Buying Used Cameras


What you need to look for when you buy a used camera.

This is for everyone who’s a photographer. Besides what you see, the aesthetics of it, there are more things to check before buying a camera.

First, buying a used product comes with many risks. Malfunctions, scratches or there are some things that the seller might not say about the camera. Many of these can be prevented, especially if you’re buying online. Here are a few guidelines to follow and see if you’re buying a working camera or not.

1: Always, I mean always, check the seller’s profile, his feedback and comments from other buyers, to see if it’s not a scam. Also, check if it’s possible to return the product. I think there’s an international law which says there must be a month, or so, after buying the product, in which you can return it and get full refund.

2: Always check for warranty.

3: Don’t trust the photos of the product. 99% of the time, the pictures are fake or edited so you can’t see the scratches.

4: If the seller is from your city, ask for a meeting in which case, you can check the camera.

5: Check the lens for any scratches or any fungus. Watch very closely. If the lens has scratches, there’s
nothing you can do to get rid of it. If there’s any fungus on it, it’s almost impossible to clean it, and very expensive to get it cleaned at a professional shop. Even though, the fungus is very small, it will spread like a spider web. If it’s a metal lens, check it so it will move smoothly. Also, make sure that there’s no vaseline inside the lens.

6: Take a test film, place it inside the camera, and check if the wind and the rewind button works without any problems.

7: Open the back of the camera, leave it open ad take a couple if test shots to see if the shutter works properly at the times you set it.

8: See if the front has any holes in it,so it won’t leak light on your film. Just point the camera at any source of light and check for any light leaks. Do the same for the back side of the camera.

9: If it’s possible, ask the seller to shoot a film. This is the perfect proof that the camera works, and doesn’t have any problems.

Most of the sellers, on eBay or other online site are selling things that where stored in the basement or, whatever unproper space, so, if you want to buy a camera to use it, you must check it first.

Recap: Check the lens, check the shutter, check the wind and rewind button, check the front, and take test shots.

written by pvalyk on 2011-11-17 #gear #tutorials #35mm #tips #camera #tutorial #second-hand #ebay #buy #used #tipster


  1. whizzkidd
    whizzkidd ·

    I have bought a few cameras in eBay so far, and until now I've been "lucky" and all of them are as advertised, the only less is a Smena 8M, that the picture of the eBay was not from the machine I bought, but nothing to serious about it, only it has some signs of usage that where not present in the photos. No complains until now and all the sellers where very friendly and helpfull...
    Like you sad in the article, always look at the feedback...

  2. jawatembak
    jawatembak ·

    thanks for the tips. useful tips for impulse person like me.. ebay is a good example to find an honest international seller. :)

  3. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    Good tips.

  4. odax
    odax ·

    Whenever I buy second hand cameras, I never buy from people who are selling heaps of old cameras. It means they're dealers, and don't really care about what they're selling you. And, if the auction says that they don't know if it's working or don't know how to test if it's working, 99% of the time it will be broken.

  5. robotmonkey1996
    robotmonkey1996 ·

    some dumbass ukranian sold me an olympus xa which he insisted was a lomo lc-a.

  6. itsdebraanne
    itsdebraanne ·

    thanks @pvalyk - i usually ask first to make sure if it's operational or not. and also if you can see through the viewfinder and if the buttons/dials work. 70% of my cameras were purchased on-line.
    @whizzkidd - same here, i've been "lucky" as well. most of the cameras i bought were as advertised. and i too have one camera that i accidentally bought online without asking if it worked. that's the last and only camera in my collection that is not operational.
    @robotmonkey1996 - the Olympus XA is considered a poor man's LC-A.

    24 cameras and over a thousand dollars later i've finally stopped buying cameras haha. the most expensive ones I own is the Polaroid SX-70 Alpha 1 Model 2 and a Mamiya C220 TLR in pristine condition. the last and final camera I'm desperately waiting to buy is the Lomo LC-W, unless someone tells me otherwise haha (:

  7. itsdebraanne
    itsdebraanne ·

    my Mamiya C220 is my default pic btw (:

  8. pvalyk
    pvalyk ·

    I must confess. My dream is to buy a Leica, but until I have money for a new one, I can live with a used one. The problem is, it's not a cheap camera, the lens is basically same price as the body, so I can't afford buying a broken camera or a scratched lens.
    Even in a specialized shop that sells used cameras, one must pay close attention to details.

    Sorry, itsdebraanne my fault I didn't mentioned I used your photo. I didn't knew how. Promise wont happen again.

  9. noe_arteaga
    noe_arteaga ·

    @itsdebraanne You'll LOVE the LC-W. Mamiya C22 is fantastic! You can focus real close, but you can, too with the LC-W! ;)

  10. noe_arteaga
    noe_arteaga ·

    @itsdebraanne You'll LOVE the LC-W. Mamiya C22 is fantastic! You can focus real close, but you can, too with the LC-W! ;)

  11. dinospork
    dinospork ·

    My strategy so far: don't spend more than $20-30 and live with the results. Worst case, you end up with a "display piece" (piece of what, is the question) and you're out $30.

  12. marcustegtmeier
    marcustegtmeier ·

    Very informative.

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