Are you in the market for some new equipment at an affordable cost? Here are a few pointers that can assist you to get improved and safer deals.
The first couple of weeks following the holidays can prove to be among the best times to be searching for new second-hand equipment. For the duration of the holidays, many photographers tend to upgrade what they have and acquire new gear as they capitalize on holiday sales or get gifted new gear by generous loved ones. Going with this premise, following the holidays many of them opt to do away with their old equipment and they appear on surplus database as they have become outmoded, or merely because they don’t spark joy.
Purchasing second-hand gear is an excellent method of saving, particularly if you don’t have a flexible budget. For greenhorn photographers, particularly those who are just dipping their toes in these waters, acquiring second-hand lenses and cameras can be a more feasible option if you’re not certain that you’ll be venturing into this hobby on a permanent basis.
Store Versus Individual Sellers
Assuming that the lens, camera, or accessory that you are searching for is vastly available, among the first decisions you have to make is if you want to purchase from a store that deals with second-hand equipment, or directly from individual sellers.
As a rule, buying from a reputable vendor such as Surplus Network provides you with the guarantee that the device has been exhaustively evaluated for any faults and if they are found to have any, the equipment should be correctly described and priced appropriately. This is usually the best course of action due to the credibility of the store and the fact that it’s an accredited legal entity. In the event you have problems with the item you acquired, there’s a predetermined procedure for making a return or doing a replacement. However, the hitch is that they may generally not be the most affordable deals. This is reasonable since you shell out more money for additional safety, and you must bear in mind that the store has to turn a profit from purchasing the gear from the real owner.
Alternatively, the choice of acquiring the equipment directly from the actual owner is way easier. For a long time, there have been alternatives such as Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, and in the recent past, Facebook’s marketplace. Buying from sellers on those platforms is usually cost-effective if the individual in question is looking to offload their item fast. However, the shortcoming in this case is that you are more susceptible to getting conned if you’re not cautious. Overall, it makes more sense to look for listings from persons who are geographically nearer to your location. The best way to approach this scenario is to meet up with the seller in person and inspect the equipment, if at all possible with your own set of equipment. For instance, if you’re acquiring a second-hand lens, it would be prudent to check how it works when affixed to your camera body and if you’re acquiring a camera, ensure that it functions properly with the lenses you’ve got.
In case the individual selling the gear is not in your locale, another course of action is to look for somebody you know who resides in the region and have them link up with the individual and evaluate the gear comprehensively in your stead. Obviously, it would work best if the said person is conversant with lenses and cameras and can comprehensively evaluate them before they buy. If you cannot locate such a person to act in your stead, then the final option would be sampling videos and photos of the lens and camera. Also, search the Internet for any reviews about the individual seller and other equipment they may have traded in the past.
Testing and Inspecting Used Gear
In any of the aforementioned scenarios, there are several factors to take into account when testing second-hand equipment. It is particularly imperative to be meticulous when acquiring something that doesn’t come sealed in a box since many a time, they don’t come attached with any warranty guarantee and returning the product may not even be an option you can explore. That’s why before giving out your hard-earned money, you should ensure that you’re getting value for money and that there are no unnoticed or hidden defects.
A comprehensive assessment of the aesthetics of the lens or camera provides you with a picture of how much the gear has been utilized, and if it has been damaged or worn out. The shelf life of the device doesn’t always correspond to how worn out it appears but a fast review of the serial number (for many big brands) can provide you with the precise month and year that the lens was manufactured. Checking the shutter count for cameras can also assist, but if the shutter appliance has undergone replacement, it won’t be a precise estimate of the gear’s age. Generally, checking whether the barrel has scratches, how loose the zoom ring rubber grip is, and whether the dials, rings, buttons and other assorting parts are functioning properly are the most integral components to be on the lookout for.
It’s integral to check whether everything in the lens or camera is operating properly and will continue to do so. When buying second-hand cameras, it’s crucial to check both video and photo functionality and check whether everything is in working order. Also, make sure to check how fast the battery discharges since you may need to acquire new ones which would mean additional expenses. Taking quick continuous pics, along with a couple of minutes of video can provide you with a picture if there are heat or durability issues.
When obtaining lenses, it’s integral that you try out all the ranges. Take a couple of pics with the lens from as many angles as you can. There are a few problems with some lenses that crop up in certain focal lengths (for instance, in a 70-200mm telephoto lens, an error at 105mm.) It’s also integral that you try the whole aperture range since there may be a few lens problems where errors would come up in particular f-stops. And finally, try out auto-focus at several focal distances also. The motor may have problems aiming far away or close and it’s imperative that you note that.
It’s also in your interest to assess the internal constituents the best you can. Inspect the sensor for obvious damage, dust, debris and fungal growth that needs to be cleaned out. The same case applies to glass components in a lens. Fungal growth occurs when the gear is improperly stored. This can prove to be an issue because it can deteriorate the quality of the images taken. It may also be costly to get rid of them depending on how far the spread has gotten. There are also some instances when the internal components may need to undergo replacement entirely. This means enlisting the services of a seasoned technician wherein the cost of the spare parts and services rendered will be considerable.
So, before acquiring a second-hand lens or camera, make sure to take the aforementioned factors into consideration to get the best value for your money.