Tips on How to Buy a Used DSLR Camera

Tips on How to Buy a Used DSLR Camera

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

Every year, new DSLR cameras come out, so there are always a lot of used ones on the market. There are sure to be some great deals among these used models, and who doesn’t like a good deal?

Not everything. Smartphone cameras have gotten a lot better over the past few years. When smartphones first came out, they only had 3MP, 5MP, or 8MP cameras. Now, smartphones have 13MP, 16MP, 21MP, and even more.

Some models of smartphones have two cameras, one on the front and one on the back. Because of this, there is now a trend where everyone takes pictures (Check Instagram for proof).

Most people who love taking pictures have decided to move from using their phones to using DSLR cameras. Since new DSLR cameras are expensive, a lot of people are buying used ones.

Used DSLR cameras are great because they have already been tried and tested. Most will be sold as kits that include a used DSLR camera, lenses, and other accessories. This is a great deal for a beginner. Why? You don’t have to buy new lenses, which can also be expensive.

The question still stands: Is it a good idea to buy a used camera?

Let’s find out!

Why you should buy a used DSLR camera Big savings
Getting a brand-new camera is a big investment, and many people don’t have the money to make such a purchase. What you might not know is that camera companies usually price new cameras high to cover their research and development costs and to make money off the new technology.

Let’s face it. If you are just starting out as a photographer, a used camera is a great thing to buy.

When you choose to buy a used camera, you can save a lot of money. Because camera companies come out with new models every year, a used camera is very cheap. So, a professional photographer will choose to go up a level.

Since the camera has only been used a little bit, the seller will offer huge discounts to get rid of it as soon as possible.

If you want to start a career as a photographer, you can take advantage of this and buy a slightly used DLSR camera that will help you get started. You will also be able to save a lot of money.

Great for Learning

As was already said, the cameras on smartphones are getting better. When you add social networking sites like Instagram and apps like Snapchat to the mix, everyone is now a photographer. Most of these people have decided to take their love of photography to the next level by buying professional DSLR cameras.

Brand-new cameras are expensive, so as a student who wants to learn photography, I can’t afford to buy one. Getting used lenses and a used camera can help you get better at what you’re doing. First of all, it’s been used a little bit, which means it’s been tried and tested. Even though the body of the camera 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 techniques. For example, how to use different settings like ISO, white balance, aperture, shutter speed, camera mode, automatic exposure bracketing, and autofocus.

Not everything.

You will learn how to keep a camera in good shape. For example, how to keep mould and dust from getting on the camera sensor and how to clean the DSLR lens, among other things.

You can upgrade your camera without going broke.

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 dreams. If you only use the camera on your phone, you can take great pictures, but this is not the best way to learn. Why?

DSLR cameras have a lot of settings and features that smartphone cameras do not have. If you choose to keep using your point-and-shoot camera or smartphone, you will have a shorter learning curve. Buying a used camera is the only way to make sure you can become a pro without going broke.

Most used cameras can be bought as a complete set. The seller is selling the body of the camera along with used lenses, extra batteries, a strap, a manual, and a memory card. All of this is in the original box. If you only get the body of a used camera, it’s not a good idea to buy it. Why? It could be taken.

Now that you have a used camera and other used photography equipment, you are ready to become a professional photographer. All you have to do is put together a portfolio, and the only way to do that is to take a few professional photos.

Serves as a back-up

Let’s face it. DSLR cameras can break, just like the other electronics we have in our homes. For example, when taking a picture, the user might drop the camera by accident. He or she might even accidentally knock the camera off the table if it’s sitting there. If this happened, the lens could get scuffed or even break. If the camera fell on the floor with the LCD screen facing down, it might break or crack.

Not everything.

The body of the camera could get dents from these kinds of mishaps. Sometimes, the camera might need to be cleaned to get rid of dust or fungus. If the photographer doesn’t have enough time to finish cleaning and has an urgent job to do, he or she can use an old DSLR for the job.

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

So, how do you make sure a good deal doesn’t turn out to be a bad one?

Well, here are some things to watch out for before you buy used lenses and a used DSLR camera.

  • Counter for shutter
  • Scratches
  • Camera body
  • Sensor
  • LCD display
  • Serial
  • Auto-focus
  • What to keep an eye out for before buying a used DSLR or lens
  • Shutter Counter

The counter on the shutter is like the mileage counter on a car. Basically, it’s a part that shows how many times the shutter has been opened and closed. You should know that the vast majority of DSLR cameras can take pictures an infinite number of times before the part needs to be replaced.

Each camera maker lists the number of shutter cycles for each model on its website, so you should be able to find the information for a specific brand or model by doing a simple web search. If you wanted to buy a new DSLR camera, it would be very easy. You could buy it online or at a camera store near you, and then you could start taking pictures.

The process is a little different for used DSLR cameras. Why? The DSLR camera has already been used, and if this part breaks, the camera won’t work anymore. It costs a lot to replace the shutter counter. You could just get a brand-new DSLR camera.

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

  • 50,000 to 60,000 for a first job.
  • Between 100,000 and 130,000
  • Expensive—$200,000 to $250,000

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

When you finally meet the seller, ask for the DSLR camera and take a picture.
Save the picture to your computer or tablet.

Find a good app or piece of software that can show EXIF Metadata. You can use things like EOSInfo for Canon or PhotoME as examples. On, Nikon users can also upload a NEF file, while Pentax users can upload PEF or DNG files. (JPGs can also be used on the platform.)

In addition to the shutter counter value, the displayed metadata will show you information like the camera brand, lens used, model, and ISO setting. We are interested in the shutter counter value, so it is easy to find in the data that is shown.

Take a few shots with the camera at different shutter speeds before you buy. If the camera gets stuck or makes squeaking sounds, it may need to be fixed or cleaned.


There are people who will sell the DSLR with the kit lens. This is common for cameras in the lower and middle price ranges. Check the lens for scratches before you buy it. First, look at the front and back. Do you see any scuffs? If the camera has a lot of big scratches, it may have been dropped more than once. If the scratches are small, this might not make a big difference in how the photo turns out.

Check the barrel of the lens for any marks or scratches. It’s important to make sure the lens can move easily. If it gets stuck when you try to retract or extend it, it’s no good. Check the aperture ring as well. If you have to move it by hand, make sure the movement is smooth.

Fungus is another problem that you should look for. Fungus can damage the lens so much that it can’t be used anymore. Ask the seller how the lens was stored before you buy it. If it has been in a bag and not in a dry place for a long time, you should not eat it.

The Body of the Camera

The way the body of the DSLR camera looks shows how the owner has been taking care of it. So, what do you need to look for? Look for dings and scratches on the body. If the rubber grips are very worn, the camera’s owner may not have taken good care of it.

You can ask the seller to show you some photos that the camera has taken in the past. The reason for this is to find out where the camera was used most often. For example, if a lot of the pictures are taken at the beach, it could have been exposed to water and sand. If none of the pictures are of the beach, the camera may not have been in any wet conditions.

It’s time to check the dials and the button that says “shutter.” If the camera has a lot of wear marks, it has been through a lot. This is also true if the dials and buttons look like they are made of shinier plastic than the sample photos taken by the camera.

Check to see if the USB ports are in good shape. Are the ports rusty and warped? What about the port for the SD card? Can you easily put and take out the SD card? What about the place where the battery goes? Can you easily open and close the cover? Is there rust in the area where the batteries go?

Camera Sensor

You already know that DSLRs have lenses that can be taken off. Because of this, dust could get on the sensor. If there is dust on the camera sensor, the picture will not be as good. Taking a sample photo with the camera is one of the best ways to find out if there is dust on the sensor. Choose either a daytime sky or a white wall as your background (should be well lit). Set the lens to f/22 and take a picture.

How is the picture’s quality?

This method can also help you figure out which pixels are hot or dead.

On the other hand, you can use a dark background for a sample photo. Compare the images with and without light. You can also look at the sensor with your own eyes. By lifting the mirror release, you can do this. Use the options that come with the camera. Do dust particles or marks show up on the sensor?

You should know that dust can be cleaned off the sensor, but if there are scratches, this is a big problem.

LCD Display

An LCD screen is built into every DSLR camera. It has a simple goal. To frame shots, the photographer should be able to look at recorded images, menus, and settings. This shows that the LCD screen is a very important part. You need to look at the LCD display of a used DSLR camera before you buy it.

Dead pixels are the first thing you should look out for. If the LCD screen is showing a photo with only one color, you can see if there are any dead pixels. You should know that dead pixels on the LCD screen won’t affect the quality of your photos, but they will make it hard to see what’s on the screen when you play them back.

Not only the LCD screen but also the optical viewfinder should be checked for scratches. The only way to get rid of dust or scratches on a DSLR camera is to take it in for a full service. Don’t forget to check the focusing screen for damage.


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

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

During your talk with the representative, ask them to check the camera’s details. A very large number of brands ask users to register their cameras as soon as they buy them.

This helps to make sure that they can get updates and better service. If the camera has only one owner, the owner’s information should match the seller’s information. You can use online services like,, or if the camera has been passed around a few times. You can also use Craigslist to look for something.

You can also be sure that 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 listed above.


Checking to see if the autofocus is working is always important. During event shoots, if there is a problem, it will bother the photographer. Focusing on something far away is one of the best ways to see if the autofocus is working as it should. Set the used DSLR camera to live view and then switch to regular phase detection. During this time, you should also test how well both single AF and continuous AF work.

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

Helpful Hints

Meeting the seller in person is a great idea. Why? This will let you test 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, not in the evening or at night. This is done so that you can clearly see what you are buying. It will also give you a chance to check the body and lens of the camera, as well as the USB ports and LCD screen, for scratches and dents.

Also, it’s important to make sure the meeting takes place in a public place, preferably one with Wi-Fi. This will let you use the web to find out if the camera has been stolen or not. You can also learn more about the shutter counter by using other online apps. Don’t forget to bring a family member or friend with you. This is to keep everyone safe.

Yes, there are a lot of auction sites like eBay and classified sites like Craigslist. However, if you want to make sure you get to buy what is advertised, it is best to meet in person to make the deal.

Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t get suckered!

What if you can’t avoid meeting in person? So, you’ll have to buy the used DSLR camera from an online store. Here are some of the best online stores for used DSLR cameras that you can trust.

Where You Can Buy a Used DSLR Camera?

Are you going to buy a used DSLR camera? No longer do you have to look through the classified ads in the newspaper to find that one thing. There are now online catalogs of used cameras on the internet, which makes it easy to find what you want. The problem is that if you aren’t careful, you might get ripped off.

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

One Last Thing

Buying a used camera is one of the best things you will ever do, whether you want to be a photographer or are already one. For starters, it’s a great way for people who want to become photographers to learn. With a used camera, you can also save a lot of money thanks to the huge discounts.

Used cameras can be a backup for professional photographers in case their main camera needs to be fixed or is broken.

Used cameras are great in general. Just use the list above when looking for a used DSLR camera so you don’t get ripped off.

About Author


Freelance journalist Corey has been writing about digital photography since 2006, first as a deputy editor and then as the editor of a variety of photographic journals. Featuring expert product reviews and in-depth features

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