buying a used camera. what do I need to check?

Feb 28, 2006
Belgium - Antwerp
I would check the number of shots made with it, if there is no obvious physical damage to the body, how the battery is rated by the camera, for dust in the viewfinder and the sensor.
Sep 15, 2008
In the order of importance (to me), check for:

1) Stuck or "hot" pixels. Shoot a shot at lowest normal ISO and at the highest rated ISO. View at 100% and look for little crosses. Assuming it is a Nikon, shoot both shots raw and run them through the free utility Pixelfixer
It can find stuck pixels in a NEF in a matter of seconds. Used it to get my D300 repaired before completing the purchase.

2) Check that AF works correctly.
3) Shoot a bright scene and a medium scene using Aperture or Shutter priority and ensure that the metering is working correctly.
4) Put an external flash in the hotshoe and take a shot to ensure the hotshoe is working AND that the flash is syncing with the camera.
5) If it has a pop-up flash, make sure it pops up and flashes.

6) Check the battery condition and life left if possible.
7) Shoot a shot at minimum aperture and look for dust spots on the sensor.

#1 though #5 are critical.
#6 may mean a bit more cost for a replacement battery.
#7 usually just requires a simple cleaning, but may get you a few $ off the asking price.

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