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Buying And Selling Used Camera Gear

July 24th, 2013

CanonXTiAbout a year ago when helping some good friends get some gear to get started in real estate photography the situation required used gear and the whole process made me more aware than I’ve ever been about the benefits of purchasing used gear.

The benefits of buying used gear are bigger with DSLR bodies because they lose their value faster than lenses. Here are a a couple of examples that illustrate what I mean:

  1. New Canon Rebel Xti  – $899
  2. Used Canon Rebel Xti – $149 and up
  3. New Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens – $429
  4. Used Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens – $375  and up

Nowadays both of the major camera retailers (B&H and Amazon) are setup to help you sell your used camera gear and have plenty of used gear for sale. Another long-time, reputable seller of used camera gear is keh.com. Of course the classic way to buy and sell used camera gear online is Ebay.com. I’ve used all of these retailers and they all have some risk involved when buying used. It’s just inherent in buying used gear.

To minimize your risk, I recommend that when buying used gear you use a retailer that has a seller rating system and that you pay careful attention to the number of transactions the seller has done and the amount of positive feedback they’ve gotten. Both Ebay and Amazon have such rating systems and I think it helps reduce the risk of doing a bad transaction.

 

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11 Responses to “Buying And Selling Used Camera Gear”

  • Time is your friend if you are looking for a good deal. I just bought a Canon 50D in great condition for $375 and a Sigma 10-20mm for $275. I saved a search on eBay and had them email me daily with the latest listings. It took about a month, but I found the camera and lens in the price range that made sense. I always have saved searches for the stuff on my wanted list. I even have searches for mis-spellings and slightly wrong titles. I’ve picked up some screaming deals on gear due to a seller’s bad spelling and/or lack of a proper description. Craigslist seems to be a dead end for me over the last year. It used to be a good place to buy local and save a few dollars, but now the asking prices are much more than eBay, the descriptions are non-existent to poor and sellers often won’t return calls or emails.

    If I’m buying a $5 item I will take a chance on a seller with just a few feedbacks. For more expensive items, I look for a seller that has an established track record of good service and lists a return policy. I don’t bother to look at auctions that list a 70-200mm F2.8L lens for $50 any more. They have all been scams in the “too good to be true” genre.

  • In Calgary we have a Facebook group called the Photographers Garage Sale and you will see lots of equipment exchange hands. I also like the Kijiji site since it is all local and you can go look at the equipment before buying.

  • A good lens is a great investment. See how electronic depreciates in the difference in camera prices. But not so in a lens. And a good lens will give you better results than a more expensive camera. So invest in good glass, you’ll use it for years and sell it for almost what you paid for it several years later.

  • Two additional sites for buying used equipment are LensAuthority.com (run by the founders of LensRental.com) and BorrowLenses.com. LensAuthority hhas good used equipment, with useful information on the condition of the equipment, and competitive prices. I am not as familiar with BorrowLenses, but they seem to be worth a look at least during the shopping phase.

  • http://photography-on-the.net/forum/ and http://www.craigslist.org are other sites worth checking.
    The first one is more Canon oriented. With Craigslist it is local. You meet the seller check out his stuff and buys it.

  • I have seen some good deals on my local Craigslist lately, but you have to know what something is worth, so you arent overpaying. For instance, a used Canon 10-22mm, new is around $900, someone had one on CL last week for less than half that for a pristine lens because they were switching to Nikon…Would have bought it, but already have a Tokina 11-16…oh well.

  • @Ronny & @Tim- I have extensive experience with Craigslist and it is fantastic for some things like getting rental tenants, for this it is the best there is. But I would never use it for used camera gear… it’s to easy to scam people. A famous craigslist scam is the buyer sends you a “cashiers’s check” for the item and tells you to ship it and then the cashier’s check is a phony… but it takes 2 weeks for the banks to figure out the check is phoney by then you are left as a sucker. I narrowly escaped getting scammed by this technique selling a $2,000 tandem bicycle.

    The reason to use Ebay or Amazon or keh for used gear is the people on these sites are running a small business selling camera gear and are highly motivated to have customers that give them good ratings (this is why it’s so important to pay attention to the ratings)… there is nothing like this on craigslist, it’s a wild and crazy place with 100s of people actively working scams.

  • @Larry, I only deal with local sales, so no threat of the nigerian check scam, same when I sell something, I specifically state “local sales only, no shipping” and that has the desired effect, no scam artists even bother responding. I occasionally use ebay, but since the buyer has all of the control I quit selling on there a while back, got burned even with all of the documentation to prove my point by paypal.

  • There’s also refurbished gear.

    For Canon users you can buy direct from Canon at http://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/catalog/cameras/refurbished-eos-digital-slr-cameras

    Not that great of a deal on current models but they occasionally have older models and you still get a 1 year warranty.

  • Why are you promoting the canon brand so much? do they pay you? it sounds like it. There cheaper and better alternatives.

  • I have sold some used lenses through KEH. They were very fair. They actually gave me more than I was asking for one of my lenses. I would definately recommend them. I would also recommend that you keep the original boxes that your gear comes with. This definately increases its value.

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