Whilst we'd all love to have the latest Canon EOS gear, it comes at a price and one many of us can't afford.
Buying secondhand is a viable alternative – and not just because we can save money. There are other benefits. And luckily there's a healthy and growing market of secondhand equipment.
Here's our short guide to buying secondhand gear.
Why buy secondhand?
Buying your next camera, lens or accessory secondhand means that not only could you save a few pounds, but you might also be able to:
– buy a camera or lens you couldn't otherwise afford
– buy extra accessories with the money you save
– get a better camera or lens by stretching your budget.
This is especially true of lenses. A secondhand purchase might allow you to choose a wider aperture (the smaller the f nunber on a lens, the brighter it is and, generally speaking, the more expensive it is too) or a greater zoom range.
So if you're looking at a pre-loved camera or lens, where can you go and what should you look for?
In person vs. online
At EOS magazine we'd recommend, where possible, that you get a hands-on look at your potential purchase. If this isn't possible, take a close look at the images supplied by the seller of the equipment, particularly in private sales. Have they been taken by the seller or are they 'stock' images, the type you'd expect to see on a retailer's website? Is there anything you can't see? Is the image consistent with the description?
Where to buy
High street camera shops
Whilst their numbers may be dwindling, the level of expertise you can get at traditional camera shops is ever strengthening. Almost every high street camera shop, like T4 Cameras in Witney (right) will have a secondhand section with a good range of equipment, plus you'll get quality advice from the staff in-store AND a place to go back to if there are any issues. Some dealers may also offer a short-term warranty which can provide extra peace-of-mind.
Dedicated online secondhand dealers
There are now a number of online camera dealers who specialise in secondhand gear. You can be more confident about the condition of the equipment as you're dealing with a company, not a private individual. At EOS magazine we recommend mpb.com.
Private auction sites
Places such as ebay, Gumtree and recent alternatives like Schpock! are great places to find secondhand items, especially if you're after something very specific. As with any online purchase of this type, check out the site's T&Cs to determine your level of protection and what the safeguards are should things go wrong.
EOS magazine classifieds
If you're part of EOS magazine you can get access to a closed online community area for buying and selling secondhand gear. This is free of charge and available via the EOS magazine forum.
How to check secondhand equipment (buying in person)
– Are there marks on the outside?
If a camera or lens is badly scuffed or scratched, it suggests that the photographer hasn't taken very good care of it. This lack of care might extend to general misuse. At the very least, a scruffy-looking camera or lens should fetch a lower price than one in good condition.
The exception to this would be the EOS-1D series – usually owned by professionals and built to withstand the rigours of professionals' working environment.
– How clean does it look?
As well as scratches, dirt, dust and grime on the outside of a camera is something to be wary of. If it's not been taken care of on the outside, chances are the interior will be the same.
– Do the buttons and dials operate OK?
Give the buttons, switches and dials a little test-drive. Push the camera shutter button, turn the mode dial, slide the AF/MF switch on the side of the lens, rotate the zoom or focusing ring. Do they feel firm to the touch? Is there any resistance when operated?
– How's the display?
Is the LCD screen on the back (and sometimes top) of the camera bright and clear? If the camera has Live View and there's a lens attached, switch the Live View on, point the camera at a bright subject which fills the frame and make sure there are no areas on the screen which aren't displaying properly.
– What about the viewfinder?
Same applies when looking through the viewfinder. Can you see the whole scene clearly? Is there dust in the viewfinder or visible scratches?
– Is the lens mount worn?
Is the lens mount – where the lens attaches to the camera body – in good condition or is there excessive wear on the thread?
– Does it come with the original box and manual?
This is usually a good sign – it typically means the equipment was a treasured possession and therefore well looked after.
Canon equipment is built to last, so buying secondhand is a good option, particularly if your budget is limited. As with all purchases, the phrase caveat emptor applies. Do your research, check out what's on offer and be prepared to pay sensible prices for good quality gear. Whilst we don't offer advice on secondhand pricing, you can check out the EOS System to find out the prices for Canon EOS cameras and lenses on launch. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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