best second hand dslr for beginners

Buying best second hand dslr for beginners is a great idea if you ask me… On the one hand, you save money when you buy used, which means you either have more money in your pocket your you have more money to devote to buying other gear.

On the other hand, there’s tons of great deals on the best used full frame dslr. That includes prosumer and professional full frame cameras!

That got me thinking – what are the best used dslr camera for beginners?

Here’s a few suggestions…

Best Entry-Level DSLRs of 2020, Ranked

best second hand dslr for beginners

1. Nikon D4S

Nikon D4S$1,749.00AMAZON

Last updated on July 14, 2020 6:47 am

The most anticipated full-frame DSLR of the year 2016, the Nikon D5 was unveiled at CES 2016, but still, there are many things to love about the Nikon D4S and those who are about to make a switch to an ultra high-end model, but don’t have the budget for the D5, should keep an eye out for the D4S.

The Nikon D4S boasts a 51-point AF system including a15 cross-type sensors, 11fps shooting, and a 16.2 million pixel sensor, the D4S is overall a tremendous camera. However, most of these specifications have been enhanced in the newer model but still, most of the D4S’ features are more than enough for the majority of professional photographers.

A decent amount of savings can be made when purchasing a second-hand camera. The price above written is for a mint condition D4S, but you can even get a D4S much cheaper if you’re prepared to accept some damage or a high shutter count.

2. Nikon D7100

Nikon D7100$899.00AMAZON

Last updated on July 14, 2020 6:47 am

Those who are about to make a jump from a beginner to an enthusiast level should go for, Nikon’s D7XX series. The most recent model is the D7200, but the D7100 still has the power to compete in the present market thanks to some brilliant features.

It has a 24.1 million pixel sensor which has no optical low pass filter for maximum detail, an “EXPEED 3” image processor, 6fps shooting, and a native ISO range of ISO 100 to 6400. Those who like to capture a wide variety of objects would like this all-around decent camera.

3. Nikon D300s

Nikon D300S$1,629.95AMAZON

Last updated on July 14, 2020 6:47 am

People waited a long time for the D300s to get replaced with the newer D500. The launch of D500 made the D300s to be available at an absolutely cracking price.

For less than £250, users can get a second-hand D300S. It has a sensor of 12.3 million pixels which is, to be honest, pretty low as compared to modern standards, but it’s still more than enough to make A3 size prints. The 7fps is also fairly slow by modern standards if you want to shoot sport but great if you only capture landscapes, macros, portraits and so on.

With 51 AF points across the frame, the D300s gives a good degree of flexibility, however, the ISO max out at 3200. But this isn’t really a problem is you aren’t a low-light shooter.

It is suggested by the critics to check the shutter count of any second-hand D300S cameras before buying them.

4. Canon EOS 700D

Canon EOS Rebel T5$209.99AMAZON

Last updated on July 14, 2020 6:47 am

Canon EOS 700D is one of the few models that can be purchased brand new way cheaper than a second-hand version thanks to some amazing deals available at the moment.

Although the price difference here isn’t as dramatic as between some of the older and newer professional models, it’s still enough of a difference to consider the older model if you’re on a budget.

Canon 700D was replaced with two models, the 760D and 750D. Both of them have the same sensor, but the 760D’s body build is targeted towards a little more experienced photographers. The 700D, on the other hand, has an 18 million pixel sensor, a Hybrid AF system and a native ISO range of 100-12800.

The major things which differentiate the 700D with 760D and 750D is an increase in resolution and an improved autofocus system which aren’t much of a concern if you mainly shoot something like landscapes, and keep print sizes to below A3.

5. Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark III$2,599.99AMAZON

Last updated on July 14, 2020 6:47 am

Canon is currently the leader of the megapixel race after trailing behind Nikon for a couple of years. The new 5DS has a whopping 50.6 million pixel sensor.

But broadly speaking, such huge pixel count isn’t required by the average photographer who sticks to printing at A3 or below unless they often want to heavily crop. Then there’s the issue of super large files.

Instead, they can go for the still brilliant 5D Mark III which is still a current model in Canon’s line-up for a much cheaper price, especially if they are going for second-hand.

6. Fuji X Pro1

Fujifilm X-Pro 1$469.99AMAZON

Last updated on July 14, 2020 6:47 am

The latest replacement on this list is the Fuji X Pro1 which is replaced by the latest model, the X Pro2, which is priced at over £1000 more than the one which it replaces, so there’s never been a better time to get hold of one of these much lusted after cameras.

The X Pro1 boasts a 16 million pixel sensor, a hybrid viewfinder, full manual controls and an X mount which supports a wide variety of lenses.

7. Olympus OM-D E-M5

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II$369.99AMAZON

Last updated on July 14, 2020 6:47 am

The original OM-D caused a huge amount of excitement when it was first unveiled, and although it has since been replaced, there’s still plenty of great features on the older camera.

It has a suprapider-fast autofocusing, 5-axis image stabilization, a dust and splash proof design, and a 16 million pixel sensor. If you’re thinking about getting your first compact system camera, or are about to upgrade from an entry-level model, you can save a lot of money by opting for the original version of the Mark II.

Where to Buy Cameras

Most cities will have their own independent camera stores, and I’m all for supporting your local shops. However, it’s an unfortunate truth that in 2021, independent stores have a hard time competing with the chain stores and online shops, especially in the photography industry.

While I was living in the UK before I turned pro, the best place to buy cameras for me was a well-established department store called John Lewis. They offered price matching, free extended warranties, and the best customer service of any UK camera retailer.

However, their range of camera gear wasn’t great, and mostly focused on amateur gear. In addition, their price match guarantee didn’t extend to most online retailers… and it was these online camera shops who seemed to be offering the best prices on camera gear.

So the question of where to buy cameras led me to search for online retailers, and soon I came across what’s known as ‘grey-market‘ retailers.

Grey-market camera shops usually offer camera gear at much cheaper prices than other stores. It’s usually a bit unclear why their products are so much cheaper, but I’d recommend that you exercise caution when researching.

Usually grey-market camera shops are based out of Hong Kong, and the camera gear you will receive will have foreign documentation; sometimes even foreign plugs.

I’ve bought numerous items from grey market online camera stores in the past, lured in by their bargain prices, but I’ve stopped doing so ever since I bought a faulty camera. Being located in Hong Kong made the return of the item a huge hassle, and made me wish I’d bought from another reputable retailer.

So back to the question of where to buy cameras – for me, there’s really only 1 option… and it’s called Amazon.CHECK CURRENT PRICE

Why is Amazon the Best Place to Buy Cameras in 2021?

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After interviewing a handful of photographer friends who live in Europe and the US, I can completely understand why they feel that Amazon is the best place to buy cameras (especially disposable cameras).

Remember that not all these points will relate to us unfortunate ones who live in countries not yet supported by Amazon, but most of them are still relevant for you to consider before your next big camera purchase.

All the Amazon links in this review will take you direct to the camera/photography related page on the site.

1. Return Policy

This is a strange point to start on when discussing where to buy cameras, but the store’s return policy is very important in my opinion, especially when you’re buying camera gear online.

As of August 2017, Amazon’s terms of service states:

“You may return new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by within 30 days of delivery for a full refund. Items should be returned in their original product packaging. We’ll also pay the return shipping costs if the return is a result of our error. Just visit our online Returns Center, and we will guide you through the process and even supply you with a return mailing label you can print out.”

In practice, Amazon seems to be totally happy with customers returning items, as long as they are in perfect condition.

Obviously I’m not advocating buy items with the intent of returning them, but it certainly takes the worry out of buying expensive products online. Being able to try any product out for free for 30 days is really incredible, and no other high street store can offer such a service.

2. Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is a paid service that gives Amazon customers certain advantages, including savings on certain products, unlimited movie/music streaming, expedited postage and much more.

It’s the express postage that’s most relevant here, making Amazon by far the best place to buy cameras if you want your new gear as fast as possible!

Amazon Prime gives you free 2-day shipping to eligible addresses and even the occasional free same-day delivery service.

Imagine seeing a camera, lens or even a photography backpack you like in the morning, then having it on your doorstep by the afternoon! There’s no need for us to leave our houses to shop anymore…!

3. Reviews

In researching where to buy cameras, it’s important to consider huge retailers like Amazon who have amassed thousands of user reviews.

It’s so easy for online store owners to write ‘fake reviews’ for product purchases, but with Amazon, reviews can only be written by people who’ve actually purchased the respective product. It’s the closest to an honest feedback loop that you’ll ever see for an online retailer.

Being able to check reviews before making any camera purchase is incredibly useful. Even though you can find lots of reviews of camera gear online, being able to read the reviews of actual owners of a product is invaluable.

Unless a product has numerous 5 star reviews, I’ll rarely consider purchasing it. I always read the negative reviews too, just to get a well-rounded opinion of the item, and encourage you to do the same thing.

4. Prices

For most of us, our search for where to buy cameras usually revolves around the best price. Aside from the aforementioned grey-market online retailers, Amazon often offers some of the best prices on camera gear.

Most of their products are discounted in some way, and with free Prime shipping, or low-cost standard shipping, Amazon really is hard to beat.

As I mentioned before, ordering to Australia from the US or UK Amazon is usually even cheaper for me to buy locally here in Australia, even from online stores.

5. Refurbished Products

Not many people know that Amazon stocks what’s known as ‘refurbished products’, and it’s here where some massive cost savings can be made.

Refurbished goods are also called ‘Amazon Renewed’:

“Products on Amazon Renewed are tested and certified by qualified suppliers to work and look like new and come with a minimum 90-day supplier warranty.”

I imagine that most of the refurbished products consist of items returned by customers that may not be brand new, but are as good as new. You can definitely find a good bargain on photography gear if you have time to browse, so I recommend bookmarking this photography gear page of Amazon Renewed, and having a look each week to see what new is on special offer.

6. Customer Service

I’ve heard stories from friends who exceeded the 30-day return period, only to have their items still refunded by a helpful Amazon customer service agent.

I wouldn’t recommend you test this, but regardless of the case, it seems that Amazon’s customer service really is second to none. For an online retailer, it’s also very easy to get replies from their email service, and it certainly doesn’t feel like you’re dealing with a ginormous retailer.

How to Buy a Digital Camera

1. Determine what you need

A mistake I see some digital camera buyers making is that they get sucked into buying cameras that are beyond what they really need. Some questions to ask yourself before you go shopping:

  • What do you need the camera for?
  • What type of photography will you be doing? (portraits, landscapes, macro, sports)
  • What conditions will you be largely photographing in? (indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light)
  • Will you largely stay in auto mode or do you want to learn the art of photography?
  • What experience level do you have with cameras?
  • What type of features are you looking for? (long zoom, image stabilization, large LCD display etc)
  • How important is size and portability to you?
  • What is your budget?

Ask yourself these questions before you go to buy a camera and you’ll be in a much better position to make a decision when you see what’s on offer. You’ll probably find the sales person asks you this question anyway – so to have thought about it before hand will help them help you get the right digital camera.

2. Megapixels are NOT everything

One of the features that you’ll see used to sell digital cameras is how many megapixels a digital camera has.

When I first got into digital photography, a few years back, the megapixel rating of cameras was actually quite important as most cameras were at the lower end of today’s modern day range and even a 1 megapixel increase was significant.

These days, with most new cameras coming out with at least 5 megapixels, it isn’t so crucial. In fact at the upper end of the range it can actually be a disadvantage to have images that are so large that they take up enormous amounts of space on memory cards and computers.

One of the main questions to ask when it comes to megapixels is ‘Will you be printing shots’? If so – how large will you be going with them? If you’re only printing images at a normal size then anything over 4 or so megapixels will be fine. If you’re going to start blowing your images up you might want to pay the extra money for something at the upper end of what’s on offer today.

3. Keep in mind the ‘extras’


Keep in mind as you look at cameras that the price quoted may not be the final outlay that you need to make as there are a variety of other extras that you might want (or need) to fork out for including:

  • Camera Case
  • Memory Cards
  • Spare Batteries/Recharger
  • Lenses (if you are getting a DSLR)
  • Filters (and other lens attachments)
  • Tripods/Monopods
  • External Flashes
  • Reflectors

Some retailers will bundle such extras with cameras or will at least give a discount when buying more than one item at once. Keep in mind though that what they offer in bundles might not meet you needs. For example it’s common to get a 16 or 32 megabyte memory card with cameras – however these days you’ll probably want something at least of 500 megabytes (if not a gigabyte or two).

4. Do you already own any potentially compatible gear?

Talking of extra gear – one way to save yourself some cash is if you have accessories from previous digital cameras that are compatible with your new one.

For example memory cards, batteries, lenses (remember that many film camera lenses are actually compatible with digital SLRs from the same manufacturers), flashes, filters etc.

5. DSLR or Point and Shoot?

Dslr-Point-And-ShootWhile digital SLRs are getting more affordable they are not for everyone. Keep in mind that they are usually bigger, heavier, harder to keep clean (if you’re changing lenses) and can be more complicated to operate than point and shoot. Of course there are some upsides also.

If you’re trying to make a decision between a point and shoot and DSLR you might want to read my previous posts titled Should you buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot Digital Camera? and it’s companion piece How to Choose a DSLR.

6. Optical Zooms are King

Not all ‘zooms’ are created equal.

When you’re looking at different models of digital cameras you’ll often hear their zooms talked about in two ways. Firstly there’s the ‘optical zoom’ and then there’s the ‘digital zoom’.

I would highly recommend that you only take into consideration the ‘optical zoom’ when making a decision about which camera to buy. Digital zooms simply enlarge the pixels in your shot which does make your subject look bigger, but it also makes it look more pixelated and your picture ‘noisier’ (like when you go up close to your TV).

If you’re looking for a zoom lens make sure it’s an optical zoom (most modern cameras have them of at least 3x in length – ie they’ll make your subject three times as big – with an increasing array of ‘super zooms’ coming onto the market at up to 12x Optical Zoom).

7. Read reviews

Before buying a digital camera take the time to do a little research. Don’t JUST rely upon the advice of the helpful sales person (who may or may not know anything about cameras and who may or may not have sales incentives for the camera they are recommending).

Read some reviews in digital camera magazines or online to help you narrow down the field. There are some great websites around that give expert and user reviews on virtually every camera on the market – use this wonderful and free resource.

A little self promotion here – one such site is my Digital Photography Blog which is a site that collates the reviews of many sites from around the web. To use it best enter the camera’s model name that you’re looking for a review on in the search feature in the top right side bar. It’ll give you a link to a central page that has information on the camera as well as links to any reviews published online on that camera from around the web.

8. Hands On Experience

Photo by erinmariepage

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a handful of cameras head into your local digital camera shop and ask to see and play with them. There’s nothing like having the camera in your hands to work out whether it suits your needs.

When I shop for a camera I generally use the web to find reviews, then I head into a street in my city with 4 camera shops side by side and I go from shop to shop asking for recommendations and seeing the cameras live in the flash. In doing this I generally find the same camera or two are recommended in most shops and I get to see them demonstrated by different people (this gives a more well rounded demo). I also get to play with it and get a feel for which one I could see myself using.

9. Negotiate

After you’ve selected the right digital camera for you it’s time to find the best price.

Once again, I generally start online (on a site like our store) and do some searches to find the most competitive prices on the models I’m interested in. With these in hand I’m in a good position to be able to negotiate in person with local stores and/or with online stores. I generally find that retail stores will negotiate on price and will often throw in freebies. Online stores are more difficult – most bigger ones don’t give you the ability to negotiate but smaller ones often will if you email them.

Don’t forget to ask for free or discounted bonuses including camera cases, memory cards, extra batteries, filters, free prints, cases etc. I even know of a couple of stores that offer camera lessons that you can ask to be included. Some stores will also consider giving you a trade in on older gear.

I generally do negotiating from home on the phone and only go into a store to pick up the camera after a price is agreed upon.

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