Buying used – a photographers guide

Well it is that time of year again when people are looking at either buying a gift for themselves or for someone else. Many people look at used and this is a great way to find some good deals but a few things to be careful of:

1- Before you do anything make sure that it is what you want or need. No point in spending $600.00 on a great wide angle lens when you need a telephoto or a portrait lens to do graduations.  Also no point in buying a Nikon body if you shoot Pentax, even with it being a fantastic price.

2 – Make sure what you are buying fits the equipment that you already have and will not cause any harm.  Had a lady bring in a lens last week that was amazing, unfortunately it was for manual focus Canon cameras (before digital) and would not work with her cameras.  Many lenses will not fit today’s cameras and if they do fit some will not work correctly or at all.  Some equipment like old studio lights will ruin your camera.  I have one set at the studio that I can use as a slave (not hooked up to a camera but triggered remotely),  if I hook it up to the camera it will fry the camera in seconds. Other things like flashes will fit the camera but they do not work correctly – I have one flash that will fire when on the camera so you think it is working, but actually it fires after the shutter has opened and closed and does no good. Had a wedding photographer bring in a beautiful flash that they were told would “fit” their camera and it did fit it, just did not work.

3 – Check the prices.  I see a lot of  equipment advertised as “Like new” and it is priced like it is new as well.  If the equipment has been used, has no warranty,  shows any wear or tear – it should be less than new price not the same or more (of course if it is a unusual piece or a collectors item that is different). I just saw a package deal of camera and a couple lenses for $1100 Like new – New price today is $850.00 plus GST – something is wrong with this when you can by new cheaper than used.  Also a lot of photography equipment is listed as “collector piece” and all it is good for is as a paper weight – it is not a collector piece and you can probably buy the same thing at a second hand store for a couple dollars, not the $200 that they are asking.

4 – Try it out with your equipment and take pictures with it.  Then look at the digital files (or negatives) before buying. It may look like it works but only by closer examination will you find a problem.  I remember a client bringing in a camera package that they were going to buy, I checked it out and everything looked great.  He shot a roll of film, had it developed and found that the camera had a MAJOR light leak.

5 – Don’t rush into it – “limited time offers” or “I have another person that wants this” usually is done to pressure you and many times people are trying to hide something.

If you are concerned that something is not right walk away, if it feels wrong or to good to be true it usually is.

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