Some Tips to Exam Used Camera and Lens

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I got few tips want to share how to check your camera and lens when you get if as used from Ebay or Amazon.

Photographer: Charles Lin


It is very important that the item is as described, since there is really no way to know what exactly usage of previous owner.
  1. Take look around the body itself, see if there is any dings or major damage. Scratches are not really going to effect the function of camera, and normally there will be few under most circumstances. 
  2. Turn on the review mode and see if there is any problem with LCD display. Adjust it from darkest to brightest can give you more ideas. Still, most of time just few scratches on the screen still not going to hurt the camera.
  3. There could be some dust in view finder. BUT, it wont show on your image. Clean it require either take off the focus mirror or take the body part. I would NOT suggest you to do so. Just ignore it since as long as you use this camera, there will be dust inside again for sure. 
  4. Check battery room, memory card slot spin, expend cable (HDMI and others) slots to see if any of these have problems.  
  5. Open the body cap and take a look inside. DO NOT touch anything. 

Put the charged battery and memory card to test the function.

  1. Open the menu and reset your camera back to factory mode. Most of the time it should be located in the vary last of the menu.
  2. Find a still subject, use every mode to take one picture to see if each mode works as it should. For instance, Av should allow you adjust aperture and shutter speed is decided by camera.
  3. Get you manual ready and  test each bottoms. Good time to understand you camera as well.  
  4. Turn to shutter speed priority mode (Tv, Sv, or depending on the manufacture of your camera body), and make shutter speed the fastest, like 1/8000 or 1/4000. Doing this outside with sun shine would be better for correct exposure. Take couple shoot to see if there is any problem with photo and weird sounds. 
  5. Turn to aperture priority mode (Av), and increase the number (depending on the lens you used) to F16 or F22. Find a clear blue sky and take a picture. We can check if there are too many dust on the sensor by checking this picture. If there are too much dust and you have no idea how to clean it up. Spend some money and find either local shop or ship it back to manufacture for cleaning up. If you did not clean correctly, not only get more dust but might scratch the low pass filter (the plastic on top of sensor).  
  6. If picture is sharp but view finder is blurry when in focus, do not panic, try to adjust the small gear wheel. You should able to have a clear view. However, if view finder is sharp and picture is blurry, then this is another issue, I will address it on lens section. 

Last, take the camera for the weekend, and use it to see if there are any problems during your normal usage.


Lens should be easier to exam since there are not many mechanical pars in there but glasses.

  1. Check the appearance of the lens, body or front and rear glass. For lens, dings might become a bigger issue, since it could effect the focus. 
  2. Dust inside lens is fine, but not fungus! Most of the time it happens only on old lens like more than 20 years old.  
  3. Take some pictures with auto focus (AF) and manual focus (MF) to see if everything. It it got front or back focus issue (It cant focus to the correct point). Switch another lens on this body and do the test again. Do some cross over test to find out which is the correct problem, so you can send back to manufacture to get it calibrated. I would not say it is seller's fault, since it might happen to the combination of this lens and your body, do not really need to bother and request the return.
  4. Turn each switch on and off on the lens to see if it is functioning, like image stabilizer. 
  5. Take couple shoots from smallest number F-stop to largest one to see if image is okay. 
Again, take it out side for the weekend and take some pictures !

These steps are what I normally do while purchasing used camera body or lens. It could happen some other minor issues, and feel free to leave a comment, thanks!


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