How to Check your Used Camera Gear Upon Arrival

Advice on Selling Camera Gear
Tips & Advice

Gear Focus

Oct 17, 2019

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So you just got your new or used gear from a seller and you now need to check it out and make sure everything is as stated as it was in the listing...Today we are going to be talking about checking your gear once it’s arrived. Buying photography or videography gear second hand doesn’t have to be scary, especially if you follow these simple steps.

Opening Your Used Camera Gear

So your item from the seller just arrived and if you’re like me, you open new stuff immediately and run outside to test it. Well, this may be something you can do right away with brand new gear but you might want to slow your role for just a second. First you’re going to want to open the box carefully and not like a complete savage or crazed youtube unboxer. Take your time and unbox or unwrap everything carefully. If you bought a lens, take it out and give a good once over making sure it is in the same condition as stated in the listing, checking the front and rear elements for any scratches or nicks, as well as the barrel of the lens and also making sure all accessories are included like a lens hood, collar, rear and front Caps or anything else that is supposed to come with it according to the listing.

Checking Your Used Camera Gear

You can also check the inside of the lens using the flashlight on your phone to check for dust, debris or even fungus inside the lens, this is going to happen and is unfortunately inevitable because of moving parts inside of the lens and they aren’t completely sealed. A small amount isn’t something to worry about but excessive dust, debris or fungus when it wasn’t described in the listing is going to be a problem, especially if it’s on the center element of the lens and affects your photos. Once you’re sure everything is in order aesthetically, you can now mount it to your camera and ensure all mechanical functions check out, test the Auto Focus if the lens you purchased has this function as well as any Image Stabilization functions, depending on the brand it could be enabled by your camera or there can be a physical switch. The last thing you want is to find out one of these functions doesn’t work before you miss your return window or even worse, you’re on an important shoot. You’ll also want to rotate any zoom rings or focus rings to make sure there is no unwanted sand or debris in the barrel, it will usually have a nasty crunch noise if there is any inside. Lenses are a little easier to give a quick once over to make sure everything is in working order but how about camera bodies?

Checking the Camera Body and Sensor

Obviously you’ll want to also give a camera body a really thorough once over to make sure it’s in the condition it was described in the listing. One important thing I regrettably didn’t check when buying a used Sony A7sii off of craigslist when I first started was the sensor for any damage. I was super excited and didn’t notice until way later there was a scratch on the sensor. Now it doesn’t affect the image at all but it is going to affect the price when I list it for sale soon. Another reason to avoid craigslist...can’t return that. You can also take the camera outside if it’s a clear bright day and stop down the aperture and take a photo of the sky and then check it out on a computer. You may see some dark spots which would be a good indication the sensor needs to be cleaned but if you see any lines or strange marks through your photo, the sensor could possibly have a scratch or damage to it.

Know the Camera Your Buying

Another good practice when buying used cameras is to know as much as possible about the camera you are purchasing, so when you get it, you know what to look for and what to test. Youtube is a great resource for this and there are a lot of channels that go way in depth on many camera bodies. Watch some videos, follow along and make sure every function works as described on the listing. Facebook camera groups for your particular model are also a great resource to see what people are having issues with, because let’s face it, these groups mostly share when something is wrong with their camera. Thorough testing before you’re out of the return window is key here. Important things to test on camera bodies, especially if you’ll be using it for video is making sure all of the ports for accessories work. Test the headphone, mic and HDMI ports if the camera you chose has them, these are the most common parts to fail on camera bodies. You can also make sure the hot shoe connection works with a flash or transmitter if you are buying a camera for mainly photography.

Checking the Camera's Shutter Count

You can also download a free app called free shutter count to make sure the shutter count is as described as well. I’ve listed a link to a free download for both Windows and Mac down in the description! You can also ask the seller if this camera has been purely used for photo if you’re buying it for photo only purposes or if they’ve used it for video as well. The shutter count is not affected when using it for video so this is also something to take into consideration. Entry level cameras usually have a shutter life of 50,000 to 100,000 accutations Mid Range cameras are little higher from 100,000 to 150,000 and Pro Cameras can go from 100,000 to 250,000 accutations This isn’t to say that the shutter will immediately break once it hits this number but it is definitely something to look for so you can enjoy shooting with the camera for a good amount of time before it needs to be serviced or possibly even replaced which will cost you money. Hopefully your used camera makes you enough money by this time this happens to be replaced or repaired. Hopefully everything checks out with your, new to you, gear from Gear Focus, but what if you do find something that isn’t as it was described? Click here for our post all about what to do if you encounter a problem with your, new to you, gear .

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