Used vs. Refurbished

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by nathangardner, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. I'm not in the market for any new equiment at the moment, but was just curious about everyone's thoughts so I can apply it to future purchases. Price being equal, would you rather buy used or refurbished equipment (assuming the used is in excellent condition)? I have bought used before, but never refurbished. I was just wondering if one tends to be more reliable than the other. Also, I know one selling point of refurbs is that it usually comes with a warranty, but it covers a very short time period, which would you feel safer with after that warranty expires?
    Also, I thought about posting this in the Digital Cameras forum or a more general forum than Canon EOS, but I figured that each company does their own refurbs and Canon's quality may differ from other brands.
  2. Refurbished usually means someone cleaned the equipment and ran some tests to make sure everything works. Used means someone inspected the equipment to check for obvious flaws but nothing more.
    Used can be good. I once went into my local store and saw a complete Minolta SLR system that looked brand new in the used equipment shelf. It was originally purchased at the store by someone with more dollars than sense as he traded it in for a complete Nikon system only 3 months later. OTOH I saw equipment at the store that looked like it had been used by a war correspondent who covered all of WW2 with it. It is very definitely a caveat emptor situation to buy used.
    Refurbished is usually a safer bet as they are usually returned or demo equipment.
    Over the last 20 years about half my lenses were bought used or refurbished and they have all been as reliable as the ones I bought new. If you are careful and buy from reliable sources, used or refurbished are both equally as good as new.
  3. I've had some of each and generally had good luck with both. If the price was equal, I would pick refurbished - apart from packaging, the Canon refurbs I've received have been indistinguishable from new. And a refurb will almost always have things like manuals and small parts that are frequently missing with used.
  4. I've bought both, but a lot more straight used. Actually I've had better luck with used, but 2 bad or short-lived refurbish items out of 2 bought is not a significant sample, but one that has influenced my own buying.
    With refurbished, I always wonder what about it was wrong enough so that it was sent back, and whether a second try got all the problems resolved? I'd also want to be sure that "refurbished" was "manufacturer refurbished". I would not pay a lot more to get refurbished.
  5. Used = Bought -> Love -> Sold
    Refurbished = Bought -> Rejected -> Pass-On
  6. As long as there is a good return policy, I have no problem buying used. My 24-70 was purchased used; looks brand new, and came with box, hood, UV filter, soft case, and manual. Price was too good to pass up.
  7. I've always had good luck with factory (manufacturer) refurbished equipment, but my two experiences with store refurbished equipment were both less than perfect.
  8. david_henderson


    "Used" means " doesn't work" because there's a fault, possibly intermittent, that the seller hasn't quite mentioned and any retailer hasn't quite checked and is the real reason why the seller decided to sell or upgrade now.
    "refurbished" means "doesn't work" because a technician ( maybe employed by the manufacturer directly or maybe not) has messed around with a camera that might have worked fine before, or might have been returned with a problem, even exchanged under warranty. If there was a problem, quite probably no-one briefed the technician what the problem was and left him to find out by checking the camera over.
    Of course both of these statements aren't necessarily true and I appreciate are kind of cynical However if it stimulates you to think
    • warranty
    • or a reasonable time to change your mind
    • A seller that you think stands a chance of acting decently if things go awry rather than you having to check out your legal rights etc.
    Then they will have served their purpose.
    As far as I'm concerned , "refurbished" means returned to new condition functionally. It also means that reasonable work has been carried out on the cosmetics, but I don't think you could complain if a refurb was not absolutely 100% pristine, even though some of them will be.
  9. Not every refurb. has had something gone wrong. Sometimes people buy and return for other reasons, and the perfectly functional item has to be run through the process before re-packaging for re-sale.
  10. Refurb all the way. One of my 5D is a referb and it looks and operates like new. Used can also mean "dang it, I'm selling this to let someone else have the headache". Refurb has warranty if it doesn't work. Buffdr
  11. Refurb is better than new because refurbs have usually been re-calibrated, adjusted, set to factory specs, and cleaned up and spiffy. New ones just roll off the assembly line and you are usually the testing lab. I've bought many refurbs from Adorama and couldn't be happier. Even refurbs from Canon are like new although pricier.
  12. I have a "refurbished by Canon" EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye purchased from a camera retailer advertising on eBay. The retailer included an additional warranty on top of the Canon warranty. I could not distinguish any difference between this refurbished lens from a new lens. I've had the lens for almost a year and it works fine.
    Would I buy refurbished? Only if the seller offers return privileges.
  13. Every refurb I've ever bought (whether camera equipment or otherwise) has been indistinguishable from new and has operated perfectly. My 40D and my 18-55IS are both refurb and have been in service now for quite a while. I have a refurb G11 on order from Adorama and expect the same. :) Elsewhere in my household, I have a refurb Canon PC-6 photocopier I bought almost 15 years ago, and it just keeps on cranking. I just enjoyed a delicious hamburger on homemade buns made with a refurb breadmaker I bought in the 80's. I've never had anything refurbished go bad. I agree with Wayne -- better than new and for less money.
  14. I've bought refurbs several times, most recently from Cameta (upstate NY, on the auction site). These are advertised as being generally sales or show demos, little or no actual use, and carry a warranty. My refurb Nikon DSLR arrived with 200 actuations; that's low enough for me! I've had 100% success with refurbs.
    Used is a little different matter. 100% OK when I've met the seller face to face and had a chance to inspect. 80% or maybe 90% OK buying at the auction site, but I have been able to return all the duds.
    To Nathan (OP), your original premise is flawed: The price isn't the same; used items are... and should be... less expensive.
  15. That's true Richard. I meant if they were the same, which would be the better bargain. I see so far that you can't wrong with either. Everyone claims that refurbs look and perform just like new, but I've had several used purchases that were the same way and could have passed as brand new. I've usually steered away from refurbs b/c I figured something was already wrong with it before (although, its fixed before selling) and used items could be flawless.
    I guess if a refurb was the same price as a used item it would be underpriced and the better bargain, would this be a fair assumption.
  16. Interesting discussion. A famous auction site recently sent me a survey requesting how sellers should classify items and this very question appeared.
    Is it accurate terminology in either case or is it merely subjective opinion? No definitive answers here either.....
  17. I've bought both my cameras refurb -- a 350D and 20D. The 350D was from B&H and it was clear that some idiot tried to force the CF card into the slot wrong and bent up the slot. But, it worked, and it was pristine other than that. Eventually, though the slot started getting flaky. The 20D was from a seller on eBay (Cameta?) and has been pretty much perfect other than the shutter release button getting tired after a couple of years :)
    Given a choice, I usually go refurb on a camera because of the warranty. But a used item from KEH carries almost as much weight because I know someone has looked over the item well and if there's a problem, I can return it.
  18. I purchased both my d300 and d700 refurbished with warranty one year later still working fine.
  19. I always buy used, but if a deal comes up on refurbished, I would prefer that. I have bought refurbished laptops.
  20. Wayne; just for your info, ALL refurbs sold by Adorama are refurbished by the manufacturer eg all refurbished Canon units come into us directly from the Canon factory.
    There is a big difference between Adorama's refurbished and used departments. The used equipment we hold in stock has been purchased from members of the public. Refurbished items are delivered to us directly by the manufacturer who has carried out the refurbishment therefore they have all been restored to the exact manufacturer specifications.
    A refurbished unit from Adorama may be an ex-store demo, possibly used in field tests or sales displays, or it may have been ordered in error and returned to the retailer (who can't then sell it as 'new' so it has to be sent back to the manufacturer for refurbishment).
    A refurb can also have simply been pulled from the production line if something appears faulty, or if it hasn't passed the final inspection. Most of the time it is a very minor issue that needs correcting, nevertheless, once it is pulled from the normal flow of production, it gets flagged as a refurbished model, so you may get a unit straight from the factory that has never been used.
    A refurbished item will have been checked over by the manufacturer by hand, inspected very thoroughly, diagnosed, and calibrated by experienced technicians, and could therefore turn out to be more dependable than a new item - which will only have been checked by a process of systematic quality control protocol (ie by random sampling as it comes off the conveyor belt).
    As to the individual history of a single item, the honest answer is we have no way of knowing. Refurbished equipment is not like new inventory; the manufacturers contact us when they have a batch to sell, and the availability is unpredictable. However, if you were to ask my personal opinion on whether the equipment that Adorama offers as refurbished is typically less than a year old, based on the regularity with which we receive batches, I'd be inclined to think it is all relatively new.

    In the past Adorama warranted Canon refurbished for 90 days; since 1st May, all Canon refurbished products from Adorama come with a 1 year return-to-Adorama warranty.
    The warranty we give covers anything the manufacturers warranty covers for a new unit, including shutter defects.
    All other refurbs sold by Adoramacome with a 90-day return-to-manufacturer warranty.
  21. Thanks for all the responses. Its now clear as mud, but I am more informed, which was the end goal anyways. I appreciate all the insights and experiences and more is welcome.
  22. Nathan, I can vouch for Adorama refurbs ;-) having bought my 5D2 several months ago now. It works like a dream. What gave me confidence is the fact that a factory refurb has to be given some individual TLC by a Canon tech. I'm not sure the same can be said of every single factory (read "new") canon body or lens. I would buy refurb gear again in a heartbeat. Used gear has too many unknowns IMO.
  23. Helen,
    As I said above, my experiences with refurbs have been 100% positive, and I'm really looking forward to receiving that G11 I ordered from y'all.
    I'm interested in a bit of clarification, though. When you say some of your refurbs are store demos and such, I presume you're saying you send those, along with returned cameras, damaged, cameras, etc., back to the manufacturer to be refurbished. And then they're shipped back to you after refurbishment. You have no idea whether any given camera was a demo, a return, or even processed through your store. Do I understand correctly?
    I'm also curious: Where is your equipment refurbished? I presume it's at the manufacturer's repair centers here in the US. Correct?
  24. Sarah
    We have no idea whether any of the refurbs we receive have ever even left the factory before shipping out to us, and certainly there is no connection between any units we return to Canon and those we buy in from them.
    However, over on POTN, I regularly hear of customers picking up units with anything between 20 & 100 actuations, only.
    All the refurbs we sell are actually factory refurbished by the relevant manufacturer.
  25. So for Canon, for instance, that would mean a camera is sent back to Japan to be refurbished?
  26. No, we don't send anything anywhere specifically to be refurbished. We do return faulty goods, but after that, we have no knowledge of what happens to them.
    The manufacturers contact us when they have a batch of refurbs to sell.
    As I said above:
    A refurb can have simply been pulled from the production line if it hasn't passed the final inspection. you may get a unit straight from the factory that has never been used, but as to the individual history of a single item, the honest answer is we have absolutely no way at all of knowing.
    The refurbished equipment that we receive is typically less than a year old, and based on the regularity with which we receive batches, it all appears to be relatively new.
  27. Well, you're missing the point of my question: Is the factory refurbishing done in Japan or the USA? I ask for a reason. I know there are some very good techs at the two Canon service centers. But with all due respect to American labor, which I feel is generally underappreciated, I realize there are also some dumb clods at the Canon US service centers who can overlook some glaringly obvious problems. I might be wrong, but I imagine the Japanese Canon factory techs are more uniformly good. That's why I ask.
    But I'm still looking forward to getting my G11, irrespective of where it was refurbished! :)
  28. It isn't done in a service center. It is done by the manufacturer in the Canon factory, which is why they are sold as factory refurbished. Many refurbished items have never even left the factory.
    BTW not all units are actually manufactured in Japan.

Share This Page