5 Brilliant Pieces Of Used Camera Gear That Rock!

used camera gear
Image by Benjamin Balazs

The photography world is populated with a large number of characters born under one race called “equipment” (informally known as “gear”). Many of these pieces of equipment are really expensive, and it’s often hard to get the quality gear we want at bargain-basement prices.

Still, it’s usually possible to find secondhand gear that will give your photographic equipment repertoire an amazing boost.

If you are just getting started out in DSLR photography, this Intro Course will show you everything you need to know to get things off to a flying start! Check it out when you get a chance, it could just steer you away from bad habits…

So, let's look at this whole topic in some detail:

Specialty Lenses

Lenses designed for very specific purposes – macro and tilt-shifts, for example – are sometimes bought by photographers who are still finding their inner voice. After a while, they realize that it wasn't the smartest purchase and they decide to sell them.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens

Many photographers buy this lens new because they want to get into macro photography, expecting to instantly get results worthy of a science textbook. But this particular branch of photography requires much more than just a lens, so they eventually get bored because they don’t get the microscopic closeness they want.

Respectable macro photography is the result of a serious investment in lenses, extensions, adapters, lighting, and a lot of creativity regarding “do it yourself” solutions.

Image by Jesse Uli

This is also a great opportunity for you to get a decent telephoto lens with amazingly sharp quality. This lens has been built since 1990 – and trust me, it’s a tank.

This bad boy has been engineered to last, and you’ll get access to almost mint condition lenses, because people often tend to buy them when they’re still in the process of finding their own voice.

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L Tilt Shift Lens

If the 100mm lens is misunderstood, this guy here is way more complex. Tilt-Shift lenses are for very specific uses, but they can also be used as normal lenses. Many people think they can only be used for architectural shots and miniature effects, and get bored if they don't have a professional reason to use the lens.

Lighting Gear

Lighting equipment can get expensive, but as with many fields of the camera equipment world, there are great options at reasonable prices. With lighting, we have two options:

  1. Used Gear OR
  2. Affordable brands.

Many photographers tend to upgrade their lighting equipment for more powerful, less battery-consuming lights. This often means that their previous gear is still in good working order.

Image by Diego Zarpellon

When it comes to light diffusers, they rarely get wrecked, but some photographers – especially those who embrace a minimalist approach to lighting – will get rid of the extra stuff, and then you have a great opportunity to get decent soft boxes and umbrellas at bargain prices.

Camera Bags & Cases

Camera bags that have little damage and are still quite usable can often be acquired for a modest price. Good bags are made to last, and sometimes people upgrade them because they have different fitting requirements, cosmetic preferences or utility reasons.

So consider looking for used camera bags next time you’re thinking about getting one.

Some professional photographers who work in the outdoors eventually end up investing in Pelican cases to store all their gear, so their camera bags become useless and they put them up for sale online.

Image by Jeff Hopper
Image by Jeff Hopper

Because of the photography I love doing the most, I have two camera bags that work as cases for me when I’m not carrying them around. Many photographers do this.

They buy camera bags when they’re still finding their inner voice, so the bags become less useful after a certain point and the photographers decide to sell them.


I don't recommend secondhand tripods, because these poor guys really get hammered when they’re used the right way. Tripods tend to get hit and very nasty treatment in the field.

The legs will stress out over time, and rust will do its job, too. But monopods are different. Because they have fewer movable parts, they’re a great catch. The main reason why people eventually sell them is because they want to upgrade to a lighter, fancier one.

Camera Bodies

Here comes the fun part about gear. Camera bodies have the potential to last. However, bodies have a much quicker rate of evolution than lenses, which is why you’re more likely to change camera bodies within one or two years.

You can get access to Full-Frame Cameras on the used market at a fraction of their original cost.

Image by João Silas
Image by João Silas

There are some things you need to consider when looking for secondhand camera bodies:

  • Legacy: This is like doing history homework. “Legacy” refers to the particular history of camera bodies. The most popular brands have their flagships, which have a stunning legacy behind them. These are the bodies you need to look for when seeking used gear.
  • Previous Owner: When taking this into consideration, you need to evaluate the kind of usage and the number of shutter clicks. Usage refers to the field of photography the camera has been used in.It’s is definitely not the same to work in a jungle than it is to do family portraits (unless the previous guy was documenting a very outdoorsy family, ha ha). Regarding clicks … you can check these out at https://www.camerashuttercount.com/.
  • Physical condition: If you can get access to the physical object (hand to hand, in real life, away from the keyboard) look for:
    aesthetics, sensor condition, screen, hot shoe and all the camera’s other connections.

Analog Cameras

Image by Marcin Milewski
Image by Marcin Milewski

Talking about tanks that last forever! Film cameras are the kings.

They can literally be smashed into another camera and take the pictures of the aftermath. Since there’s no way of getting access to brand-new analog cameras (except in large formats) you’ll have to buy used gear if you want to be part of the analog crowd in these beautiful digital times.

Popular tanks here are the following:

  • Canon A-1
  • Nikon F3
  • Pentax K1000 (this guy can be used for self-defense if gripped properly)
  • Yashica-Mat 124G

Just getting started in DSLR photography? This Intro Course will show you everything you need to know to get things off to a flying start!

Further Resources

  1. Don’t Waste Time And Money – Decide What The Proper Gear Is For You
  2. 5 Things You MUST look For When Buying A Used Camera Body
  3. Why Buying and Selling Used Photography Equipment is The Way to Go [Sponsored]
  4. 10 Important Tips For Purchasing A Used Camera

About Author

Federico has a decade of experience in documentary photography, and is a University Professor in photography and research methodology. He's a scientist studying the social uses of photography in contemporary culture who writes about photography and develops documentary projects. Other activities Federico is involved in photography are curation, critique, education, mentoring, outreach and reviews. Get to know him better here.

In Columbus, Ohio we are fortunate to have, not only 2 stores which sell used gear, but one that actually repairs cameras and lenses. A lot of non-chain camera stores will have used gear since a lot of photographers trade in their gear for shiny new stuff.

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