A guide on where to purchase your equipment, and should you buy new or second-hand equipment.
When purchasing new equipment, try and visit your local specialist, as opposed to a general appliance store. They will have a better range, more expert advice and more favourable prices for equipment. Some may also carry additional warranties on equipment, should you ever need to fix a manufacturing issue. This will be particularly important when servicing your camera, which we discuss below.
Don’t be scared to look into purchasing second-hand equipment. It can be a good option if you have a limited budget, or if you are experimenting with styles of photography. There are numerous second-hand stores or websites where you can purchase a variety of photography equipment; however, we recommend looking at a store which specifically specialises in selling second-hand photography equipment. This will ensure that the equipment you are purchasing has been properly checked for any functional issues and that the person you are buying from has sufficient knowledge of camera equipment to answer any questions you may have. If purchasing a second-hand camera online, be sure first to arrange to see the camera to test it out and evaluate it. Social media groups, specifically aimed at photography equipment, can also assist you with ensuring that you purchase your equipment from a knowledgeable seller.
When considering purchasing a second-hand camera or lens, these are some things to look out for:
- Age; make sure when considering your purchase, that the seller advises you of the year of manufacture, and year of purchase, as well as all other necessary information regarding the piece. This can assist you in conducting research on the item and evaluate whether the price of it is fair.
- Screen; besides checking for scratches on the LCD screen, you should also check the pixels. Be sure to turn the camera on and check the LCD screen for either blank pixels, incorrect colouring, or black spots.
- Scratches; aside from scratches on the camera itself, most importantly inspect the lens at the front and back, as these may have a detrimental impact on the quality of photographs the camera can produce. Also, check the viewfinder for scratches.
- Lens barrel; be sure to check that the lens barrel does not have any scratches or dents and moves smoothly when you retract or expand the lens. Dents or scratches on the barrel may impact its movement.
- Body; while surface scratches or dents on the body of the camera may not always indicate a functional problem with it, it may indicate how the previous owner treated the camera, and any falls could have affected internal functions.
- Auto-focus; the focus is one of the most essential parts of a DSLR camera, so when checking for any issues, be sure to try and focus on objects at different distances and confirm that the lens and camera focus correctly.
- Serial number; the serial number is an essential aspect of purchasing electronic equipment. This can actually be used to ensure that the equipment isn’t stolen; alternatively, when you insure the camera, you will need to present the insurer with the serial number.
Servicing Your Camera
Much like a car, photography equipment also needs to be serviced. Unfortunately, this can be expensive, and for that reason, you need to make sure you budget accordingly and research the brand which you wish to purchase. How often you need to service your camera will depend on the frequency of use, as well as the environmental conditions that it is used in. Outdoor, landscape and wildlife photography will expose your camera to more dust and dirt. A service will also include a clean of your camera sensor. If you actually have a good understanding of cameras, you may be able to perform minor services and cleans at home, but if you are not sure how to do this, it is essential to use the skills of professionals instead, as you may potentially void any warranty or guarantee on your camera or lens.
Other Photography Resources
Be sure to keep your knowledge on photography skills, trends, and new equipment up to date, to keep you ahead of your game. Resources such as photography magazines are a good starting point, but the internet provides numerous resources such as online magazines and blogs for budding and established photographers to take part in. Blogs, as well as social media groups and pages, will also connect you with like-minded photographers so that you can ask questions and share ideas and skills with others.