Tips for Buying a Used DSLR Camera


You don’t always have to purchase new photography equipment. Some of the best deals can be had with used equipment in good condition - as long as you have the option to return them. Purchasing from a reliable source whenever possible is even better. 


Craigslist, eBay, and even camera stores can offer some good deals on used photography equipment. When buying, check reviews on the seller whenever possible. Look for complaints about over-promising and under-delivering on the quality of their products. Also look for complaints about problems with returns on equipment. 


Used Cameras:

Buying a DSLR isn’t the most complicated purchase you’ll make when it comes to buying used equipment. It’s fairly easy to do some spot checking before you hand over your money. But, as with all purchases, your safest bet is to purchase from someone who allows returns, in case you get home and find that the camera isn’t working as well as you thought or they promised. 


Here are some tips for buying a used DSLR:

  1. Does the camera turn on? Carefully inspect the battery compartment. Ask if they’re including extra batteries. 

  2. We like to check the mirror box and lens mount very carefully. Any scratches, dirt or lint buildup? Try mounting your own lens to see if it works with the camera. Any issues?
  3. Scrutinize the terminals looking for any red flags such as dirt build-up or other issues.
  4. Try inserting your own memory card and turning the camera on to be sure there are any issues.
  5. How do the LCD Screen and the viewfinder work and look? They should be clean, and the meter should change accordingly.
  6. Try taking over-exposed and under-exposed shots and checking them on the LCD. 
  7. Does the shutter work and sound as it should when you test it? 
  8. If you change the shutter speed and aperture, do they function as they should and affect the exposure as it should?
  9. We like to try each of the camera modes as well as the video and live views to be sure they're working properly.
  10. How about the camera’s pop-up and remote flash functions? 
  11. Test the hotshoe.
  12. Test the camera itself by shooting a picture. Select your focus point and shoot. Check the images to make sure that the focus point is focused. Repeat this using your own lens.
  13. Next, if there is a diopter control wheel, adjust it for your vision, select a focal point, and shoot. Check the photo to be certain it’s in focus.
  14. If the camera comes with the battery charger, you’ll want to test that as well. 

Hints: Check all accessories that come with the camera. Ask if the camera was purchased in the U.S. and can be serviced in the U.S. otherwise, you might find difficulties servicing the camera in the future.