What to Look for When Buying a Used Mirrorless Camera?

Most photographers face this dilemma – to buy a new camera or purchase a used one. Purchasing a new camera is a wonderful feeling, but a tight budget or a good deal are tempting reasons to choose a second-hand camera.

Buying a used mirrorless camera is not a bad option. You can find many second-hand mirrorless cameras at a great price.

There are various things that you need to consider before purchasing a used mirrorless camera. In this article, I have mentioned the key things that you need to check before making a purchase.

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.


Buying a used mirrorless camera is all about taking your time to research and find a good deal. Carefully study the gear and look out for any major damages.

The second-hand market can be very effective for you if you thoroughly inspect the camera you want to buy and it is easy on the wallet as well.

So stay sharp!

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