Monday, March 21, 2011

Buy Used

The Enticing the Light web site has posted on article on what a hit the Japanese camera manufacturers have took during the recent 9.0 earthquake and resulting aftershocks. All of the majors, Nikon, Canon, Ricoh, Fuji, Olympus and Sony have been affected. Sony in particular has been forced to shut down 7 plants. Fujifilm was forced to halt production of its popular Fuji X100 and Canon has closed one lens production plant for a month. And besides that their chip manufacturing has taken a hit as well. One can expect to see shortages in all kinds of electronic items being produced in Japan for a while.

The word on the street is, if you need something buy it now. Either it’ll be out of stock for an indefinite time or else the price will rise. And the price and availably of used camera gear might be affected as well. The “pre-owned” option is looking even better.

What To Look For
I always recommend buying used. I buy used gear from, Adorama, or B& You’ll get a warranty from these companies, 30-60 days, plus good return terms if you are not happy with it. Try eBay at your own risk. I’ve done okay with them but prefer lenses as opposed to bodies if I buy from there.

Canon 5D shown above is one of my used buys that I got from B&H. (The lens shown was bought new.) If you can’t afford the $2,500 5D Mark II price tag then the original 12 MP version is not a bad choice if a photographer needs to move to full-frame. I got mine for around $1,100. Though it won’t have some the newer features such as sensor dust removal and video recording, the image quality is outstanding.

It was rated a “9” and was in fine condition, with only a little paint wear on the hotshoe. I’ve been very pleased with it and it came with everything, box, manual, CD-ROM, battery, charger and all cables. With Keh, some things might be missing. You will at least get the DSLR basics, in this case, the battery and charger, which are the two main accessories, you will need with a digital camera. That is why I would rather do business with B&H. If you buy from B&H, you have to move fast as items sell quickly. They usually have just a few samples of a particular piece of gear. Keh and Adorama on the other hand, are loaded with equipment so you can take more time considering your purchase.

Other good cameras are the Nikon D200 and D300 and the Cannon 40D and 50D. If you are just starting out, a Canon 20D or 30D, or a Nikon D70 are good for novices.

I have a 40D and don’t see myself ever parting with it. The image quality, noise control up to ISO 400, overall handling and automatic sensor cleaning make it a fine professional tool for a partial frame sensor camera. The used price has shot up as well. Last year, a friend traded his in for a Canon 7D and got a higher than expected trade-in offer from Adorama. When he inquired as to why, he was told that the 40D was more sought after. I’ve seen the used price over the last year go up $100 or more (current street price: $600-$650). I have no answers for this or who is purchasing this camera in such quantities.

While the prices are good the one downside is that if it breaks on you no warranty support to get it fixed. And repairs are costly as I found out a few years ago when I accidentally dropped my 17-40mm zoom on the floor and the impact damage cost me $200 in repair fees.

Another thing to consider is more pixels doesn’t mean more detail. It means you are getting bigger picture dimensions; more real estate, which is good for cropping. This is evidence of camera manufacture’s marketing departments influencing camera development. More pixels does not mean greater improvements in image quality. However, in my experience, I would say that going from a partial frame sensor to a full-frame sensor does offer an increase in resolution that is noticeable. The full-frame images from my Canon 5D have more “pop” to them. It seems to me, that my 17-40mm zoom images look nice on my 40D but on a 5D they look like I used a tripod with a shutter release cable. The 17-40mm is a totally different lens on a full-frame camera. I didn’t realize it was that sharp!

As always, there are plenty of resources online for researching a new piece of gear. Check out your favorite photographers and see what kind of equipment they use. The wise take their time before they buy.