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Is Buying a Factory Refurbished DSLR Camera Worth Saving?

Refurbished products have somewhat of a bad reputation, and we understand why. Refurbished usually means that someone returned a defective or used product, the manufacturer updated it with new fixed parts, and then reissued it. Due to the skepticism surrounding products that at one time probably didn't work properly, refurbished products come with a discount and often a generous warranty.

Cameras are a special breed of refurbished products, however. People who buy expensive DSLR cameras tend to make a purchase and stick with it for many years. They may update lenses and accessories, but the body stays there for a while.

However, since DSLR cameras are so expensive (usually starting around $500 and much over $1000), refurbished models might be good for people on a tighter budget. But what are the chances that you will have problems sooner with a refurbished camera rather than a new one?

Searching for the truth about refurbished products

I set out to research refurbished cameras and products in general to understand them better. My hunch was that the negative attitude towards refurbished products is generally wrong.

After all, I was looking for a new camera. I've never owned a DSLR before, but because I only wanted one for occasional use, I didn't want to pay a ridiculous price for it.

Everywhere I looked during my shopping spree; there was almost a universal recommendation for beginners like me:the Nikon D3300. It sells for around $500 on Amazon, which was way over my budget.

Shortly after finding the product page, I found the refurbished model for $100 off. I immediately gave up on the idea before realizing I might have had the wrong idea about refurbished products. After all, Amazon reviews are impeccable. Plus, $100 off is a big savings.

Nikon says this about all its refurbished products:“Refurbished Nikon products are restored to factory specifications after being thoroughly tested. They are carefully inspected, cleaned and all defective parts are replaced using genuine Nikon parts. They also come with at least a 90 day warranty.

Typically, this is how most camera manufacturers describe their refurbished products. “Rigorous functional and cosmetic inspections are carried out by trained Canon technicians to ensure that each refurbished product meets the operational specifications and strict cosmetic standards we have established,” Canon says of its refurbished offerings. Canon includes a more generous one-year warranty.

Things to keep in mind

When it comes to buying a refurbished camera, there are several things to keep in mind. These tips should also help ease your worries a bit.

Again, refurbished cameras come with a warranty. This means that if the product is defective within a given period, you get a fixed one or a replacement. It's also important to remember that camera manufacturers don't want you to have to use this warranty.

It's not in the best interest of their results to have to send you a new camera, so it's very likely that the rigorous testing conditions for refurbished products hold true. A camera that works for you means an extra sale for them.

In case your refurbished unit arrives defective, keep this in mind:new products always arrive defective. There is always a very small chance that you will receive a miss anyway. Buying a new product does not guarantee that your product will work any more than buying a refurbished product.

Finally, an important piece of advice from an Amazon reviewer:"If you're a beginner, you'll just be mounting and changing camera bodies...eventually, so don't waste your money." Buy refurbished/used.

It is very true. It's best to invest in new lenses that can stick with you over time, because a lens can make or break a good shot. Camera housings are less important anyway.

It seems that on the whole, factory refurbished cameras should be pretty safe bets. This is especially true if the price drop is significant. Just make sure it comes with a warranty and invest in a brand new lens.

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