As 2F_2F says, you never can tell. The Pros I dealt with in Chicago typically would have a camera serviced when it stopped working. I don't think I ever saw one brought in for preventative maintenance.
Heavily sedated for your protection.
I don't think that's true; it depends on the quality of the equipment and how they take care of it.
Unless you buy equipment directly from owners, you'd never know who owned it.... Many pro-level cameras were owned by amateurs. On the other hand, amateur level cameras were usually not owned by pros. Pros also tend to own many bodies and not all of them were used heavily. Some pros take care of their equipment where as some do not. There are all kinds of pros.... wedding photographers, news photographers... etc, etc, etc.
I usually look at the equipment and try to guess what kind of lives it may had in the past. How pieces fit together, how buttons and knobs work, cosmetic damages, etc, can tell a lot. Just because something looks pristine doesn't necessary mean it lived a trouble free life either, but usually looks combined with basic function tests are pretty good indicators.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Pig In A Poke
I would never buy equipment I hadn't seen and checked myself, I may be old fashioned but I bought all my gear second hand the majority of it more than twenty years ago, I have seven cameras, and have had no problems with any of them in all that time, I know I probably paid more because I bought them from local camera stores with a warranty, but in the long run considering how much hassle and potential expense I've saved myself it can't be such a bad philosophy.
As a former photog for a large Midwestern newspaper, I can tell you that Pro's view thier cameras as tools to be used and not as objects of veneration. They are used until they malfunction and then repaired, if they malfunction often, they are traded for different gear that works.
I would never purchase gear that a Pro had used heavily, now matter how well it may have maintained.
That said I have purchased two M bodies and lenses from Pro's. One was a portrait photographer that also collected cameras and to fund his switch to digital Canon, he sold me an M6 and two ASPH lenses, all still in boxes with recipets and Registrations. The other purchase was from a Long Island Times photographer that had purchased an M7 and never used it, but with digital, had no use for it, the camera was new and a good value.
But a camera or lens used every day by a Pro is subjected to much more usage than any amature would ever experience. There is a reason that Pro cameras and lenses are designed to a higher standard than Prosumer or amature equipment and it shows in the price tag.
On the other hand a well heeled amature photographer is a great source for used equipment. In many cases the stuff is barely used and essentially new, the owner not being able to bear the thought of damaging such expensive equipment. -Dick
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Thanks for your views. After reading them I'm certainly back on the following state of mind "amature = amature gear" and leave the big spending for the photogs who get there gear refunded through their assignments or their great fine art sales.
Hope the F4s turns out ok. I will sell it after putting some rolls through it without problems.
I can't bear it using a camera which is possibly eating my dear film investments, because that's what it is nowadays, spending hard cash on something you really love.
Give me some more E6 film…
Just have the shop do a full overhaul on it. Once that's done, it should work for you without problems for many years. Since 2005, I've owned nine F4 bodies. One of them was a dud when I received it. I expected that, since I'd bought it as a parts camera. Shutter had finger damage, which killed it. Every other F4 has functioned fine for me, but, sometimes had LCD bleed problems. One needed a new viewfinder, since half of the lower LCD was black, due to massive bleeding, and the hot shoe didn't work. After viewfinder replacement, it was fine.
With respect to second hand "pro" bodies being more problematic, I've found that to be untrue, since I've had more problems with well-used amateur bodies. I've had three F3's with issues (one of which I currently own), one was bought knowing the issues and was a project camera. I've had at least four FM2n's that had meter problems and two with winding/shutter problems. One FE2 with a maladjusted meter that was jammed when I got it, somehow I unjammed it and got it working again. A bunch of Nikkormats with issues, some repaired, some turned into parts cameras for the other cameras. Four FM's that had issues with various parts. I also had an F2 that began firing when I used the DOF preview button, and a couple or three F's that, due to age, had slow shutter speed problems. A couple bodies were in decent cosmetic condition, just weren't working right.
APUG: F2AS x2, F, FM2n, Nikomat FTn
Nikkors: 18-70/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX (f/D200), 20/3.5 UD, 24/2.8 AI, 50/2 AI, 50/1.4 AI, 50/1.4 S, 55/2.8 Micro AIS, 85/1.8 K
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I think it depends on the photographer. Some photographers are incredibly hard on their gear. Other photographers aren't.
However, I will say that pro gear is often serviced frequently. At least, that's true of some newspapers, where they have a contract with one of the big camera makers.
I too would be wary of buying a Pro's camera. Sure they are built like tanks, but they are put through the motions almost 24/7; after all, that's what the Pro's buy them for - work, not admiration.
I assisted a photographed for approximately 9 years - and in that time, about the only maintenance he had done on the cameras we used was to have them cleaned (and then I could count on 1 hand the number of times that was done). We worked these to death - 1000s of exposures and they were used hard (not treated poorly, just really worked).
He put an F5 up for sale which hadn't seen an awful lot of work, and he made sure to have it serviced first - that was a bargain for the lucky buyer, as he moved to digital not long after purchasing. It got a fair amount of work, but nothing like his F4 and earlier bodies.
The best bargain I ever landed was from an older gentleman who decided to move to digital - traded in all his lovely EOS gear at a local camera store. I think from memory he had only had it 18 months at most. 3 weeks after trading "up" he wanted to trade back - I got a nice body and flash out of it - he on the other hand would have lost out badly. . . .
Just my 2 cents worth....
I'm a former camera tech, and have owned quite a few cameras over the years....What I've found is that pro's serviced their gear on a regular basis - they understood how they were earning their $$$
Most amateurs only service their gear when it's broken.....
Back in the 90's I bought a heap of gear from a major newspaper that was changing from Canon to Nikon...I got something like 50 odd lenses and 20 bodies....out of all that I got maybe 1 faulty body, and a coulpe of lenses that needed repair - but these were freebies that were "thrown in" with the gear I bought..I sold off what I didn't need, and used the rest....
I used 2 of the bodies for nearly 8 years shooting motorsport in all sorts of weather - I can remember coming home from a race, and having to dry the cameras out as the seals were saturated with water (from being used..and they were under rain hoods!)...not a problem......
Then again after shooting a off road event I had to strip one of the lenses, as that much dust got into it that the focus ring was starting to stick in places, but the cameras were fine.....
Services what was needed when it was needed....
I sold all my NF1 gear when I went AF.....
I got nostalgic a couple of years ago and bought one of hte cleanest New F1's I've seen in years..only had amateur use - even has that dull black sheen NF1's had when they were new...looks georgeous..
It also doesn't focus to infinity correctly - the flange depth is out....but the previous owner never knew....just thought their eyes weren't as good as they used to be....