Im a college student and I have been doing my best to teach myself everything about Photography and Videography.

I currently have a Canon EOS RebelT2i and have had it for a while now. I feel pretty comfortable with it but in some areas I seem to be limited. I have been looking at the 5d for a while now until the new mk3 came out.

I have been searching a lot and realizing that the Mk3 isn't INCREDIBLY better than the mk2. Some people have said it might be better to get a Mk2 but since they are discontinued most of them are Used now.

I have heard that sometimes buying a used camera may not be the smartest choice since every camera has a "life span" of somehow many shots. But for the price of some being only 1,400 it seems like a great choice as I have seen many videos and photos shot with it and they are beautiful.

Sorry for the long story, ultimately what are your thoughts on used cameras?

  • I think the context of an advanced enthusiast camera like the 5DII the changes the equation a little compared to the broader question about used cameras that are generally entry level models and consumer grade lenses. – Michael C Jul 3 '13 at 23:09
  • Have you considered the 6D? – Jakub Sisak GeoGraphics Jul 4 '13 at 17:51

It is not a lot different than buying anything else used: you get a better price and take a higher risk about how long it will be useful to you.

In terms of the rated "life span" of cameras such as the 5D mark II, it is less a concern than with entry level cameras such as your T2i. There are two reasons for this. 1) The shutter life rating of the 5DII is higher at 150,000 than the 100,000 rating of the T1i, the last Rebel to even have a shutter rating. 2) Shutters are replaceable. But it costs about the same to replace the shutter on an entry level Rebel as it does on a higher end Canon body. It certainly makes more sense to spend $300-400 to replace a shutter on a camera worth upwards of $1,500 like the 5DII than to spend the same amount on a shutter for a Rebel that is barely worth $300-400.

The big difference between the 5DII and the 5DIII is in the focus system. The 5DII has a consumer grade AF system very similar to the Rebels and the x0D series, the 5DIII has the same AF system as the flagship 1D X does. The 5DIII also has several video related features that are lacking in the 5DII. Only you can answer the question regarding whether the differences are worth twice the price or not.


I would challenge that in general the 5D Mark iii is a much bigger upgrade to the 5DMii than you make it out to be(major AF, video and weather sealing improvements as a start), but that said, the 5D Mark ii is still an excellent camera and the prices you can get it for now make it well worth it. I wouldn't be too worried about buying one used as long as it is in decent condition. Shutters are the part that wear out, but it takes over 100,000 shots to wear out and then is only a couple hundred dollars to replace when it does go, which is totally worth it on a high end pro body.


IMO your question doesn't have one definite answer and it would better for you if you ask it on forums, like DPreview, there should be already many articles answering to your general question about used DSLRS.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II is still available as new on many websites, check the B&H, although it seems the body-only is not available.

If you're going to buy a used camera, you should get it from a reputable store, online stores like B&H has different ratings for their used items which could help you to choose what you need, and you may be able to get third-party warranty plan too.

Although the above was only a general advice, used Canon 5D MK II is not available at B&H currently, you can see their list here.

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