On this Earth Day, choose your used equipment

Today is Earth Day, your annual reminder that this planet is all we have. On Earth Day 2022, we all – businesses, governments and citizens – are called to “act (boldly), innovate (at scale) and do (fairly)” with “everyone accountable, everyone responsible”. It’s a big mission statement, but one of the ways photographers can advance is by buying more used gear rather than new.

Peak Design, a camera bag company out of San Francisco, makes things easier. For Earth Day, it’s redirecting its entire site to its pre-owned market. We’ve come here at PopPhoto Think about why buying used products makes so much sense.

upfront environmental costs

Unlike cars, for example, nearly all of the environmental costs of photographic equipment are charged. The environmental loss of extracting the raw materials, making them in a camera, and shipping that camera around the world to the store where you buy it far outweighs the small amount of electricity it takes to charge the battery or the tiny amounts of additional fuel. Take his weight with you on a plane.

What this means is that the environmental cost of used equipment is essentially nil. In fact, it could be a net positive because improper disposal of e-waste is “polluting the planet,” according to the United Nations. By buying used equipment – or by keeping your own for longer – you are taking a real (albeit small) step towards helping the planet.

Used equipment is good equipment

It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz around the latest and greatest cameras and lenses. here in PopPhotoWe’re at least partially guilty of fueling it. But the truth is, you don’t need a $3,500 mirrorless camera — like the Canon EOS R5 or Sony a7S III — to take incredible photos. I’m still shooting with a Canon 5D Mark III, and a few weeks ago, Kaiman Wong posted a video praising the virtues of his 14-year-old Canon 5D Mark II. Old cameras — whether you’ve had them for years or bought them used — are still great cameras.

And it’s not just the high-tech stuff. In fact, there is a bigger case to be made to buy things like camera bags, tripods and other used accessories. They still have a pre-loaded environmental cost – and as long as they are well maintained, they can’t get old. (Hey, they can even go vintage!)

It can be use a lot

Let’s ignore the planet for a moment – the gear used can be good for your wallet, too.

In our article on the best used cameras to buy right now, gear editor Stan Horaczyk points out that an old professional tank-style full-frame camera can cost less than an all-new plastic APS-C camera — and will still take higher-quality photos in most positions. The majority of photographers don’t buy the most expensive high-end cameras, so, when it comes to the low- and mid-range stuff, the potential for a better used camera is very real.

Where do you buy used equipment?

The internet has made buying used equipment easier than ever. Large internet equivalents including Amazon and ebay have stores dedicated to refurbished merchandise. Reputable image-focused sites like KEH, used departments at B&H or Adorama, make it possible to buy used equipment transparently — and often with a guarantee. Lensrentals also has a great program called Keeper where you can buy their used gear. You can even rent something, and if you want to, keep it and get the rental fee deducted from the purchase price.

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