Are Refurbished Cameras Good Or Bad?

When you compare the pros and cons, refurbished cameras have more upsides than downsides. They’re in smaller supply, and you have to read the details carefully, but they’re lower cost and usually work like new.

I’m Caleb, and I’ve been a photographer for five years. My specialty is sports photography, and I’ve covered many different events at several levels, including college and semi-pro.

In this article, I’ll talk about refurbished cameras and whether they’re a good idea to buy. I’ll go over the good points and a couple of things to look out for.

If you’re shopping for a new camera and wondering if a refurbished one is worth taking a chance on, keep reading for the complete breakdown.

What Does It Mean If a Camera Is Refurbished?

Before getting into the pros and cons, let’s take a minute to clarify what it means when a camera is refurbished.

If you’re unfamiliar with refurbished cameras, you might think it’s the same as a used one. That actually isn’t the case. Refurbished cameras are models in mostly new condition that were sent back to the manufacturer for whatever reason.

There are many reasons this might happen. Maybe the camera was used as part of a showroom display, was part of a defective batch, or was returned by a customer because of a minor mechanical problem.

These cameras are repaired to new condition by the company, but because they’ve been shipped back, they can’t be sold as new. Because of that, they’re marketed as “refurbished” instead.

Pros and Cons of Refurbished Cameras

There are both upsides and downsides to refurbished cameras. We’ll go over them individually to give you enough information to make your own decision.

Refurbished Camera ProsRefurbished Camera Cons
Cheaper PriceHarder to Find
It Probably Comes with a WarrantyYou Have to Read Carefully
Greater Quality Assurance

Pro: Cheaper Price

The most obvious pro for refurbished cameras is the lower price. In fact, it’s probably the main reason to buy refurbished over new.

The prices vary depending on the manufacturer and the model, but you can often find refurbished cameras for 10% to 30% less than their new counterparts.

And these savings are for cameras that are functionally new. Imagine saving 30% just because a camera was sent back to the factory for something minor, like arriving in dented packaging!

Con: Harder to Find

One of the biggest cons of refurbished cameras is the lower supply compared to new ones. 

If you’re looking to buy refurbished because of the cheaper price, you might have a more challenging time finding the model of camera you’re looking for.

Obviously, most cameras don’t get sent back to the manufacturer. So the number of refurbished cameras is much lower than the overall supply. 

Also, if you’re shopping for a popular model, you’ll have to compete with other customers looking for the same deal.

Pro: It Probably Comes with a Warranty

This one varies depending on the manufacturer, but refurbished cameras generally have a warranty that guarantees the product works like new ones for a set amount of time.

With a warranty, you have the assurance that the manufacturer isn’t just saying the camera is in new condition. 

If the camera breaks before the warranty is up, they’ll have to spend money fixing or replacing it. So it’s in their interests to give you a product that works as advertised.

Con: You Have to Read Carefully

When buying refurbished or used cameras, you must be a bit more careful about reading the details.

Make sure you know all the terms before buying. For example, was the camera refurbished by the manufacturer, or did a third-party retailer like Amazon refurbish it? If a third party refurbished it, do their refurbished products have good reviews?

There are a lot of sources for refurbished products, and not all of them are directly connected to the manufacturers. You should always check to see who refurbished the camera you’re thinking of buying.

Also, on some sites, the word refurbished may be misused to refer to used products. This is another reason to double-check everything more than you would with a new camera.

Pro: Greater Quality Assurance

Sometimes, refurbished cameras can have better quality than new ones. This sounds strange, but it makes sense if you think about how the refurbishing process works.

When a camera is sent back to the manufacturer, it undergoes rigorous inspection and quality testing to ensure it’s the same quality as a new one. If anything is wrong mechanically, it will be spotted and repaired.

Cameras coming off the mass production line might not receive the same amount of rigorous attention. These production lines are more focused on quantity, even if it means some errors slip through.

On the other hand, the smaller number of refurbished cameras may receive more testing and individual attention. After all, the manufacturer doesn’t want to end up repairing the camera for a second time if a problem arises later.


Here are some frequently asked questions about refurbished cameras.

Are Refurbished Lenses As Good As New?

Basically, everything we’ve covered in this article about cameras also applies to lenses. Refurbished lenses can be as good as new as long as you read the details and look for lenses with a warranty.

Why Is Refurbished So Much Cheaper?

Refurbished cameras are cheaper because they can’t legally be sold as new, even if they were only sent back for a minor reason like a cosmetic scratch. To compensate for this, manufacturers sell refurbished products for a lower price.


Refurbished cameras are a great deal and may offer up to 30% savings. However, you have to read the details carefully and ensure the camera you’re getting is from the manufacturer or a reputable seller.

Have you bought any refurbished cameras or lenses? Tell us in the comments.

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