Buying Used Camera Gear

When it comes to buying gear for our business, having the newest and greatest piece of equipment isn’t always necessary… Especially as you’re starting out! Many camera and lens models will hold value for years if they are well cared for and maintained. So why should you buy used camera gear? It’s a great way to save money and you can get upgraded equipment at a lower price point.

A few things to pay attention to if you’re buying in person:  

1. Body wear and tear – Look over your lens or camera body. Are there any scratches or dents? Is the rubber starting to peel off, tear, or is worn and faded? These are good signs that the equipment has a lot of use. These are all things that can be replaced, however it’s a good indication of the age of the item or the user’s care of it.

2. Shutter count – Be sure to check the shutter actuations on a DSLR. Higher grade cameras are built to last for higher shutter counts, whereas lower grades might show wear near 100,000 mark.  The higher the shutter count, the lower the price should be. Shutters can be replaced (although they can be a bit pricey), so if the seller is claiming it’s been replaced be sure to ask for proof with the receipt.

3. Lens quality – Check the aperture ring inside the camera. Is there any damage that could be a sign of it being mishandled or dropped? Take the caps off the front and back and hold the lens up to the light. Are there any visible scratches on the lens? Any haze or dust inside? Look over these closely as they can affect the quality of your images.

Where to buy online: 
Buying used gear from a trusted dealer will give you peace of mind that every detail of the item has been checked and all parts are fully functioning. It also saves you the time of having to thoroughly go over the equipment and they will provide you with a “grade” for the condition of the item. They also typically have a good return policy. Here are a few of our favorite places to buy used gear.


While sometimes you can find a great deal on sites like Craigslist, I urge you to be very careful when purchasing from this site. Meet at a very public place, like a police station, and test it thoroughly before purchasing. Make sure the seller has a battery for the camera (or bring your own) and bring a card to take a few test shots.

What has your experience been buying used camera gear? Any places you would recommend to buy from?

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