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 2018, 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), surpassing Canon in everything 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.

Where to buy:

Buying from a reputable dealer is a must. The dealer where I purchased my second-hand Canon EOS 5D Mk II (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 **** 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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