Buying used equipment is a popular way for videographers and other creatives to save money.
High price technology like cameras and lenses can commonly be found for less than half of their original price on the used tech market.
This is because lots of tech loses its original value only a few years or even months after it is released.
But camera technology can be delicate and some of it is simply better bought new.
So, should you buy a used gimbal?
Buying a used gimbal is risky because gimbals have many fragile parts and are often used heavily by their previous owner. However, with these risks acknowledged, it is still possible to safely buy a used gimbal if the proper steps and precautions are taken by the buyer.
Do Your Research Before Buying A Secondhand Gimbal
The first step when picking a used gimbal to buy is the same as buying a new one: check the specs to make sure the model you want works with your camera equipment.
The truth is, this step is even more important when buying a used gimbal as returning a secondhand item can be complicated or impossible.
Specs to check when buying a used gimbal:
- What is the weight and size capacity? Will your camera setup be too heavy? WIll your longest lens be too big for the gimbal?
- What is the battery capacity? How long do the batteries last? Investing in a gimbal with long-lasting batteries is a must. You’ll thank me later!
- How big is the gimbal? Will it fit in your equipment bag? Gimbals can be awkward to transport, so this is important! Look up the dimensions of the gimbal.
- Some gimbals can control your camera via micro USB. If this is important to you, make sure the gimbal is compatible with your camera brand and model.
Where To Buy a Used Gimbal
The safest place to buy a used gimbal is from a reputable company such as B&H Photo. These kinds of companies offer used and refurbished gimbals, and other camera and video equipment, at discounted prices.
Companies like B&H Photo provide a full list containing any potential issues with the used product they are selling. These kinds of companies also offer the option to return a used item, should you be unsatisfied.
The downside to purchasing a gimbal from a company like B&H Photo is that their used prices are typically higher than those found on peer-to-peer selling sites.
Shipping costs may also be a factor when purchasing from these kinds of companies.
You may score a good deal on a gimbal from eBay but watch out for broken gimbals. As we will touch on later, testing a used gimbal is very important.
While returns on eBay are possible, they can also be headache-inducing. For online purchases of used gimbals, I would recommend sticking to sites like B&H Photo.
Sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace are full of used gimbals. While these sites offer enticing deals, the peer-to-peer selling world is still operating like the wild west. Make sure to follow the steps below to avoid buying a faulty product.
Ask The Seller Questions About The Gimbal
If you plan to buy a gimbal off of Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, be sure to have all of your preliminary questions answered ahead of time.
These questions might include:
- How long have you owned the gimbal?
- Has the gimbal been used lightly or heavily?
- Are there any superficial issues (like scratches) with the gimbal?
- Are there any technical issues (like a broken plate) with the gimbal?
- Why are you selling the gimbal?
- Are you firm on the price?
Having these questions answered before meeting with the seller can save you time.
For example, even if a gimbal is in working order, you may decide that it has seen too much heavy use and could be nearing the end of its life.
Testing A Used Gimbal
The most important step in buying a used gimbal is testing the product. Test, test, test!
Gimbals can be confusing to operate at first.
If you are purchasing a gimbal for the first time or are unfamiliar with using a gimbal, consider bringing along a friend who understands how to operate a gimbal. This way, they can help you test the gimbal and may spot issues with the product you would otherwise overlook.
When viewing a used gimbal, be sure to test it with your own camera equipment, including the longest lens you expect to use with the gimbal. This is important as different gimbals feel and operate differently depending on the camera and lens being used.
Just because a camera and lens are under the gimbal’s weight and size capacity, doesn’t mean the setup is a good match for the gimbal.
GImbals have a lot of small, moving parts — meaning there is a lot that can break or malfunction on a gimbal. When testing a gimbal, be sure to look closely at the following:
- Motors: Make sure the motors are operating smoothly. Motors should operate quietly, without any grinding sounds.
- Locking mechanism: Make sure any locking mechanisms on the gimbal are sturdy. Is the gimbal rigid when locked? Or does it rattle around?
- Joystick and buttons: Some gimbal models use cheap plastic for their joystick and buttons. Make sure the joystick works smoothly and the buttons are easily pressable.
- Body: Due to the nature of gimbals, it’s not uncommon for them to be scratched. However, large scratches or dents could be a sign of heavy usage or a damaged gimbal.
Things To Keep In Mind When Buying A Used Gimbal
- Consider the deal you are getting. Sometimes it may be worth avoiding a potentially broken gimbal for a few extra dollars.
- How much are you investing in this gimbal? Buying a cheap gimbal used might be worth the risk while an expensive one may not.
- Consider buying a used gimbal with replaceable batteries. Older gimbals with built-in batteries may not last as long between charges.
- Rule of thumb: The more motors, buttons, and mechanical pieces included on the gimbal, the more that could be broken.
New gimbals can carry hefty price tags in the hundreds and thousands. So, buying a used one can be a great way to access the technology. But keep your wits about you.
Before purchasing a used gimbal, just make sure you have properly considered all the potential risks involved. Rushing into a used purchase is the best way to buy a broken product. Take your time to do your research and test any used gimbal thoroughly prior to purchase.
If you follow all these steps, you’ll likely find a great gimbal at an affordable price!