Buying used photographic gear can be a great way to save a few bucks and get that lens or camera body you’ve been dreaming of now. In this audioblog I outline a few suggestions to consider when buying used gear online or at a photographic store.
The artwork below was just made with my “used” Leica M7 and my “used” Leica 90mm Elmarit Lens.
Last Year’s Leaves, Vermont. 2009
From A New Eden
Leica M7 with 90mm Elmarit Lens
In Camera Overlapping Frame Panoramic Technique, 3X
Kodak Ektar Film
Printed 9.5″ x 25″ on Fabriano 640 gsm Rough, Hand Coated.
Copyright Stephen Schaub 2009
Print surface detail, hand-coated Fabriano.
6 thoughts on “Buying Used Photographic Equipment”
Good advice, thanks for the tips! What are your thoughts on negotiating prices with brick and mortar shops? Obviously they’ll offer you less for your own used gear than the going rate on eBay, and will charge more for comparable gear, but how much “wiggle room” do you count on in their pricing?
I think it depends on two things… one how much desire is there for the item you are looking at… more desire= less wiggle room and also do you frequent them with your business… this last one has really helped me in the past.
Just found your blog and have been reading (and listening) for the past three months.
Nice entry, but I disagree with the return policy for eBay sales. And note that this is coming from someone who has only bought gear on eBay, never sold it.
A return policy leaves a seller open to all sorts of fraudulent practices. The photos, description, and seller reputation should be enough to make your decision. eBay is a garage sale without the physical interaction. I have bought numerous items that did not have a return policy and have been pleased with all of them. It’s far more of a risk for sellers than for buyers IMO.
Your points about sellers who pull the “I don’t know anything about cameras but I’m selling this one and it looks fine” line are very good. Three times I’ve purchased old cameras (very inexpensive ones thankfully) and haven’t listened to my inner voice. All three times the camera was useless.
I agree that a sellers comments should be enough reassurance but some times it is not… recently (two weeks ago) I purchased two different cameras online both from very respectable sellers… when they arrived both cameras had issues that the seller was not aware of. I was able to get both situations resolved without much effort as each seller offered a 1 week return policy. I have sold a lot of gear on Ebay and I also agree that it does put the seller in a tricky position if the buyer is trying to pull something (this happened to me once) but in the end Ebay and Paypal have several safeguards to help… in the end it is always best to go with your gut feeling.
I liked this blog (I have listened to it twice.). You did state that on ebay prices should be 1/3 to 1/4 that of a new camera. From my experience prices realized on ebay are equal to or more than dealers. Seldom are prices on ebay appreciably less. Never have I seen the 1/3 or 1/4 for new equipment. Reputable dealers sometimes lower their prices for ebay sales by 10 to 15%. I have doe better with camera stores. You advice on how to evaluate ebay sellers is nothing less than classic.
Hello… what I meant is that mint used gear will be 1/3 to 1/4 less than the new price… in a few cases I have seen stores sell new gear at their cost on Ebay just to move items to a larger audience but this is seldom and not much under 10 – 15% under their store price at best… I look for mint used gear on ebay when ever possible.