Helping a friend (camera purchase)

Photographers are frequently asked by non-photographer friends to help them finalize a camera. As it so happens, the same request was made to me by a friend of mine. He seemed very enthusiastic with the idea of owning a DSLR. His enthusiasm spread to me too and we both embarked on the quest to get him a new camera.

 

Abandoned House

(Abandoned House on a cold day – I had photographed it on a trip with him and I guess the photography done on this trip won his heart)

 

Background

Lucky for me that he had already read some of my articles, the most important being this one – Buying your first DSLR . I was flattered. What more could a person like me ask? This friend had actually done some homework and visited my site too! God bless him.

His priorities were clear –

  • A DSLR was what he needed. He did not want to just capture photographs but also indulge in photography to some extent.
  • Initially he was planning to click jpg but was interested in learning about raw files and post-processing.
  • There was an upper price point (budget) which he had already decided.
  • The price point had also factored in some of the accessories he would be needing.
  • He wanted to purchase from a local brick and mortar store. (My kind of guy !)

 

Next Steps

The next steps were clear for me. This was an ideal case scenario. I went around with him looking for the options locally. The first dealer we visited stocked Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras. On enquiring we came to know that none of the companies had a service center in the town. Bummer! However the nearest service center that was in another town had a good pick-up and drop service for Nikon products.The brand was finalized – Nikon. They had a good service network in the region and from the discussions I had with people around, it seemed that Nikon was a popular brand here.

 

The shop we visited had a beautiful catalogue of all the recent models with some ‘combo deals’ too. Even though I prefer to limit myself in terms of gear, such catalogues always hold my attention for some time. Nikon had done a good job of making the catalogue. All the available models were clearly listed out with specifications that rule the market pulse. After all, the camera buyers tend to choose their models based on these numbers. Number of AF points, Megapixels, Built-in Wifi etc.

The dealer at the shop was kind enough to patiently write down the best price he could offer us. Interestingly, he also had a few used cameras on sale. One of them was a few months old camera model which appeared to have seen the light of the day, just a handful of times. The body appeared clean and well cared for. It appeared better than some of the display models that camera shops have. The Nikkor 18-140mm lens that was mounted on it was also very clean. The owner of that camera, it seems, was not very happy with his purchase and so was selling an almost unused camera.

 

The Options

On returning back from the shop, armed with knowledge about the latest models, best prices, a colorful catalogues, we seriously thought of the used camera that was available at the shop.

My friend, an avid reader, went through two more of my articles on this topic –
Buying a used DSLR
Buying a used lens

Option 1

We again sat down for a short discussion and decided the best possible way. He was convinced that a good lens matters more than an expensive camera. The best option would have been a new camera body from the glossy catalogue and the slightly expensive Nikkor 18-140 lens that was available on the used camera, at a bargain. The new camera would have ensured the best possible sensor in the market with a proper warranty. The used lens was clean and he would have saved some money going the ‘used lens route’. The body that we looked at was also available as a kit with one or two lenses. The kit lenses were just average and so we did not even consider them.

My friend called up the shop but this option was declined by the shop-keeper. The shopkeeper did not want to sell the used camera and lens separately. Tough luck! According to him, selling them separately would make the deal unattractive to most buyers. He did have a point there.

Option 2

The next best option was to buy the used camera and lens as it is. It was priced a tad higher than what a used camera would cost in the open market but then it was backed by the ‘seller’s warranty’. The camera was not the latest model but it was not too old either. I made a list of things that need to be checked before he opts for this option –

  • Warranty card
  • Proof of initial purchase (to rule out grey market or to further negotiate)
  • Shutter Count
  • Functioning of the camera
  • Battery
  • Provided accessories

Option 3

The third option was to buy a lower model camera from the catalogue and a new piece of the same lens that was there on the used camera. To me, lenses are still an investment. This would push his budget up. My friend too was impressed by that lens.

 

Decision

Now, it is upto him what he opts for. For me it was a wonderful experience visiting a camera store and glancing at all the new models available and browsing through the catalogues. It indeed was nice. Did I feel like buying anything? No. Even I am surprised, I did not feel like buying any new models. Maybe, I have reached that stage where my present equipment fulfills all my requirements or maybe I do not have the funds to buy anything. Whatever the case maybe, the notorious Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) did not hit me!

For those of you left wondering, this article is still incomplete. I’ll complete it when he buys his camera.

 

Stinging Nettle

(On the photography trip that I mentioned in the earlier photograph, I also accidentally brushed my leg against Stinging Nettle. This is locally called ‘Bichhu Buti’. It itched for many hours after the accidental brush. The plant itself looks beautiful with mini thorns all over it)

 

Part 2

This is in continuation with the earlier part of the article. Today we revisited the shop and thoroughly checked the camera. He had finalized a Nikon D5600 with Nikkor 18-140mm lens (Option 2).

Here are the things that I checked for him, as discussed in my article on buying a used camera (Buying a used DSLR) –

  • Checked the overall condition of the camera and found it to be fine. No signs of drops or misuse.
  • The battery and charger are original.
  • The shopkeeper had the warranty cards for both the lens and camera, which we could not check on the spot. The shopkeeper assured me that they are there and everything is in order.
  • I clicked a sample photograph to check for dust on the sensor.  I set the aperture to its smallest setting, focused to infinity, used aperture priority and then move the camera while photographing an evenly lit white carton at close distance. The noise reduction in the camera was also switched off. At maximum zoom there were very few specs of dust visible which was as good as a new body. (Cleaning Camera and Lens)
  • Next I captured another photograph to check the auto-focus and metering, which also seemed to work fine.
  • For checking the shutter count, I requested the shopkeeper to email me the photograph I had last captured without any alterations. I checked the shutter-count on my phone itself using an online tool (www.camerashuttercount.com) . It was 4921 which is pretty low for this body.

Screenshot Shutter Count

  • Next, came the acid test. I handed over the camera to my friend while he played around with it. For me the important thing was to observe how well his hands held the camera and reached out to the controls. The controls seem to be well within his reach and his face conveyed a sense of comfort and joy while holding it. I guess that once he gets the camera, he is going to put it to good use.

He paid a token amount and the deal is now finalized. With this, now I have been able to infect another fellow being with love for photography.

Mission accomplished!!!

 

 

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