Tips on Purchasing a Used Camera from Craigslist

So in 3 days, as many people have asked me my opinion on which camera to buy.  

Honestly, I'm not much of a gear-head.  My goal is to look at the newest and greatest model of what i want, then get last years model.   Of course i look up and down the line, but 9 times out of 10 price point is huge for me and typically i just don't need the latest and greatest…but i do want damn good.  

That said - a great place to buy is craigslist cause there are a LOT of gear heads who NEED the latest and greatest and will pay for it.  Hellooo win win right?!?

Well of course.  But let's face it - you need to be careful:

So here are some of my tips for having a successful purchase:

1) Do your research.  Look on Craigslist for the item you want.  You'll probably find a few options.  If not - look in other cities that mirror the demographics of your own.  This will help you ascertain a 'reasonable' price for the item you want.  If it looks too good to be true.  I'd rather not waste my time and assume it is.  Move on. 

2) Meet in person at a coffee shop.  If they're not interested in an in person meeting and hands on play time with the equipment  - they're hiding something.  Tell them to schedule an hour but you hope it will be a shorter amount of time.  You'll see why in a few.   

3) Offer to pay via paypal on the spot.  Both of you can view & accept payment on the spot with smart phones, iPads, or a straight up PC.  And you have paypal as a buffer should you find something grievous after you walk out the door.  

*in all reality, i'm not sure how they'd handle a 'cash & carry' type of situation given i have never actually filed a complaint... But having an arbitrations company behind me does make me feel comfortable and i do feel it makes scammers leery. 

4) Bring your own lens, memory cards and ideally a laptop so you can...

5) Take photos and upload them on your computer.  Check for odd light spots in the images...Dirt &/or dark spots that may indicate scratches.  Listen - does it sound normal? Some example photos to take.  

  1. focus on something close
  2. focus on something far
  3. overexpose
  4. underexpose
  5. If the camera can do many frames per second, test it and make sure it does. (if the shutter is dying you'll hear the speed slow vs. be consistent)
  6. grab a shot of the seller and their drivers license.  (for security and scamming purposes) 

6) Ask about the number of 'clicks' the camera has in email correspondence (how used it is) - then confirm that information in person.  

If youre looking at Nikon, and you're in the menu - find the “EXIF Data“.  From here you can usually scroll down and find 'Shutter Counter'.  This will tell you how many photos have been taken with this camera.  For another camera - you'll have to google.  Sorry.  

But the point is... if the seller says he 'barely used' the camera, but the data reads 100,000 clicks - then your seller is a liar liar from liarsville and you should move on.  There's a good chance they're holding other info back too.  

Of course none of this should take precedence over basic common sense.  But i do hope a few of these tips help you along the way.  Please leave me a note if you have another awesome filter for purchases.  


jenn alcantaraComment