How Do I Avoid Being Scammed When Purchasing A Camera?

Photographers spend billions purchasing cameras and other photography equipment and they have become the target of many scammers.

This guide will help you on how to avoid being scammed when purchasing a camera.

How To Avoid Getting Scammed When Purchasing A Camera 

How Do I Avoid Being Scammed When Buying A Camera?

You can avoid getting scammed when purchasing a camera by buying it from a reputable seller.

Ensure that the seller offers a liberal return policy and that you pay securely using trusted payment methods. 

Whether you are purchasing a brand new or a second-hand camera, here are some tips that can help you avoid being scammed.

Understand What You Want

The best way to avoid being scammed when buying a camera

The first step to avoiding a scam when buying a camera is researching and understanding what you want to buy.

For example, you will need to determine whether you want a camera for landscapes, portraits,  photos, or video. 

Then, search for cameras that meet your criteria in terms of versatility, build quality, and image quality.

By understanding what you want, you will avoid being scammed by buying a camera that doesn’t meet your photography expectations.

Look for A Reputable Seller 

What to do to avoid being scammed when purchasing a camera?

Even after understanding what you want, you might end up purchasing a counterfeit camera from a scam site. You can avoid this by purchasing the camera from a reputable seller. 

Even when purchasing from a reputable online store, you will need to ensure the seller has positive feedback. 

Although no seller might have 100% approval, go through the customer’s feedback to understand the kind of complaints they have against the seller.

For instance, a late shipping complaint is not as bad as a deceptive product description complaint. 

Also, check for the warranty terms and return policy. It is advisable to go for a seller that offers a money-back guarantee.

Pay Securely

A camera buyer's guide to avoiding scams

In most cases, scammers do not use trusted payment methods.

That means you can avoid getting scammed by purchasing from sites that only use trusted payment methods such as Braintree, Stripe, and PayPal. 

In case you are uncertain about the reliability and safety of the payment method, you can Google search for customer reviews. 

Check What You Buy

How to avoid being scammed when making a camera purchase

Whether it’s a brand new or a second-hand camera, you will need to ensure the camera’s condition meets your expectations.

Here are some of the things you can check in a camera to make sure it is in good working condition.


The first thing you can check to make sure you are not scammed is the body of the camera. In most cases, cameras feature leather, paint, or plastic-coated surfaces. 

If the body looks badly scuffed or different from how the seller is describing it, you will need to be cautious.

A badly scuffed camera body can also indicate worn-out or broken internal parts. 


If the camera features a manual focusing ring, you will want to make sure that it can focus smoothly without grates.

Rotate the focusing ring from the closest setting to infinity and feel whether it rotates smoothly without sticks. 

You can also check the autofocus by pointing the camera at various subjects and seeing how the out-of-focus mechanism reacts.


It is advisable to check for the battery compartment especially if you’re purchasing a second-hand camera.

If the battery compartment contains white, brown, or green deposits, it means the batteries had leaked. 

The damage could be more extensive than what you might be seeing, and so avoid buying the camera.


Try to use different shutter speeds and check whether the shutter is sticking open.

In the case of used cameras, the shutter might be making a squeaking noise which can be expensive to repair. 

For the single-lens reflex cameras, open the back and confirm the blades are not worn or sprained. For cameras with automatic shutters, cover the sensor or the lens and then fire. 

Listen for the click to open and close the shutter, which should typically take longer the darker it gets.

If possible, check for the shutter count as it can guide you on how long the camera has been used. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Does A GRAY Market Camera Mean?

A gray market camera is a camera that is advertised at a price that is much lower than the price charged by authorized dealers or the price charged by the original manufacturer.  

In most cases, the vendors in the gray market use sales tactics and misleading statements to trap buyers into buying, only for the customers to end up with low-quality cameras. 

Is It Safe To Buy A Second-Hand Camera?

A second-hand camera is a great way of saving money, and it is safe to buy one. You only need to make sure the camera is in good working condition and that you get value for your money.

Final Thoughts

With the emergence of many online stores that sell cameras, it has become challenging for photographers to differentiate between scammers and legit sellers.

Fortunately, the above guide will help you avoid being scammed when purchasing a camera.  

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