New or used

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You can get excellent equipment used

Photography can be an expensive hobby. Fortunately, there are people with equipment they have not used much and are willing to sell. Some excellent equipment can be had for very reasonable prices and most will continue working for a very long time to come.

What can you get??

As part of preparing these pages, I ended up doing some actual shopping and acquired myself a setup with two cameras. I used a local online second hand service. See my note about price.

Used price between 700 to 1'000

This is a fantastic lens, no question about it. Ten years later, a lens in good condition with its original box will still fetch a very good price. Still considering how much equipment you can get for the price of this used lens, it is a good question to ask "is it really worth this much?".

If you are able to afford this lens at this price, you can probably also afford the up to date version of this lens as well. For lenses that do not lose their value, buying it new is actually a better idea.. After all, in 10 years, it will still be worth a lot.

I did not actually sell this lens, I like it too much to sell.

Actually bought used for 1'000

This is a very decent collection of photographic equipment in excellent condition.

To be completely fair, the Nikon 105 is a manual lens that does not work on the Nikon D90, so perhaps not the best buy for a two camera setting. One could argue that different primes could have been bought (20mm, 35mm) instead of the zoom. I also ended up preferring lenses that I did not own (i.e. I had already 20mm and 35mm primes). But the point is still valid, that is a lot of equipment for the price of a used lens.

What to be careful when getting used equipment

  • If something is selling for a really great price, chances are there is something wrong with it. It is not so difficult o get a feeling for the going price for similar equipment.
  • It is a warning sign if the pictures look to good, they are most probably from the www of the same equipment. It is actually good sign to see some wear and tear.
  • Older lenses sometimes have excellent build quality, they can last a long time. However, they can also have mould and fogging internally which could severely limit use. There is always a bit of risk. If you are paying something around 100 for a lens, expect to have a few misses now and then.
  • It is possible to clean image sensors, and a typical camera will easily last for 100-200'000 shots. Only professional users will be able to come to such numbers. Most of what you will find are from people that ended up not using their cameras/lenses as much as they thought they would, and now there are newer and better models that clearly outperform them.

Good bargains
  • Older manual focus lenses, autofocus can be a great help and in certain conditions you can not do without, but you do not need autofocus for a lot of cases. In addition, manual focus lenses usually allow require larger amount of turn to cover the focusing range, allowing you to focus more precisely.
  • Older cameras, pretty much any serious digital camera manufactured after 2010 is good enough for most users. Cameras like Nikon D90 and Nikon D700 sell for very little, but most have plenty of life left and deliver excellent pictures. Pick cameras that are at least 2 generations behind the latest.
  • Slow zooms, especially older zooms that are f/3.5 to f/5.6 or less do not get much love in second hand sales. Most equipment is more than good enough and with modern cameras (basically for anything after 2010) the speed of the lens is not that big of an issue.
Over-rated used equipment
  • Fast lenses, the review culture has generated an unreasonable demand to lenses that are ridiculously fast. f/1.4 and faster lenses and zooms with a fixed f/2.8 aperture over their range remain expensive.
  • Newer cameras, I have no issues in taking a Nikon D90 when I need a camera. I recently bought one in excellent condition for 120. Cameras will lose value quickly over time, do not look for cameras that are recent.
  • Long zooms, they are big, they are heavy, and they are expensive. They make a lot of sense for professionals, not so much for cost conscious shoppers.

These pages are for Amateur Photographers and not really for seasoned photographers and professionals. I have no affiliation or commercial interest with any brand/make. I write from my own experience. I ended up using mainly Nikon, so I am more familiar with this brand than others. See price for notes on pricing as well as photography related links.