Buying a brand new DSLR is a huge investment, there's no doubt about it. Sadly, not everyone is in a financial position to make such a big commitment. Budding photographers deserve to know that buying a used DSLR camera is sometimes the best option when you're first starting out. A second hand DSLR camera can be a wise purchase, provided that you follow my tips for things to consider before buying a used DSLR.
Buy a used camera? Yes, you heard me correctly. My first DSLR was used, and I couldn't have been happier with my used camera experience. Not only was my camera cheaper, it gave me freedom to experiment with my new camera without the added pressure of making my money "count".
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My Used DSLR Camera Experience
My photography journey started probably a lot like yours. I invested about a hundred bucks on a point-and-shoot digital camera in college. You know, the camera you take to the club and on road trips to capture crazy memories.
Back then, I never saw that camera as a tool, only a means to an end. It wasn't until I took that camera on my first international trip that I began seriously thinking about composing an image with the finished product in mind.
Soon after that trip I picked up a used Nikon all-in-1 and started playing with settings, trying to understand how the camera worked. That Nikon would become my new best friend. It went everywhere I went and collected a ton of information about my life, family, friends, travels, and home.
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I took thousands of photographs, getting better and better as time went on. Then in got the gift of a lifetime Christmas 2010: a used Pentax K-x DSLR and multiple semi-pro lenses. The rest, as they say, is history.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Used DSLR
Having the latest and greatest camera doesn't make you the best photographer, only the victim of shiny object syndrome. Instead of sinking tons of money on a brand new camera, consider buying a used camera. Finding a cheap used DSLR camera can help you save money for other things, like courses and lenses.
As I said before, buying a second hand camera can make a lot of sense if you're new to the hobby of photography or if you're looking to upgrade your current camera. But buyer beware! Not all used DSLR cameras are alike, and neither are all used camera dealers.
Use these tips to help you decide if buying a second hand DSLR is right for you.
Sensor Format & Size
Sensor size is one of the most important aspects of a digital camera. A camera's sensor size, in addition to the quality of the lens, directly impacts the quality of digital images.
The sensor essentially dictates the amount of light gathered to create a picture. Larger sensors allow more light to pass through the camera, thus enabling the camera to collect more information about the image. And more information is a good thing in the world of digital photography.
DSLR camera sensors come in multiple formats, including cropped and full-frame. It makes sense that larger, full-frame sensors gather more light, which directly impacts the resulting image. Having a full-frame sensor could be important for those looking to learn wedding photography, where you'll often shoot indoors in low-light settings.
But having a full-frame sensor isn't essential for all forms of photography. Travel photographers may find that the larger, bulkier cameras with full-frame sensors are less-than-desired for travel photography.
Digital technology is changing at lightening fast past these days. Subsequently, advances in digital imagery have changed the landscape of the digital camera industry. Cameras are more affordable and higher quality than ever before.
Although buying a used DSLR camera can save you money, you need to consider technology advances before you click the purchase button. Before you buy a used second hand camera, it's always a good idea to see if there's a newer version on the market for a comparable price. Like any large purchase, it's always best to shop around for the best deal.
Return or Refund Policy
Before you buy a second hand DSLR camera, you should always research whether or not the seller offers a money-back guarantee or accepts refunds. Trusted retailers like Samy's and KEH honor returns and even feature money-back guarantees on used cameras. Individual dealers on Ebay, Craigslist, and local pawn shops set their own rules about returns, exchanges, and refunds. Bottom line: do your research.
Lenses and Accessories
Many big box retailers will offer what looks like a great deal on a brand new DSLR camera with a lens, but often these are poor quality kit lenses. A good rule of thumb is to avoid buying a kit lens. If the lens or lenses included is a kit lens, you may be better off buying a used camera body to save money for a new or used professional lens.
While the camera's features (sensor, megapixels, shooting modes, etc.) are important, the lens you use is by far the most important part of photography. The lens determines how sharp and clear the image is: the nicer the lens, the better the image. Bottom line: don't fall for the package deals with kit lenses. Instead, you should invest in a quality lens for your used DSLR!
Another thing to consider when buying a used DSLR camera is whether or not the camera comes with the essential accessories: battery, strap, and charger. Buying these accessories can add up quickly. Saving money on a used DSLR camera is great, but not if it means you have to spend money on tons of accessories like batteries, chargers, and straps. Look for used camera bodies with these essential accessories included.
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