2019-11-12

Should You Buy Used Camera Equipment

Visitors to our two camera stores (in London and Sussex) are sometimes surprised by the range and quality of used items we have in stock. Customers regularly ask our staff whether they should consider buying used camera equipment rather than new. So in this post we’ll explore why you might want to, the pros and cons, what to look out for and how you can have the best experience possible.
New vs Used - can you get a great deal?



Let’s start with the positive reasons why you might buy second hand:

  1. You will definitely save money over buying new
  2. Buying from a reputable company offers peace of mind with a warranty
  3. There will often be real bargains in ‘as-new’ condition, such as open-box or returns
  4. It can be an excellent route to expanding your lens collection
  5. It allows you to try other gear that you might otherwise miss out on
  6. You can buy anything from cameras and lenses, to GoPro’s, drones and tripods
  7. You can create a whole new camera system as back-up or for video and vlogging
  8. You can trade-in your unused gear, saving even more
  9. You can try out used gear prior to purchase mounted on your own equipment
  10. Second hand is a sustainable choice
  11. You can sell it again and and save on the depreciation of new gear
This is an exciting time to be enjoying photography, with plenty of manufacturers competing through their excellent interchangeable lens systems. There have never been so many high quality, advanced photography products entering the market throughout the year. This means that there is always a great choice of equipment available in the used department as other photographers trade-in their unwanted items.

Used camera and lens department in our Sussex store


Depending on your style of shooting you might be after different types of gear to expand your camera system. As a landscape photographer I’m always looking for the best combination of detailed high resolution images, dynamic range, high quality compatible lenses and good value for money. By going through the used route I’ve been fortunate to try several brands and settled on the one which suits my style of working the best. If you are a wedding or portrait photographer you may look for an accurate autofocus system, buffer rates and fast glass. Street or travel photographers might need smaller portable mirrorless bodies with compact lightweight lenses. We’ve seen a growing number of photographers looking for a second system, as either a back-up or offering advanced video for making vlogging-style movies. I’d recommend doing your homework before by reading reviews and watching educational videos related to what you are after. Our blog has a reviews section of the newest and best releases in the UK. Our YouTube Channel is powered by the extremely knowledgeable Gareth Evans who provides excellent hands-on reviews of many systems.

What to look for or consider when buying used:

Buying used can come with a number of concerns, such as what if the seller is not accurate about the items' condition, or the equipment has been dropped or damaged. What if it’s not a UK model, or has been imported from the ‘grey market’. It might not be compatible with your particular system or has an undiagnosed fault. I’ve had all of these concerns and in fact had a bad experience (out of many positive) when buying from the large auction website (you know the one!) Having purchased an expensive zoom lens for Fuji X system I subsequently discovered it had a fault. It’s not a mistake I wanted to repeat, so I decided to start buying from reputable shops who offer a warranty instead, and I haven’t looked back since making that decision.

Look for quality assurance, guarantee and pre-sale testing in used equipment

Here are some ways to ensure you have continually positive experiences when buying used;
  • Buy from a second hand shop with technicians who are trained to test equipment. This way you know it’s been quality assured.
  • Get a warranty for the used gear you are buying. A lot of camera gear is built to last years, or even decades. Having a warranty gives extra reassurance from the outset.
  • Know what you are buying by going to test the equipment prior to purchasing.
  • Once satisfied it’s as described, make sure you use it as much as possible to identify any issues as soon as possible.
  • Make sure the sensor is clean if buying a camera. Sensors can get damaged or have oil on them, which can be expensive to fix.
  • Check the shutter count when buying a DSLR. Most modern cameras can shoot 100’s of thousands of frames, but the lower the count generally the better.
  • If buying a lens, check for smooth functioning of zoom and focus rings, and check for any creep. Make sure there are no dents or signs of damage.
  • Make sure all listed parts and accessories are enclosed. Caps, chargers and other accessories can be sourced, but it’s nice to get them all at once.
  • Test autofocus functions on cameras or lenses.
  • Make sure the item is compatible with your equipment. This sounds obvious but there is so much choice around it can be confusing with full-frame, APS-C, micro 4/3.
  • Read Google reviews to make sure the store you are buying from has great feedback.
  • If you decide to buy from an individual it is especially important that you make a concerted effort to try it out beforehand.

Why buy used from Park Cameras?

We are happy to report that we provide all of the peace of mind you could wish for in our thriving used departments. Our reviews on Google (London store and Burgess Hill store) and Trustpilot are overwhelmingly positive and we can even source an item for you if we don’t have it in stock. If you are trading-in to offset the cost of a purchase, we’ll collect your equipment for free if the value is over £1000. Delivery is also free over £50 so there doesn’t have to be any hassle at all. We provide a minimum of six months used warranty unless otherwise stated, and our trained technicians clean all sensors and hand-check every item prior to selling.

We are PRO UK dealers for all of the major camera brands, which means there’s a swift turnover of the very best used equipment available in the UK. Our Pro dealer status isn’t taken for granted and we work hard to ensure our staff are experts in their field and can offer the best advice. Here are some of the brands we represent as Professional retailers:
  • Canon
  • Fujifilm
  • Gitzo
  • Nikon
  • Olympus
  • Panasonic Lumix
  • Pentax
  • Ricoh
  • Sony Alpha Centre of Excellence
Park Camera Pro Camera Dealer Manufacturer logos

Example cost savings

Here are some examples of stock at the time of writing, which demonstrates the excellent cost-savings which can be achieved with used gear. (Please be aware that gear comes and goes, often very quickly depending on how popular it is).

Canon 600mm f/4 IS USM Mark II Lens
This is an exceptional lens (see on Canon's website here) for sports, wildlife and any professional telephoto application. The reviews are fantastic and at £11k new, this lens is not for the faint hearted. We currently have one in stock £5,000 cheaper, despite being in ‘as new’ condition!

Nikon D5 Body
Nikon’s current full-frame flagship DSLR- See the D5 here at Nikon. As a new camera it’s £6k.

We have one used in excellent condition for under £4k, saving a massive £2000. This lets you consider adding another lens or two in savings alone.

DJI Mavic Pro Drone
Equipment is by no means limited to high end DSLR’s. You can buy a used DJI Mavic Pro Drone for under £600 in excellent condition. These are professional quality drones, (albeit the previous generation) and a steal at that price. Perfect to explore aerial photography without the financial outlay of a brand new model.

Compact cameras
These are perfect for travel, point and shoots and as second systems, with advanced functionality often giving interchangeable systems a serious run for their money. Featuring super-zooms, high speed autofocus and far more. See what’s available in our used compact camera department.

Our used equipment will be featuring in our Black Friday 2019 event. If you would like to be amongst the first to know what becomes available, as it becomes available, sign up with us and we’ll e-mail you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Conclusion

In my experience buying used camera equipment has been a resounding success. I’ve tried out several camera systems, including Nikon, Fuji, Sigma and Sony to see whether they suit my needs. I’ve re-sold equipment if it wasn’t right and purchased again afterwards. Going to a store has definitely given me more confidence and peace of mind over buying from auction sites. Having a six month warranty on used equipment makes me feel like it has been thoroughly tested and I know it’s going to work as expected. Like anything technical, equipment can go wrong, but the peace of mind of knowing it can be returned makes good sense to me and I have picked up some great bargains along the way! Of course it's not for everyone, let us know your thoughts by posting a comment below. Tell us if you got a good deal or had a positive / negative experience.

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