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How to Buy a Used DSLR Camera: Tips

Let’s face it: photography gear is expensive, especially for people who are just starting out and want to become professionals.

New DSLR cameras come out every year, so there are always a lot of used ones for sale. These used models are sure to have some great deals, and who doesn’t like a good deal?

Not all of it. In the past few years, smartphone cameras have gotten a lot better. When they first came out, smartphones only had cameras with 3MP, 5MP, or 8MP. Now, there are 13MP, 16MP, 21MP, and even more on smartphones.

Some smartphone models have a camera on both the front and the back. Because of this, everyone now seems to be taking pictures (Check Instagram for proof).

Most people who love taking pictures have switched from using their phones to using DSLR cameras. Since new DSLR cameras are expensive, many people buy used ones instead.

Used DSLR cameras are great because they’ve already been tried and tested. Most of them will be sold as kits with a used DSLR camera, lenses, and other parts. For a beginner, this is a great deal. Why? You don’t have to spend money on new lenses, which can be pricey as well.

Still, the question is: Is it smart to buy a used camera?

Let’s find out!

Reasons to buy a used DSLR camera Big savings
Buying a new camera is a big investment, and many people don’t have enough money to do so. What you might not know is that camera companies usually price new cameras high to cover the costs of research and development and to make money off the new technology.

  • Let’s face it. A used camera is a great thing to buy if you are just starting out as a photographer.
  • You can save a lot of money when you buy a used camera. Every year, camera companies make new models, so a used camera costs very little. So, a professional photographer will choose to move up a level.
  • Since the camera hasn’t been used much, the person selling it will offer big discounts to get rid of it quickly.
  • You can take advantage of this and buy a slightly used DLSR camera to help you get started if you want to become a photographer. You will save a lot of money as well.

Wonderful for Learning

As has already been saying, smartphones are getting better cameras. When you add apps like Snapchat and social networking sites like Instagram, everyone is now a photographer. Most of these people have bought professional DSLR cameras because they want to take their love of photography to the next level.

As a student who wants to learn photography, I can’t afford to buy a brand-new camera. You can get better at what you do if you buy used lenses and a used camera. First of all, it’s been used a bit, which means it’s been tried and tested. Even though the camera’s body may have a few scratches, the lens, LCD screen, camera sensor, and other parts still work well.

Now that you’ve outgrown your point-and-shoot camera, the slightly used camera and used photography gear will help you learn new skills. For instance, how to use different settings like ISO, white balance, aperture, shutter speed, camera mode, automatic exposure bracketing, and autofocus.

Not all of it.

You will learn how to take care of a camera. For example, how to keep mould and dust from getting on the camera sensor and how to clean the DSLR lens.

You don’t have to go broke to get a better camera.
As a college student who wants to be a professional photographer one day, the price of a new DSLR camera can get in the way of your goals. You can take great pictures with just the camera on your phone, but that’s not the best way to learn. Why?

DSLR cameras have a lot of settings and features that smartphone cameras don’t have. If you keep using your point-and-shoot camera or smartphone, it will be easier for you to learn how to use the new camera. The only way to become a pro without going broke is to buy a used camera.

The majority of used cameras can be bought as a set. The seller is selling the camera body, as well as used lenses, extra batteries, a strap, a manual, and a memory card. Everything is in the first box. It’s not a good idea to buy a used camera if you only get the body. Why? It might be used.

You are ready to become a professional photographer now that you have a used camera and other used photography gear. All you have to do is make a portfolio, and the only way to do that is to take a few professional photos.

Used as a backup.

Let’s face it. Just like the other electronics in our homes, DSLR cameras can break. For instance, while taking a picture, the user might accidentally drop the camera. If the camera is sitting on the table, he or she might even knock it off by accident. The lens could get scratched or even broken if this happened. If the LCD screen was facing down and the camera fell on the floor, it might break or crack.

Not all of it.

These kinds of accidents could cause dents in the body of the camera. Sometimes, you might have to clean the camera to get rid of dust or mould. If the photographer doesn’t have time to clean and has a job that needs to be done right away, he or she can use an old DSLR for the job.

The photographer can even take the old DSLR to professional photo shoots, where it can be used to take pictures if the main camera isn’t working.

So, how do you make sure that a deal that seems good doesn’t turn out to be bad?
Well, here are some things you should look out for before you buy a used DSLR camera or used lenses.

  • Counter for shutter
  • Scratches
  • Camera body
  • Sensor
  • LCD display
  • Serial
  • Auto-focus
  • What to look for when buying a used DSLR camera or lens

Shutter Counter

The counter on the shutter works the same way as a car’s odometer. Basically, it’s a piece that shows how many times the shutter has been opened and closed. You should know that most DSLR cameras can take pictures an infinite number of times before a part needs to be replaced.

Each camera maker puts the number of shutter cycles for each model on its website. If you do a simple web search, you should be able to find the information for a certain brand or model. It would be very easy for you to buy a new DSLR camera. You could buy it online or at a camera shop near you, and then you could start taking pictures.

For used DSLR cameras, the process is a little different. Why? The DSLR camera has been used before, and if this part breaks, the camera will no longer work. Replacing the shutter counter is very expensive. You could just buy a brand-new DSLR camera.

What you need to know is that as the shutter counter value goes up, the camera has been able to take more pictures. Here is a rough idea of what the shutter counter value of each DSLR camera is.

  • 50 to 60 thousand dollars for a first job.
  • Between 100,000 and 130,000
  • Costs between $200,000 and $250,000

Want to know how to get the real shutter counter value from a used DSLR camera?

Ask for the DSLR camera and take a picture when you finally meet the seller.
Save the image to your computer or tablet.

Find a good app or piece of software that can display EXIF Metadata. As examples, you can use EOSInfo for Canon or PhotoME. Nikon users can also upload a NEF file to, while Pentax users can upload a PEF or DNG file. (The platform can also be used with JPGs.)

In addition to the shutter counter value, the displayed metadata will show you things like the camera brand, lens used, model, and ISO setting. We want to know the value of the shutter counter, which is easy to find in the data that is shown.

Before you buy, take a few pictures with the camera at different shutter speeds. If the camera gets stuck or makes noises, it may need to be fixed or cleaned.


Some people will sell the DSLR with the lens that came with it. This is common for cameras that cost between $100 and $300. Before you buy it, make sure the lens isn’t scratched. Look at the front and back first. Are there any marks on it? The camera may have been dropped more than once if it has a lot of big scratches. If the scratches are small, this might not change much about how the photo looks.

Look for marks or scratches on the barrel of the lens. It’s important to make sure that the lens is easy to move. If you can’t pull it back or push it out, it doesn’t work. Also, check the ring for the aperture. If you have to move it by hand, make sure the motion is smooth.

Another problem you should look for is fungus. The fungus can hurt the lens so much that it can no longer be used. Before you buy the lens, find out how it was kept. You shouldn’t eat it if it has been in a bag and not in a dry place for a long time.

The camera’s frame

The DSLR camera’s body shows how well its owner has been taking care of it. So, what should you be looking for? Check the body for dents and scratches. If the rubber grips on a camera are very worn, it may not have been taken care of well.

You can ask the person selling the camera to show you some pictures it has already taken. This is done to figure out where the camera was used the most. For example, if a lot of the pictures were taken at the beach, it could have been exposed to water and sand. If none of the pictures is of the beach, it’s possible that the camera never got wet.

Now is the time to check the dials and the “shutter” button. The camera has been through a lot if it has a lot of wear marks. This is also true if the dials and buttons look like they are made of shinier plastic than the sample photos the camera took.

Check the USB ports to see if they are in good shape. Do the ports look rusty and bent? What about the place where you put the SD card? Is the SD card easy to put in and take out? But what about where the battery goes? Is the cover easy to open and close? Does the place where the batteries go have rust?

Camera Sensor

You already know that lenses can be taken off of DSLRs. This makes it possible for dust to get on the sensor. If there is dust on the camera sensor, the picture won’t be as good. One of the best ways to find out if there is dust on the sensor is to take a sample photo with the camera. Choose a background that is either a daytime sky or a white wall (should be well lit). Set the lens to f/22 and take a photo.

How clear is the picture?

This method can also help you find out which pixels are working and which are not.

On the other hand, a sample photo can have a dark background. Compare the pictures with light and the ones without. You can also use your own eyes to look at the sensor. You can do this by pulling up on the mirror release. Use the camera’s built-in features. Do marks or dust particles show up on the sensor?

You should know that the sensor can be cleaned of dust, but scratches are a big problem.

LCD Display

Every DSLR camera has an LCD screen built in. Its goal is simple. The photographer should be able to look at menus, settings, and images that have already been taken. This shows how important the LCD screen is. Before you buy a used DSLR camera, you need to look at the LCD display.

The first thing you should look for are pixels that don’t work. If the LCD screen shows a photo with only one colour, you can tell if any of the pixels are broken. You should know that dead pixels on the LCD screen won’t change the quality of your photos, but they will make it hard to see what’s on the screen when you play them back.

Scratches should be looked for on both the LCD screen and the optical viewfinder. Dust or scratches can only be removed from a DSLR camera by taking it in for a full service. Don’t forget to look for damage on the focusing screen.


The serial number is one of the best ways to tell if a camera was stolen or still belongs to its owner. When you meet a seller, ask for the camera and look at the lens, LCD display screen, sensor, buttons, and other parts to see if it is stolen.

You don’t want to buy a used DSLR camera and then get arrested for having stolen property. Ask the seller if you can call the local rep for the camera brand to find out if the seller is real and if the camera isn’t stolen. If they say no, you should back out of the deal and move on. If the seller says yes, you should keep talking.

Ask the representative to check the camera’s details while you’re talking to them. A very large number of brands require users to register their cameras as soon as they buy them.

This makes sure they can get new information and better service. If the camera only has one owner, the information about the owner should match the information about the seller. If the camera has been passed around a few times, you can use sites like,, or to find it. You can also look for something on Craigslist.

You can also be sure the camera hasn’t been stolen by asking for the box, lens cap, charger, carrying case, cables, and manual. If the camera comes with all of the above plus extras like memory cards, extra batteries, lens filters, and flashes, it’s a good buy, especially if it meets all of the other requirements.


It’s always important to check to see if the autofocus is working. If something goes wrong during an event shoot, it will bother the photographer. One of the best ways to check if the autofocus is working right is to focus on something far away. Set the used DSLR camera to live view and then to regular phase detection. You should also test how well both single AF and continuous AF work during this time.

You can also test the autofocus by using LensAlign. If the test shows that the AF is off in a noticeable way, you should look for another used camera. Why? As was already said, if the autofocus doesn’t work, it will be hard to take photos at an event.

Tips to Know

It’s a great idea to meet the seller in person. Why? This will let you check the used camera’s shutter counter, lens, buttons, LCD screen, autofocus, battery, USB ports, SD card, and other features.

  • Make sure you meet the seller during the day and not at night or in the evening. So you can see what you are buying, this is done. It will also give you a chance to look for scratches and dents on the camera’s body, lens, USB ports, and LCD screen.
  • Also, the meeting should take place in a public place, preferably one with Wi-Fi. This will let you check online to see if the camera has been stolen. You can also use other apps to find out more about the shutter counter. Don’t forget to bring a friend or family member along. Everyone will be safe this way.
  • Yes, there are many sites like eBay and Craigslist that let you buy and sell things. But if you want to make sure you get what was advertised, you should make the deal in person.
  • Remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t get suckered!

What if you have no choice but to meet in person? So, you’ll have to find an online store that sells used DSLR cameras. Here are some of the most reliable online stores where you can buy used DSLR cameras.

Where Can You Buy a Second-Hand DSLR Camera?

Will you get a used DSLR camera? You no longer need to look through the newspaper’s classified ads to find that one thing. On the internet, you can now find online catalogues of used cameras, which makes it easy to find what you want. The problem is that you might get ripped off if you aren’t careful.

To help you find the right one, we’ve put together a list of the top three online stores for used cameras.

Amazon – Used Digital Cameras

Used Digital Cameras from B&H

One thing left

Whether you want to be a photographer or are already one, buying a used camera is one of the best things you can do. First of all, it’s a great way for people who want to learn how to become photographers. You can also save a lot of money by buying a used camera because of the huge discounts.

Professional photographers can use used cameras as a backup in case their main camera breaks or needs to be fixed.

In general, used cameras are great. If you want to buy a used DSLR camera without getting ripped off, just use the list above.

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