Used vs. new gear

Let’s talk about if you should get your gear brand new or if you should buy it used.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably fairly convinced about vlogging and you’ve either already started or you’re thinking about making it happen soon.

It’s easy to get caught up in the research for the best camera and tools, which makes it easy to get overwhelmed, especially by the prices.

Growing up I didn’t have many nice things, mainly because I was a kid and couldn’t afford it myself, but also because I was the third of seven kids and we had other financial priorities as a family.

I’d spend hours researching computers that cost thousands of dollars and dreaming about what it would be like to have one, vowing that I would save up my dollars and eventually buy that incredible gaming battle station.

I never did, but that’s beside the point.

Gear research is always tough because search results always display the latest and greatest, which of course cost the most.

  • “Amazing camera, only $1,700!”
  • “Perfect for vloggers, $925!”
  • “Cheaper than most cameras in its field, $850!”

In fact if you’ve clicked on any of the other links on Vlogology, you might have been directed to a page to buy those things new, and let’s face it: most camera gear is not cheap!

Get used gear and use it

I am a firm believer that while new tools are great and having the latest in technology can be very helpful, beginner vloggers should buy a used camera to get started and upgrade later.

Think about it: the nicest camera you can buy today is going to be old news in two years, but it was the best you could buy today!

Go back in time a couple of years and see what was working for people then. You’re going to find surprisingly good cameras for much cheaper than they were when they launched.

All of my cameras to date have been purchased secondhand, either on eBay or a local listing, with a single exception that I returned to the store within a week.

Here are some of the cameras I’ve used over the last few years:

All of these are now fairly dated cameras, but that’s the point: I can still vlog and tell a story with “old” cameras!

At the time of writing this, the RX100 Mark 3 is available new for around $600 USD, but I can quickly find a listing for a used model for less than half of the price of a new camera.

If we’re talking strictly numbers here, spending a few hundred on a camera that will work just fine as opposed to over a thousand…not a bad idea!

The downsides of used camera gear

There are, of course, a handful of downsides when it comes to buying anything used.

Buying a used camera means that it already has had time and light affecting the sensor and other internals, which means ultimately you’ll probably get a little less “shelf life” out of it. Maybe not notably less, but less.

You also run the risk of buying a camera from a non-reputable source as opposed to walking into an electronics store and buying it outright. Check the seller and make sure they have good history and recommendations.

The camera may have some external blemishes, a lot of shutter actuations (the camera has taken a lot of pictures), and maybe the paint doesn’t look as fresh as it once did.

For what it’s worth all of my vlogging cameras have been purchased used and I haven’t had any problems other than the ones I caused myself (like dropping my RX100 onto a concrete driveway.)

Which will get the most use?

I tend to want to keep my nicer gear in better quality, which also means I might not take my camera out to certain locations or in certain types of weather.

A tool is meant to be used, not admired.

The benefit of having a camera that’s maybe not as nice as a brand new model is that you might be less concerned with taking it with you no matter what.

A vlogging camera is no good if you don’t use it.

Some people look at used vs. new and know exactly what they want. They want new every time…and that’s fine!

But trust me, I’ve seen horrible vlogs shot on amazing cameras and they were still horrible vlogs. Conversely I’ve seen amazing vlogs shot on subpar cameras and they still told an incredible story.

You don’t have to go all out on your first or second camera. Get something cheap that will allow you to start, and if that means buying something a few years old and used, you’ll still be able to get quality video.