Buying a used camera can save you a decent amount of money, but there are nuances. It is necessary to carefully check the equipment and make sure that it is fully operational. Experienced photographers advise beginners to be extremely careful when buying a camera from their hands. Not all sellers are conscientious, and often they are just trying to get rid of problematic photographic equipment. To buy a used SLR camera and not regret it in a few days, you need to know what to look for when checking it.
Why is the camera for sale?
The first thing a buyer who intends to buy a used camera should find out is the reason for the sale. The seller can indicate it in the ad, but it is better to clarify. You need to ask about the complete set and the availability of a warranty card. Sometimes there are copies with all the documents and the warranty period has not expired — this is a significant advantage.
If the kit includes a charger, all cords and adapters are also a good plus. But the presence of a user manual or disks with software is not so important, since all this can be downloaded for free on the official website of the manufacturer.
When a person sells a camera after buying a new one, this is normal. If he cannot voice a normal reason or starts to play up, there is probably some problem in the camera, and they are just trying to get rid of the camera.
The equipment must be carefully examined for damage: abrasions and traces of falling on the case, scratches on the lens glass, damaged screws (indicates that they were unscrewed). How to check a used camera for such flaws, even a beginner will figure it out. By the appearance of the camera, you can often understand how the user treated it and how long it served him at all.
The presence of chips, cracks or scratches should alert. It is necessary to clarify how they appeared. If the camera was often dropped, this is a bad sign — it is better to refuse the purchase. It is also necessary to check all screw connections. If they have traces of unscrewing, you need to find out why the camera was disassembled.
The camera should also be shaken and listened to if nothing inside it rattles. There should be no extraneous sounds such as clanging, crackling or rustling. Also, nothing should be loose.
Checking the matrix for broken and hot pixels
Let’s move on to the matrix test for the presence of broken and hot pixels. The quality of photos and the performance of the camera as a whole depend on it. Remember how to check the camera:
- Switch the camera to shooting mode “M”.
- Set ISO 100 and shutter speed 15 seconds.
- Disable all noise reduction features.
- We take a few pictures from a tripod (you can just put the camera on something).
- We examine the frames taken as close as possible (it is more convenient to do this on a computer).
Multi-colored glowing dots are hot pixels. If they are missing or there are several of them for the entire frame, this is normal. Dead pixels look different — just like black or white dots. If there are more than 10 hot and broken pixels, it is better to refrain from buying.
Each camera has a resource set by the manufacturer. If the camera is properly looked after during its operation, it will work properly beyond this resource. When buying equipment, be sure to check the mileage. It is determined by the number of shutter releases.
The method of checking the mileage of a camera depends on the brand. For example, the mileage of a Canon camera can be found using the Canon EOS Digital software. But there are also universal applications. You can use the Camera Shutter Count to check the number of times a Nikon or Pentax camera has fired a shutter. Also this program supports some Canon and Sony models. Another application that works with Canon, Sony, Nikon and Pentax cameras is EOSMSG.
The process of checking the mileage using all programs is approximately the same: you need to connect the camera to the computer via USB, run the software, select the camera model (if it was not detected automatically) and press the button to see the result.
Having found out the mileage of the camera, you need to find out what resource the manufacturer has installed for a particular model. This can be found on the official website in the characteristics of the camera. If it comes to an end or has already expired, it is not recommended to buy a camera. Of course, you can replace the shutter, but this is a rather expensive procedure, which is most often not justified when buying used equipment.
It is necessary to check all the controls and electronics of the camera. Buttons and switches must function properly. You need to try to switch modes, check all the mechanical levers, press the buttons. Everything should work smoothly and the first time.
You still need to take a few shots in each mode, evaluating the work of exposure metering, white balance, the clarity of the shutter, the built-in flash, and so on.
If the camera is sold with a lens, the optics must also be checked. It is not hard. It needs to be inspected for damage. There should be no cracks or even minor scratches on the lenses. All moving parts must work clearly and without backlash.
You should also look closely for signs of mold under the lenses. Their presence indicates that the lens has become wet or stored in inappropriate conditions. It is impossible to get rid of mold under the lenses without disassembly.
It is also important to check the autofocus of the lens. You need to take several shots in different modes and evaluate the result. If the pictures come out sharp and not blurry, autofocus is working properly.
Is it safe to buy a used camera?
Buying a used camera in the secondary market is associated with certain risks. You can run into low-quality equipment that is already worn out, and the seller is trying to get rid of it and make money on it.
Another option is also possible — when a photographer buys a new camera, he puts up the old one for sale as unnecessary. Such equipment can be searched on bulletin boards, specialized groups in social networks and in commissions. In order not to be deceived, it is necessary to perform the simplest steps to check the camera, which were described above.