Your Guide to Buying Used Cameras Online

Camera lenses on display

Inspect used cameras and lenses for wear and tear before buying online.

Are you an aspiring photographer who wants to do more than just snap photos on your smartphone? Or are you someone who has owned a digital camera for years but is ready for an upgrade?

Either way, you may be a good candidate for buying a used digital single-lens reflex camera (dSLR) online. Buying used cameras online is considerably less expensive than buying new, but there are some things you should keep in mind to ensure you’re actually getting a good deal.

Research your camera model online. If there’s a particular camera you want to buy, look around online to see what it costs new and what several different sellers are charging for used cameras, so you have a good sense of what’s reasonable to pay.

Ask about the shutter count. The shutter mechanism on a dSLR needs to be replaced after a certain number of shutter cycles, so if you buy a used camera that’s almost at its maximum number of cycles, you’ll end up needing to buy another expensive part before you know it. Go to the website of the manufacturer who makes the camera model you want to buy to determine its shutter count, and then ask the person selling the used camera what the current shutter count is.

Ask about accessories. Make sure the seller is planning on including the lens cap, body cap, battery charger, and interface cables in the price of the used camera. You may also want to see if they’re willing to throw in any extras, like lens filters, extra batteries, and memory cards.

Ask if you can pick up the used camera in person. If the seller is local, arrange to meet somewhere to pick up the camera in person. That way, you can inspect it for damage before committing to buying it. If the seller isn’t local, ask them if they have a return policy. If they don’t, that could be a red flag.

Check for obvious surface damage. It’s especially important to check the lens—including moving parts such as the filter threads and rings – because replacing a damaged lens can be expensive. Inspect the used camera in person, or at least look closely at the photos posted online. Again, if there are no photos, this should be a warning sign.

Check the sensor. If you’re able to try out the used camera before buying it, shoot a picture of the blue sky (or any other bright background) and look at the display screen to make sure there aren’t any dead pixels or scratches.

Take your time when buying a used camera online. It’s a big purchase, so you should be sure you’re getting a quality product.

Check out deals on used cameras on SheepBuy.