Used Photo Gear- How to Get Great Advice Before you Buy
Photo by Xavier.K. on Flickr
So, I just bought a sweet Nikon FA fromÂ Goodwill. It’s a 20 something year old film camera with some pretty snazzy features. I almost didn’t buy it. But I took five minutes to talk to someone who knows cameras. This guy totally saved the day.
Anyway, I almost passed this camera up when I saw it the first time.Â I have an SLR» already. So when I looked at this Nikon in the Goodwill I thought I would be able to tell if it was worth what they were charging.
I ran through the settings and found some major problems. Like, I couldn’t get the film advance lever to advance. And I couldn’t get the shutter button to depress. I left Goodwill empty handed b/c I’m sure as, ahem- heck- not spending $80 on a broken camera even if it came with two lenses (which this camera did).
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’ve been pretty happy with my current SLR but seeing this Nikon FAÂ made me think it would be cool to have a backup film camera. Then I could work on two class assignments at the same time (b/c it’s a pain in the but the change film and you can’t just separate photos into different folders when you’re doneÂ like you can with digital).
So when I started photography class again last Saturday I asked my professor what he thought. I told him what I thought was wrong with the camera and that the battery was definitely dead.
He told me the camera wasn’t broken. And I was like “!!!???!!!”. He explained that, unlike my Promaster SLR which mostly works» even if the battery is dead, the Nikon FA just won’t work at all with a dead battery. He also told me that $80 was a bargain for that camera. Especially with two lenses.
So I though “Crap! I hope it’s still there!”
I grabbed new batteries from RadioShack, ran to Goodwill, and after some fumbling,Â putting the new batteries in the wrong way, and having the Goodwill guy make fun of me for not knowing how to tell which end of a battery is which,Â I got the camera to work!
I’m now the proud owner of a Nikon FA Camera.
The moral of this story is ask someone who knows.
That could be-
- A photography professor (their email addresses are often online on college websites) or
- A particularly nice salesman at a camera store or
- You could even head over to some online forums like Photo.net or
- Photo sharing sites like Flickr.com and ask some folks there.
A lot of photographers go nuts over gear.Â And they Love talking about it.
Just give them as much detail as you have about the gear you’re interested in like the Make (in my case Nikon) and model (FA) and if you’ve already checked any settings tell them what you found.
Also be honest about what you know, and especially what you don’t know about the gear. If someone tells you to run through the aperture settings on a lens and you have no idea what they’re talking about be honest (and remember Google is your friend too).Â Good advice still isn’t worth much f you can’t understand it.
And be courteous. These people don’t owe you anything. They’re doing you a free favor by telling you what they know. Remember that. Use your nice words like please and thank you. I shouldn’t have to say this but sometimes I see people, especially online, acting like a blog author or forum member owes them advice. Like they payed for it.Â Not my readers of course. You’re perfectly lovely people.
I really lucked out. But I know you can get burned when you buy used gear.
So, have you ever gotten a diamond in the rough like I did with this Nikon? Have you ever bought a photographic lemon? I want to know all about it! And if you have any specific advice for buting used gear this is the place for that too
SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex. They’re the 35mm Cameras professionals use. The ones with the interchangeable lenses. DSLR Stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
and by ‘mostly works’ I mean the light meter will stop working if the battery dies but the rest of the camera will work as normal. The shutter button will depress, the lever will advance, and you can pretty much still take normal pictures.Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5