Tue 24-Feb-09 11:26 AM | edited Tue 24-Feb-09 08:24 PM by ericbowles
We have several posts about used DSLRs - particularly with the ongoing replacement cycle and price drop on older models. Here is a start of a checklist to evaluate a new DSLR - used or new. Many of these issues are normal wear and tear - but some can involve expensive repairs.
Please add any additional suggestions or tips.
Check for signs of being dropped - deep scrapes or dents in the plastic body. The camera is durable, but why ask for trouble?
Check the rubber on the bottom and the grip for any sign that it is coming loose. While relatively uncommon, it is a nuisance to repair.
Be sure the pop up flash operates properly and does not have any unusual play. The pop up flash latch can fail and the hinges of the pop-up flash can be damaged.
Be sure the battery door closes tightly and stays closed. Battery doors can have a tendency to pop open or can be cracked at the hinge. This is a common problem and can be repaired yourself with parts from Nikon.
Examine the lens mount for any signs of damage. Mount a lens and remove it. Make sure it easily locks into place and does not have any abnormal movement.
Insert a CF card and make sure the camera functions properly. Look for bent or damaged pins or binding when inserting the card. Make sure the CF door opens and closes properly.
Take a test shot of a plain background. Look for streaking (damage due to improper sensor cleaning), hot pixels (usually can be mapped out relatively easily), and dust on the sensor (normal and easy to remove unless it is stuck on the sensor).
Use an EXIF viewer to check the image count. Look in EXIF and camera comment (in the menu) for indications of previous ownership.
Test each button or knob on the exterior of the camera. Make sure selection knobs actually work. Problems are rare - just easy to check.
Make sure rubber covers and attachements are included. Make sure the rubber viewfinder cover is attached and in good condition. On the D200 and older look for the cover to the 10 pin connector. Check flapping covers (covering transfer port and 10 pin) to make sure they are not damaged.
Examine the 10 pin connector to make sure no pins are bent or broken. If possible, test the 10 pin connector with a remote cable.
Check and test the transfer port - look for damage.
Batteries - be sure you have the Nikon battery with the Nikon hologram. Generic batteries have mixed reliability. Nikon replacements are available.
Test the LCD screens on the back of the camera and on top of the camera. Make sure you can scroll through all functions and there are no defects in the LCD.
Check the threads on the tripod mounting screw with a plate or a tripod. Make sure the threads are not damaged by cross-threading.
Make sure paperwork is available and matches the camera. Check serial numbers and model numbers. Paperwork is not always available, but avoids the risk of buying stolen or lost merchandise. It also may identify gray market merchandise (a problem since Nikon USA will not service gray market gear; authorized service centers that are not Nikon owned are available in many major cities).