Many photographers I've spoken with have shared reservations regarding buying used gear, especially when it comes to lenses. Many have even echoed those same reservations regarding refurbished equipment. I'm sure there are valid reasons for this, as there is no shortage of unscrupulous individuals out there ready and willing to cheat you any way they can. This doesn't mean however, that you should discount the possibility of a real, legitimate opportunity to save some money.
First, let's take a look at what this word "refurbished" might actually mean. Many times, it's used interchangeably with "reconditioned". At first thought, they may look to mean the same thing, however, they're not. For example, the company for which I work manufactures complex medical electronic equipment. We have a "refurbishment" process that includes both reconditioned and re-manufactured product. Both of these terms roll up to the word "refurbished", but here is the difference;
"Re-conditioned" simply means that the product is reviewed, repaired if necessary, cleaned up, and placed for sale as a used device.
"Re-manufactured", on the other hand, means a complete tear down of a device down to a basic assembly level. The product is essentially reconstructed with specific new or reconditioned parts, such that the finished device is in-distinguishable from new.
The difference between re-conditioned and re-manufactured is quite obvious really, and bears understanding if you are considering or intent on buying refurbished photography gear.For the most part, most, if not all, of the major photography gear manufacturers perform what I consider a re-manufacture of their gear. I cannot say for certain, but I've read that both Canon and Nikon, after performing any necessary repair, replace the shutter mechanisms, housings, and in most cases the LCD faceplates on their cameras. Now I'm certain that this is probably accomplished on a case by case basis, meaning that if a camera is essentially returned to them "as new" from a retailer, they will simply assess the condition of the shutter, case and LCD, and simply repair and update the camera, or lens for that matter, after which it will go out as a refurbished unit.
As for other retailers of used or refurbished camera gear, they are most probably performing a re-conditioning process, albeit after they determine that the gear is in proper working condition.
So be wary of the difference, and consider this the next time you see an offer for refurbished gear. Dig a little deeper and try to ascertain which process really applies. Don't be shy about asking. In this way you can be assured that you're making the best buying decision regarding used camera equipment.
In my next post, I'll be discussing my experiences with refurbished equipment, and why I choose specific manufacturers or sources for all of my refurbished product. Not all are equal, especially when it comes to warrantees.
So, how about you? Have you any experiences you can share? Take a moment to comment on our Facebook page, where I'll post this entry for discussion. Till next time, Adios!