Friday, September 2, 2011

Tips for Buying a Used DSLR Camera Online

New DSLR cameras range in price from a couple of hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.  While most of us will never need nor purchase a $20,000 camera, the same guidelines that would apply to buying a used high-end professional grade DSLR should be applied to consumer friendly sub-$1000 models.  Here are some of the things you should take in to consideration when buying a DSLR used online.

1.   Shutter count- Ask the seller to provide you with the shutter count.  Compare it to the manufacturer specs on how long the camera should last.  Most range between 100K-250K.  Replacing the shutter costs around $200, so if it is nearing the end of its life you’ll need to factor that into the cost.  Once you receive the camera, compare the shutter count number provided with what is actually on the camera (see this article to find out how to access the shutter count). 

2.   Scratches- Ask to see photos of the body, including the LCD screen to look for scratches.  Of course, any camera that has been used is likely to have some scuffs, so look for glaring examples that might indicate the camera has been dropped or very poorly taken care of.  And, scratches on the LCD screen shouldn’t be overlooked unless you are okay with it.  There is no easy fix for screen scratches.  You should also inquire about scratches on the lens.  It will be difficult to see these in photos, so you’ll just have to take the sellers word for it until you actually receive the camera. 

3.   Dead pixels- ask the seller to check for dead pixels or better yet, send you an unaltered photo shot at the following specs: ISO 100 with the lens cap on.  You can use a dead pixel analyzer to check for dead pixels.  Many cameras have a few dead pixels, but steer clear of anything with a high count.  Sometimes dead pixels can be corrected by a sensor cleaning (a feature built-into the camera) or a software update. 

4.   Servicing-  Ask if they have ever serviced their camera, and if so, who performed it.  If the camera has not been serviced that is not a deal breaker, but if the technician was not an authorized service provider that is!  Anyone who hasn’t been properly trained by the manufacturer should not work on a complex piece of technology like a DSLR.

5.   Accessories- Does it come with everything from the original box- charger, battery, manual, etc.  If it doesn’t factor in replacement costs in the overall cost of the camera.  Will it still be worth the savings after you’ve added in those additional costs?

6.   Lens- Some cameras are sold body only, so unless you already have compatible lenses or want to purchase them separately, make sure you are buying a DSLR with a lens. 

7.   Photos- Ask for recent, unretouched photos taken from the camera to check for focus quality and color quality.

Of course, if you receive your camera and its condition doesn’t match what the seller advertised, then make arrangements with the seller to return the camera.  Sites like eBay and Amazon have safeguards to help you if the seller will not work with you.  Read more about how to return an item here.

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