It’s a common question we get at Photofocus. Should I buy a refurbished camera/lens? Is it safe? Will it work? What about warranty?

In my 30 plus years of experience buying cameras, I’ve never had a bad refurb experience. I have HEARD about a few people being unhappy with their refurb purchases, but then again some people just don’t want to be happy.

I purchased a Canon 20D, 30D and 40D for gifts and prizes – all came with a 90 day Canon warranty. All of the bodies came in white boxes with all the accessories and instructions. All were as good as new in my opinion. I’ve also purchased a Canon 70-200 F/4 lens refurbed, a Canon 20 mm F/2.8 lens refurbed and a Canon 580 flash refurbed. All were flawless and worked perfectly.

I’ve also purchased a few Nikon teleconverters and lenses that were refurbs. Again – all were flawless. In most cases, refurbs are simply floor models or retail returns where someone sent the camera back for whatever reason. The refurb process includes making sure the product is restored to its original new condition. The only thing you don’t get is the longer warranty and pretty box.

Not all camera stores offer refurbished products. More importantly, and the only potential gotcha here is, not all camera stores are ALLOWED to sell refurbs. Stick with very well known retailers if you’re thinking of buying refurbished products. Also, ONLY buy refurbs from an authorized reseller representing the brand you like. For instance, if XXX Camera Store in Brooklyn sells Canon refrubs, make sure that Canon can confirm XXX Camera Store is indeed an authorized reseller. If not, run away as fast as you can. If you deal with a reputable reseller and seek refurbished gear, it’s almost always a good buy and always a better deal than you’d get if you bought new.