Who else out there is living on a budget? ... Maybe a really really tight budget? For our entire marriage we have lived on a budget. We both came from families that didn't have a lot of money and we both had pretty lofty dreams, which included student loans. We don't have any fancy tricks to our budget, we just understand the importance of buying smart and intentional. 

When I started my journey in photography I thought I had to buy the newest, shiniest, most updated equipment. But, when you don't have any money and you live on a budget, you learn how to make your dreams happen with little cash. For us that meant buying used gear. 

Camera bodies are expensive, right? You could buy a car with how much some camera bodies cost, ha! Most people start with an entry level DSLR, which includes a kit lens and costs around $500. I got my first camera in college and $500 still seemed lofty. As I grew, my desire to upgrade my equipment grew as well. I knew I would have to save for any purchases, but I also wanted to be smart. All of our camera bodies have been bought used and if you're like us, living on a budget, I would highly recommend buying used also. Here are a few questions to ask to help you on your journey.


I'm not too snobbish when it comes to the age of a camera and I'm not really snobbish about when it was released by the manufacture either. But I still do want to know when the original owner bought it, so I know how long they have used it. I also want to know if they are the original owner. I'm only interested in buying camera bodies who have been through one owner. When looking for used gear research the camera bodies you find. Our most recent used purchase was the Nikon D700. Before we made the purchase we did our research and figured out what the camera had to offer and when it was released by the manufacture. Nikon's retire their old cameras and I like to know when a camera has been retired and what replaced it.


One of the most important questions to ask is the count of the camera accusations, which is the camera's shutter count.  A seller will most likely already have this information available, because it's what most people want to know. Knowing the camera accusations will give you a feel for how many shutter releases are left in the camera or when the camera will die, ha! Even if someone has had a camera for five years the camera accusations may be low because they may have not used the camera thought often. On the flip-side someone may have only had a camera for a year, but they could have been shutter happy and went through a large amount of the camera accusations. 


I'm always curious of how the camera was actually used. Both of our used cameras came from working photographers, but there are all types of sellers out there. It could be a mom, or a nature photographer, or a teacher, or blogger, or anyone else you can think of. If you know how the camera was used you'll have a better understanding of it's wear and tear. There are lots of mom photographers who let their kids use their cameras, which I think is great. But their cameras may take on a little more wear and tear then others. As a blogger I shoot nearly every day, which means my camera is used often. There are photographers who may have multiple cameras and may shoot with some more often then others. When we bought our D300s, the seller shared with us that he bought it as a backup and he didn't really need it anymore, which means it probably wasn't used that often. 

There are plenty of things to consider when buying used gear, my hope for you is that it's not overwhelming and lots and lots of fun! Remember when checking out used gear to always test it before you buy. When we bought our D700 the seller let us take it home for the weekend and test it to make sure it was in good condition. Not all sellers will let you take it home for the weekend, ha! But you should be able to test it, change out lenses, and make sure it's a good buy.

Have you bought used gear before? What is one of your recommendations for buying used? xoxo. Samantha