Why Buy Used Photography Gear?
Well it’s a common enough question, especially for us as we are a marketplace for buying and selling used camera gear. But it might not be as simple to answer as one might think. Here are our reasons for buying used photography gear, as well as some tips when shopping for used camera gear.
Let’s start with an easy one: the most obvious answer is the cost. Used items are generally far cheaper to purchase than something that is brand new. (Think of the savings on buying a used car – new cars lose a significant chunk of value right as soon as you pull out of the lot!) Camera gear is certainly no exception. Used cameras often sell for fractions of their new costs. And if you find a camera that is in really good condition that has been properly cared for, the camera functions essentially as new. The cost savings alone make buying used camera gear a no-brainer. But there are other reasons to consider purchasing your next camera used.
Though not always the case of course, sellers will often bundle their used camera gear with additional accessories. For example, if someone were to sell their Nikon Z6, they would have no use for their Z6 SmallRig cage. And this holds true for all camera-specific products. Or cases and batteries can be included in listings which will often sell for much less than new prices. Save money buy purchasing a package deal that includes optional accessories if available!
Upgrades that may have been performed on the camera are an often overlooked component when shopping around for used camera gear. Whether that’s firmware updates, or software addons, or other upgrades. For example, you can usually pick up a used Panasonic GH5 with the optional V-Log upgrade for less than the cost of a new GH5. Another perk with a used camera is the likelihood that the gear has already been updated to the latest software version. Thus the owner can shed light on the features or drawbacks of these updates.
Another intangible benefit to buying a used piece of gear is the knowledge from the previous owner. While of course not all sellers will be exceptionally knowledgeable or forthcoming with offering insights, we like to think the community we are building with Gear Focus will be happy to offer honest feedback and advice. When you are between two pieces of gear, it can really help to ask specific questions about the positives or negatives. And who better to answer those questions than the people that are currently using those pieces of gear? A seller of a used camera will likely know the gear inside and out. Therefore they will be able to answer any questions you might have.
Tips for Purchasing Used Photography Gear
Learn to discern minor blemishes from scratches or defects that might affect functionality. This can be tricky, and may take some time to really develop. But if you are unsure, there is no harm in asking a seller a genuine question regarding the used camera or lens’s performance. The photographers at Gear Focus have bought and sold thousands of pieces of gear over the years, so we’ve seen it all. Pay attention to the wording in the listing and pour over the pictures of the used gear.
When looking at the images, try to see if the imperfections are minor cosmetic or hint at potentially bigger problems. So the paint on the camera body is chipped a bit, no big deal. However it might mean the camera was dropped if the chip is also accompanied by a dent. Just because it was dropped doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t function properly. But this could indicate that the seller doesn’t take good care of their items. Accidents happen, but if there is a pattern of abuse in their listings it might be wise to stay away.
Another seemingly obvious tip is to look at the shutter count on a used piece of gear. Only a couple thousand shots? The used gear hasn’t seen a lot of use and will probably be in good condition. A couple hundred thousand shots? That gear might be just about at the end of it’s lifespan. Cameras used in a professional setting will usually have higher shutter counts. This can mean a bit more rough and tumble use than a lightly used consumer camera with a low shutter count.
Is it always better to buy used camera equipment?
Of course it isn’t always the best option to buy used photography gear. Sometimes the gear is in bad shape and it is worth the additional cost to purchase something brand new. That way you know for sure that there are no defects with the gear. The manufacturer’s warranty will cover you if there was an issue. Also, photography gear that is just newly released won’t have any used pieces of course.
What are your reasons for buying used photography gear? Let us know in the comments below if your reason for buying used was missed! And as always, if you have a used piece of gear that you are looking to sell, list for free with Gear Focus now!