The Indian camera market has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade. A properly organized second-hand market is, however, still to emerge if you want to buy a second-hand camera. The reason for buying a secondhand camera is obvious. e saving in the money that you pay makes a substantial di erence and enables you to buy certain other accessories which would otherwise not be possible. It is safe to assume that a D-SLR camera will depreciate by 20% once it is sold. In the case of a compact camera, the depreciation would be higher at around 35% in the rst year itself. Second-hand values also vary between brands. Given Indian consumer preferences, a Nikon or a Canon D-LSR would command a better second-hand price than some other brands. At the end of the day, second-hand prices are determined by traditional factors of demand and supply and therefore can be variable. e following factors should be considered before making a decision to buy a second-hand camera.
1. Look at it from the point of view of the seller. As a seller, you would want the best price. Again, as a seller, you would like to conceal minor defects. Yet again as a seller, you would not like to reveal the history of the camera including the fact that it has been repaired or the lens cleaned. It is therefore clear that seller statements must be considered with the traditional pinch of salt.
2. Channels of purchase. You can buy a camera typically in three ways: (i) rough a camera specialist (ii) rough a website (iii) rough a third party who you may or may not know. Unfortunately, very few camera dealers sell second-hand cameras In the West, a whole industry survives on the purchase and sale of second-hand cameras. ese are bought by dealers, duly serviced, cleaned and resold with a performance guarantee. In India, we are still not able to use this route.
A number of e-commerce websites carry ads o ering cameras for sale. Typically, in such cases, you do not know the identity of the seller or his antecedents. ere is, therefore, an element of “buyer beware” in such transactions.
It is therefore obvious that in Indian conditions, if you buy second-hand, it is best to buy from a known person or a friend.
3. Condition of the camera – Cameras are rated worldwide in the second-hand market as being either Mint, Excellent, Good or Fair. A mint camera would essentially mean a body that is good or close to what it was like when new. The terms excellent, good or fair are ratings in descending order which describe the condition of the camera.
Excellent would imply a camera in perfect working condition. ere is nothing to replace a good solid inspection of the body and the lens. Small scratches on the body may be acceptable but any major dents would indicate that the camera has been through rough handling and may therefore not perform at its optimum. In high humidity cities, our readers have complained of skins covering the camera body peeling o .In our humid Indian climate, lenses also tend to develop fungus/mould. It is therefore very essential that the lens be thoroughly examined both for fungus and for smooth movement of the lens rings and elements. The connectors in the memory card compartment and battery connectors should also be examined for damage or signs of battery leakage. It is now possible to determine the total number of times the shutter has been released since new. If a camera has been heavily used, the life expectancy of the existing shutter will be much less. On an average, a mid-level D-SLR should be good for at least 100,000 shutter releases. Look up website “shuttercounter.com” to determine the actual usage of the shutter.
4. Unless you are absolutely satis ed, do not pay the asking price and try and negotiate a short guarantee within which you can return the product and get your money back.
5. In a number of markets, camera manufacturers sell what are called ‘refurbished’ models. ese are cameras that may have been returned by customers for a variety of reasons. e manufacturer check them to x problems, if any. The cameras are then resold at less than new prices. The term frequently used to describe such cameras is “AS NEW”. A guarantee is also normally o ered with such cameras. Perhaps, manufacturers like Canon and Nikon should take the initiative in the interests of developing a healthy second-hand market for their products.