If you’re going to be a true cheapskate photographer, then you must enter the jungles of the used camera market! It is not as daunting as you may think if you know where to go. I have only purchased one new camera in the decades I have been in the hobby, (a Nikon D40 more than a decade ago). Every other camera (I’ve owned about 15 or so) was purchased used. Only one camera out of all that I purchased turned out to be a dud (purchased on eBay six years ago). Otherwise, I have had great success in obtaining reliable used cameras and lenses at rock-bottom prices.
Here are some of the most trustworthy sources for used camera gear (in the United States). Your best option is purchasing from a source that offers a 14-30 day return policy. If there is any problem with the camera, it will show up during that period. Just be sure to test the camera thoroughly shortly after purchasing it. The sources I list below are recommended based on personal experience.
1. Adorama.com. This is my top recommendation. This is a highly reputable New York-based camera dealer that also sells online. They rate their used cameras and lenses condition conservatively and back them 100% with a 30-day return policy. I have been buying used equipment from Adorama for nearly 40 years and never had a bad experience. You may be able to find a cheaper price elsewhere. However, you can be certain that when you purchase from Adorama you are getting a solid reliable product. They also offer excellent deals on manufacturer refurbished Canon and Nikon cameras.
2. Bhphotovideo.com. B & H Photo is New York City’s largest camera store. Like Adorama, it has a rock solid reputation. I find that B & H used camera prices are consistently slightly higher than Adorama, so I tend to favor Adorama for that reason alone. B & H sells reliable used camera gear with a 30-day return policy.
3. KEH.com. KEH sells used camera gear primarily and is solely an online dealer. This is a great source for older and vintage cameras. They back what they sell, offer a 14-day return policy, and can have some great sales during the year worth watching out for.
If I was planning to buy used camera bodies and lenses, I would not hesitate to buy from the three sources listed above. I generally don’t recommend Ebay or Craiglist for inexperienced photographers. They are good sources if you have extensive knowledge of camera gear and know what you are buying. However, it is very easy to overpay if you don’t have a good knowledge of cameras in general. If this is to be your main camera, stick to my top three recommendations shown above for reliable used cameras and lenses.
If you are planning to buy filters, camera bags, and other non-technical camera accessories, check out Amazon.com and Aliexpress.com. They both have Chinese manufacturers that sell directly to consumers. The savings can be impressive when buying this way. You may wait a bit longer because items are shipped from China. I buy all of my filters, lens cleaning supplies, etc., this way.
Whenever your purchase used camera gear, be sure to test all functions as soon as you receive it. Generally, if you don’t find any problems during the first 14-30 days, you’re good to go. I never buy extended warranties. I’ve never needed one. Once you buy used, you will be hooked!