We’re always on the look out for great used gear at great prices. When you cashflow a business, you’re not in the habit of slapping down a credit card for the latest, greatest thing, so you have to get creative with sourcing gear. Here are some tips and resources for finding good photography gear at great prices:
Ebay – Hands-down, our favorite place to find new and used gear. Many Ebay retailers can offer new camera bodies and lenses at deep discounts since they don’t have the high overhead of brick and mortar stores. Just make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller, and that your not buying grey market gear without a U.S. warranty. If it’s used gear, warranties usually don’t matter as they aren’t transferable. Ebay is also full of pros and hobby shooters unloading equipment at great prices, and we’ve never had a bad experience when we’ve done our proper homework.
Tip: Check the completed listings section for ended auction prices. This will tell you what the market will pay for your desired item and give you an idea of how high to bid. Completed listings are also useful for setting competitive prices when selling your gear online. We recently sold this 24mm prime lens, used for less than 40 frames on one shoot, for a $50 profit.
Craigslist.org – Search your local listings for new and slightly used gear. For more specialty items, expand your search to other metro areas and ask if the seller will ship the item.
Tip: Look on Ebay completed listings first to know how much your desired item is worth, then start negotiations with your local Craigslist contact at 75% of the Ebay price in cash. They won’t have to worry about listing or shipping the item online or paying a percentage to the auction company or PayPal, and you get your item the same day for less than it would have cost you online.
Another tip: Be patient and have cash reserves. You never know when a good deal will come up on Craigslist. If you’re sitting on cash, you’re in a position to get a great deal on some gear, while possibly helping someone else get out of some financial trouble. Don’t be a vulture, but realize you’re in a position to wheel-and-deal if you have money and time on your side.
PropertyRoom.com – This auction site is full of photography gear (and other items) confiscated during police seizures and raids. If it’s never claimed, it has to be auctioned and this is where a lot of gear ends up at great prices. You probably won’t find your Canon 24mm TS-E tilt/shift lens or other specialty stuff here, but there are tons of consumer cameras, DV recorders, webcams, security cameras, memory cards and more.
ShopGoodwill.com – Goodwill stores on the corner are great places to find clothes, but their online auction site has some great camera gear too. Similar to police auction pickings, they have consumer cameras, lenses, printers and such. The Goodwill site seems to have some interesting vintage stuff occasionally though, like Brownie cameras, old movie cameras, and vintage medium format combos. If you collect bodies or like shooting film cameras, this may be a gold mine for you.
One last tip: Learn to set up auto-notifications in Ebay and RSS feeds in Craigslist. You’ll be able to go on with your life and get emails when the items you’re looking for show up for sale. This saves you a ton of search time and if you’re not in a hurry for that special piece of gear, you can rest assured that you’ll find the best deal possible when it lands in your lap.