Tips for Purchasing Cheaper Digital Cameras Online :: Digital Photo Secrets

Tips for Purchasing Cheaper Digital Cameras Online

by David Peterson 10 comments

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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  1. michael bassett says:

    in the reviews the d70 seemed to come out on top for digital popularity,
    does that also mean that it is more popular than the d70s for any particlar reason??

  2. sethu says:

    hello, again, one thing i forgot to mention, the size of a ccd matters, bigger the sensor size more the clarity

  3. sethu says:

    your advice has been very useful and, our firm bought a canon 300 d, from, the camera has severed us o.k. recently, we had a problem got it serviced and now it is functional, for a camera that costed 56,000 INR which is a hefty price here in india, my feeling is that it should have had a better build, i feel that life of a digital camera is much less than that of a film camera, our old cameras especially the contarex bulls eye and icarex still work like a precesion swiss clock, the optics are unbeatable though ebay is good i also find that some other sites are also serve the purpose, i sell my classic collectables on ebay as well as other sites my user name photobug_in1

  4. Lyle says:

    Do your research. If you know what features and cameras you like you can avoid impulse buys which will usually be disappointing. Once you do have a list, check out the pawn shops as they have always been a source for used camera gear. You get to check it out before you buy that way too.

  5. Toni says:

    good examples t go along with common sense. which can get lost when one shops.

  6. Steele D Boyd says:

    Hi Always interested in your comments and tips help's us understand what's going on in the world of photography. All tips are welcome and are worth reading, i always save these tips, a situation may arise when they become invaluable.

  7. mark says:

    to add to Stu Bazleys comment, maybe a topic on camera pixels vs resolution could be added, a camera like the Fuji s7000 ( which I had for a month ) boasts a high pixel count but the software adds pixels and compresses too high to give a smaller file size + grainy image, every camera has recorded pixels and effective pixels, 13-16mp can be recorded but a good camera will throw away the badly recorded and you have the effective... a 13-16mb recorded could be stored as 6.x

    I got rid of the fuji to part fund a Canon 10D and will be upgrading to the 5D when funds permit, been burned by fuji and been satisfied with canon so I'm sticking with canon.

  8. Tony says:

    Just to say thanks for all your tips and wise comments.Though I have taken photos for more than fifty years with film and now digital.I started with a box Brownie. I have never really learnt until recently to take a good photo.Partly thanks to you.My camera which is about three or four years old is a Fujifilm S2Pro.Of course this has been superseded by S3 Pro.It is a really good camera for taking in Natural light and 12m seems more than enough.
    Have not tried to buy on line as I do not believe in Credit cards.
    Many thanks

  9. daryl says:

    Great stuff
    One thing you might also want to consider if you are interested in making the investment in a digital slr is the quality of the lens. Most camera manufacturers bundle their cameras in kits with a low quality lens. Do your homework. Find out the manufacturer's medium and pro quality lenses, especially if you are buying a second hand digital slr. Yiour best value may pair a decent digital slr body with a better lens.



  10. Stu Bazley says:

    Good comments David and here's another tip for Ebay Buyers.
    Not long ago cameras manufactured in China and Asia were introduced on Ebay boasting 12 megapixels and plenty of Digital zoom. These cameras were purchased in their thousands mainly due to the very low cost. Usually .99 cents with $120.00 freight. People who bought those cameras usually wished they saved their money as the 12 megapixel was really a 3 megapixel and the camera used sofware to multiply the pixels. A lot of the cameras had plastic lenses or poorly made glass ones and they were very shoddily built.
    Today those buyers are getting rid of these cameras and often for more or similar to what they paid for them. Avoid them like the plague. They may be OK for the kids to play with but anyone who doesn't have their eyes painted on will be extremely disappointed with the end product, the photo.

    They are easy to spot. Usually advertised as Digital Camera in the heading. No name or known name.
    You won't see an accepted brand name it'll be something you've never heard of. Be careful of mistaking the Hong Kong version of the Fuji, I think it's the Fujiya or something similar but it sure ain't a Fuji. Stick to the known brands and try to stick to a popular model too. They're easier to get parts for.
    Lastly, forget the digital zooms, the same can be done with Photoshop or other software. If you want zoom, make sure it's optical and if you want lots of it go for a camera which will allow you to screw on an extra lens to mutliply that zoom.

    Good buying ..... bmw

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About David Peterson
David Peterson is the creator of Digital Photo Secrets, and the Photography Dash and loves teaching photography to fellow photographers all around the world. You can follow him on Twitter at @dphotosecrets or on Google+.