Used Digital Camera Buyer’s Guide

If you want to buy a digital camera, you should consider getting a used one rather than buying new. Many second hand digital cameras are available in good condition, since some photographers are constantly upgrading to the latest model. Used cameras are not all old, battered and out-dated. They are often sold simply because they are no longer wanted, rather than because there is anything wrong with them and the software and drivers can be upgraded or updated with free downloads, so a used camera will be compatible with your current computer.


Buying a used camera is easy. Many specialist photography stores have a selection of used and refurbished cameras, and they are also listed online by individual owners and businesses. Sites such as craigslist often have ads for used cameras, while auction sites such as eBay and Yahoo! Auctions have many listings for cheap digital cameras.

The main reason to buy second hand is to save money. A used digital camera is typically 20 to 60 percent cheaper than a new one. You may also be able to find a model that is no longer being produced, or which has sold out. If you cannot get the camera you want from a store, then it is a good idea to find out whether it is available second hand. Many people also sell rare and classic cameras, although these will be more expensive than a normal digital camera. Choosing a cheap used camera is also a good idea if you are going to be taking it out with you, traveling with it, or giving it to a child, as you will be able to afford to treat it roughly.

Some of the older digital cameras that are available used may lack the functions that are found on new digital cameras. This does not mean that you should not look at them, because most photographers do not use all of the functions on their cameras. There is no point paying for features you will never use. A simpler camera will also be easier to use. Most second hand digital cameras will have the basic function, such as a zoom and autofocus, and usually have CCD sizes comparable to new models. Some of the younger used cameras that are available have the same capabilities as a brand new camera, including night mode and TTL flashes.

A refurbished camera might be a better option if you need an extra assurance about the condition of a camera. Refurbished cameras have been bought and then returned to the store. They are then checked by the manufacturer, and any necessary repairs made, before being returned to the store for sale. Since they have been sold before, they are offered at a reduced price. Some refurbished cameras are as perfect as brand new ones, but others may have problems such as taking a long time to turn on or process photos, batteries that do not hold a charge for as long as they should, or an extended shutter lag. The seller should tell you about any problems before you buy.


It is essential to check the condition of a used camera. You can do this by questioning the seller, handling the camera yourself, and/or examining the photos and descriptions posted online. There are certain things that you should look for when you are evaluating a used camera. Some of these can be assessed with a visual check, others by asking the seller or testing the camera for yourself.

Check for any scratches, marks or dents on the camera. This will tell you whether the camera has been mistreated. Pay particularly close attention to the lens. Any water damage, dust or scratches could affect your pictures. Open the battery corridor and look for any signs of corrosion. This is usually a white build up, which can be removed with an alkali cleaner. If there is a little corrosion, you may be able to get an extra discount and then clean it up when you get it home. Get the seller to agree that you can return it if the corrosion does not clean off. If there is a lot of corrosion, then the camera is not worth buying.

Make sure that the digital screen works. It is often the screen that causes problems in a digital camera. T may flicker, blink, or have red, green or black spots on it. There’s no point buying a camera that doesn’t have a properly working screen, as it is essential for navigating menus.

Check that there are no strange sounds when the camera is working. If there are any unusual clocks or whirrs, then do not take the camera.

Find out if the camera has ever been accidentally damaged or had to undergo repairs. Has it ever been dropped, frozen in cold weather or gotten wet? You can check for any signs of repair work for yourself. Take a magnifying glass and examine the screws. You should be able to see marks on them if the camera has been opened up.

You should always make sure you can get a manual for a used camera, either from the seller or by downloading one from the manufacturer’s website. Without it, you may not be able to use the camera properly.

Ask the seller about a warranty. Don’t buy a camera without one. If you do find a problem with the camera, then you should get in touch with the seller immediately to arrange a refund, but it is better to avoid buying a bad camera if you can, by making sure that you choose a good camera in good condition.