I was compensated for this post*. This post also contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
Buying used equipment is a great alternative to new. Is there a budding photographer in your family that only has a smartphone camera? Give them the gift of photography gear to grow that interest at a reasonable price. Does your cousin love adapting vintage film era lenses to mirrorless cameras? You know where to go. In many situations it’s impossible or impractical to buy new, so today I’ll be talking about used cameras.
Let’s start with Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLRs)! There is a huge number of options to choose from. Keep in mind that KEH doesn’t often sell cameras with a lens, so you will need to get something to go with one of the cameras here if you don’t already have a lens. Make sure the lens matches the mount. If you are confused then you could probably call them and ask to put together a combo.
I’m going to give you a search link (here). Cheapest cameras are shown first. It’s limited to Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony because that’s what is available at the time of this post. I’m also going to limit it to cameras that take SD memory cards and are “bargain” rating or better. SD cards are cheap and easy to come by. Having a bargain rating means you will should the KEH warranty.
I’m seeing everything from the cheap Nikon D50, to the unique Pentax K-3, and the full-frame Nikon D600. If you are unsure of where to start from my search, then decide on a sensor format such as APS-C or Full-Frame. See if the type of lenses you want are available in the camera’s mount. It might be tough selecting one camera, but keep adding on features and seek out reviews.
The next option is mirrorless cameras. These tend to be smaller than DSLRs. In this case we have a bit more variety in brands with the addition of Micro 4/3rds, which is a smaller image sensor format than APS-C. Early mirrorless cameras can be somewhat lackluster with autofocus, so I’d suggest doing enough research to make sure the camera will perform as you’d hope. A go-to option here would be something like the Sony Alpha A6000 if photography is your main purpose and you want something lower cost yet decent performance. I have one of these right now and it’s a fun little camera!
Cameras with a lens affixed to the body have their own collection of positives and negatives. It simplifies things and gives you potential benefits like a small physical size of the camera or a lower cost compared to DSLRs/mirrorless to reaching long zoom levels. Smartphone cameras have been encroaching on this market for a long time, but there are options that can top what smartphones offer in quality and especially in ergonomics.
The Sony RX100 series is a good option in compact quality. It has the fast zoom lens and large 1″ sensor that should be a step above most phone cameras. You’ve got modes that allow for learning and expanding your knowledge of photography in a pocketable device. Of course, if you can afford the newest models then consider those. From the RX100 V and onward this camera has phase detect autofocus.
Take a look at the Sony DSC-RX100 camera models on KEH. They might not have the original in stock which will be the cheapest, but there are many versions to choose from.
If you want a step up in sensor size compared to the RX100 series then take a look at the Ricoh GR series with it’s APS-C sensor. The negative is that you have a fixed focal length of 28mm equivalent in full-frame terms and the maximum aperture is f/2.8. A very popular camera with street photographers.
Alternatively you can go bigger than the Ricoh, but get a rangefinder style body with the Fujifilm X100 series of fixed lens cameras. There have been multiple versions with all of them having a unique hybrid viewfinder. This camera has an equivalent lens focal length of 35mm with a maximum aperture of f/2. I owned the X100F and really enjoyed it overall, though I eventually sold it when I had to consolidate my gear to fund more video focused gear. Deciding on which X100 to get is difficult because they all have slight differences like which battery is used. Of course, newer is better if you want more features and faster performance.
If money is a serious consideration and you are not too concerned about image quality, but want a fun camera with a load of physical controls as an alternative to a smartphone with its touch screen… Then consider the Canon Powershot G series. I’m talking about the ones with a 1/1.7″ or maybe 1/2.3″ sensor depending on age. My memory is a bit hazy, but I think I bought the G9 back in 2008 with the intent of taking it on a trip to Japan. It did the job! Kind of sad I don’t have it anymore. Keep your expectations low and they might surprise you. Of course there are a ton of other fixed lens cameras on KEH if none of these appeal to you.
Hopefully you’ve found this helpful. I realize that I barely scratched the surface here with cameras and haven’t even gotten into lenses! The point is that buying used equipment can be a great way to get the combination of features you want at a cost that’s manageable. KEH has a warranty on the equipment they sell that’s bargain rating or better, so there really isn’t any downside. I’ve personally used them for many years.
*There are 10 KEH affiliates that receive a $50 bonus if they are selected for this holiday program. At the time of writing, I don’t know if I’m selected. If I don’t receive that bonus then I’ll be removing that statement later on. The purchase compensation aspect still applies regardless of the bonus.