The Frugal Photographer …P.2.

Buying Used Equipment…

In the first part of this series we looked at whats available new for the budget constrained photographer with a ceiling of $1000.00 NZD, which at today’s 1/11/2018 exchange rate is $655.00 USD. A reasonable amount, but as always we want to do as much as we can with the budget we have.

We’ve seen that there are some options buying new, which by and large leave little in the budget for anything else like accessories, tripods, perhaps a flash etc…

There is no doubt buying new can provide a very nice piece of kit, the question is do you think you will be able to compromise elsewhere?

With that in mind its time to turn our attention to the preloved market. The aim would be, when possible to obtain a twin lens kit for the minimum amount of dollars. Something I have had good success with in my latest acquisitions. As detailed here, Canon 1000d  and here Canon 650D.  It should be noted that when looking to buy used equipment that you will see some frankly absurd prices. I’ve seen 10 or 12 year old cameras with asking prices that were close to what they were new. Considering what you can get an entry level DSLR for new I have to wonder as to what makes the sellers think their item is worth anything like what they ask. So be warned you may well have to wait.

Primary considerations:

As a rule of thumb I choose equipment that has a low shutter count, preferably under ten thousand on the shutter count, is approx 4 to 10 years old, and the asking price should not be over 50% of what the original price was at launch.

Secondary considerations:

This is a much larger area than the primary points when purchasing equipment, but some of my considerations are, quality LCD & EVF, preferably vari-angle or tilting LCD, extra lens ( or more ), bag/case, wi-fi , megapixels, wear & tear condition, just to name a few and your requirements may well entail a good deal more. As an example the 650D I recently purchased was almost showroom new in appearance, without a mark on it. It also came with the second generation EF-S 18-55 IS II lens which is a little snappier to focus than the original Mk I lens on the 1000D.

Another consideration when looking at used gear is to ask what am I giving up by not buying new? In the case of my 650D, very little.  In the following generations the video performance was upgraded, and the latest iteration of this camera series the Canon 800D sports better connectivity, a 24 megapixel sensor, and slightly faster auto focus, dual pixel auto focus for the vloggers and video fans. Theres not much else thats different although these two cameras are 5 years apart. The body layout in regard to buttons is pretty much the same as the rest of the “D ” series  Canon Rebels, from the 1000D to the 800D.

As with all things photographic everyone’s requirements tend to be different, however a good used Canon is a great place to start. They tend to be cheaper than their Nikon counterparts with the Nikon lenses tending to be considerably more expensive than the Canon equivalent, something to remember if looking at Nikon or Sony DSLRs.

Keep in mind other accessories as well when buying used. The more you can get at the time of purchase the better. Look for extra batteries, chargers, spare lenses, cases, tripod and mono-pods as well as filters as part of the package. You wont always see these types of things included with the camera but if you are patient and keep your eye on the trade sites you can often get a lot of extras as part of the price.

Check out Trademe Photography & Camera listings or wander over to E bay for international buying.

Heres a tip for when you see a camera you could be interested in but its sporting a buy now price, and you dont think its worth it. Put a bid on thats equal to the starting price and see how much interest there is in the camera. Many sellers put a start price on that is their reserve price. When you place a minimum bid it removes the buy now price and allows you the chance to purchase at a lower price that the posted BuyNow. Of course it may also spark other buyers into getting in on the action as well, but as its most likely not something you would buy at the given BuyNow price its worth a shot.

The overriding thing to remember when buying used at auction is patience. I missed out on several perfectly good cameras because the bidding went higher than I had budgeted for. In the end I came away with two very nice purchases that cost very little. It enabled me to buy a better quality longer focal length zoom lens. I applied exactly the same process when buying the lens, and again missed on several auctions. However when I was able to buy I got the lens considerably cheaper that I would have on previous auctions. Be prepared to wait, its well worth your while.

As always have fun & Happy Snappin’