If you are looking to buy a used second-hand camera then there would be lots of questions coming to your mind. How to ensure it is fully working? I don’t know much about camera technical stuff. So, How would I check? Don’t worry. I will help you out. I am going to list out the things which you need to check before buying used cameras. These are applicable to point and shoot cameras, bridge cameras, DSLR cameras and mirrorless cameras.

Checklist for Buying Used Cameras

1. Check Camera Shutter Count

Camera Shutter count is the most important thing to be checked. It will tell you how much the person has used the camera. It is actually the camera life indicator. 

Camera manufacturers have specified a shutter count value for each model and it varies for different models. For example, a high-end camera like Canon 1DX Mark II comes with a shutter life of 400,000 and for an entry level DSLR camera, it would be around 100,000.

So, I  recommend you to check the camera shutter count before buying. Different manufacturers have different techniques to extract the shutter count. You can check out the Camera Shutter Count Guide for a better understanding

2. Whether it is Still Under Warranty?

Some people may be selling their camera since they are upgrading it or they are not interested to use it anymore. So, it may be still under the warranty period. It is almost like a fresh piece. If you find any issues you can still get it corrected free of cost (things which are included in the warranty). So, this is an added advantage.

3. Year of Make

Sometimes, you may find cameras which are hardly used with very few shutter counts. You need to check the year when it was made and whether the camera is still there in the market or did the manufacturers discontinue this model.

For such cameras, if any issue comes on a later stage you may find it hard to get the replacement parts since the manufacturer has discontinued the model. This is also a good opportunity to get the camera for a small price by stating this reason to the seller.

4. Camera Exterior Quality

buying used cameras checklist

Have a look at the exterior parts of the camera. Are there any scratches on the body? Is it severe? Any hard dents? If the scratches are only minor then it is fine. It will be due to the regular use. The paint on the exterior may wear out especially on the bottom side if it is used along with a tripod.

If there are major dents then it may be due to accidental falls. This can have a serious effect on the camera life. So, make sure that there are no hard dents before buying used cameras.

5. Check Camera Lens Mount

If you are buying used cameras with detachable lens features like DSLR camera or a Mirrorless camera, then make sure that the electrical contact pins in the camera mount are in good conditions. There should not be any wear and tear in the pins. Quality of the pins is necessary to ensure proper communication between the camera body and the lens system. There will be a reduction in focusing speed if the pins are worn out.

6. Check Hotshoe mount

Test the Hotshoe mount of the camera. Connect an external flash and confirm that it is working properly. These are some areas which we generally miss to check while buying used cameras.

7. Test In-built Camera Flash

If the camera comes with an inbuilt flash. Shoot some pictures with this inbuilt flash to ensure that the flash is working fine.

8. Check the LCD Display.

Buying used cameras

Make sure that there are no visible cracks or marks in the display of the camera. If it comes with a touchscreen option make sure that the touch feature is working properly. If it has a swivel screen try using it to ensure that there is no issue while rotating or turning the screen in the prescribed orientation.

9. Try Couple of Clicks

You should use it before making the purchase. So, try taking some photos using the camera. Try photographing a plain light colored wall to check for dust particles on the camera sensor. Try the same thing on a dark subject too. Make sure that you are getting a good focus lock on the subject and there are no autofocusing issues.

If the camera supports Burst mode. Click some pictures in Burst mode to ensure that it is working as intended. 

10. Ensure Working of Camera Buttons

Play around with the camera buttons to ensure that all the buttons are working fine.

11. Camera Interior Quality

Like Exterior, you need to check the interior also. This is applicable to only those cameras which comes with a detachable lens option. Make sure that you check the interior inside a closed room which is free of dust. Don’t open the camera in outdoor areas.

Look for the dirt and dust in the camera sensor, internal mirror and other parts which are viewable after opening the camera body cap. If the camera is stored in a humid environment then there is a chance that there could be fungus inside the camera body. So, check that too. Make sure that you don’t touch the interior parts of the camera with your hand while inspection.

12. Check Images on Computer 

It is a good practice to take the copy of the images which you have clicked. So, copy it on your computer. Zoom in the image to 100 percent and check for any visible dust spots on the image. Check the image quality also. Make sure that the image is getting focussed properly.

13. Test Video and Live View Mode 

If your camera supports video recording. Try recording a short video for about 1 minute in the highest quality. This is to ensure that the video is getting recorded properly and there is no error in writing data to the memory card at high speed.

14. Tripod Mount Check

buying used cameras checklist

Try mounting the camera on a tripod. This ensures that the tripod mounting part on the camera base is working properly. Sometimes, the threads are found to be damaged because of the wrong insertion. It will also make sure that it is stable after mounting on the tripod. Make sure that you are using a stable tripod

15. Battery and the Charger 

Don’t forget to check the camera battery and charger. If the camera comes with a custom battery then ensure that the battery is getting properly charged with the charger. Try charging it for some time and use it.

16. Other Camera Accessories

If the seller says the camera comes with some accessories like remote or extra batteries then make sure that they are working fine with the camera. The price of these accessories would be including in the final price. So, Don’t miss out any.

17. Ask for the Bill of Purchase

Always ask for the Purchase Bill. It doesn’t matter whether it is within the warranty period or out of warranty. This is for your own safety. This is necessary to make sure that you are not buying a stolen camera.

18. Take a Second Opinion

It is always a good practice to take a second opinion before buying used cameras. You will definitely have some friends in your circle who is into photography. So, consult with them and take their opinion. They can really help you to get a good deal.

If you have any additional tips, feel free to share it in the comments section below.