If you’re into photography I’m pretty sure that at some point, you’ll give buying second-hand/preloved camera/lenses some serious thought. The dilemma is, should you or should you NOT?
I can hear your inner conflict, the fear of buying a defective preloved equipment with half your savings after a Carousell deal gone wrong. On the other hand, the cost-saving is real if you know how to!
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Related: Photography Equipment Buying Guide – Part II: Buying a Preloved Lens
Today I’m going to help you make a decision!
Lenses are delicate equipment, they are prone to breaking, fungus growth, dust and electronic issues. It’s quite a complicated business to get into, purchasing preloved items that is.
What i can do is to list out the pros and cons of buying second-handed gears and you can then see which one you lean more to, hopefully that helps you make a wise decision!
You should get preloved items if you:
1. Can tolerate flaws: Preloved items, no matter what, are items that are used. There will be user marks, slight scratches and minor dust in/on the equipment most of the time. But as long as it doesn’t affect the function of the equipment, you’re good to go.
2. Can’t afford brand new goods: Nobody can blame you for that, we all know camera equipment are expensive.
3. Fine with having no warranty coverage for your equipment: Most secondhand lenses/cameras on the market are already used for years, lens/camera warranty normally last a year. So if you do the math there’ll probably be no warranty coverage. Do ask the seller though, some of them still carry warranty if you’re lucky (may cost more).
4. You can resell them and lose little to no money: Yes, you heard me. If you got yourself a good deal and got a gear at a decent price, you can resell them again if you feel the lens don’t suit your shooting style. Do take note that lenses depreciate (but not as fast as camera bodies) so you better sell it off fast once you realise you don’t need it anymore. The money you lose due to the buying and selling won’t amount too much if you buy/sell second-hand items as compared to brand new items. You can treat the difference as a loan fee if it makes you feel better.
5. Some sellers, in an attempt to sweeten the deal, will throw in free or discounted items such as UV filters, camera bags or additional batteries. Some UV filters attached to secondhand lenses that i bought are decent pieces of glass!
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You shouldn’t get preloved items if you:
1. Can’t stand the idea of using a used product: There is this stigma with used goods that most of us have, that it’s not as ‘clean’ as brand new sparkling goods that we get from store. If you can’t get over this mental hurdle then you should stick with store-bought firsthand goods. Nothing wrong with that! But do note that once you purchased the lens/camera, the value drops to a secondhand price (unless you still have warranty in which you can in turn sell for a slightly higher price).
2. Think the price difference between the used and the new is not too significant – this is up to your individual budget, but hey if the difference is negligible, just get the new one! This scenario can happen if the lens/camera is relatively new on the market and hence, there won’t be much depreciation (yet) on the lens.
3. Feel uneasy about the lack of warranty coverage – Yes, warranty is important. The average warranty for lenses/camera bought is a year. However do take note that with proper handling and care, the gears can last longer than you expect.
If you are unsure whether you want a piece of equipment, you can always consider renting it first before buying it (secondhand or brand new). Rent a gear, take it out for a day or two and then decide if you’re going to get it. If you just want to have a feel of the equipment, you should totally head out to your local camera store and try things out for yourself.
In the next article, I’ll be giving some tips and advise in buying secondhand lenses, so do stay tuned!
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