How to check the camera before buying?

Every day on the website of Radozhiv they ask me how to check the SLR camera and lens when buying, especially when buying a used one. photographic equipment. Digital cameras are complex devices and it is simply not possible to check all the functionality of the camera “quickly” when buying.

Camera check

Checking the camera. In this figure, the insides of the Nikon D700

Often, the difficulty of verification lies in the fact that there is neither time nor appropriate funds for full testing in the store. Therefore, I advise you to perform a basic check in the store, and a more detailed one at home. For example, in Ukraine, you can return the goods without any problems within 14 days. You just need to save all the papers and boxes, and within 14 days of using the camera, any 'critical bug' will appear on its own.

Recommendations for the purchase:

  1. If this is a new camera, be sure to check what warranty comes with it. Usually there is a guarantee from a seller and an official guarantee from the manufacturer. I recommend the equipment with an official guarantee. You can see what the Nikon or Canon 'official coupon' looks like on the Internet, however, according to the official warranty, in the event of any malfunction or malfunction, the repair will have to be carried out at the manufacturer's service center. Service centers are not available in all cities; in small cities, at best, there will be a “reception point” that will send the equipment to the nearest large city, but not the repair shop itself.
  2. Next, you just need to inspect the appearance of the camera, the new camera should be absolutely clean, like jewelry, without any scratches. Most importantly, look at the battery, it usually has a sticker with the manufacturer's hologram on it. Often, instead of a native battery, they slip in cheap Chinese batteries. However, lately modern cameras have good protection against “non-native” batteries. In most cases the warranty does not cover the battery as the battery can wear out. The battery has the property of 'dying' and the service center will not change it under warranty. It is not so easy to check the battery, for this you need to completely discharge it while shooting and then charge it.
  3. If this is a used camera. - then you need to pay attention to the anti-slip rubber bands on the case, they usually swell and peel off, and on the screws, they must be clean, otherwise there is a risk that the camera was disassembled, which means that everything may not be all right with it. Usually, the appearance of the camera immediately shows how hard the camera has been used.
  4. The shutter of each SLR camera is designed for a certain number of actuations (that is, an SLR camera, or rather its shutter, can make a certain “manufacturer-guaranteed” number of shots during its life). So, amateur cameras have a limit of 100-150.000 shots, after which the shutter may break. If the camera has run more than 50.000 frames, you should think about whether you need to buy it, since it has already worked out half of its life resource. Checking the mileage of some cameras (especially Nikon cameras) is very easy - just open the last image from a RAW, NEF or JPEG camera using a special program, for example, such as ShowExif, and in the 'Total Number of Shutter Releases' field, see the number of frames taken. I don't know if the counter can be rolled back.
  5. Others worth checking the heart of the camera - its matrix. To do this, on a camera without a lens, with the bayonet cap on, in M ​​mode, take several pictures with a long shutter speed, and all noise reduction functions should be disabled. The following parameters are best used: ISO 100, excerpt - 15sec. Then view the result with maximum magnification on a camera or on a computer display, while there should be no bright luminous dots-pixels. In fact, hot, broken and colored pixels can appear over time and if the camera has several of these pixels, then you don't have to bother and buy a camera. In any case, the decision is yours.
  6. Also, you can take several pictures of a homogeneous object at the maximum closed aperture to check the contamination of the matrix. Usually cameras are sold with standard 18-55mm lenses. With this lens, the easiest way to capture the sky is at ISO 100, f / 32, 55mm. The new camera shouldn't have any extra 'trash' in the picture. BOO. a camera usually has a whole bunch of debris on its sensor. If the matrix is ​​heavily littered, you should think about whether such a camera is needed. Matrix cleaning is not easy and expensive.
  7. When checking the lens, you should pay attention so that it does not make unnecessary sounds when focusing, and the lenses are clean. Checking for back and front focus requires a separate article. I do not write about checking for back and front focus, since I know many cases where amateur photographers incorrectly checked the lens and then complained about its work. Photo enthusiasts often have a bunch of invented problems with the camera :)
  8. I also need to check the built-in flash. One shot with the flash is enough to make sure it works. If you only buy a 'Body' (camera without a lens), then put the camera in 'M' mode, turn on the flash by pressing the flash pop-up button (usually located on the side of the built-in flash and has a 'lightning bolt' icon) and press the shutter release. True, some cameras take their very first picture only with the 'native' lens on the camera.

My experience:

DSLRs and other cameras usually either work or don't work. If the camera has problems, then in just 1 hour of actively poking around in the menu and taking test shots, you can confidently find the problem. Usually the problem is all sorts of errors that appear on the camera's display and after which the camera stops working. Errors after shutdown may disappear and then appear again. Another pitfall may be a non-obvious problem with a sticking mirror or shutter. Typically, a mirror or shutter can stick with burst shooting and with different orientation of the camera in space. I know of cases when the camera worked fine in the vertical case, but did not work in the horizontal case at all.

SLR cameras can be crammed with a huge number of mechanical parts that can fail. You can look at my insides Nikon D700 In chapter 'Disadvantages of modern DSLR cameras'.


Detailed camera checks are tricky. Not every person will be able to understand the intricacies. Therefore, I recommend to amateur photographers to 'drive the camera' as much as possible in a variety of shooting modes for several days. If after such a 'run' everything works fine, then 99% that everything is in order with the camera. It is very good if you have a friend who understands cameras and who will help you test the camera.

In the comments, you can write down your verification methods and nuances that you have encountered in life - help others not to step on the same rake. Thanks for attention. Arkady Shapoval.

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Comments: 149, on the topic: How to check the camera before buying?

  • Elena

    Good afternoon, Arkady tell me, or who knows))) where to see what mileage the manufacturer guarantees for a specific camera ... ..the d300s are offered, at a nice price, but the mileage confuses me 109773 (((.

    • Yaroslav

      A bit late) but still) there may still be newcomers) it is written at the bottom as a percentage! It’s not difficult to calculate)

  • Andryushka

    Definitely, no matter how attracted by the price of used cameras and, including cameras, I will not buy used ones and do not recommend it!
    First, if they sell, then something is wrong. The seller can write what he bought and she did not need it, some write that they were given a present, that they want to buy a new model, and they do not need the old one ... and so on, so on. But! I know a lot of photographers - professionals from the editorial offices of magazines, from newspapers, from registry offices, and they all use old models that were bought 5 or even 10 years ago, and everyone is happy with everything. In addition, now there are a bunch of different editors where you can draw any low-pixel and inferior photo.
    Secondly, when buying a used product, from where you can know what kind of mileage this camera has already made, in what dusty conditions or in rain it was used, how long the flapping mirror will last, whether the aperture blades are bent, whether burning or dead pixels have appeared on matrix, did the device fall, was it already under repair ... And there are many, many different reasons, in what hands and in what conditions this technique was!
    Thirdly, there is no money for a new camera - buy on credit. But, this thing will already be yours, you will treat it like a baby, cherish it, blow off the specks of dust and think that you are already using it, and gradually, little by little, you give the money to the Bank, and your pocket does not suffer especially. ...
    Fourth, the other day I wondered about buying a good quality SLR. I rummaged through a bunch of private ads, rewrote all models and prices, and made sure that I didn’t win by buying a used one! I will buy old goods, used, without warranty, with the old matrix and battered optics. And it is not clear how long he will serve, with what dark thoughts he was used, what obscenities the lens of this used product saw, how many weddings he had shot, and so on and so forth.
    I entered into correspondence with some sellers of used cameras. He spun them up for frank conversations and it turned out that someone had stolen him, someone wandered to the South with him and he fell into the sand, someone's wife dropped the camera and the pictures began to shift colors to the side, someone had a screen in small scratches, someone has a mileage of more than 75000 shots ... Is it worth it ?!
    I often remember the words of a sage who said, "I am not rich enough to buy cheap things."

    • Dasha

      Andryushka, you are talking absolute nonsense. Especially about a bunch of different editors. This is from the series “you can shoot on a crop, and then crop it to a full frame format in Photoshop, and there is no point in buying a new camera” (a friend recently gave it away). What is the mileage - well, the author told us how to find out correctly. I hope dark thoughts and obscenities were just a catchword. The fact that all of a sudden ALL the owners of the used devices that you came across sold them with some kind of defect does not mean that this is typical for everyone on the market. And it is not necessary to buy a lens with the carcass at all, if you are confused by the impossibility of checking the "mileage" of the lens)
      I am a amateur photographer, my camera will soon be 8 years old. Pah-pah-pah, it works perfectly, no complaints, I bought a new one. There was a photo part-time job, but still a part-time job, not a job. I buy used glasses, because just as a yesterday’s student, I don’t have the means for new ones, but I want to develop. I don't see anything wrong with that. Yes, the risk, especially since I made all purchases from another city, received it at a new post office. One lens even had a warranty (one and a half years left). The reason for the sale was that the happy owner did not use it for six months, from which he concluded that it would not be any further.
      About the loan, I'm sorry, but that's just ridiculous to read. Little by little, the pocket does not suffer ... Do you accidentally work in a private bank? They are with this wording all the time trying to sell their credit cards) And the "words of the sage" cited by you, IMHO, rather refer to weak whale lenses - even new ones, even used ones)))

      • Alexander

        I completely agree with Andryushka. The fact is that although I do not work in a bank, I often buy on credit. For having bought a second-hand a couple of times ... I came across an outwardly good product, but the jambs were already in use, some of them could not be corrected, or it was not rational. So I would rather overpay than I buy used ones. The greedy pays twice.

        • Valery A.

          Your right is “I'd rather overpay than I will buy used ones”. Personally, I use 4 crops and several lenses, almost all used ones, everything works well, without jambs. The point, of course, is the thickness of the wallet and the degree of perfectionism (sorry for the word). I believe that if a thing (the same lens) costs 2 or more times cheaper on Avito than in a store (and there are now prices not for the lower class), outwardly as new and everything works when checked, then why not? And 99% it's not a fact that a malfunction is hidden in it, I myself sold a couple of things that are absolutely serviceable, just not necessary to me, because I wanted others.

          • Irina

            At the expense of the price, now I am faced with a situation, I am looking for a camera to replace my old man. I looked used, the ads indicate the mileage of 150, 000 frames are sold at a price just slightly lower than the new ones, and that's the point? I'd rather overpay the $ 230 for which they made a “generous” sales discount, and buy a new one, without the risk of having to fix the camera after a couple of months of use.

            • Michael

              So the thing is untwisted and popular. The price of a good copy should be 1.5 times lower than the new one, then, I think, it makes sense to take.

              • Olga

                I bought a used one. camera nikon d800. The run was 80 thousand. That is, almost half of the resource. The cost is $ 1100. (a new one could be found for 1700 dollars.) I took a chance, although the camera was not very cosmetic. 3 years have passed. The camera plows like new. The mileage is already 480 thousand and there are no problems. Paved twice as much of my resource. At the same time, a friend bought a new d2, and recently the shutter died at 750 thousand, just a week after the end of the warranty. Therefore - here is a matter of luck. Even cosmetics are a profitable business. It seemed to me that paying extra $ 80. for replacing the shutter - not such a problem.

    • Yaroslav

      My wife d3200 where she studied and learned "photography" on the 20k counter! I can afford to buy a gift for my wife d7200 and sell it for half the price in perfect condition! I have never heard of such things thrown away)

    • Michael

      Well, if you do not take pictures, but blow off dust particles and treat them like a baby. That is new and only new. And do not care. There is an ancient camera, bought second-hand and it’s not a pity to smash it, because it’s cheap, so I don’t blow off dust particles and carry it with me all the time and take pictures, use it. Many special lenses sell for a third of the price, not because they are bad, but because no one takes them. There is nothing wrong with the used one, you just need to soberly assess what the gain and risk are.

    • anonym

      I DO NOT agree with you that if it is used, it means that something is wrong with the camera. I put my Nikon D7000 18-105 VR Kit on sale only because it is heavy and not convenient for me. My husband wanted to please and so it turned out that he did not please ... Fotik is 2 years old. Run of 500 frames. Mostly in the closet. so let it be better to give someone pleasure and quality and price)))

      • anonym

        Still selling your nikon d7000

  • Rope

    Good evening! A big request tell me how to deal with hot pixels. At shutter speeds of more than two seconds and ISO 100, hot pixels appear. At 30 seconds there are a lot of hot pixels. Remapping did not help. They write that when transferring pictures to lightroom, hot pixels disappear. I do not disappear. What to do? Thanks. Canon 5d mark III and canon 70d cameras.

  • Kairat

    Arkady, good day. I have such a problem, I want to buy a used Canon 5D mark II camera, with very low mileage (7 frames), although I myself have not seen it, I have not checked it through PhotoME, just according to the owner. It was alarming that a camera with such a low mileage had such a shabby look. Moreover, the owner himself, although I did not ask him about it, says that he did not write a video for it. So I think that she was "chased" on video. How to find out if a used camera was used to shoot video and this affects the resource of the shutter and maker. What if she was “burned out”? In advance, rahmet.

    • Alexey

      you won't know. alternatively, look for kenon 6D - in fact, a more modern analogue of the second carrot at the same price.

  • Vladislav

    Is it worth it to buy a Nikon d700 with a mileage of 198000 ??? it looks good in appearance, the price is 36000 rubles if for rubles!

  • Nicholas

    A month ago I bought a Nikon 5100. I bought a pig in a poke. We met on the street, I did not know how to check the device (before that I used a soap box, for a long time - Smena, Zenit, Zorky). The seller took a couple of pictures: "You see, it works." Outwardly, the device was like new and I took it (without a lens). The device lay for two weeks, tk. I didn't have a lens, and I was scratching my turnips to see if I did the right thing. I studied what I bought: the device is in a box (the box is brand new, but it seems not native: the serial number on the device and the box does not match); no instructions; discs, wires and charging are sealed; purchase receipt - less than a month ago; warranty card available. I bought an 18-55 lens without a stabilizer from my hands too. I checked it - everything seems to be working fine, until I found any flaws. Mileage - 650 frames. He breathed a sigh of relief.
    The price of the issue; apparatus RUB 8000, lens - RUB 1800

  • Basil

    Arkady, tell me, please, what should I look for when buying (ordered through the online store) Pentax k5 2 with a Pentax 18-135 whale lens?

  • Maxim Martirosov

    I would add that the matrix test is not superfluous to do at 400 ~ 800 ISO. That which did not come out on a hundred can come out at high values.

  • Valery A.

    In tune with Nikolai on 27.09.14/5100/18: at about the same time I bought a D105 from 11-2000 for 3100t from a single mother who sold property after a divorce. The set includes charging, a belt on the camera and a polarik Marumi on the lens (!). FA and screws on it are clean, mileage 18, there were no jambs and did not emerge. His 105 from 4000-5 (with mileage 50) gave a relative for XNUMXtr. In principle, I'm happy with the upgrade. Now I look at the DXNUMX, they sell a couple on Avito, it’s interesting to use a legend with some professional functions and a large SSD matrix. And where can I get a new one?

  • Eugene

    Arkady, tell me please, on the Internet I found this offer ... Can you please tell me what "pitfalls" can be ??? The price is too scary ...

  • Vladimir

    Free cheese only in a mousetrap. They teach us fools, but everyone does not believe anyone.

  • Timur

    Yesterday I took a chance and bought d700 from a certain Sergei. I checked everything as written by Arkady and further in the comments by Sergey. There were two d700s for sale. The first one I rejected due to the presence of dust under the glass of the screen (not under the plastic screen!), I did not receive an intelligible answer to my question where it came from. Although the camera is absolutely clean, without external damage, it passed the broken and hot pixel test perfectly. They just weren't there. I also noticed the presence of dust in the upper left corner of the matrix when shooting a blue sky (yesterday in Moscow the sky was incredibly blue), but when testing the second device, the same dust turned out to be in the same place :-), and the seller “scored a goal” for me - my lens had a bunch of dust on the rear lens turns out! The second device turned out to be with a negligible 2688 frames and looks completely new and also passed the test for broken and hot pixels perfectly. To my condition that if the personnel counter is in fact more than 3000, then I will demand a refund, the seller reacted quite adequately and calmly, thereby earning my trust, which was confirmed later. Then, for the rest of the daylight hours, I drove around Moscow and calmly tested the device and enjoyed the process of shooting in full format. To summarize Arkady and Sergey: the main thing when buying used devices is “stupid and cold” to carry out all the necessary tests to the end, discuss all the deficiencies noticed and the reasons for their appearance, follow the seller's reactions to your “provocative” questions most carefully and if doubt something, refuse to buy without looking back. Thank you for the opportunity to share your first experience of buying your first full-frame camera.

  • anonym

    I have been using the CANON 400D device purchased from a professional photographer since 2008. I bought used lenses 50, 17-40. Two CENONs - 450 and 550. Everything is good.

  • Alexander

    Good afternoon!
    I am going to purchase D7100. I twisted it in the store and I was confused by one of its features. When the exposure parameters were changed, the picture in live view did not change. This is completely inconvenient because working, for example, in manual mode, even on canons of a lower price category, you can bring the exposure to the required level just before the shutter is released. At the same time, by changing the exposure, you can directly follow the subtle rendering of highlights or shadows. Here you need to take several sighting shots, which is not at all good for mechanics. And it's just ... not quite convenient. Tell me, maybe I don't know something and there is a solution, or it was a defective model. What models (firmware) do not have this feature?

  • Vladimir.

    The first used one took Canon 50D, shot 150. After 000 days the release button broke. Was in stock - I rewired it myself in 10 hours (with disassembly and assembly). Filmed for 0,5 years - the shutter, bastard, does not break. Sold. Now I am looking for a used FF with a large shot - such devices are sold for $ 2-300 cheaper, and the price of a new shutter on eBay is $ 1000-35. But there is no second button. Something like this.

  • Alexey

    On nikonah, the mileage is flashed by service software, which is posted on the net.
    in some cases, the flashing can be defined in the service, in fact - not at all.
    did you have 300K on the D700? it doesn’t matter, a touch of a button on your computer becomes 70K.

    if fresh water gets into the chamber, the chamber can work for a relatively long time until it dies for no apparent reason. it is unrealistic to determine that there was water in it.

    offhand a couple of undetectable problems:
    - skewed bayonet
    - problems with the matrix after which the remap was done
    - problems with electronics (unpredictable freezes, etc.)

    in 1-3 hours of checking it is extremely difficult to catch them.

  • Ksenia

    Dear !! What to take -
    Nikon 5200 or Kenon 60d ???

    • Alexey

      IMHO, look at the price and the choice of optics that you need and think about whether you will switch to a full frame in the near future.
      if not, and optics are not particularly important to you, take what you like best in the store.
      Please note that these carcasses do not fine tune AF.
      Or think about a mirrorless mirror, maybe this will suit you more.
      at least - there are no problems with the front back focus.

    • Lynx

      “For yourself and your family - 5200”,
      for teaching reportage and serious work - sixty.
      "For in general" - twirl in your hands and what will purr "

  • Dmitriy

    In November 2014, when the ruble went into a steep peak, I thought about buying a used FF camera.
    Initially I wanted to take the new D610. Before that, there was D90. Due to new economic realities, I had to look at the used camera market. On the advice of a friend, owner of D700 and D3X, I decided to buy D700. This was not as easy as I imagined - I had to call different sellers for 2 weeks in a row. As soon as a copy with a run of up to 50 thousand frames surfaced on Avito and on a flea market, it left almost immediately after the announcement was placed. When I myself put Nikkor 17-35 / 2.8 on sale, I had about 30 calls per evening, especially a lot from dealers of southeastern nationalities who speak little Russian, who promised mountains of gold. I ended up buying the D700 from an elderly man who wanted to take a used D3 in good condition. On verification - before the meeting, I ask the seller RAW photographed TODAY. If everything is ok, make an appointment. I carry a 35/2D screwdriver with me for checks. If there is nothing suspicious about the camera, I buy it. The D700 bothered me with almost everything, except that it “vacuum cleaned” with closed diaphragms, which was not the case on the previous D90 with the same 50 / 1.4D and 35 / 2D.

  • Dmitriy

    part number 2
    Due to the fact that the 700 decently (every 100 frames had to carefully wipe the matrix and glass) sucked in dust at f / 5.6 and because of the slightly pressed joystick, I got rid of it by the summer of 2015 without losing almost anything during the sale, because +/- 5000-6000 frames do not affect the price, especially for FF range cameras.
    Later, in the same place, on Avito, I hardly found D3s with the same mileage as my former d700.
    The camera turned out to be without problems, despite the fact that the seller was noticeably nervous. She was also noticeably more well-groomed than the previous 700.
    D3s, of course, THING, but I always wanted more and therefore this camera was changed with a surcharge for a more interesting option for me ... In general, flea markets are a bit muddy, but a very interesting topic that you quickly get hooked on :)

  • Nath

    And I was lucky to buy the perfect used fotik, appearance without scratches, without scuffs from the store. The bolts are not scratched, the matrix without dead pixels, clean. No dirt, no dust, everything works, a flash drive and a bag are included, all documents, a box and a plus warranty for another year. And just for 12000.
    New is very expensive ...

  • Nath

    I forgot, mileage fotika only 3159.

    • Yuriy

      Forgot to write with what photo congratulations :)

    • BB

      and specify currency

    • Nath

      Sorry Nikon D3300, and the currency is rubles.

  • nikfed

    Arkadiy, I’m very crazy for a good blog for your robot.
    Also recently taking in the ideal station bu nikon d80 + 50 1.8D z probigom 2500 frames.
    Lyudina sent me a mail photo, then I don’t see it, so little is known.
    It happened that people won’t be given a kit and I couldn’t take a photo, more collective photos appeared in the picture, it’s important to have robots of knowledge :)))
    The part of the set - 4000 UAH (150 American presidents)
    On the New post, I’ve rechecked the first day and I’ve checked like this.
    All the same month and everything is in order with the camera. I live on assets and try to vivchit for myself a photo right.
    All in the distance znіmkіv :)

  • Rinat

    I bought my wife Canon D90 in 2008 with an 18 * 55 lens for 15 rubles for my birthday. At home I printed an Internet manual for using the camera. What do you think?

    • Denis

      what is Nikon

      • Yarkiya

        Denis handsome, I roared in a voice.

    • Oleg

      What did you buy? Nikon D90? I haven’t found Kenon 90d anywhere. What does the canon have to do with it?

      • Oleg

        None-canon. The same to me experts! :)))

  • Olga

    Hello. I want to buy Nikon D300 complete with AF-S nikkor 18-55 / 3.5-5.6 DX VR, used. Description of the camera that is being sold: “External condition for 4, slight abrasions on the elastic bands and the protective screen of the display. Technical condition: mileage 25600, second owner, use for amateur photography, time of use 4 years. After the purchase, I discovered a "bug" - the carcass fully works only with af-s lenses, or rather with those that have no aperture ring. If you put the lens af - error. During the diagnostics, the service explained that “there is no conductivity along one of the tracks on the board”. Those. when installing the af lens, you have to switch the camera to the mode of setting the aperture with the ring on the lens. Exposure metering in this case does not produce the carcass, although the "screwdriver" works, focusing is fast and clear. " Issue price 15000 rubles
    I doubt whether it is worth taking this camera? Or search for D7000? But I want to have prof. camera)) Tell me, please. Thanks in advance)))

    • Andrey Super

      I heard out of the corner of my ear that the aperture ring should be set to the maximum value, for the displayed camera to work without error. Arkady's quick articles on lenses ...

    • Alexey

      Well, if you are going to use only AF-S lenses. Well, scuffs must be watched, for 25 thousand frames the appearance is difficult to kill.

  • Gennady

    Hello Arkady !! Question on Nikon 200. When shooting at all modes, the pictures are obtained in different densities, the spread is not big, but it's not nice. I’m shooting the same on Nikon 3100, the pictures are all in one. Re-flashing can help? I ask for advice.

    • BB

      Maybe the mechanics are already destroyed? The shutter wedges, or a different shutter speed is obtained due to backlash

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