Every photographer at some point faces the dilemma of whether to invest in a brand new camera or opt for a used one. The thrill of unboxing a new camera can be an exciting experience, but budget constraints or a good deal may lead you towards a second-hand option.

When it comes to mirrorless cameras, purchasing a used one can be a smart decision. Not only can you find a great deal, but mirrorless technology has evolved to the point where used cameras still offer excellent performance.

However, before making a purchase, it’s essential to consider a few key factors to ensure that you’re getting a quality used mirrorless camera. In this article, we’ll explore the things you need to check to make an informed decision and get the best value for your money.

So, whether you’re a beginner or a professional, keep reading to learn how to choose the right used mirrorless camera for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • When buying a used mirrorless camera, it is important to inspect it thoroughly before making a purchase.
  • If you are buying in person, bring an experienced photographer friend or colleague, or purchase from a dealer with a warranty or return policy.
  • If buying online, ensure that you order from a reputable website, check the seller’s reputation and rating, and verify the price.
  • Check the camera’s shutter count, lens for scratches, wear and tear, autofocus, flash, and take a few photos and videos to test the camera’s functionality.
  • Make sure that the camera is not stolen by checking the serial number on “Lenstag.”
  • Buy from dependable sources with a good customer rating, such as a legit used camera dealer or a private seller (with caution).

Buying in person Vs buying online

When purchasing a used mirrorless camera make sure you never buy any used equipment, online or offline; without actually trying all the camera features and functions, and inspecting the images you get after taking a trial.

When you are buying in person you can take an experienced photographer friend or colleague with you to inspect the camera. Another alternative would be to buy a camera from a dealer that will give you a warranty or the right to return it.

Before going to a camera dealer, check and verify the price with somebody else and you can cross-check it with the price and quality you are getting via buying online.

If you choose to buy the used mirrorless camera online, make sure you order it from a legit camera website, and if they have a return policy. Also, make sure to check the reputation of the seller, and if he has a good rating.

Things to take note of:

Shutter count

Shutter count is an important feature to look into when you are buying a used mirrorless camera. Even though mirrorless cameras offer 2 shutters – mechanical and electronic, you need to know which shutter setting the camera has been used on before.

If the camera has a mechanical shutter, check the shutter count and if that is 60,000 or more, then you should not purchase it. Lesser the shutter count, the better. If it has an electronic shutter, this number does not really matter.

You can ask the seller for the current shutter count or check the shutter count yourself by going to the brand website and looking up the model of the camera. You will find the company’s information on its shutter life expectancy.

Scratches on the lens

Scratches on the lens can affect your image. They tend to make a tiny part of the image a little blurry than normal. So when you are purchasing a used camera, check the lens for scratches and chips.

Shine a small light inside the lens and look for any large patches or smeared areas, as these will tell you whether the lens has any fogging or other internal issues. If the lens has heavy dust and mold, then avoid purchasing the camera.

Wear and tear

It is important to check the mirrorless camera body for any external damage. Small scratches, scuffs and marks can be expected, but deep scratches can indicate that the camera has been dropped.

Remove any protective filters or screens to look at the true camera body and lens to check the damage.

Check the autofocus

To make sure that the autofocus in the camera is still working, take a few trial shots in a well-lit area where your camera would find it easier to focus. Take at least 5-6 images to compare.

If the focus of the lens is very far off, then it suggests that the lens needs to be serviced. If you get a sharp focus, then that means that the autofocus is working well.

Check the flash

Take a few photos in a dark area to check if the built-in flash is working properly within the range of 1 to 3 meters at ISO 100. If the images come out underexposed, then avoid purchasing the camera.

If the seller is selling an external flash along with the camera body, then check if the external flash is illuminating objects that are more than 10 meters away.

Take a few photos and videos

Take a few trial photos and videos and check for pixel damage or dead spots in the sensor. You might want to bring your memory card so that you can review the images and videos later.

Set the camera at f/16 or f/22, point it at a bright object and take a picture. After taking the picture zoom in on the LCD screen to look for any marks or scratches.

Check if it’s stolen

Make sure that the camera is sold with the original box and its accessories. This is a good sign that the gear has been treated well and eliminates the fear of the gear being stolen.

For extra reassurance, you can ask the dealer to give you the serial number of the equipment and check it on “Lenstag” to see if someone has reported that gear as stolen.

You can check out the website through this link.

Who to buy a mirrorless camera from?

Always buy from dependable sources who have a good customer rating.

Legit used camera dealer

  • When you are buying from a camera dealer, check if the manufacturer warranty is still valid and if not, check if the camera dealer is ready to give you a warranty for a limited period.
  • You should also investigate if the camera is refurbished by the dealer or is it directly from the user in the same condition.
  • The advantage of buying from a deal is that often the cameras are checked before they are added to the inventory and are serviced before they are sold.

Private sellers

  • Purchasing from private sellers offers the best chance for you to bargain. If you know what you want and are confident about the quality, you can get an excellent deal.
  • However, with private sellers, you will not get a warranty, but that is a risk you have to be willing to take for a good bargain.


In conclusion, buying a used mirrorless camera can be a great way to save money while still getting the equipment you need to capture stunning photos. However, it’s crucial to take your time, do your research, and carefully inspect any camera before making a purchase.

By following the tips outlined in this article and being vigilant about any signs of damage, you can confidently navigate the second-hand market and find a quality camera at an affordable price.

So, if you’re in the market for a mirrorless camera but don’t want to break the bank, don’t be afraid to explore the world of used gear. Just remember to stay sharp, and happy hunting!