When it comes to buying glass, deciding what you want and how much you’re willing to spend can be difficult even in the best of conditions. So, naturally, when buying second-hand glass, an added layer of caution is needed to make sure you’re getting what you’re looking and paying for. Read more…
Posts Tagged ‘buying’
Check out the two memory cards above. One of them is a counterfeit card while the other is a genuine one. Can you tell which is which? If you can’t, we don’t blame you. Japan-based photography enthusiast Damien Douxchamps couldn’t either until he popped the fake card into his camera and began shooting. The card felt a bit sluggish, so he ran some tests on his computer. Turned out the 60MB/s card was actually slower than his old 45MB/s card.
While it’s not unusual to come across counterfeit memory cards — it’s estimated that 1/3 of “SanDisk”-labeled cards are — what’s a bit concerning is how Douxchamps purchased his: he ordered the cards off Amazon — cards that were “fulfilled by Amazon.”
In the market for a new photo printer and not sure what to buy? Here’s a tip: shelling out a little more dough on the printer itself could potentially lead to massive savings over time.
The reason is ink, sometimes called “black gold” (or… “colored gold”?). The general rule of thumb in the printer industry is: the cheaper the printer, the more expensive it is to keep it filled with ink.
If you’re in the market for a new digital camera this year, buying it in January or February might get you the best deal. Lifehacker has published a comprehensive list of when to buy things based on when you’re most likely to see low prices:
January: After the big trade shows like CES come around in mid-January, you’ll see that older model cameras drop in price to prepare for the newly-announced ones.
February: Since the newest cameras will have just come out post-CES, you can grab last year’s models for less.
The Best Time to Buy Anything in 2012 [Lifehacker]
Photographer Nasim Mansurov’s friend recently ordered Canon 5D Mark II from online camera store AjRichard for just $2,350, but was then called by a sales rep and told that the battery and charger weren’t included. The final order came out to $2,629, which included some unneeded accessories and 3-day shipping. When the order finally arrived in 2 weeks, he found that it was a 5D Mark II + 24-120mm kit box with the lens removed.
If you’re looking to buy used camera gear on sites like eBay or Craigslist, a trick you can use to find a good deals is to search for listings that contain spelling mistakes that keep most people from finding them (e.g. “Canom” instead of “Canon”, or “Mikon” instead of “Nikon”). With less exposure — and therefore less competition — you may be able to win the auctions at far below the item’s value.
Obviously searching for various typos by hand isn’t very efficient, so there’s special typo search engines designed to do the hard work for you. A few that you might want to try out are: FatFingers, TypoHound, TypoBay, and TypoBuddy.
If you’ve never been on a budget and blow money like a vuvuzela at a football game, don’t bother reading any further. If you like saving money and are on a budget, then please continue reading.
I buy used equipment constantly. It’s more a way of life than a just a financial decision. While I like being able to get things cheaper and refuse to pay full price for almost anything, I wouldn’t call myself cheap. Overly frugal maybe, but not cheap (but don’t ask my wife). All that said, getting a good deal on used equipment isn’t rocket science.
Almost all of the camera equipment I have ever owned was purchased used. While this isn’t something to be proud of, I do like to think I know a thing or two about cameras and lenses. I have run into the occasional problems with lenses, but I made sure I had the option to return them if they had issues. I have also purchased a few lenses and cameras from people on Craigslist as well and as long as you know what you’re getting and tried it out when you made the purchase, you should be covered. There are a few things that I always check and I’m putting them up here in the hope that you might find some of it useful.
This article is the second part of the previous article titled “Pro Camera Gear on a Student Budget“, and contains some advice for what you should do once you find a good deal and have arranged a meeting with the seller. I personally consider purchasing used gear on craigslist to be a much better route than other services (i.e. eBay), since you can check out the gear personally and walk away from the deal if anything doesn’t seem right. Here are the tips:
Know What to Look Out For
Just as you need to know a good price on a piece of gear from a bad one, you need to be able to distinguish something that looks and works like it should from something that doesn’t. I’ll be covering some specific things on what you should look for, but bring along a photographer friend if you haven’t used the kind of gear you’re buying before.
Check the Camera’s Sensor
The sensor on a DSLR is what captures the image you photograph. You don’t want to buy a camera and then later find out that the sensor is scratched or damaged in some way, since this might affect the quality of all of your photographs. Different cameras let you examine the sensor in different ways, so be sure to know how to check the sensor on the camera you’re looking at before going to the meeting. Just taking off the lens won’t expose the camera’s sensor, since it’s naturally hidden behind both the mirror and the shutter curtain. You’ll have to use the feature of the camera that locks up the mirror and opens the shutter curtain in order to see the sensor.
Ask How Many Actuations the Camera Has
Cameras are like cars, and mileage matters. Each camera has a “life expectancy” for how many actuations, or shots, the shutter system is expected to be able to handle before it fails and needs to be replaced (which is expensive). A camera is generally in pretty new condition if it has less than 10,000 actuations, and very used if it has more than 50,000 or 100,000 actuations (since many cameras are only rated for this many). Research your specific model to see how many actuations the manufacturer rated the camera for. Since for most cameras there isn’t an easy way to verify the actuation count with certainty, the figure is meant to give you an idea of how used the camera is, and how much life you might still get out of it.
How to Tell if A Camera is More Used than the Owner Claims
From personal experience, the best indicator for how much use a camera has seen is the strap attached to the camera. If the owner claims that the camera has barely been used, but the strap is worn and faded, then a warning bell in your head should go off. Gentle and minimal use won’t wear down a strap much.
Other areas you can check for wear are the external flash hot shoe and the LCD screen. On certain camera models, the hot shoe has a black paint coating that slowly rubs off every time an external flash is attached or removed. If the hot shoe is used and worn, then the camera probably is too. Newer LCD screens also will appear smooth, and lack the hairline scratches that appear over time. A flawless LCD screen does not prove the camera is in new condition, but one with many small scratches indicates the opposite.
Check the Front and Back Elements of the Lens
If you’re buying a lens, take off both lens caps and hold the camera up to the light. Make sure theres no scratches or other imperfections in the glass on either side of the lens.
Ask the Seller to Pose for Portraits
The benefits of this are two-fold. First, this allows you to test the sharpness of the lens. Focus on the seller’s eyes with the lens wide open, and check whether the eyes are sharp. This also gives you an opportunity to have a photograph of what the seller looks like, as an extra precaution. Honest sellers might even be more than willing to let you copy down their contact information from their drivers license, as I’ve experienced a few times.
Test for Front and Back Focusing
Make sure the seller isn’t selling the lens because it focuses incorrectly. You can do this by focus testing the lens at the meeting. If you don’t want to bring something specifically to use for testing the focus, learn to do focus testing quickly on any sheet of paper with text on it.
Tips for Meeting the Seller
Try to meet during the day, since it’s both safer, and easier to examine and test camera equipment. Sufficient light will help you to more easily test the quality and sharpness of photographs. Of course, there’s always the general craigslist tips for being a “safe buyer”. Meet sellers in person at a public location, and with another person if possible. I’ve found that meeting in a coffee shop at noon generally works very well. I’ve even managed to make the process very quick and painless, since many times sellers will agree to meet me at the coffee shop just down the block from where I live.
The things I shared in this article were certain things I picked up through the past few years of doing gear transactions through craigslist. It’s definitely not a comprehensive list of what to be wary of, and you should examine all the normal functions of the equipment to ensure that they’re working flawlessly. If there are other important things that I failed to include, please leave a comment and share!