Holiday Deals or Holiday Steals?

by daniel moggLeave a Comment

With the recent holiday sales there have been a lot of deals floating around in the DSLR world.

I recently stumbled upon a deal on 5D Mark III. The price was a great deal for a Mark III but at what cost?

I ended up finding a few defects and sending the camera back.

Having never purchased a used camera before, I want to share a couple pointers for you to consider when buying a used camera. Especially with all the specials going around right now.

Pointers When Purchasing a Used Camera

1)Check the shutter count

Think of the shutter count as mileage on your car, it's part of everyday use but the higher the count the higher the chance of leading to a breakdown.

The standard for the Mark III shutter life is 150,000 actuations.The company I bought the camera from did not provide the shutter count. I found this nifty app from the Mac store called ShutterCount. It’s $2.99 in iTunes and worth it considering the price you’re paying for the camera.

All you had to do was plug the camera in via USB, turn it on and the shutter count was given. Now, the camera I purchased had an extremely high shutter count, this was the first red flag for me.

2)Check for stuck/dead pixels

Dead pixels are essentially broken pixels on your camera’s sensor. These pixels can shot up as red, blue or bright dots that are on the cameras sensor. Basically you don’t want these showing up on your images, see the example below.

Holiday Deals or Holiday Steals IMG_00081

Here's how to start checking for these pixels. Put you camera into AV mode, with your ISO set low. Hold your exposure for about 30 seconds and import the photo in Photoshop or even the generic preview. Zoom in to around 200-300% and if there are any malfunctioning pixels, they will show up. Color variation could be red or blue or just a bright spot.

The first course of action is do a manual clean of the sensor. If press the menu scroll over to where it says sensor cleaning. Hit “clean now” and turn your camera off after 30 seconds. You can then go back to step number 1 and see if it gets rid of those colorful pixels

Holiday Deals or Holiday Steals screen-setup-menu2 edited

If you find these on your sensor and they do not go away you probably will not want to keep the camera.

3)Compare to the same model.

This obviously isn’t feasible for everyone but I was fortunate to have a friend with a Mark III and was able to do a comparison. After comparing, I could tell the finish was extremely worn and with some nicks and dings, it led me to believe the previous owner did not take the best care of the camera.

So I hope these points will help you in purchase of a used camera. I was fortunate to purchase from a place that offered a 3 day inspection period and could return if I wasn't pleased. Make sure this option is available when buying used.

(cover photo credit: snap from and Thinkstock)

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