Even people who don’t know much about photography know at least that this requires expensive equipment like cameras and lenses. Even the cheapest lenses are around 100-150$, the most expensive ones are up to 2500$.
With these kinds of prices, we may ask ourselves what is better: buying a new camera or buying an old one. This is what we are answering today.
Buying a New DSLR
Buying a new DSLR involves a lot of money. Even the entry level ones are about 500$ and if we move to a higher tier, we get prices like 5000$. That’s insanely expensive. But if you still want to buy a new camera, here are a few pros and cons
It is not used – this one is obvious. But you may be the kind of person that prefers all things to be first used by you, this is a strong point.
Warranty – if it is a new camera, it always has warranty. Not only that, but the vendor might also include extended warranties up to 5 years. If something happens to the camera, you can get it serviced for free
Latest technology – new DSLRs are always equipped with the latest technologies, like touch screen, wifi sharing, screen rotation and many others. If you buy the current year model you will be up to date with all DSLR technology available.
Expensive – another obvious point, but stil important. New cameras are way more expensive than used ones. Even more, you might pay extra money for just a few negligible new features that don’t make a difference whatsoever.
Not always worth the price – let’s be sober: the manufacturers are making new models almost every year just as a method of marketing in order to get more sales. More often that not, if you are buying the latest model you will be paying an extra for exactly that: the model.
Buying an Old DSLR
If you want to go the “Old DSLR Road”, things are different. You need to know what you are doing, you need to know what you want and, needless to say, you need to know the camera model you intend on buying.
Here a few pros and cons regarding buying an old DSLR.
Lower price – if you buy old you are not paying a premium for having a new model.
Better value – regardless of the price, you will always get better value for your money when you are buying an old camera
It may still be new – depending on the individual model you will buy, you might get a second hand DSLR that is as good as new.
You might not know what you are buying – most of the time, when you buy an old camera, you buy it from a stranger. That means you will not know whether he took good care of the camera or not.
Closer to the end of their life – a used camera will be closer to the end of its life.
It’s risky– especially if you don’t know what you are doing or what you are looking for.
What to Look For When You Buy an Old Camera
Buying a new DSLR is pretty much straight forward. Just know the model, the features you want, and take your money to the store. On the other hand, buying an old camera comes with a lot more challenges. Here is a quick guide on what to look for when you are buying a second hand DSLR.
Shutter Life and Shutter Count
Every camera has an estimated shutter life before they need to be taken to service to change their shutter. For entry-level cameras, the shutter live expectancy is around 100.000, and for the high-end cameras can go up to 500.000.
When you are buying an old camera, you should do your research. Go on Google and search for the model you want to buy and then the phrase “shutter life” (ex. [Nikon D5200 shutter life]).
You can also check out this database for the shutter life of various camera models from various manufacturers.
Needless to say: always check the shutter count on a camera you want to buy. Here are a few sites that will do that for you. You just need to upload a picture taken with the camera:
Don’t Buy From a Professional
Except only if you want to buy a high-end camera (no regular consumer will buy a Nikon D850 or a D4s just for a hobby). If you want to buy an entry lever on even a mid-level camera, you are better off buying from a fellow hobbyist. They don’t use their cameras as intensively as a professional.
Check For Dead Pixels
With second hand cameras, dead pixels are a thing. How do you check for them? Just take a white (over exposed) frame and a black (under exposed) frame. This way you will be able to see both dead pixels and dust spots on the sensor.
Check to See if Auto-focus Works
Sometimes it might be the case that the camera won’t focus where it should be. Take a picture with a lens you already trust and then inspect the image on the PC zoomed at 100%. This way you will be able to see if the auto-focus works.
Check the Lens Mount for Damage
Take the lens of the camera and check the mount for damage. It should be clean and neat, with no dents.
In the end, it comes to your choice. If you want to buy a new camera, go for it. If you want to buy an old DSLR, I hope the guidelines in this article will help you make an informed buying decision.
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