A couple of weeks ago my interest in owning a “real” camera was renewed. A fellow BMW rider had posted some beautiful photos of his Spring ride in Northern California (R1150R.org). I decided to shop around for a digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera. I soon discovered there are some great bargains out there, but as usual, let the buyer beware!
It had been years since I sold my old Nikon F body. The difference between that 1964-vintage piece and today’s digital SLRs is vast and there are hundreds of choices. But I found a great resource in Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com). After a little digging I read a review for the Olympus E-410. It was highly rated, got high marks in all categories and was reasonably priced.
Look for “factory demo” or Refurbished in the selling options!
The E-410 had several bells and whistles that were missing from competitors in this price range. It’s typically packaged with a 14mm-42mm zoom lens (the equivalent of 28-85 if it were on a 35mm camera). It’s light, compact and accepts third-party lenses. The only downside I could find was the media format (digital film, if you will). Olympus uses Fuji’s XD memory cards instead of the more common SD format. But this camera also can store your pictures on Compact Flash cards or the tiny micro drives so you do have a choice. Suffice to say- any of these modern SLR cameras will produce much better results than your typical point-and-shoot cameras.
Prices vary widely- which surprised me. I found several eBay listings offering this camera for $50 to $100 below the usual price. My skepticism kicked in when I noticed “factory demo” in the description. But after a little research I wasn’t quite so skeptical. These can also be found on Amazon, click the Used or View All option and you’ll see a Refurbished tab. Eventually I ordered one of these factory refurbished camera rigs. It’s literally like new, the only clue I had was a rubber band around one of the cords (instead of the customary wire tie and/or bag).
But before you jump in and order one let me offer a little advice.
Manufacturers demo their cameras at trade shows and press soirées. Sometimes they’re selling you one that was returned by a consumer. Reputable dealers do not bury this fact in their fine print- but they also stand behind these units. The most important part is what warranty does the seller provide. The factory warranty on these is usually different from a new, sealed box camera- 90 days instead of one year in the case of Olympus. But some sellers extend this and offer their own warranty, so in my case I still have a one year warranty. Since it came from an authorized Olympus dealer, I felt comfortable with this.
Some less helpful sellers offer only 30 days or no warranty on factory demos. Also steer clear of these unscrupulous “drop ship houses” that are notorious for playing the classic bait-and-switch. In the end I felt it was well worth the research because I saved almost $100. Happy shopping, and next time I’ll let you know how I like the new camera!