Alan's Blog




Why Buy New?

Before the days of digital cameras photography was an expensive hobby. This was because film and processing were expensive. Cameras were much simpler and, consequently, much cheaper than digital cameras.

Along came the digital era in photography and the main expense became the camera as they were much more complex – and there was no longer any need for film and processing. Processing could be carried out on a computer, another expense, however computers can be used for many other tasks than just processing photographs – and I already had one anyway.

Here are some figures:
In 2001 I bought my last film camera, a Canon EOS 5 in Kuwait – it was less than £500 to buy and I can't remember if I bought a lens with it or not. I'd had my previous film camera, a Canon EOS 10 stolen in the Philippines.

I gave up film in 2006 because I couldn't get film processed properly, locally, in Qatar. I'd just bought a very wide-angle lens and took it out on test and shot some lovely photographs only for them to be ruined by the processor, so I gave up using film.

My first digital camera, a Canon EOS 5D cost almost £2500, body only. Five times the cost of the film camera. In the eleven years I used that as my main camera body I took at least 80 000 photographs. Imagine the cost of processing all those pictures if I'd used film. I certainly got my money back – and it's still being used more than 12 years later.

In 2017, I decided to buy another camera body. But what to buy? The latest Canon EOS 5D (the Mk IV) was more than £3300 and I certainly didn't want to spend anywhere near that amount. A new Mk III body was still available for about £2200 if I remember correctly, and a reasonable second-hand Mk III version cost at least £1500, which seemed a lot of money for an old camera. After several months of thinking about it, still using my old camera, I came across an old Canon EOS 5D Mk II for £600 - condition almost as good as new, a fairly low shutter count and with a 6-month warranty. I bought it.

The image quality of photographs from my 'new' camera is really super. I'm delighted. Not only that, but I saved thousands of pounds compared to buying the latest version – which makes me even more delighted. When comparing the specification of the new Mk IV version with my Mk II camera, I don't find there is a significant downside to using the older model as there hasn't been an tremendous amount of progress made in the new model – except in the price hike!

When I bought my original (Mk I version) Canon EOS 5D it was something of a revolution at the time – a full-frame digital sensor in a compact body at a relatively affordable price. The Mk II caused a sensation because it could also be used to take video footage in full HD – in what was really a 'still' camera. This really was a revolution and Canon were as surprised as anyone at the sensation it caused in the world of photography. Since those days, progress has been very slow and Canon has not made anything like the progress they should have done – especially with newcomer, Panasonic (with the GH5 and, now, the GH6), surpassing Canon in every way in terms of the video specification of their cameras.

There was no way I could have bought a second-hand camera with anything like the original Canon EOS 5D specification in 2006, so I had to buy new. Now, there are a tremendous number of really good second-hand digital cameras available from reputable dealers – with a guarantee. I don't think I'll ever need to fork out thousands of pounds for a new camera ever again – I'll buy second-hand models in future – unless I really can't buy what I need without buying new – which seems unlikely.

Buying secondhand makes even more sense nowadays. The cost of living is going through the roof and so is the cost of new cameras. For example:

The cost of a new Canon R3 body (no lenses) is about £5879. Add the cost of a Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM RF Lens at £1299 and you'll receive a bill for £7178. Add the cost of an additional lens, storage cards and spare batteries and you'll soon top £10 000. How many amateur photographers can justify spending this much on their photographic equipment? Many people, I'm sure, can afford this equipment, but justifying this expense takes some doing, particularly when really good secondhand equipment can be purchased for a small fraction of this cost.

As an example of what I mean: I've just been having a quick look at the secondhand equipment on the website of the London Camera Exchange from where I've bought various equipment over a few years. They are currently advertising a Canon 5D Mk III (body) with a 4* rating and having only taken 10 000 photographs for only £599.99 - a brilliant camera very cheap. A secondhand Canon EF 24-105 mm f4 IS USM II 'L' Series lens to go with the camera is only £699.99 and has also a 4* rating. So, for a touch under £1300 you have a professional calibre, full-frame camera and lens.

Cheaper options are available too, such as a Mk II version of the 5D camera body for £399.99 and a Mk I version of the lens also for £399.99 - both of them 4* rated, so the bill is now less than £800 - a real bargain - and all items come with a guarantee. I can't see any good reason to spend upwards of £7000 when deals like this are available.

As something of an update, I realise that the above text concentrates on full-frame cameras. Not everyone wants, let alone needs, one of these. Very good photographs can be obtained from cameras using the APS-C sensor size which is 22.3 mm x 14.9 mm (compared to 36 mm x 24 mm of full-frame) which is ideal if you wish to travel light. I bought a second-hand 5* rated Canon EOS 2000D recently (May 2022) from London Camera Exchange for a penny less than £290 complete in a Canon box with the 18-55 mm Mk III lens, battery, charger, strap - all in a condition that looked as though it was new and with a 6 month guarantee. I'm sure one couldn't find a better camera deal than this. Add the price of a 64 GB storage card and a spare battery and the cost still isn't much more than £300. A real bargain.

Where to buy:

Buying from a reputable dealer is a must. The dealer where I purchased my second-hand Canon EOS 5D Mk II and the Canon EOS 2000D (as well as some lenses) is:

London Camera Exchange -

I've also used WEX Photographic for new equipment, although I would have no qualms about buying second-hand equipment from them at:

I only buy equipment that is in very good /excellent condition (9- or better at WEX or **** (4*) at LCE).

If buying a digital camera body, always obtain the shutter count and compare it to the manufacturers rating before you buy it.

Always make sure your second-hand equipment comes with a 6-month (or longer) guarantee.


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