Starting Photography : Buying Second Hand Camera and Lenses

In this portion, we will be talking about buying second hand camera and lenses. Which could be an adventure, or a disaster waiting to happen. But let’s go with the adventure mindset, for we will be giving you guidelines and tips and where and how to buy a second hand lens or camera.

We have previously written on what NOT to do when buying camera gears. If you haven’t read it yet, please click on the link here. =)

This post is part of our Photography Guide for Malaysia. You can read the various articles here.

Our next part in the series of guides would be on expanding your gear range. If you have noticed, we’ve written much the last two years on various ways to take photos, including pet photography, baby photography and fashion shoots. Now, the question would be, where is a good place to buy?

If you don’t mind spending, we’ll list out a list of camera shops, including ourselves, that you may be interested to buy your gears from. But what if you’re on a budget, and don’t mind second hand gears?

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Why consider buying second-hand Camera bodies and lenses?

Buying second hand camera accessories isn’t too bad, if you know where to look and what to buy (and NOT to buy). Second hand camera stuff are usually marginally cheaper, and can be a potentially good deal if the person selling is leaving due to being bored or not using their camera gears enough.

For example, if you purchase a second hand 24–70 f2.8 USM II and a 70–200 f2.8 IS II (or VR if you’re a Nikon user), you might save up to RM 1.2 k to 2k from the original price. If you don’t mind buying the older version (version 1), you will even save more and may even be able to purchase them at 50% off the price of the new one.

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However, that comes with the danger of buying from a professional, as their gears, while looking brand new, would have been heavily used. If it wasn’t well maintained, you might have a problem in the long run.

Camera lenses needs to be checked for fungus and if they’ve any sound while you focus, zoom in and out and just try shooting normally. If in doubt, don’t buy. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, just because the deal seems good.

If possible, I would rather not buy stuff that are wearable, unless they’re brand new. Camera Bags, Straps, Pouches, Belts and Vests gets used over time and needs to be dry cleaned before I would consider them.

Also, we need to check for wear and tear for wearables. That’s why most second hand camera shops prefer selling hardware such as camera bodies, camera flashes, triggers and tripod.


Where to purchase from?

Usually for beginners, we would recommend dropping by a Camera Store that specializes in second hand camera gears. Our personal favorites are good friends of ours

  • YL Camera at Pudu Plaza
  • Contact Person : Mr. Desmond Liew
  • Contact Details : +603 2110 2261 /+6016 218 7810

YL Camera is a safe choice for second hand gears, as they usually have a wide range of camera bodies and lenses for sale. So far, the largest I’ve seen in Malaysia.

Also, purchasing from a Camera Store when you’re a newbie will ensure a peace of mind. Though it’s more expensive then dropping by a forum or purchasing via MIR’s FTZ (Free Trade Zone), you know that the product has been thoroughly inspected, cleaned and repaired if necessary. Also, the second hand shop won’t go missing, unlike those whom you might purchase from personally.


Consider buying from Singapore or Hong Kong

If you don’t mind travelling, you might be able to save even more by visiting second hand camera shops in Singapore and Hong Kong. Stuff here are cheaper as the depreciation is more due to the earning power of the Singaporeans and the Hong Kong people.

For example, if you’re buying something which costs about SGD 1k (RM 2.55k) brand new, in Singapore, it can drop to as low as SGD 600 (RM 1550 as of November 2013) within 2–3 months. In comparison, you can never buy the same item for RM 1.6k even in Malaysia. Perhaps you could purchase it for RM 2.2k or so?


Use New Models against the prices

Using the new models to time your second hand purchases helps. I would usually do this for second hand camera bodies, which after all depreciate at an incredible pace.

Same thing applies to buying bodies from Hong Kong or Singapore. For example, I wanted to get started on the mirrorless system. However, a second hand Olympus Pen, 1 generation behind in Malaysia was RM 1.6k. When I dropped by Hong Kong, I was brought to Lui Yan Street, whereupon the same camera was going for only RM 500 each!

If I had purchase it brand new then, it would have cost me RM 3.2k a year before. However, due to Olympus releasing new models al the time, you are able to buy an older model for a lot less.

Thus savings would be
1 generation old Olympus Pen in Malaysia – 50% off the brand new price
1 generation old Olympus Pen in Hong Kong – 80% off the brand new price


Buying Second Hand Camera and Lenses : Directly from the seller

If you’re experienced enough, you might want to buy directly from the seller. It comes with risks of damaged goods, so bring along someone knowledgeable, and ensure you have the seller’s details and contacts, just in case they go missing after the sale.

Best is to meet up at McDonald’s or somewhere where you can sit and test out the lens or camera. Look out for any funny clicks, sounds or unresponsive buttons and wheels. If in doubt, don’t buy. I’ve personally traded some stuff this way while building my camera equipment gears.


Buying Second Hand Camera and Lenses : Online

Lastly, you might want to consider buying online. Ebay might give you the greatest bargain, but be prepared for duds as well.

I guess that’s all we have for you on this part of the series. Do comment or feedback to us if you’ve interesting places or stories to add =)

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