How to Buy Used Cameras and Lenses

New cameras and lenses can be very expensive, but you can save a fair amount of money by buying used gear. However, there are, of course, certain considerations you should make before you buy that previously owned body or lens to ensure you are actually getting a good deal and are buying from a reputable and honest person. This excellent video tutorial discusses the ins and outs of buying used camera gear.

Coming to you from Hyun Ralph Jeong, this great video talks about how to buy used camera bodies and lenses online. Probably half of my camera gear is used, and I have saved a significant amount of money by buying it that way. Buying this way has allowed me to obtain some lenses I simply could not afford to buy new while still getting the same sort of performance I would from an unused item. Generally, if gear is well taken care of, it remains reliable for a long time, but of course, that is something you should evaluate with every individual transaction. I have discussed before how Fred Miranda is my favorite place to buy and sell used gear, but it certainly is not the only good online marketplace. Check out the video above for the full rundown. 

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Tom Reichner's picture

I greatly prefer to buy used gear from individuals, instead of from companies. Why? Because I can get things significantly cheaper from a private seller than I can from a corporation.

Some people think there is too much risk when buying from an individual. But I have gotten the risk down to a very low, quite acceptable level. How? By communicating with the seller and creating a little bit of a dialogue with them, instead of just clicking on the "Buy It Now" button.

Whether the ad for used gear is on an online forum's classifieds section, or a listing on eBay, I contact the seller with a question or two about the item. If the item is not too expensive, I message the seller back and forth a few times to get a feel for their responsiveness and overall decency.

If it is a fairly expensive item, let's say over $500, then I ask the seller to give me a phone call to discuss my questions. Anyone with a modicum of ability to read people will be able to assess the character and integrity of the seller reasonably well after a 5 or 10 minute phone conversation.

If one is willing to spend a little time getting to know the seller and building a rapport with them, then buying from an individual is very low risk. If all you want to do is click a "Buy It Now" button and be done with it, then you have only yourself to blame for spending more than you had to, or for exposing yourself to an unnecessary level of risk.

RT Simon's picture

Even used quality gear costs money and finding deals takes work.
eBay has few great deals. This week a Hassie X1dii with 45mm went for $6k CAD. Or did it?

I feel sellers bid on their own stuff to keep bids high and if I had entered the fray, that camera would have reached 7-8k, and is no longer a deal. This is common.

Did you know that in the UK alone there are up to 10,000 fraud claims a month, averaging about 2,000 Euro each,and some of those scams are camera gear.

A percentage of those scammed do not challenge. They do not want to admit they were that sucker who thought he was getting a 100 megapixel PhaseOne back for 1K.