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Buying a 2nd Hand DSLR

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by Mat, Mar 29, 2011.

  1. Mat

    Mat Well-Known Member

    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking for some info to help my girlfriend buy her first DSLR to learn photography with. I've been out of it for a few years so not overly sure what's what anymore.

    Her budget is about £300 although might be more if she waits until her birthday.

    Looking on ebay her price range seems to be around the Nikon D70/ D70's/ D80 (at a push) or Canon 350D/ 400D. I've noticed the D70's comes with what looks to be a better lens usually (the 18-70mm 3.5-4.5 G).

    We were thinking that maybe buying an enthusiast DSLR used might be a better option than a new entry level DSLR. I remember my Dad bought the Nikon D40 (something like that) a few years ago and wished that he hadn't. I'm not really sure about other brands. I was surprised to see Olympus didn't seem to have continued their DSLR's and I have no idea about the Sony range.

    We would be grateful of any input :).

    Thanks - Mathew
  2. AlecM

    AlecM MiniMe

    Hi there Mat. With £300, you are not far off a Nikon D3100, which is a great 'beginner's' camera. I use Nikon, but there are offerings from Pentax, Sony and Canon at the £400 ish mark. (notice the liberal use of man-maths where any figure up to 99 is rounded down!).
    I would suggest that the latest base models, as it were, have bang up to date tech and offer very good value for money, with good image quality and features. You could get all sorts of second hand deals, but with new you have the extra peace of mind.
    If it were my money, I'd go for new.
  3. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    I'm not going to try and advise on brand or model, but if you're buying second-hand do make sure you get the battery charger, manual and software CDs which came with the original kit. Connecting leads can also be difficult to source as the camera end may have a "proprietary" size connector.
    Some Canon kits are available here. I don't know about Nikon.

    Manuals, downloadable from manufacturer's websites, normally list the scope of the kit.

    Good luck, and I hope you find what you're looking for.
  4. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    I agree, new is best, unless you know the history of a used item or buy from a dealer who gives a decent warranty.

    Something like this Sony would be a good buy - a year's guarantee and current technology.
  5. JerryNash

    JerryNash Well-Known Member

    I'd have to agree about going for a newer entry level camera.

    Newer cameras have a lot more going for them than older-upper entry level models - especially for beginners. Almost all new entry level models have live-view, HD video, tuition modes and the improvements in high ISO useability in recent years has been massive. You'll also notice the LCD on newer models is far bigger with more dots. The only real 'negatives' you see in entry level cameras is (generally) a lower pixel count (which only makes a difference if you want to make large prints), less external controls - which as a beginner you may not want - and the build quality isn't as good.

    Have you also considered CSCs?
  6. Wheelu

    Wheelu Well-Known Member

    Thought that I had already replied to this, maybe lost in the changeover!

    I tend to go against the flow on this one. Second hand generally offers much better value, as, sadly, the price of a new DSLR tends to plummet whenever a new model is introduced. It therefore makes good sense to wait for that to happen, then buy last year's model from some careful soul who is upgrading. While there have been some really worthwhile improvements in recent times, mainly in improved dynamic range and high speed noise, older cameras don't become bad cameras when a new model is introduced.

    If you buy privately it's better to be sure that you can inspect/test the camera before parting with the cash, but buying from a dealer you will get a guarantee. I have both bought and sold cameras on Ebay, and have generally had good experiences, but there have been a few exceptions - I guess it depends upon your attitude to risk. The Canon refurbished store on Ebay is a safe source of reliable and guaranteed kit, but the prices are not fantastically less than what you would pay new.
  7. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    I agree with that, buying new entails a premium and that can make a significant difference in what you can afford.

    As an extreme example, a new D700 with grip, EN-EL4a, battery door and charger costs around £2,200.
    For the same money you can get a decent used D3.

    Lower down the tree the savings aren't as dramatic but they are there. A used D300 from a reputable dealer is around £700 which is less than a new D7000.
    I wouldn't buy from some one I didn't trust or without a guarantee but, unless you are, or expect to be, a heavy user you won't be getting anywhere near the shutter's ultimate life even after four or five years.

    My D2Xs had over 60,000 shutter actuations when I got it and in four years I have added around 7500, I have also taken some 4500 on my D2X in the same time. I don't regard a Pro camera with 60,000 actuations as past it, merely "run-in" it is only at 20% of the tested shutter life. Am amateur camera with 20,000 should be at a similar stage and well worth buying.

    I would add that cosmetic condition isn't necessarily an indication of a good buy. A camera that has spent two years on a tripod in a studio and used daily may be cosmetically perfect but have a worn-out shutter. Another that has been handled by an amateur but less frequently mat not look perfect but may have little actual use.
  8. hech54

    hech54 Well-Known Member

    The D70 is a great camera to start....but it cannot compare to the newer ones as far as high ISO performance. The D70 can use more lenses than the new, entry level cameras though.
    Decisions decisions.
  9. ascu75

    ascu75 Well-Known Member

    I would definatly go for new having bought 3 secondhand cameras and I refurbished from ebay and each one has given up the ghost soon after getting them I will only ever buy new from now on. Sone of the prices fro the likess of Park Cameras etc are very good buy a camera magazine Like AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER and seee you can buy a good new camera for not a lot moree than some 5 year old gear on ebay. I just looked at a canon 10D with lens for £249 and a new Panasonic Lumix G10 at Argos is £319.99. The 10D was introdusced 8 years ago
  10. Mat

    Mat Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for your helpful replies :).

    Her indoors is very appreciative and we have plenty of food for thought. In the meantime I'm keeping my gf occupied with the loan of a film SLR and she is really enjoying herself. We're just waiting on her first two rolls of film to be developed so fingers crossed!

    Thanks again - Mathew
  11. Larry Shone

    Larry Shone Well-Known Member

    My 30D cost 250 from ebay, body plus accesories, in mint condition. Although it might be a bit big for some ( and heavy) it does show what you can get. So a 350D is well within budget, with lens if need be.
  12. ascu75

    ascu75 Well-Known Member

    Let us know what you get for her.
  13. mrjoemorgan

    mrjoemorgan New Member

    Buying second hand is always a funny one, I have personally never liked the idea of buying from eBay but thats just me.

    I bought a second hand 1D Mark III 5 months ago and I came to the decision to only buy from an authorized canon retailer. You may pay a little more than you would on eBay but what you do get it warranty and some security that your not buying a dud.

    Good luck :)

    Moderators Note: Post Edited. PM Sent
  14. Pontoneer

    Pontoneer Well-Known Member

    I see nothing wrong with buying a used camera - as long as you buy it from a reputable dealer who will give some sort of warranty . eBay and similar 'private sales' type arenas are leaving you with nothing but 'caveat emptor' to rely on as you have no redress whatsoever if you end up with a dud - of course the majority of secondhand cameras will be fine , but do you want to risk buying a faulty item from an unscrupulous seller who just wants to unload it ? Not to mention downright 'scammers' who will take your money , then send nothing in return .

    Although a dealer will charge slightly more , you can be confident of getting something in good working order - if it turns out to be faulty , most good dealers will resolve any problems willingly - under law they are obliged to and you have legal redress in the event of being sold something which turns out to be defective .

    I have bought a lot of both new and used equipment from a well known dealer in the North of Scotland - I have only had one item which did not meet expectations - namely , the kit lens which came with a used DSLR I bought which I felt had excessive wear to the spirals allowing what I considered excessive movement of the front end of the lens : all it took was one telephone call where it was agreed I would return the lens for examination ( I was offered a full refund if I wanted ) , after which I was given a very generous allowance for the lens ( in relation to what I had paid overall ) and given a very good deal on a better lens with which I was delighted .

    Had I bought the same items from a private seller , the response could well have been 'tough' .
  15. Larry Shone

    Larry Shone Well-Known Member

    Re ebay. If you check the seller's feedback that will give you an indication as to his/ her integrity. Scammers dont get good feedback!
  16. hech54

    hech54 Well-Known Member

    1000% agree. Way too many Ebayphobes floating around.
  17. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Once upon a time advice about buying second hand included checking the operation of the shutter over a range of speeds, the function of the lens diaphragm, the metering, condition of the lens(es) etc. all the really complicated engineering bits that make a camera work. It is odd to see practical information missing from this thread apart from the excellent post about getting charger, CD's, manual etc.

    oh - and also test the flash system - had a colleague bought a top-end nikon (on ebay) and the flash metering was broke. He was very lucky to spot it but had an awful time getting the camera back to the vendor (in Germany) who denied the fault.
  18. ascu75

    ascu75 Well-Known Member

    I must take back everything I said Having just bought a canon 350 which is probably almost eight years old and at a price I couldnt refuse it. I am loving it and trying out new techniques so buy whatever you want and take no notice of anthing I say.................. EVER

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