How to Buy a Used Canon Camera

Used Canon CameraThere’s no denying that photography can be an expensive hobby or profession. New equipment is expensive, and your camera set up is likely to grow over time, adding in new lenses and other equipment. A good way of saving money when starting out or upgrading is to purchase a used camera. If cameras and lenses are well taken care of and maintained you can often find equipment that is in very good condition and costs less than new. Cameras tend to hold their value quite well, particularly DSLRs, although with every new generation or upgrade, the price will shift. We’ve laid out some of the best used Canon cameras and their current prices, and everything you need to know when purchasing one.

Best Used Canon Cameras to Buy In 2017


1. Canon EOS 700D

  • Newer model (Canon 750D / 760D) with 18-55mm lens: £599 / £718
  • New Canon 700D with 18-55 mm lens: £450
  • Used Canon 700D with 18-55 mm lens: £420

A new Canon 700D is only marginally more expensive than a used one, due to some good deals and the selling off of old stock. If you can afford the new version, you’ll be able to take advantage of the manufacturer’s warranty and you’ll still be saving quite a bit compared to the newer models, the 750D and 760D.

The older 700D features an 18-megapixel sensor, a hybrid autofocus system and an ISO range of 100-12800. Although the 750D and 760D have a better sensor and slightly more enthusiast-orientated design, the 700D is still a very good mid-range DSLR in Canon’s range. Image quality won’t be quite as good as on newer models, but you’re unlikely to notice this unless you’re an experienced photographer who likes to make large prints. If you’re a beginner or someone upgrading to a DSLR, a new or used Canon 700D is a good place to start.

2.  Canon EOS 5D Mark III

  • Newer model Canon EOS 5DS, body only: £2,600
  • New Canon EOS 5D Mark III, body only: £1,950
  • Used Canon EOS 5D Mark III, body only: £1,350

The price difference is greater here than on the mid-range 700D above. As you can see, a new 5D Mark III is significantly cheaper than the updated model, the 5DS. A used 5D is considerably cheaper as well, and could save you enough to purchase additional lenses and equipment.

The newer EOS 5DS features a huge 50.6-megapixel sensor, which admittedly delivers excellent quality results. But the difference is only going to be beneficial to the professional who heavily crops the huge files the 5DS produces, or prints way above A3 size. The 5D Mark III boasts a more than adequate 22.3-megapixel full-frame sensor, which is capable of producing some stunning photos. The 61-point autofocus and excellent ISO performance in a range of 100–25600 make the 5D ideal for indoor and occasion shooting. If you’re upgrading from a mid-range to a full-frame, a used 5D is a great choice. The money you save over a new 5D or 5DS could save you enough for some great additional lenses.

3.  Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D

  • Newer model Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D: £330
  • New Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D with 18-55mm lens: £440
  • Used Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D with 18-55mm lens: £240

This is an unusual situation where the discontinued Canon EOS Rebel T5 (or 1300D) is more expensive than the replacement. The reason for this is likely the scarcity of new models. However, the good news is that you can save a fair amount by getting a used T5.

Many of the key features didn’t change on this entry-level model; an 18-megapixel APS-C sensor, 9-point autofocus system, and 1080p video recording are present in both. The screen is slightly better on the T6, and it has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, but if you can live without these then you stand to save a bit. If this is your first DSLR it’s a good and inexpensive way to test the waters.

Where to Buy a Used Canon Camera


1. Check Prices Online

This may be preaching to the converted, but the internet is probably the best place to start checking prices on used cameras. There is a wealth of sites out there, so be sure to have some reputable ones that you trust to compare. This will give you a fair idea of what you can expect to pay for the particular camera you’re after, and what you’ll get with it. Be wary of extremely cheap prices; as a rule, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

One of the benefits of checking online is that you can see reviews of the retailer, as well as of the equipment. Often you’ll see details on the condition of the camera as well as photos of any blemishes etc. The downside is that you can’t physically pick up the unit and check some of the key functions. However, any website worth its salt will want to cover you for anything that’s not up to the advertised standard.

2. Check Prices in Local Classified Ads

Although this may seem like outdated advice, there are still many people who sell through local classified ads. There are still bargains to be found, and the beauty is you can contact the seller to negotiate and check out the items before you commit to a purchase. The type of people who are serious about selling and buying camera equipment through this means are generally other photographers, so you shouldn’t have too many issues. Be sure to meet somewhere mutually convenient if possible, as this will make you feel more comfortable. Don’t feel pressured to buy just because you’ve gone to see the item though. Stand by your budget and expectations.

Checking Used Canon Camera Quality


There are a few key things to look out for when you’re purchasing second hand, particularly as oftentimes you won’t be offered much a warranty. Wear and tear on the body and casing is something that, whilst not aesthetically pleasing, shouldn’t impact the way the camera performs. It really is what’s on the inside that counts.

Shutter Count

This refers to how many times the shutter has been used. It’s one of the harder parts of the camera to repair, and as it’s the thing that’s used more than any other, they can get worn out. You can ask the seller about this, and if they know anything about cameras they should know this. There are also two ways you can also check yourself.

The first is to check the numbering on the files. Most cameras will number photos on the camera in sequential order. Take a couple of demo shots to see it go up. However, this number can be reset. The second, and more reliable, way of checking is to use some third-party software. This should show all the cameras metadata, including shutter count.

Sensor

The sensor is perhaps the most important part of a camera, and it’s easy for them to accumulate dust or get damaged. There’s a few ways you can check for this:

  • To check for dust, shoot a bright image with maximum aperture and then zoom in on it on a computer screen. If there’s dust on the lens you’ll be able to see this on the image.
  • To check for scratches or dead pixels, shoot a totally dark image (like the lens cap) and see if there are any defects when you bring the image up on a computer screen.

Lens Mount

A damaged lens mount can indicate that a camera has been dropped, damaged, or mistreated. Check that the ring and all the connections are in good condition. If not, you may experience problems going forward, like the camera no communicating with the lens properly. Make sure the lens fits securely and doesn’t wobble in the mount.

Viewfinder and Screen

Scratched or dusty viewfinders and screens can be infuriating when you’re trying to line up your shot. Check both for signs or wear and misuse, as both can be expensive to replace. If the screen is touchscreen, make sure it works as expected. Sometimes a good clean will solve matters, other times it will seriously devalue the camera.

Autofocus

One final check is how the autofocus performs, both in single and continuous shooting. If it’s malfunctioning you could have serious problems when you’re taking photographs. Take some test shots and really challenge the autofocus system to make sure it’s up to scratch.

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