Opting for a second-hand DSLR camera is a more cost-effective way of building up your photography kit. Buying everything you need as new can get very expensive, very quickly, and unless you’re a professional photographer, it might not be a justifiable expense. That said, it’s essential to arm yourself with some hints and tips before you snap any bargains you’ve seen online. Here’s everything you need to know when buying second-hand photography equipment.

Check the Shutter Count

One of the most important things to consider before buying a second-hand DSLR is the camera’s shutter count. If we liken it to buying a used car, you’d check how many miles it had on the clock to check how much it had been used. The shutter count on a used camera, therefore, shows how much use it’s had.

As the camera shutter mechanism moves each time a photo is taken, the shutter count will increase by one every time. A low shutter count will tell you that the camera hasn’t been used very often, meaning that it should have a longer life span.

Most DSLRs can have a shutter count of thousands and thousands and still be in perfect working order. Anything higher than around 100,000 should be inspected more carefully to make sure everything is running smoothly and works well. A high shutter speed doesn’t always spell trouble, it just means you should be particularly cautious when inspecting other parts of the camera.

Inspect the Camera’s Sensor

The sensor on a DSLR is probably the most important component. It controls everything from image resolution, depth of field, dynamic range, and the size of the camera, as well as so much more. As you will be changing the lenses on your DSLR frequently, the sensor is susceptible to damage via dust or dirt entering the camera and making contact with the sensor while it’s exposed.

To inspect a sensor, you should shine a light in it to show up any marks, scratches or missing pixels. Some very minor damage, depending on the position of it, can be fixed fairly easily or not impact your images at all. If you see any signs of dampness or fungus, it’s best to avoid that camera, as the presence of even a small amount of fungus can cause major issues in the near future.

Check the Lenses

If the used DSLR comes with a lens or lenses included, you need to check on the condition and performance of those too. Just as with the camera sensor, some minor scratches or marks may not necessarily impede its ability to give you great shots. Again, the appearance of fungus on a lens spells trouble and should be avoided.

If the camera comes with many different lenses that they have used with the camera body, it can be assumed that they have changed the lens a lot of times which, of course, can let dust and dirt into the camera or lens.

Consider a Mirrorless Camera

DSLRs are typically favoured by both amateur and professional photographers as they’re suited to different styles of photography and environments. DSLRs aren’t the only option to capture that perfect shot, however. If you’re looking for a used camera on a budget, a mirrorless camera may well suit you best.

Modern mirrorless cameras can be a great alternative. They don’t contain a mirror inside the body, but in terms of what you can achieve with them, there’s little difference. They’re especially great as they’re much lighter and more compact than a DSLR and usually have a fantastic auto-focus setting and a better battery life. They’re also much more affordable.

What’s Included With the Used DSLR?

DSLRs typically come with a number of camera accessories, some of which are essential to the proper operation of the camera. The battery and charger should always be included, all of our used digital cameras are supplied with a battery and charger and a lens cap as standard. When available, we will also supply you with an instruction manual and strap.

If the camera has a higher price because it comes with multiple accessories, make sure you also check each of these over to make sure that they’re worth the increased price. It’s always worth asking if the seller has the original box too.

Ask For More Images

This is especially important when purchasing from an individual rather than a store. If the seller has an item listed with stock images, you may want to avoid it unless they can provide images of the actual item.

Try to get images to ensure the make and model match what is being advertised as well as all of the important components including shutter count, sensor condition and lens condition. If something seems too good to be true, it often is. A DSLR is a considerable expense and you don’t want to be out of pocket and left empty-handed.

Get a Warranty

The nature of buying a used camera means that often the original manufacturer warranty has expired or is now void. If you’re buying your second-hand camera from a reputable shop, they will offer some protection. When you buy a used item from CameraWorld over £50 in value, it will be covered by our 6-month guarantee. In the unlikely event of the product developing a manufacturer's fault within this period, just pop it back to us and if we can’t repair it for you, we’ll issue you a full refund providing it’s not covered in sand or ice cream.

Another major advantage of shopping with us is that we offer part-exchange if you want to trade in your old kit. Simply bring it along to one of our stores, and we’ll give you a price for it. Alternatively, if you’d like to know an estimated price before working out your budget, you can use our online valuation. We pay top prices on all used photography equipment and aim to beat any other quote.

For the best prices on used cameras, visit one of our stores in London, Essex or Stevenage or take a look online. You'll find a vast range of new and used photography equipment at great prices as well as expert advice from our passionate advisors who are always happy to pass on their wealth of knowledge.