The best used cameras can provide you with a high-performing model at the fraction of a price of a box-fresh one. We've been singing the praises of used camera kit for years (see here (opens in new tab) and here (opens in new tab)), but with the current cost of living crisis, buying gear secondhand rather than brand new makes more sense than ever if you want to save money as a photographer and continue to grow your passion and skills.
Older camera models often represent excellent value for money, and when those cameras have been used, the savings are even greater.
Of course, it can be hard to know which cameras are still worth buying in 2022, and how old a camera has to be before it's considered outdated and not worth using. Most of us – unless we're seasoned professionals – don't need the fastest burst rates and mind-boggling resolution of a brand new camera.
But when there are so many used camera listings to choose from, where do you start? If you can't quite decide what camera to go for, there are a few things that you can ask yourself. What is your maximum budget? What do you take photos of most regularly? If size is important, how small (or large) do you need the camera to be?
As well as these, think about what condition you're willing to buy a used camera in. Resellers generally offer the same model in different condition grades, and it stands to reason that the more wear and tear a camera has (the higher the shutter count, or the more cosmetic imperfections it has) the cheaper it will be.
The best used cameras
Once you've worked out roughly what you need, take a look at our picks of the best used cameras below. We pulled the DCW team together and come up with a list of best-buy models for you, so you should find the right camera no matter your budget or shooting requirements.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is an absolute workhorse for both amateur and professional photographers. A perfect all-rounder, this camera saw our staff writer Beth Nicholls (opens in new tab) through 4 years of university, shooting everything from gigs to portraits. It is still available at very budget-friendly price of around $469/£649. Plus, compatible lenses for the Canon EF mount have also shot down in price recently so there's no excuse to not consider the Canon 5D series as your next piece of kit.
You can buy a used Nikon D800 for $600/£329. That’s a pro-grade, full-frame camera with a sizable 36.3MP sensor, all for much less than you’d pay for an entry-level D3500 (albeit one that’s new). Sure, the ol’ D800’s burst speeds and AF are sluggish by today’s standards, but it’s built like a tank and its image quality is proof it’s got it where it counts. If you’re a landscape or portrait photographer on a tight budget, you’ll be hard pressed to find more bang for your buck.
Sony A7R II
The Sony A7R II certainly isn't the cheapest on our list, at around $1,295/£960 used, but it's a great stills camera even now, and it's usable for 4K video too. At the time of its release in 2015, thе А7R ІІ was thе wоrld'ѕ fіrѕt саmеrа tо fеаturе а bасk-illumіnаtеd full-Frаmе 42.4-mеgаріхеl ЕХМОR R СМОЅ ѕеnѕоr. It's a great choice for aspiring fіlmmаkеrѕ аnd рhоtоgrарhеrѕ аlіkе.
Our staff writer Hannah Rooke (opens in new tab) still gets sad that she sold her Nikon D750. "While the focussing system isn't great in low light, when it gets it right it's still one of the better cameras I've used in dark environments. Excellent handling, so many lenses to choose from and slightly smaller than the proper pro Nikon DSLRs."
As the editor of N-Photo magazine (opens in new tab), Adam Waring (opens in new tab) knows a thing or two about Nikon cameras, and he thinks the Nikon D850 is the best all-round advanced-enthusiast DSLR ever made. "It seems unlikely that Nikon will better it (we've been waiting with bated breath for a 'D880' with hybrid mirrorless sensor since the release of the D780, but two years on and no sign of one…) But more to the point I'm going fully mirrorless with the Z-system and flogging my DSLRs and F-mount lenses. Any reasonable offers considered…"
The Fujifilm X-T2 is an absolute joy to use, and a good camera for someone who shoots in manual thanks to all the dials. It's got excellent JPGS straight out of camera, plus a good selection of affordable second hand lens to choose from or even brand new lenses in the XC range.
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Picking up a used Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a great option, giving maximum bang for your buck. This camera has a solid build, weather-sealing and have been the reliable workhorse of many professional photographers and it’s for good reason. Inside sits a very capable 30Mp full-frame sensor delivering fantastic image quality, a top ISO of 32,000, 61-point AF system and can shoot 4K video at 30 fps too!
The fact that the D3S was Nikon’s first FX format camera to "feature high-definition movie recording" tells something of its age. Although this meaty DSLR was announced in 2019, it's still a good buy for anyone wanting a pro-grade Nikon camera on a budget. With a 12MP sensor and 9fps maximum shooting speed, this is not the most up to date DSLR in any field, but with a super-tough build, it's a camera that can withstand the rigors of professional action photography. It's currently selling – albeit with limited stock – for under $500/£500.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II may be a little long in the tooth now, but it’s still the best Canon APS-C format EOS DSLR camera for action photography. Whether it’s wildlife or sports you’re shooting, the 7D Mark II is a joy to use, thanks to its active 65-point AF with advanced tracking, a rapid-fire 10fps continuous drive, dual DIGIC 6 processors, all wrapped up in a tough, weather-sealed magnesium alloy shell. Plus with prices around only $500/£500 for a good condition used 7D Mark II when shopping online, it’s incredibly good value today.
Panasonic LUMIX G9
The Panasonic LUMIX G9 is a good stills camera, a very good 4K video camera and it demonstrates how a 4-year-old-camera can easily still cut it in today's market. This mirrorless model is a brilliant fit if you're into nature and wildlife photography, thanks to its 20fps continuous shooting. It's around $900/£679, depending on where you buy and the condition it comes in.
Where to buy the best used cameras
Once you've picked the best used camera for you, there are a number of places that you can actually buy one, including eBay (see our guide to buying on eBay here (opens in new tab)) and larger camera retailers that have secondhand sections on their websites.
If you're in the US, two major retails to look at are Adorama and B&H, while if you're a UK visitor, it's worth visiting Wex Photo Video and MPB.
Unlike when you buy a camera new, you'll notice that stores list the individual cameras they have for sale, and these will be at different prices according to the camera's condition, the accessories that it comes with and how much it has been used. Find out the shutter count (opens in new tab) and condition rating, as this will affect the price – and potentially how much life the camera has left in it.
The best used cameras at Adorama (US) (opens in new tab)
The best used cameras at B&H (US) (opens in new tab)
The best used cameras on eBay (US) (opens in new tab)
The best used cameras at MPB (UK) (opens in new tab)
The best used cameras at Wex (UK) (opens in new tab)