How I Save Money on Photography Equipment (Buy Used!)

I’ve purchased my share of photography equipment over the last twenty or so years.  (Maybe more than my share?)  I’ve always loved my purchases, but I’ve learned some things along the way. It seems I’ve always been on a “how to improve my photography” quest.

Tips for purchasing used equipment are below the photos!

This post contains affiliate links, which  means I will earn a small commission if ou purchase through them, at no additional cost to you.

I bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D80, brand new. (I think that was 2008. I had been using point and shoot digital cameras before then. And before that, a Canon film SLR.)  I loved the D80, (and my daughter still uses it– a lot.)  Great camera.

After I’d had that camera a while, and was looking to move up just a little to a larger, semi-pro camera, my brother-in-law,  (also an avid photographer), gave me some of the best advice.  He said, “No need to buy new cameras.  People are always trading in great used equipment, and you can save a bundle.”

So, not long after that, I bought my first used camera, a Nikon D200, from a local camera store.  Not one single problem with it, and I still use it today, although it’s not great in low light without a flash, and the screen on the back is really small!  Still a great camera!

These were taken with the D200.

Christmas portrait of little girl
Siamese cat portrait

My next used camera purchase was a Nikon D5100.  It’s lighter, simpler and  has much better low-light capabilities than my first DSLRs (with a bigger screen!)  I love it and use it a lot because it’s smaller and easier to carry around, but the image quality is still great. There are several newer versions of it now.

Most of the pictures at my blog have been taken with either the Nikon D5100 or the D200 (or sometimes my phone!)

The shots below were taken with the D5100.

bridesmaid portrait

(I’m partial to this one, because it’s my baby girl as a bridesmaid in my niece’s wedding.)

candy store photo

Here are my tips for purchasing used photo equipment:

  • Buy from a reputable place. I’ve found wonderful online deals at both Adorama and B & H Photography, both of whom have a 30 day return policy.  Amazon also has both new and used equipment, and you can choose to buy from sellers with good ratings. 
  • Pay attention to the grade that the piece of equipment has been given.    For instance, Adorama uses letters – So a D rated camera has no signs of wear, an E+ has slight signs of wear, etc.  The price will vary with this grade.  I usually only buy equipment that is rated D, E+, or E, but that isn’t to say a lower rating won’t be good too.  All of the equipment is tested.
  • Give the company a call when you find something you like, before you purchase it online.  Sometimes they’ll give you a little additional discount.
  • When buying a camera, make sure you are buying it the way you want it. For instance, are you looking for a DSLR body only, or do you want a kit lens with it?  They are sold both ways,
  • When it comes to lenses, make sure you are purchasing the exact model of the lens you are looking for.  Sometimes there are  updated models, so you want to be sure you are getting the one you want.

If this info has helped you, I’d love for you to share it!  Thanks for reading!

Linking to:

SITS Saturday Sharefest, Saturday Sparks at Pieced Pastimes, Inspiration Spotlight at Dear Creatives, Inspiration Monday, A Round Tuit, Creative Mondays at Claire Justine, Made By You Mondays at Skip to My Lou, Tip Me Tuesday, Project Inspired at Yesterday on Tuesday, Wow Me Wednesday at Gingersnap Crafts, Pretty Pintastic Party, Inspire Me Monday at Mostly Blogging, Tuesday Turn About, Create with Joy, Lou Lou Girls, PeaBea Scribbles, Thursday Favorite Things

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  1. Oh yay, you linked to Sharefest! I'm happy because I wrote that post.
    And it's about photography! If I remember, I'll feature this awesome piece.
    I usually don't buy used but that's not because I'm against it. I just find great deals a lot through my business. I love Amazon, B&H, and Adorama!

  2. Thanks for sharing your post at the Inspiration Spotlight party @DearCreatives Pinned & sharing. Lovely photography btw. Hope to see you at this weeks party too. See you again soon. Theresa

  3. Good tips. I just purchased a used Cannon 60D and it cost a lot more than your Nikkon. Wish I had read this article first. Can you suggest good lighting for an inexpensive price.

    1. Thanks Clearissa! I use an external flash when I need more light (called a Speedlite in Canon, and Speedlight in Nikon.) It attaches to the hotshoe of the camera, and I bounce it off a ceiling or wall (best if the ceiling or wall is white, which is why I usually use the ceiling!) There is a Craftsy class all about how to do it, but the basic technique is really simple. I wrote a post about it, in the Photography section here, called Bouncing the Flash. I think they can be found used fairly often. I think it's easier to use the speedlight brand of your camera, rather than a generic one. For small objects or products, my daughter uses a shop light as constant light and a small photo light box. Those can be made or purchased pretty cheaply. I have some studio strobes, but rarely find them necessary.

  4. I've checked for cameras on eBay but hadn't thought about local stores. Now I want to go shopping. My first DSL is the Nikon 3100, and I liked it at first, but now would like to be able to afford better lens and some filters, etc. Thanks for sharing.

    Peabea from Peabea Scribbles

    1. Thanks for the comment, Peabea! The 3100 is such a nice DSLR to start with. My daughter used the 3400 which is an only slightly newer version of it in college and liked it a lot. Have fun shopping!

  5. Thanks for sharing your stunning photos with us – congrats for being one of our Featured Bloggers at Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy! 🙂

  6. Thanks for the tips, Pam. I've been looking to upgrade my camera for some time now, and used just might be the way to go!

  7. Great tips! I have the Nikon D3200. My hubby got for taking photos of our little guy but with cameras on iPhones it’s been rarely used. Plus, it’s a bit bulky! I wouldn’t mind trading it in for a smaller camera so will definitely use your advice when I decide to do that!

    Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com

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