Top tips on buying second hand cameras

Rumage top tips on buying second hand cameras. If you want a great camera but can’t afford one you can find some great second-hand deals on full camera sets, lenses and tripods. Consumer technology is moving at such a pace and the pandemic has only sped that up.

While buying a used camera may lack the “fresh out the box” feeling, a well-maintained DSLR second hand cameras will still deliver great shots and performance for a fraction of the price of a brand-new model. So, knowing what you need it for probably means that an older model would be just fine.

By using you can find the best refurbished and second hand camera equipment across many marketplaces with just one search term. But there are some things to watch out for before you decide if a used one is for you.

Nothing beats a good inspection

The golden rule for buying second hand cameras is to get your hands on it before you buy. Sometimes that’s just not possible so make sure the description and images are as detailed as possible. Photos, descriptions are helpful but ask questions.

Shutter Count

A camera’s shutter count should be considered before you part with cash. You treat that much like milage on a car. Every time the camera takes a photo the shutter count will increase by one. So, the lower shutter count the better? Not quite as simple as that. DSLRs can take hundreds of thousands of shots and still work brilliantly.

Any higher than 100,000 and caution… a closer inspection is wise to check everything still works well. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but worth keeping in mind when you compare models and prices.

The camera Sensor

This is probably the most important part of a camera. DSLR sensors are easy to damage when lenses are changed in a hurry as dust can get in. Shine a light on it to look for scratches and marks. Minor damage maybe fixable if the prices is right, but you need to know what you are doing.

However, if there is fungus in the second-hand camera – we’d say walk away!

The actual Camera and LCD screen

Be cautious if the camera case has a badly scuffed surface. If the covering is coming away from the body, you can glue it down. But, check to make sure the case hasn’t shrunk.

Next the battery contacts inside. If there is a green, brown, or white deposit on the surface don’t buy it as they could have leaked causing further damage.

Try the camera set to various modes to see if the LCD digits are all okay and you can view the menus easily.

For any threaded tripods and lenses make check to see if the thread is not stripped.

If the camera has a built-in flash, then use a fresh battery to see it fire and then see how long it takes to recharge. If it takes more than four or five seconds, it could be at the end of its useful life. And, If the camera has a flash sync socket, then plug a flashgun in and check that it fires.

If a flash is not important to you and the camera’s one is not up to standard, then make sure you get a reduction on the price of the camera as it will be harder to sell on or exchange.


If you’re not just buying a camera body, you’ll need to check the lens(es) you’re purchasing with it. Whether in the bundle or bought as single items check the condition carefully. Hold the lens up to a light and check for internal marks.

The ring at the front of the lens is used to attach filters and other lens accessories to it. Check that the mount is not dented or stripped of its thread.

If there are a few lenses in the bundle the seller may well have swapped out good ones for less good ones. So, price and condition needs to be weighted up.

A few final thoughts

Don’t assume refurbished or second hand cameras are always cheaper. If you buy the latest model second-hand, the price will still be steep, and the saving won’t be huge. Remember older models can still produce stunning shots for a fraction of the price. Like with anything always shop around before you buy.

Avoiding new is better for the planet as you are avoiding new materials being used. Rumage exists to lighten the load on the planet as well as save you money. We search many sites we are linked to so you can find second hand with ease. We are building relationships with many sites who believe, like we do, that second-hand should be the first choice as much as possible.

why buy new?

Product and Seller reviews

When buying online or in person make sure you dig into the seller feedback. Try and hunt about for customer feedback. Not only on the camera but the seller as well. Then you know if you are getting a bargain or not.


Buying used camera equipment (especially from individuals) usually means the warranty has expired. However, a reputable store will still offer some protection for if something goes wrong. These stores (on and offline) may offer part-exchange so you can trade in your old equipment, saving you money on the next model.

let’s focus on second hand

The thing is, photographers tend to look after their cameras, so if you’re smart, there are some real bargains to be had.

Rabie Madaci

All second hand, all in one place

Plus get offers and discounts at Rumage Street


Sign-up for our newsletter

Newsletter Form (#3)