Many will say this is not a good idea, but I beg to differ.

Not only are you saving money, but realise that buying a new camera will only outdate and depreciate in the short term, as a newer and later model is released with a few additional settings or features that you probably will never need to use, or again even be aware of.

It is important from the start to understand the overall importance and factors that will influence your photography, that being the lens, which is the most vital component of the “photography kit”. This applies to DSLR bodies, with separate lenses that can be attached, right across the spectrum to the all in one bridge type digital cameras. Finally, and most importantly, when doing your research and making the choice, be sure of what your intentions are as to what you want to photograph, and what you intend doing with the images – commercial use, or just for the enjoyment of taking great pictures for your social media platforms and groups that you belong to online. Once you have made this decision, you are good to go.

Why are People afraid of buying used Camera Gear?

The intention of this article is to assist you in making the correct choice when buying secondhand camera gear, and what you need to consider. As a professional photographer and having run a photography school for over 12 years, the students that have attended the various courses and workshops that we provide are often asking similar questions relating to new versus second hand camera gear. Being new to photography is often daunting in this regard, as one continuously seeks advice from friends, retailers and online research, as to what to buy. Camera gear is not cheap, so making the right choice can be stressful.

Buying a “lemon”

If you do your research, this will not happen and can be avoided. Following a few simple steps will ensure this is a straight forward and logical process with very little stress, so put the time and effort into it, and all should run smoothly.

Yes, there are many so called “deals” available online through the classifieds, as well as various photography and social media groups offering specials. This is great, as it opens up the market as to what is available, and where you can source what you are looking to buy once your decision is made. What you need to do is to communicate in a transparent manner with the seller, in order to avoid disappointment or lack of clarity regarding the camera, price and the condition.

Questions you need to ask the Seller:

  • Have you owned the camera from new (including old receipts and the box etc.)?
  • What is the shutter count (there are sites and professional camera retailers that have software to determine this)? Most cameras with shutters can easy reach in excess of 300 000, so avoid buying a camera that has been heavily used, such as a camera from a wedding photographer that has been overworked. To replace the shutter is not costly, but why should you have to go this route in the first place.
  • What have you used the camera to shoot – there are many cameras that have had very little use and therefore are being sold.
  • Arrange a viewing at a reputable camera shop to have the camera or lens checked out and tested. A reputable retailer will have the knowledge and experience to know what and where to look in order to provide you with a theory as to the condition of the camera gear. Meeting at a reputable retailer is also safe for both the buyer and the seller. Avoid meeting at a shopping mall, police station or personal locations. Ask the unbiased pro for their honest opinion.

Save when buying Secondhand

Earlier, I touched on “the novelty and depreciation” incurred when buying a new camera. I am not saying that all newer cameras don’t come with greater and improved features, but buy something that will suit your needs and feels good in your hand, in terms of the navigation and the settings. My advice is look at either intermediate or pro, depending on your photography needs, but avoid the entry level starter kits. Starter kits are enticing, as they seem to offer everything at a good price in one box and cheaper than going the secondhand route. AVOID, if you intend pursuing photography as a hobby or have hope to go the pro direction. The lenses are generally rubbish from the quality of the glass to the limited range, and the bodies are cheaply made with really low-grade components. Rather spend your money on a lightly used intermediate or pro camera body, something not too old, say one or two models back, and a good lens for the same price. You will not look back, it is quality that counts.

Even if you have a decent budget, most photographers will tell you that you never have enough money to buy all of what you want. So, step lightly and do your research, then perhaps, if buying second hand, you will be able to afford what you actually need to make up your kit without compromising the quality. This does not happen overnight, so be patient, yet persistent in this regard. Know that preowned camera gear, like with all technology, does not hold a good resale value. Be the one to get what you need at a better price, and let someone else pay the full price for you.


Hope this has been helpful.