There are more things to check in a camera besides the aesthetics. Buying a used product comes with many risks: malfunctions, scratches or hidden flaws that the seller might not say about the camera. Many of these can be prevented, especially if you’re buying online. Here are a few guidelines to follow and see if you’re buying a working camera or not:
1. Always, and I mean always, check the seller’s profile, his feedback and comments from other buyers, to check it’s not a scam. Also, check if it’s possible to return the product. I think there’s an international law which says there must be a month, or so, after buying the product, in which you can return it and get a full refund. If not, there should be!
2. Always check for a warranty.
3. Don’t trust the photos of the product. 99 per cent of the time, the pictures are fake, edited, or not of that exact camera, so you can’t see the scratches.
4. If the seller lives in your city, ask for a meeting so you can check the camera over in person.
5. Check the lens for any scratches or any fungus. Watch very closely. If the lens has scratches, there’s nothing you can do to get rid of it. If there’s any fungus on it, it’s almost impossible to clean it, and very expensive to get it cleaned at a professional shop. Even though the fungus is very small, it will spread like a spider web. If it’s a metal lens, check it so it will move smoothly. Also, make sure that there’s no vaseline inside the lens.
6. Take a test film by placing it inside the camera, and check if the wind and the rewind button work without any problems.
7. Open the back of the camera, leave it open ad take a couple if test shots to see if the shutter works properly at the times you set it.
8. See if the front has any holes in it, so it won’t leak light on your film. Just point the camera at any source of light and check for any light leaks. Do the same for the backside of the camera.
9. If it’s possible, ask the seller if you can shoot a film, so you can get it processed later. This is the perfect proof that the camera works, and doesn’t have any problems.
Most of the sellers, on eBay or other online sites, are selling things that were stored in the basement or in other inadequate spaces, so if you want to buy a camera to actually use it, you must check it out properly first. If you have any tips to add, please let us know below, and we'll add them to the article!
Extra tips from readers:
10. Tweeter @Woody_2k says: "As stupid as it sounds if it is an SLR, remove the lens and sniff inside the body. If it smells fusty, fungus spores are present but not taken hold yet. The camera will develop the fungus its just a mater of time. I used to work for a reputable used camera dealer and this was one of the tricks. Also check the slower shutter speeds against your watch. If the slow speeds are out then the faster ones probably are too."
Image Credit: Clashcityrockerkat
This article originally appeared in Lomography’s magazine here.