRs and CSCs, autofocus errors can result in frustrating shooting sessions. If you are able to, test out how the camera’s autofocus performs (in good lighting conditions) with two or more lenses
This might seem like a no-brainer, but a camera’s physical condition is a solid indicator of how it’s been treated by its current owner. If a relatively new model of camera is in poor condition – look for scratches or dings to the body, marks on the LCD screen and (if necessary) viewfinder, and wearing of rubber grip areas – it’s may have been poorly looked after, or suffered a bad drop, which could shorten its useful lifespan for you.
If a camera’s lens mount is damaged in any way, that can affect how well lenses fit and work, so make sure to check the mount area for any bends or dents.
If the camera is a few years old, then expect at least some wear and tear to be present. An older camera in nearly new condition might be rare, but indicates it’s been well looked after (as a consequence, of course, the seller might be asking for more money).
If the camera being sold is missing peripherals and accessories – like a lens cap, charger and any relevant cables – then it’s advisable to steer clear. At best, you’ll need to hunt down some replacement gear; at worst, the camera’s stolen.
Conversely, a camera that’s being sold with the above as well as a box, manual, strap and other useful bits and pieces suggests that the seller has taken good care of it. Look out for ‘bonus’ extras like additional batteries, memory cards, carry cases, flashes, lens filters and the like too, as that can save you a lot of time and money later.
Bill & Box
Do always ask for original Tax Invoice copy. When I say Tax Invoice, do verify whether the bill is genuine or not. Also cross check the serial numbers of camera and lenses matches with those on the box as well as on invoice. If it doesn’t consider it as a fraud. Also check for the content of the box matches with the kit you are buying.
*Image Courtesy QuikR