Do you purchase photography equipment new, used, rent first or buy refurbished ?

Do you purchase photography equipment new, used, rent first or buy refurbished?


Cathy Marsh

Do you purchase new, used, rent first or buy refurbished?

I wish I could sell more photography at higher prices to make more money to get more lenses.  While we don\’t want to admit it as photographers, price is something we are sensitive to in selecting our equipment.  If you are working 24/7 as a professional photographer, lower equipment costs translates into more cash in the pocket at the end of a week.

I drive a Ford.  Would I like a BMW?  Maybe.  Do I love Canon L lenses?  Certainly!  Are all of my lenses L glass?   Nope.  I wish I could have the best of everything, but with two kids to feed and put through college,  I have had to carefully select what goes in my camera bag.

New, Used, Borrowed or Reconditioned

I have bought ‘new’ and ‘used’ and I have purchased ‘re-conditioned’.  I have also ‘borrowed’ to test what I wanted in advance of a purchase.  It was nice to have all those options.  I have opened up a Canon L series box.  It is nice to open the new box, but now I put it aside in the event I want to sell it, in the future, on EBay.  There is so much nice, gently used equipment on the market.  With digital cameras bringing more and more amateurs or semi-professionals into the market, you are seeing lots of ‘used’ products at photography houses and on-line.  Professionals trade up to new models and their old product is there at good prices.  Still high prices, but lower than the newest generation price points.  There are some great buys, right now, on equipment that was twice the price 2 years ago.

Case in point, my new Canon 70-200 f/2.8 cost me over $2000 and the last generation f/4.0 can be seen on EBay for about $800.  While I caution you about where you purchase something ‘used’.  I have had very good luck.  Buyer beware.  If you see a product that says there is a scratch, or it is gray market, or perhaps you do not like it is coming directly from Asia,  — pass.  I have had success in saving 20or more on some transactions.  On-line camera houses also offer opportunities to sell and buy product that they ‘grade’. was a great place for me to try out the Canon 70-200 f/4.0 before I purchased Canon came out with the f/2.8.  I thought their rental prices were great considering I was contemplating a $2000 investment.

What do you shoot?

I shoot action photography in dark barns and in poorly lit gymnasiums.  So, the f2.8 on a 70-200 lense was really important to me.  I could have saved a ton of money getting an f/4.0, but in the long run, it did not make sense.   One of my wide angle 17-50 is a f2.8 from Tamron.  It was a couple of hundred dollars less than the Canon product.  Since I would typically use that less, I went with the opportunity to purchase that new.  Does it make a tad more noise than a Canon product?  Yes.  I actually love and prefer the lense cap on that to the Canon product.  Know what you are about.  If you want to be shooting video or weddings or sports or landscapes or portraits.  There is that collection of lenses you require in your bag and you have to know what your priority is and then what your back up will be in the event your best lense breaks!

I have elected to get some really good lenses to work with instead of a bunch of mediocre lenses. It is okay to have different types of lenses, providing you actually use them.   It is ok to have different cameras also.  I love my cell phone camera and I love my ELPH 300 Canon point and shoot too.  Everything has its place.

Fixed Focal Length Lenses

One other lenses I am considering is a fixed focal length.  They typically offer a high maximum aperture.  Primes will have a f/1.8 and are really fast and are so much cheaper than their expensive upper level cousins.  Look on EBay and you will see the Canon 50mm for about $100 dollars.  It may not be as sturdy in plastic but it is a great keeper for your bag.  It gives you great speed in low light when a f/2.8 will not cut it.  I was offered the opportunity to use a friend\’s a while ago.

Off  Brand Products

I own Tonika and a Tamron lense.  Together with Sigma, these brands are quality products at non Canon prices.  I refuse to be a ‘Canon Snob’.  Each time Canon comes out with a new product, the price goes up and these ‘Off Brands’ look more and more attractive.  Camera shops that never carried these brands before are jumping on the band wagon stocking them.  Buy one of those and with the savings you can get a carbon fiber monopod!!!   That is a significant savings.  In today\’s economy, these ‘off brands’ are now in the mainstream!  My Tamron wide angle is a tad slower, but it is not the primary lense I shoot with and so I do not mind it.  If I was primarily a landscape shooter, I might have gone with L Glass

In Conclusion

If you are like me, price is a factor when I go and look for a new piece of equipment.  I do a lot of research.  I ask other photographers what they are using.  I trial lenses.  I read.  I really ask myself how I am going to use it.  Good luck in getting the best value for your dollar.


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About the Author

Cathy Marsh is a Connecticut based photographer. She blogs at



A whole range of SANDISK products are available on AMAZON


One Response to Do you purchase photography equipment new, used, rent first or buy refurbished ?

  1. Ali says:

    Great article, thanks..

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