Cameras can be quite expensive, so it makes sense to save on their purchase if you can. Purchasing second hand cameras online can give you some great cash savings, but you need to be wary of a few things.
Where online can you purchase?
Probably the biggest marketplace for purchasing secondhand cameras is eBay. And this is the only one I'd recommend you use if you're never purchased online before. eBay has lots of safeguards to protect you the buyer from unscrupulous sellers.
Purchase a model or two behind
To get maximum savings, purchase a model or two behind the most recently released model. Lots of users will be upgrading to the 'latest and greatest' and will want to sell their older camera. Not only this, but the new price of these older models will come down too, which means you can pick up a secondhand item for even less.
Don't go more than 2 models behind the latest though, because technology changes fast and you will find these older cameras can have problems like short battery life or other wear and tear problems.
Learn more about the model
Spend some time researching the model you'd like to purchase. Make sure it's right for you, and has the exact features you need. I like to do a Google Search for the model name and read the first few websites that come up.
In particular, check the current recommended retail price of the model, and make sure you don't purchase above this price!
Make sure the seller is reputable
eBay has a system where you can scan the seller's reputation. In other words, you can find out from other purchasers how they went when purchasing from this seller. I highly recommend you find a seller that has an established and high reputation.
Make sure you check any neutral or negative feedback carefully, as this will help to tell the stories of previous purchasers who have had problems with their purchase, or in returning defective goods.
It's also worth asking the seller a few questions before you bid. Request a larger picture to look at - particularly if you can't see the item well enough to make out details. Honest sellers will usually get back to you within 24 hours.
Ensure the camera is working
Ask to see some sample images taken with the camera in question. Load them into a Paint program, and check the EXIF information to make sure the photo was taken with that model camera.
Be careful of wording like "as is". This often means "doesn't work". Although eBay does have policies in place to make sure you can still return items sold like this it's usually not worth the hassle.
Be aware of scams
Be wary of scams. These include:
- Selling a film camera instead of a digital one. Search for the model number in Google to ensure it's a digital model!
- Selling a photo of a camera, not the camera itself. Yes, it's happened! Check the wording on the auction closely.
Purchasing secondhand cameras online can be a great money saver - and you don't need to be limited to cameras. You can purchase secondhand lenses and other equipment too. Using a little common sense will help prevent you getting burned.
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