Guide to Buying a Used DSLR Camera

Tips & Advice

Gear Focus

Feb 27, 2020

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Some photographers love purchasing used gear because it can save them a lot of money, while other photographers are more skeptical about used gear—especially cameras. However, not all used cameras are bad, and you can really get the best bang for your buck. It’s like buying a used car; if you know what to look for, then you’ll be okay. Our guide to buying a used DSLR camera will help you identify if a used camera is in good shape or not, by explaining what to look for.

Always Check the Shutter Count

One of the easiest ways to tell how much use the camera experienced is by checking the shutter count. This will not only give you an estimate of its lifespan, but you’ll also get a general idea if you’re going to need a replacement or maintenance soon. It’s important to note that each camera is different, so make sure you get the serial number to verify its expectations. Now, there are a couple of ways to check the shutter count. First, many DSLR’s will have a count on the camera itself. However, it’s most common to plug the camera into your computer and run free software because this is a more accurate process. However, if you’re purchasing through an online marketplace such as Gear Focus, you won’t have the opportunity to plug the camera in or check the camera out yourself until you purchase it. Instead, you can contact the seller directly and they’ll be able to give you more information.

Avoid Dead Pixels by Using Our 7-Day Return Policy to Your Advantage

Dead pixels are as disappointing as they sound. These are small dots that can appear in your shots on the LCD. A couple of dead pixels aren’t the end of the world, especially if it’s an old camera. However, it’s a bigger problem if you have a lot. The best way to ensure a camera is free of dead pixels is by taking a few RAW photos with different colored backgrounds and uploading the images to your computer. Dead pixels are easily noticeable on 100% view because they’ll show up in the same spot in different colors based on the different colored backgrounds. Our seven-day return policy allows you to try the camera out, look for any dead pixels, and more.

Excessive Dust Is a Camera’s Worst Nightmare

Once you receive the camera in the mail, you’ll have the opportunity to examine the camera for any dust. It’s normal to see some dust on a used camera, but certainly not a lot. Dust will find it’s way into every gap of the camera and cause a lot of damage over time. Don’t forget to check the sensor on the camera because it’s one of the most common (and worst) places for dust to build up. Again, some dust is common, but if there’s a lot of dust in there and the sensor is looking rough, you’re going to need a professional cleaning done before you know it.

Examine Any Wear and Tear

Now don’t forget, the camera probably isn’t going to be spotless—it is a used camera after all. So, don’t get completely hung up on scratches and discoloration. But of course, there are parts of the camera you don’t want any scratches on, such as the lens or the LCD screen; however, if the body has some, it should be fine. The rubber grips on the camera may have some discoloration or peeling, which can be normal, but like everything else—in moderation. For example, the edges of the rubber may be coming up a little, but you shouldn’t need to superglue the grips back on (which we don’t recommend). In addition, you certainly don’t want to see any dents on the camera. Treat dents like major red flags because they usually indicate that the camera was dropped or mistreated in some way at the very least. And if the camera experienced a drop, there’s a good chance that there’s some internal damage. So, we’d strongly encourage you to steer clear of a camera with any dents. Lastly, once you have the camera and are within our return policy window, check all the camera’s buttons, switches, and dials. None of them should be sticking, getting stuck, or doing anything out of the ordinary. Make sure to check them while the camera is on too, that way you can see if the camera is recognizing them and responding. If the camera isn’t responding to the buttons, it could just need a good cleaning because sometimes dust will get in there, or it could be an internal issue.

Don’t Forget to Check the Memory Card Compartment and Request More Photos

It’s possible for someone to try putting the memory card in the wrong way or upside down and that’s why they’re selling it and hoping you don’t notice. But you’re reading this blog, so you won’t fall for that! So, be sure to examine the memory card slot when you get a used camera in the mail and look for any bent pins. If there are any, use our return policy and pass on the camera. That is unless you’re willing to spend a couple of hundred dollars for a professional repair. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask for more photos of the gear— you’re the buyer and most sellers are happy to provide you with more photos if you need it.

Purchase Through a Reliable Marketplace

Your time is your most valuable asset, so don’t waste it looking around on shady sites or meeting a random person in a parking lot. Instead, shop around trustworthy online marketplaces that do all this work for you. If you’re not shopping within an online marketplace specifically for cameras and camera gear, you never know what you’re going to get, and they certainly won’t know what to look for. Luckily, you have Gear Focus on your side. We’re photographers ourselves and we want to make it easier for others to buy and sell used camera gear safely from a reputable source. We can help you identify any quality gear and get you the equipment you need to be a successful photographer. There are a lot of factors to consider when buying a used DSLR camera, and a lot of things to keep an eye out for. You can get a sense of how much use the camera has had by looking at the shutter count. Additionally, it’s important to look for an excess of dead pixels—a couple is generally fine, but a lot can be a bigger issue. In relation to excess, you certainly don’t want to find a lot of dust in the camera, as it can lead to several internal issues. And while it’s expected to find some general wear and tear on a used camera, you shouldn’t get a camera that has dents. You can avoid all this and more by shopping with Gear Focus—a reputable online marketplace for photographers, by photographers. So, if you’re looking to buy a used digital camera, we always have a rotating inventory, so check back often to see all the new listings! Buying a Used DSLR Camera

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