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Thread: New, Factory-Refurbished or Second-hand?

  1. #1
    New Member Magikthise's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

    New, Factory-Refurbished or Second-hand?

    I've been involved in photography as a hobby for more years than I care to count, and my recent foray into digital SLR's has presented an interesting question. Do you go for a brand-new DSLR, a factory-refurbished unit or take a chance on a second-hand camera from a private individual?

    It depends mainly on your budget. If you can afford it then it makes perfect sense to go for the brand-new camera where you're sure to get all the original accessories, manuals and warranty. However if you're on a limited budget but determined to get the best bang-for-your-buck, then factory-refurbished or even a private sale may be the way to go.

    Case in point:
    After owning a Nikon Coolpix 950 since 2004 (a great digital camera, especially for macro photography!) I decided to take the plunge and purchase a DSLR. Knowing what I liked in my Nikon EM 35mm film camera AND after researching what features I wanted in my price range, I started looking for a D80. 'Lo and behold, an ad on Kijiji (not an endorsement, just making a point) for a D80 w/28-80mm lens, both caps, extra battery pack, charger and both the original manual and (ahem) Ken Rockwell's tutorial guide on CD caught my eye. So I took a drive down the highway to Toronto, checked out the camera (near mint condition!) and bought it. Stopped at a Henry's on the return trip, purchased a battery grip and remote shutter release and headed home. Discovered the camera had less than 4,300 shutter actuations (apparently a fairly important factor when purchasing a secondhand DSLR) and worked like a charm! Total cost...under $500 CAN. That's less than half of the original retail price when the camera was new in 2006!

    I HAD checked out the cost of a factory-refurb unit at a couple of local camera shops and found the prices to be about $100 (or more) above what I could afford (and no, I didn't really have the opportunity of waiting to save the extra cash...) without the battery grip and remote shutter release, although the included warranty would definitely be a plus. So the private sale was my only real option.

    I have to say, there's absolutely no regrets whatsoever! The seller was genuinely helpful, not just someone trying to unload something. He even gave me a replacement charger (with sales receipt) because he thought the original Nikon charger wasn't working anymore - turns out it was fine. So the replacement charger went back to Henry's and helped pay for the battery grip. And as I mentioned earlier, the camera is working perfectly!

    Of course, as with purchasing ANYTHING through a private sale, it's always buyer beware. You MUST be careful to check out the camera thoroughly AND trust your instincts about the seller. But if you're careful and thorough, you CAN end up with a pretty good deal.

    So what's the moral of this post? While new is obviously the safest route, don't be afraid to purchase a FACTORY-refurbished camera OR a camera that's a few years past its original production release date. You can get a quality DSLR at a very respectable price. I certainly did!

  2. #2
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
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    Re: New, Factory-Refurbished or Second-hand?

    New is the safest route only because its under warranty, doesn't mean there can't be quirks with the individual unit, as some CIC members will attest.

    Refurbished may not be as bad as it sounds, depends upon the age of the unit and why it was refurbished, could only be a restocked model.

    Second-hand, depends on the age, how often it was used, the selling price, and what type of warranty you get, probably no more than 30 days.

    By the way, did you get a warranty on the model you purchased?

  3. #3
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Southern California, USA
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    Re: New, Factory-Refurbished or Second-hand?

    As I have mentoned in prevous postings, I have purchased a total of six DSLR cameras since I switched from film based photogrphy to digital.

    I purchased my first two cameras which were a 10D and a 350D new and had to bring each of these into the Canon Service Center in Irvine, California for service within the first 90-days of owning either camera. I never had a whit of trouble with either of these cameras after I received them back from the service center. However, I realized that, in all actuality, I was shooting with a pair of Canon Refurbished cameras for which I had paid full price.

    I decided that I would, in future purchases, skip the seemingly mandatory steps of buying new and sending the camera in for service and that I would buy a refurbished camera at a better price than a new camera.

    Due to a serendipitous combination of receiving an unexpected financial windfall and seeing a Canon Refurbished Canon 30D at the same time, I tool the plunge and purchased the refurb 30D. I have been shooting with this camera for many years and never had a problem.

    I sold my 350D because I did not really like the controls on this camera so I had a 10D and a 30D with which to shoot. I purchased my 40D as a refurb and have also experienced no problems with this unit. I purchased an extended Mack warranty for the 30D but, never bothered with getting one for my 40D.

    One of my dogs pulled the 10D off a table by a strap which I had left dangling over the side. Repairs for this camera were more expensive than the going price for a used 10D. I took the advantage of Canon's Loyalty Program and traded in the broken 10D for a refurb 7D plus the going price for CLP 7D cameras which was several hundred dollars less than the price if I were to purchase a 7D as a refurb without the CLP and many hundreds less than a new 7D. The first 7D I received from the CLP seemed to have problems. I called up Canon and they told me to pack up the camera and return it to them. I received a different camera within a couple of days and that 7D has worked flawlessly since.

    The Canon Refurbished cameras come with a Canon 90-day warranty. That has been no problem for me since other than the initial problem with the 7D (which I suspect resulted from a bad battery rather than a bad camera) I have had absolutely no problems with any of my cameras and I saved a considerable amount of money on the three refurb cameras I purchased.

    I did buy a used DSLR, a Canon D60 (the 2nd 1.6x DSLR Canon) many years ago which I got for a pittance and converted into a full-time IR camera. I have had no problems with this camera. Once in the "Dark Ages" of film photography, I found a Canon A-1 at a garage sale which was also selling for a pittance because the seller thought the camera was broken. I bought it and replaced the dead battery and then shot with this camera for an eternity. I actually skipped the entire generation of Canon auto-focus film SLR cameras and used the A-1 instead. I loved this camera..

    IMO, if a person knows something about cameras (I suspected that the problems with the A-1 were due to a dead battery) or if they know and trust the seller, there is nothing at all wrong with buying a used camera if the price is right and the camera is in respectable condition.

    However, if a person is new in photography, I would recommend a refurbished unit over a used or even a new unit because that camera has been through the Canon QC at a Canon Service Center which I trust more than the quality control at the Canon Assembly Line. The chances of a problem with the camera are (IMO) less than with a used model and in my experience, even less that with a new unit and you have the 90-day warranty.

    Note: Adorama of New York City extends the Canon Refurbished 90-day warranty to a full year with their own warranty. The camera will sometimes cost a bit more than buying a refurbished unit directly rom Canon but, you have the additional warranty, shipping is free and you are not charged state sales tax if you are not a New York State resident. Crunch the numbers and see if Canon's or Adorama's bottom line price is best for you.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 15th December 2011 at 03:14 PM.

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