by Stephen Shepherd

Use the best-quality equipment you can afford

I'll admit to being as interested in the equipment for its own sake as I am in taking pictures. So, understand my vices when I say don't believe them when they tell you that the quality of your equipment doesn't matter. Certainly, having a "good eye" is paramount, but in the everyday world this will only be realized through greater experiential confidence--and that comes about when your equipment is reliable and delivers consistent image quality in terms of sharpness, contrast, exposure, and colour balance.

Buying used equipment

Because manufacturers of most 35mm systems have moved over to autofocus and digital bodies and lenses, a lot of the highest-quality manual film equipment ever made is now available relatively cheaply on the second-hand market. Medium format is starting to make this shift, but quality used equipment is still expensive; economy in this case is measured less in terms of price than in terms of the availability, for sale or rental, of extra lenses and accessories. About 75% of my 35mm gear, and all of my medium format gear, I purchased second-hand. Buying used equipment by mail-order can be the best way to get some real bargains; it is certainly the best way to access a large market. Shutterbug magazine is a good place to start, as many dealers advertise there with detailed listings of the used stock they have on hand; eBay is also a good source. From these you can get a good idea of a fair price for the particular item you want in the condition you want--and, if you read between the lines, you can get a good idea of whom you ought to do business with:




Buying New and Used

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