BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: Best Photographic Equipment to Buy : Film-Based Camera Equipment : Other Cameras

Photography Question 
Sarah G. Abbott

Used cameras

I can save hundreds of dollars by buying a used camera but have absolutely no guarantee that things will work OK (I`m not buying from a camera store). Is the risk of buying a used camera too big or are there basic things to check for which will help prevent me buying a faulty one?

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4/3/2002 8:20:36 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy   Used cameras are a great way to go. Most people and businesses that sell used cameras on a regular basis allow the buyer a 2 week trial period to make sure the camera works correctly. Make sure you get this time when buying. Run some film through it and/or have a technician look it over for you. If it's not all you dreamed then return it.

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4/3/2002 12:58:53 PM

Joan Bellinger   If you're not allowed a trial period, try taking a roll right there on the spot and running it over to your one hour developer.

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4/3/2002 1:53:19 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
A lot of my equipment was bought used. It has allowed the purchase of professional grade bodies and lenses for much less than the new price. The secret is knowing *how* to inspect bodies and lenses for common defects. I researched the camera systems, 35mm and medium format, that I was interested in buying and became familiar with their basic operation. Part of this research was finding camera specific user group web sites and email list archives, then searching them for information about common problems, faults, idiosyncracies about specific models, and how to look for them. I also made (and still have) a list of desired specific bodies, lenses and other system accessories. This enabled being able to test various functions and look for specific problems along with general ones when examining used gear. Finally, unless it's an exceptionally rare item, be patient and be willing to "walk away" from a deal that doesn't "feel right" for whatever the reason. My instincts have never failed me in this regard, even though it might be some time afterward I was able to completely figure out what bothered me.

-- John

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4/6/2002 6:54:38 PM

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