You Can Buy Refurbished Cameras & Lenses Directly From The Manufacturers You Know & Love

Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm and other top-tier camera and lens makers offer refurbished products directly to end users via special pages on their website. You can save some dough, but do you want to own a renewed product? Put us down for YES!

The Debate
Some buyers are resistant to refurbs because they fear they are "buying someone else's problem." That's possible in rare cases, but unlikely by and large. In fact, in many ways, buying a camera that has been refurbished is a better choice than a buying a new one. Here's why.

1. Cameras are generally reconditioned and recalibrated to "repair service standards" which are typically higher than "manufacturing standards." The slightly-used product undergoes individual hands-on inspection and service. And the individual technician is often held accountable if it comes back as a redo.

2. Refurbished cameras and lenses are usually updated to the latest components. Virtually all cameras and some lenses undergo "parts revisions" whereby the manufacturer replaces parts here and there for improved performance and/or longevity. New cameras are not updated after purchase unless, of course, you return it to its maker for repair.

3. Manufacturers do not want to sell you a dud. It's not in their best interest if the refurbished product you receive is DOA. Consequently, they are very conscientious about what they release into the marketplace.

On the positive side, refurbished products are less expensive (sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little). They perform just like their new counterparts. They are covered by warrantees, often 6-months (check carefully before you buy). And there is a certain level of peace of mind that comes only with buying from the manufacturer.

Game for the Swift
The inventory of refurbished products ebbs and flows. Generally, manufactures wait until they amass a large quantity of a particular item before refurbishing the entire batch—it's more efficient this way.

The message here is that when you see a deal on a legitimately refurbed product, buy it without hesitation. You are competing with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of motivated buyers.

"Refurbished by Seller"
"Legitimately refurbed" you say? Yes. I'm categorically excluding those items that were mysteriously "refurbished by seller" that we always see listed at online auction sites. Not to bash ebay, but precisely how is "refurbished by seller" defined? That could mean anything from a wipe down with Windex to an unwise repair attempted by a YouTube-trained civilian. When I see this term I imagine a zealous online seller wielding a tube of 5-minute epoxy and a spray can of WD-40. And that's the good image.

The Sources

One of the most robust websites that offers refurbished cameras, lenses and other items is Canon's. There you may find a refurbished Canon EOS R50 RF-S18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM lens kit (as I did today) for just $559 with free shipping.

Nikon's refurbished outlet includes a wide selection of cameras and lenses. There are ten models in the Mirrorless section, for instance, including this Nikon Z fc for $879.95 seen there today. In the lens section, today we saw a AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G (Refurbished) for $223.95, a savings of nearly 20% off the $276 street price.

Olympus frequently offers refurbs via their Certified Reconditioned outlet, but there are none today. Check their website occasionally if you're looking for a renewed Oly product. To learn about their periodic sales on refurbs and other items, create a free account and opt in for promotional mailings.

Not everyone knows that Fujifilm sells refurbished cameras and lenses directly to consumers. Just now I spotted a XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens—factory refurbished—for $740. That's $149 lower than street price. I also saw a X100V, silver, for $979.95.

Seen today at the Ricoh Imaging website, a Pentax KF black body with 18-55WR kit, Open Box, for $679.95. That's about $100 off the normal street price. The term "Open Box" suggests that the product is essentially new but the packaging has been disturbed for one reason or another. Although "open Box" sounds better, consider it refurbished, nonetheless. Ricoh is the parent of the Pentax brand. Also found a Ricoh Certified Refurbished GR III for $829.95.

You'll find refurbished cameras, lenses, flash units and accessories at Sigma's direct-to-consumer Outlet. A lens that caught my eye today was the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM | Art in Nikon F mount for $599, a crisp $200 (25%) lower than street price. I was also drawn toward a refurbished Sigma fp, the world's smallest and lightest full-frame camera, for $1429, body only. Street price is typically $1899.

It's harder to find refurbished computer gear, so we're including OWC in this roundup. At OWC's sales site we browsed Apple Macs, Apple tablets, Apple Watches, displays and iPhones that have been refurbished by OWC's stable of trained technicians.

Stay Informed
The very best way to remain aware of refurbish sales is by subscribing to the manufacturer's newsletter and/or opting in for promotional announcements. For example, during the weeks before the holidays in 2023, I received an email from Nikon that included the offer of a refurbished Nikon Z fc with 16-50mm zoom lens for less than $700. In addition to representing a savings of nearly 37%, it was sold by and backed by Nikon. I'm still not sure how I found the power to resist, but I won't next time. If there is a next time.

Other Great Places to Buy Used
Certain unaffiliated websites frequently offer used products that were refurbished by the manufacturer or by their trained technicians (like OWC above). These deals are catch-as-catch-can and require a bit of diligence to find. The other solid option is to buy a used product from a reputable used seller. These are products that never required refurbishing, a clear plus. One name repeatedly mentioned here at Shutterbug is MPB.

I have personally made purchases from MPB three times. My most recent was an Olympus OM-D E-M1 and HLD-7 Power Battery Grip for a price you would not believe. It arrived in Like New condition (as it had been described) and continues to work flawlessly. My order was shipped fast in a sturdy reusable carton. Overall, I couldn't be happier. It gave new life to my meager collection of Micro 4/3 lenses and scratched the itch I'd had for that camera ever since it was introduced.

You can save money buying photo products that are refurbished. If you buy from the manufacturer there's nearly zero risk. Avoid "seller refurbished" products offered on auction website because that opaque label could mean anything. Finding the right deal takes patience and some effort, but sometimes the hunt is half the fun.

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