How I Save Money on Photography Equipment (Buy Used!)


I've purchased my share of photography equipment over the last twenty or so years.  (Maybe more than my share?)  I've always loved my purchases, but I've learned some things along the way.

Tips for purchasing used equipment are below the photos!

This post contains affiliate links, which  means I will earn a small commission, at no extra charge to you, if you purchase through the links.

I bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D80, brand new. (I think that was 2008. I had been using point and shoot digital cameras before then. And before that, a Canon film SLR.)  I loved the D80, (and my daughter still uses it-- a lot.)  Great camera.

After I'd had that camera a while, and was looking to move up just a little to a larger, semi-pro camera, my brother-in-law,  (also an avid photographer), gave me some of the best advice.  He said, "No need to buy new cameras.  People are always trading in great used equipment, and you can save a bundle."

So, not long after that, I bought my first used camera, a Nikon D200, from a local camera store.  Not one single problem with it, and I still use it today, although it's not great in low light without a flash, and the screen on the back is really small!  Still a great camera!

These were taken with the D200.

How to Save Money on Photography Equipment ~ anartfulmom.com






My next used camera purchase was a Nikon D5100.  It's lighter, simpler and  has much better low-light capabilities than my first DSLRs (with a bigger screen!)  I love it and use it a lot because it's smaller and easier to carry around, but the image quality is still great.

The D5300 is the slightly newer version of my 5100. It can be picked up at Adorama right now for $389.00.  (That's the body only, no lens.)  That's with an Excellent Plus rating. Unbelievable. Even without the lens, that is a great deal.  Given that the newest model in this line, the D5600, is close to $600.00, new, without a lens, I think the used D5300 is a steal. It is considered an "upper-level entry camera," but the image quality is on par with my Nikon D7000, which, (you guessed it), I also bought used.  I have used the D7000 for some newborn shoots and a wedding, as well as everyday photography.

The used inventory is always changing at Adorama, as people grab the best deals, but just search within the used category to find your deal.

Most of the pictures at my blog have been taken with either the Nikon D5100 or the D200 (or sometimes my phone!)


The shots below were taken with the D5100.

How to Save Money on Photography Equipment ~ anartfulmom.com
(I'm partial to this one, because it's my baby girl as a bridesmaid in my niece's wedding.)



How to Save Money on Photography Equipment ~ anartfulmom.com




Here are my tips for purchasing used photo equipment:


Buy from a reputable place!  I've found wonderful online deals at both Adorama and B & H Photography, both of whom have a 30 day return policy.  Love them!

Pay attention to the grade that the piece of equipment has been given.    For instance, Adorama uses letters -- So a D rated camera has no signs of wear, an E+ has slight signs of wear, etc.  The price will vary with this grade.  I usually only buy equipment that is rated D, E+, or E, but that isn't to say a lower rating won't be good too.  All of the equipment is tested.

Give the company a call when you find something you like, before you purchase it online.  Sometimes they'll give you a little additional discount.

When buying a camera, make sure you are buying it the way you want it. For instance, are you looking for a DSLR body only, or do you want a kit lens with it?  They are sold both ways,

When it comes to lenses, make sure you are purchasing the exact model of the lens you are looking for.  Sometimes there are  updated models, so you want to be sure you are getting the one you want.

If this info has helped you, I'd love for you to share it!  Thanks for reading!

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17 comments

  1. Oh yay, you linked to Sharefest! I'm happy because I wrote that post.
    And it's about photography! If I remember, I'll feature this awesome piece.
    I usually don't buy used but that's not because I'm against it. I just find great deals a lot through my business. I love Amazon, B&H, and Adorama!

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    1. Thanks Tamara! I would be thrilled to have it featured!!!

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  2. great photos - hard to make a crowded store look good. cheers

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  3. Thanks for sharing your post at the Inspiration Spotlight party @DearCreatives Pinned & sharing. Lovely photography btw. Hope to see you at this weeks party too. See you again soon. Theresa

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    1. Thanks so much for the kind words! And thanks for hosting the party!

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  4. Good tips. I just purchased a used Cannon 60D and it cost a lot more than your Nikkon. Wish I had read this article first. Can you suggest good lighting for an inexpensive price.

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    1. Thanks Clearissa! I use an external flash when I need more light (called a Speedlite in Canon, and Speedlight in Nikon.) It attaches to the hotshoe of the camera, and I bounce it off a ceiling or wall (best if the ceiling or wall is white, which is why I usually use the ceiling!) There is a Craftsy class all about how to do it, but the basic technique is really simple. I wrote a post about it, in the Photography section here, called Bouncing the Flash. I think they can be found used fairly often. I think it's easier to use the speedlight brand of your camera, rather than a generic one. For small objects or products, my daughter uses a shop light as constant light and a small photo light box. Those can be made or purchased pretty cheaply. I have some studio strobes, but rarely find them necessary.

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  5. I've checked for cameras on eBay but hadn't thought about local stores. Now I want to go shopping. My first DSL is the Nikon 3100, and I liked it at first, but now would like to be able to afford better lens and some filters, etc. Thanks for sharing.

    Peabea from Peabea Scribbles

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Thanks for the comment, Peabea! The 3100 is such a nice DSLR to start with. My daughter used the 3400 which is an only slightly newer version of it in college and liked it a lot. Have fun shopping!

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  6. Thanks for sharing your stunning photos with us - congrats for being one of our Featured Bloggers at Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy! :-)

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    1. Thank you so much!! So happy to be featured!!

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  7. Thanks for the tips, Pam. I've been looking to upgrade my camera for some time now, and used just might be the way to go!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Jean! Buying used has worked out so well for me!

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