Buying New vs. Used Camera Gear

There are times when you need to purchase brand new camera gear, and there are times when buying used is the much better way to go. Below, I’ll share the reasons I buy brand new, reasons I buy used, and examples of both cameras and lenses I’ve purchased. 

I think you’ll be surprised to learn that you can buy a used camera lens that looks & acts brand new.

When should you buy brand new camera gear?

Almost the only time I’ve actually purchased new lenses is when they are brand new to market and there are no used ones available. For example, when the Canon 16-35mm 2.8 III version came out, I purchased it brand new. If you’ve seen anything I’ve ever written about this lens, it is my workhorse, and is worth every penny. Of course, I did rent it first to make sure I wanted to make the investment in this lens… and it has been well worth it!

3 Reasons to Rent Camera Lenses - Rachel Carter Images

Camera lenses I’ve bought brand new:

(When you click on the links for the lenses above, it will take you to a product page where I regularly update the images I’ve taken with these lenses).

When should you buy a brand new camera body?

I’ve been shooting Canon since the late 1990’s, film included! My film SLR camera was a Canon, and when the digital point and shoots came out, I had a few Canon Digital Elphs. Even as I write this, I smile, because I have such fond memories of these cameras. Especially my first Elph. I used it all over Italy while I was living there, and I still cherish the photos I have been able to find that were taken with this small automatic camera.

All that to say, when I’ve purchased my Canon cameras, they have been brand new. Knowing I’ll be using them for work, and they will have a high shutter count by the time I’m done with them, so I find that buying new camera bodies works best for me. However, I recently bought a used camera body and I’ll explain that more later.

When should you buy used camera gear?

When I hear this question, the first thing that pops in my head is:  “when you need to get inspired” but that isn’t the only reason. It’s usually when I’m scouting around to buy ‘new-to-me’ used camera lenses. While I’m a huge fan of renting camera gear, sometimes it does make more sense to just purchase it used! I’ve had situations where I purchase a used lens, played with it for about 6 months, and then traded it in for something else! In that case, 6 months would have been way too long to rent a camera lens.

Buying Used Lenses

For camera lenses, my absolute preference is to purchase used. Why? If someone is selling it, they probably didn’t use it that much. (That’s only my philosophy, not necessarily a fact). Seriously though, you can purchase a camera lens, like new, at a great discount. I also trust a retailer like KEH Camera to have inspected the camera gear thoroughly before reselling.

Camera Lenses I’ve bought used:

  • Canon 24-70mm 2.8 II (I actually bought the first version of this lens used as well).
  • Canon 70-200mm 2.8 III
  • Canon 50mm 1.8
  • Fuji 10-24mm f/4
  • Fuji 16-80mm f/4
  • Fuji 35mm f/1.4

This isn’t even a full list, but you can see where buying used camera lenses is my preferred method!

Buying A Used Camera Body

While I usually purchase brand new camera bodies, recently I made the decision to trade in some lenses I wasn’t using for a Fuji mirrorless setup. I’m not sure I could leave Canon after all these years, but I wanted to expand my horizons a bit with a Fujifilm mirrorless camera.

Sometimes you need a creative charge, and to step outside your comfort zone. For me, a new camera system is definitely making me consider items that never register in my brain with my Canon equipment because it has become second nature.

The other reason I wanted to learn the mirrorless camera is for traveling. I didn’t know this the day I decided to borrow a Fuji X-T1 camera and 35mm lens, but the next morning I grabbed it at the last minute to go on a walk by the river, (exercise was my main goal) and I had so much fun being able to enjoy the trail and scenery at the same time, with such a small camera. This is when I was sold on purchasing a used set and tackling this learning curve.

Since I was already trading in lenses at KEH Camera, I decided to use some of that towards a Fuji X-T3 camera body.

The main reason I went with Fuji is that it’s known for being weather resistant. Another huge reason was affordability… the camera body is a crop sensor, and for someone who was only looking to learn and play, the price point was more cost effective.

Buying & Selling With KEH Camera

KEH Camera is a huge used camera gear retailer that is well known amongst the photography community. They’ve been around since long before digital photography was a thing, and they offer a large assortment of modern and collectible cameras.

If you ever call in, you’ll quickly learn they are all camera enthusiasts with extensive knowledge on the gear. I’ve found anyone that I have spoken with to be honest and enjoyable conversations.

Selling your gear with KEH

Selling your cameras and lenses with KEH is super simple, easy and quick. My experience in selling my lenses with KEH is less than a week turnaround time.

You simply fill out their online quote, print the shipping label + packing slip, carefully pack your gear, and drop it off at any location that picks up FedEx. A few days later, you’ll receive an email and text with the offer and  choose how you’d like to receive payment. If you choose a gift card, you’ll get a 5% bonus. 

Trade In at KEH Camera

Once you receive your offer number, you can choose to trade gear in (which is my preference) and you will get a 10% bonus. In order to complete the trade you’ll need to call that in and use your offer ID to receive your 10% bonus.

If you purchase/trade in, KEH will ship your new-to-you camera gear to you for FREE!

When I know I’m going to do a trade-in, I’ll actually call first and put the items I want to purchase on hold, that way I know I’ll be able to get what I’m looking for before I send in my old gear. Requesting a hold on a camera or lenses makes the process go faster, in my opinion.

All in all, the process for me has been about a week to 10 days from the day I ship the gear, to the day I receive the new-to-me camera lenses!

Happy capturing! 

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