Photography On A Budget: Part 3

Photography On A Budget: Part 3

Used Equipment.
Digital..Pre-loved cameras are often seen as a waste of money. With digital cameras this is often the case. This comes about because the seller often over estimates what the actual worth of the equipment is. Typically in the used camera market its simply a matter of what the bidders are willing to pay and what they feel its worth.

First time digital camera buyers may well find a bargain  to be had on the likes of or These are just a couple of ways of obtaining used digital equipment. In the point and shoot or bridge camera domain if one is patient they may well bag a bargain.
If the goal is to obtain a good quality DSLR from the used market you should be very careful. Do your homework and decide what sort of photography you want to do and then match cameras to that. In this part of the used market I would suggest that a target price of 50% or less of the new price is what you should look for. For instance if a new Canon EOS with 2 lenses costs $1050.00 in todays market target its used predecessor as the unit to buy. Understand what the differences are between the old and the new cameras. Is there anything of vital importance that you cant do without. If so buy the new camera, otherwise buy the used camera and get out there and take some great photos.

One major thing to remember when buying used equipment is, no warranty, no immediate backup (it will cost you), you may think you are buying a good camera, but get a lemon that dies on you inside a couple of months. Too bad you bought it as is without any come back. You can potentially lose a reasonable wad of cash if these circumstances arise. You need to be sure that what you get is OK and that you have the right of return. Buying through established trading websites is possibly the best protection you are likely to get in this type of transaction. So its the old story “Let the buyer  beware

Also be aware that used DSLR’s are still expensive and may very quickly exceed your budget. Plan your purchase with that in mind. Heres a good starting DSLR for the beginner, however note that the reserve has not been met. This is typical of the used DSLR market, they tend to hold their value. This is a 2006 model.

2006 model Canon EOS 30d

Used Equipment.
Yes you heard me film!!
In the photography world we have become slaves of the digital revolution. We now prefer the convenience of having a camera that can take endless snaps ( most of which are ho hum at best) and print out cheaply at the local photo center. For a good many this is all they will ever require and the manufacturers know this so they design for the mass market.
For the budding enthusiast/newbie, who wants to take and create better images they require something a little better. They may not have a large budget, perhaps only two or three hundred dollars to start with.
Fear not. For this small sum you can own equipment that was the top shelf only a few short years ago.
Here are three items from Trademe and eBay that at the time of writing this were for sale.

A great buy for someone wanting a good range of equipment.
                                Excellent mid level Canon kit.
Absolute bargain at this price for a Canon kit.

The top lot are from eBay and the bottom two are from Trademe. Trademe is in NZ dollars so for a US dollar comparison drop the prices shown by 25%. There are many more good quality cameras like these for sale. For this sort of money you get a 35mm SLR that will rival almost all digital cameras for image quality and dynamic range. All of the cameras shown above are very good units and take excellent photos.

Recently I was lucky enough to purchase a 1999 Pentax zx-50 35mm SLR. It came with a 28-55mm and 85-200m lenses. All this for $45.00 New Zealand dollars. Thats $33.30 US dollars. For an SLR!! I can recall when these cameras were new and had price-tags starting at $2000.00 and upwards depending on what accessories you bought.

Keen Rockwell has a section on 35mm film and SLR’s and why he likes to use them. See his article here.
While there check out some of the other articles about what cameras he likes and why.

So there really are quality cameras to be had at ridiculous prices if you are prepared to look. The same things apply as with the digitals when buying secondhand gear but its been my observation the the mechanical nature and robustness of the 35MM SLR makes buying them a little less risky.+

In Photography on a budget part 4, we will look at images from both the digital and film perspective.

Posted by R. McKenzie at 6:26 PM
  1. I still have a ~20 year old Canon AE-1 film camera with a couple of lenses that I haven’t used in many years – I’m not ready to give it up yet though. When using film you can also get the developer to give you JPG files from the negatives along with your prints. I did this for the last several years I used film before switching to digital.


  2. Hi Kevin..
    Great Canon the AE-1. Is it the Program mode? If it is its arguably one of Canons greatest achievements in the SLR world.


  3. No I have the original one that could do shutter priority, auto exposure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s