Buying Used Digital Cameras

In recent years, getting a gently used late model digital camera has been pretty easy. Because digital technology is practically evolving everyday, photographers are constantly upgrading their equipment to newer models. Most late model digital cameras have enough features and functions to satisfy most any photographer and there are always more used cameras flooding the market everyday. Because of today’s digital advances you don’t have to worry about the operating system or software going out of date. Most drivers can now be updated online and new software upgrades can be purchased.

So why buy a used digital camera? There are lots of reasons why photographers search for and buy used digital cameras. The first and main reason most people buy used cameras is because they are substantially cheaper than the newer models. You can buy a used digital camera for anywhere from 20-60% under the retail market value and there are lots of places to purchase quality used digital cameras.

Buying used is definitely cheaper than new and is generally just as good, but if you are looking for something next to new you should consider buying a refurbished camera. Refurbished cameras are cameras that were bought by consumers, and then returned for some reason. The reasons range from mistreatment to defective parts. The manufacturer takes back the camera, fixes it, and resells it as a refurbished camera. Refurbished cameras tend to have the same performance as a new camera but sometimes still have issues. Some have long shutter lags, batteries that do not hold a long charge, fewer continuous shots, and can be slower on start up or in between shots. Just like buying new, it may not work properly out of the box anyway, or may have been damaged in shipping.

If a brand sold out or you weren’t able to get a certain feature when the camera came out, buying a used camera may solve your problem of getting the camera you want. A lot of times, used dealers and private sellers also have cameras that are rare or classic, and cannot be purchased elsewhere. You may not buy at classic at a bargain basement price but at least you will have the opportunity to purchase it if you really want it. Used digital cameras also make great travel or child cameras, and you don’t have to worry if it gets damaged because you will most likely pay a considerably low price for it. The used market also has a lot of waterproof cameras that permanently went out of stock and cannot be ordered from a dealer.

Used cameras may seem under featured compared to today’s digital standards but most are comparable to newer models that have way too many functions anyway. Generally speaking, most used digital cameras are equipped with zoom, auto focus, a relatively quick frame to frame speed, and the CCD size is about the same, or at least close to the newer models. Some of the newer digital camera models are equipped with special functions like a model light, night mode, or TTL flash. But how many of these functions do you actually need and use? Remember your budget and what you really need when looking for a used camera and you will save the most money.

Buying a used digital camera is not just about pricing; it is also about quality. A hands-on check of the camera is the best before you buy, but if you cannot do a hands-on these tips will still help you find a quality used digital camera.

� Is there a warranty? How long is it? Avoid used cameras that do not have a warranty or that are being sold as is.

� Were there any repairs to the camera? Look closely at the camera screws with a magnifying glass. If the screws are even slightly marred it shows proof that someone was playing handyman.

� Look at the lens and make sure there are no scratches, dust, or water damage.

âÂ?¢ Look in the battery corridor and see if there is any corrosion. Corrosion is usually white colored and can easily be removed with a little alkali cleaner. If the damage is serious don’t buy the camera. If it is not that bad, see if you can get it at a discount and try to clean it after you buy it. Make sure that you can return it in case the battery corrosion cannot be cleaned away.

� Was the camera ever dropped, left in freezing weather (car glove box), or did it ever get wet? Finding these things out beforehand will save you time and money.

� Does the camera make any noises when operating? Avoid any camera that makes whirring or clicking noises when running or shooting with the camera. Noises signify that there is a problem. Most likely the camera has been dropped or abused.

� Are there any odds dents or abrasions on the surface of the camera? Dents, scratches, missing buttons, and chipped outer bodies show that the camera has been mistreated. Find out what happened, and if the camera was ever looked at. Does it still perform properly now?

âÂ?¢ Check the digital screen on the back of the camera. Does it work? Sometimes the screens on used digital cameras have spots or don’t work at all. Just like a cell phone the screen can get messed up. If the camera has been abused it may have black, red, or greenish spots on the digital screen. Some may blink, and others may not work at all. Avoid camera’s that have display issues because it is just going to cause a problem in the long run.

âÂ?¢ Does the camera have an owner’s manual or can it be downloaded online? The owner’s manual is very important; it is the guide to the camera. Each model has different specifics so it is important to make sure you have a copy or can get one.

If you do have any problems with the camera, ask before you buy. If you have already bought it and discover a problem, immediately contact the seller for the best results. If you wait too long you may miss your chance to return the camera.

So where can you find used digital cameras? One of the most popular resale dealers is B&H in New York. Check out their website at or call 800-606-6969 if you are looking for something specific. There is also KEH in Atlanta. Local camera stores, and dealers may also have used and refurbished cameras priced much lower than new models, which can save you a lot of money. You may also be able to find clearance or sale items with a local dealer. Auction websites like Yahoo! Auctions, eBay, and Craigslist (, are also great places to find extremely cheap used digital cameras at closeout prices. When buying online, just make sure that you ask the seller about the specifics of the camera. There are more and more used digital cameras on the market everyday because of changing technological advances. Used digital cameras are just as good as new, but much, much more affordable. Just remember to give the camera a complete once over before you buy the camera and everything should be just fine.

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