Compact Special (page 1 of 4)


Budget used Digital Compacts Next>

Bargain or Bin?

One of the fundamental purposes of this site is to help you make a more informed decision before buying old or used cameras. There are now many digital cameras out there, some of which you will never have heard of or at least not associated with cameras, and some of the big names. Hopefully, this article will help to decide for yourself if they are worth while buying.

As the pixel race continues to twist and turn I’m going to look back at some of the cameras that have been cast aside, the older cameras, usually 6 megapixels or less, and pose the question are they a bargain or a bin job. More and more of these cameras are now turning up in secondhand shops, car boot sales and the like, and quite often they are for sale for just a few pounds. So are they worth it? The next 3 pages will explore some of what is out there and point out some of the issues involved with collecting and or using these “antiques of the future”.

Some of these cameras have their own individual site pages which might be worth checking in conjunction with this article.

Before you can answer this open ended question there are a few other more definitive questions which need to be answered. What do I want to use it for, is it in good working order and are the consumables readily available, how does the price compare with the current new market. These lead on to the more detailed questions as to whether or not they are worth the price being asked.

Firstly, if you want it for serious competition photography the answer is probably no, very few of these bargains will be up to the standard required for competition. Megapixels matter in the competition world. If, however, you just want an inexpensive digital camera for your holiday snaps or pictures of the kids playing in the garden then one of these might be just what you need, any of the cameras above will produce an acceptable 6 x 4 print.

Then there’s the question of its condition and the consumables, and is there are work around. Physical condition may not be “as new” but that doesn’t mean the unit is not mechanically sound. Simple things like door catches that don’t stay closed can be easily fixed with tape. If possible fire up the camera and check things like the viewfinder and screen to ensure they work properly, a common fault with zoom lenses is that the viewfinder doesn’t zoom in unison with the lens, this may or may not be a problem to you, I have a couple of cameras like this but using the screen they work fine. Any failings on the screen, however, are probably coming from the sensor, this is much more serious and not viable for repair. Sensor faults are much more noticeable with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) if the camera has one. If the viewfinder doesn’t work the nor does the sensor. It may seem a strange thing to say but beware of cameras that appear to be new. It could be that they have a fault and that is why they have never been use, check carefully if you don’t know the cameras history. I fell into this trap with the Minolta 505, all in its original box and packing but with a failed shutter.

What about consumables, what kind of battery does it need, is it sound or can it be replaced. Many older lithium ion rechargeable batteries will not keep their charge for long and can be expensive to replace, and then there’s another question. Does it come with the charger because without it the camera is useless. What memory card does it need, are they readily available and at what cost, is there one fitted? Some of the early cards are difficult, if not almost impossible, to obtain except through specialist shops at high prices.

Lastly, for now, how does the price compare with the “new” market. In the current market prices are falling and a number of manufacturers are pushing special offers on modern units, which, when you consider the difference in performance may make these used bargains less attractive. The answer to the question of worth is now up to you, if it ticks enough of the boxes then I would say you’ve got a bargain. There are many different units out there, some are heralded classics but most are just average shelf fillers which time has forgotten. The next 2 pages look at some examples in more detail but the final answer is up to you. For me they’re just toys and I love playing with toys.



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