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16/04/16
Save Money – Buy Used Cameras For Your Photography Course

Thinking of doing a photography course? You can find great second-hand gear as long as you know what to look for. Check out these tips on buying a used camera before making a purchase.

What to Check When Buying Used Cameras For Your Photography Course

Exterior of the camera body

One of the quickest ways to check if the usage of the camera has been rough is the outside of the body. Are there a lot of scratches? Do the knobs and buttons work as they should? Is there a lot of wear and tear?

Always do a careful investigation of the camera body – if something is loose it will not get better, all knobs should turn correctly and be mechanically sound. Also check the hot shoe (where the flash or other accessories go) to see if it’s worn. The same goes for the lens lock – it should be a tight fit and not loose. Protip: check the strap, if it shows wear and fading colours the seller might be dishonest about the age of the camera.

Shutter count

When buying used cameras, it’s a good idea to bring a laptop to be able to see more information about the photos than possible in the camera. One such piece of information is the shutter count. Just like the mileage on a car, the shutter count is an indicator of how much the camera has been used. Normally, less than 10,000 photos is considered low use while much above 50,000 is high use.

Take a photo in the native format of the camera (NEF, DNG) to include the so-called EXIF data in the photo. Once that is done, transfer it to your computer and use a tool like PhotoME or myshuttercount.com to retrieve that number from the photo. If the camera is being marketed as “barely used” and the shutter count is above 50,000 you know something isn’t adding up.

Check the sensor

Since you already transferred an image to your computer, open it and zoom in as much as you can. Pan over the image and look for dots and lines made from scratches on the glass or sensor. It can help to notice these things if you take a picture of a bright subject, such as blue sky or a white wall.

If specks or lines are visible in the image, be sure to investigate the lens and the sensor thoroughly. If it’s just dust it can be cleaned, but scratches indicate a more serious problem.

As with any other transaction the price is always a good indicator of something out of the ordinary. Deals that seem too good to be true usually are, and can be a sign of stolen goods, so always request the original receipt.