13 Money Saving Tips For Buying Camera Gear Online
Tips from someone who has bought and sold millions worth of used stuff online
- Buy bundles
- Seek "classic auctions" instead of buy it now
- Want to avoid eBay scammers when selling? Use buy it now combined with "best offer"
Here at Bokeh Market, our main goal is to equip you with data that will help you save money buying and selling camera gear. We thought we’d take this opportunity to share with you some of our favorite tips. This is our first in a series of articles on how to save money.
Part 1: Buying & Selling Used Online
Do your research
Shameless plug here, but if you’re buying (or selling) online, you need to know what the gear is worth. You also want a central location to research all your options instead of going site to site. You can do all that with bokehmarket.com’s database of thousands of products with millions of market data transactions tracked. Know what it’s worth before you buy it or sell it.
For camera purchases, get the shutter count
Shutter count can drastically impact the value of a camera, especially a DSLR. Make sure you do your research on this. Sometimes they aren't available, but it's always worth asking. It will affect you if you in a resale so make sure you price/value accordingly
Obviously eBay is the monster in this space. There’s good reason for it, they protect their buyers and provide the largest selection. This is also the best place to find good deals on bundles (we’ll get to that in a minute). If you want eBay deals to come to you without constant searching, you can always setup an alert here on Bokeh Market and we’ll do the searching for you.
Seek classic auctions - not "Buy it now"
This advice carries for everything, but is especially good for cameras and lenses. The overwhelming majority of retailers selling camera gear on eBay are going to use “Buy it Now” options, and likely not be the best price (though there are other benefits from buying from them). Individuals needing to offload their gear fast and guaranteed are using classic auctions. And these almost universally sell for below market price – especially those bundled with lenses and other goodies.
Look for “goodies”
Bundles with lenses are obvious in their having higher value, but make sure you don’t overlook a camera listing that might have a lot of added freebies – especially batteries. Other things to look for are grips, expensive ND filters, and SD cards (the price adds up)
It's not just local
There’s an “online” element to FB buying as well, not just local city groups. Seek out established buying and selling groups. These are generally administered by people who keep out the riff-raff, and are more trustworthy than more anonymous sources. Two good ones are:
Photography Gear Exchange – Buy & Sell Camera Equipment
Photographer’s Garage (Sale)
Forums are a great place to get great deals on gear that’s generally in excellent shape. The community is self-policing and is largely anonymous so it can present some challenges, but we’re here to help.
Buy from established users
This may be obvious, but maybe not. Established can mean a lot of things. Initially you’ll want to look at the buyer/seller’s feedback on transactions. Beyond that, if they have a high post count but low transactions, they’re probably safe. Finally, if they haven’t posted much, you can always look at their join date. If it’s over 6 months or so, you’re probably good.
Attention to details
Be wary of low post count combined with recent join date. Be SUPER wary if one of their first posts is listing a very expensive popular item.
Stop doing this
Stop paying via (and asking to be paid via) PayPal gift. This is a bad deal. Repeat bad bad deal. Yes you can save money, but the risk generally isn’t worth it as a buyer or a seller. Don’t do it. Just pay the extra (or eat the extra) 3% and you’re both protected. Getting cheated on just one “friends and family” transaction for $500 is the equivalent of paying the PayPal fee on 35 other $500 transactions. It’s just not worth it.
Two great forums for buying/selling:
A third that’s aimed towards cinema pro and prosumer gear is EOSHD forums. This one doesn’t do as much volume, but there’s always some good gems there.
We love buying from online retailers used. KEH, B&H, MPB, and Adorama are all trustworthy sources who are fairly priced, will offer you a low but fair price for your gear, and have conservative rating systems. They ship fast and are backed by a real business.
What you should know
Don’t think because they’re businesses that they’ll automatically be overpriced. Based on our pricing data, it’s pretty clear that these retailers are very savvy with an eye to market trends and see pricing movement before the average seller does. Which means they’re often selling below “market” because they’re ahead of the game.
You cannot miss out buying from any of these. There are others as well. Both LensRentals.com and BorrowLenses have ‘try before you buy’ options that can be good deals.
If buying used is the #1 tip for saving money, buying used bundles is easily #2. Cameras listed with multiple lenses /always/ sell for less than market price, especially if they’re classic auctions. If you’re a buyer looking for a particular camera (or higher budget lens), buy a bundle. I cannot stress how much money you can save here. Use our bundle builder to get an idea of the total bundle value (consider other goodies value too), and compare it to the sellers ask. Often you’ll find buying the camera and parting out the lenses will save you a ton.
Let's look at an example
This GH5 kit sold on eBay for $3,702 shipped. It contained a GH5 body, 6 great lenses, 7 batteries, and a small video rig. $3700 is a lot of money. But if you look at our totals below, the bundle itself is worth $4432 used. Then consider 6 batteries alone are worth $100 in the secondary market. The rig is probably worth about $100 as well. That’s a total of $4632 value, almost $1000 on a bundle that has a number of highly sought after lenses that could easily be parted out and sold quickly.
Use an auction sniper
After you’ve priced out that camera or bundle and know what you’re willing to spend, head over to http://auctionsniper.com (no affiliation) and setup a bid snipe with the maximum price you’re comfortable with. Then set it & forget it. Often your winning bid will be well below your max bid. And it’s always a fun game to see how much money you saved on autopilot!
eBay vs Forums vs Facebook
The benefit of eBay will always be turn times. The tradeoff in selling via ebay is that you take a massive haircut. Ebay will get 10% off the top (up to $250 commission) and PayPal will get another 3%. If you’re selling an A7RII right now at $1700, you’re going to net $1479 (before shipping).
If you sell on ebay, price your item right and sell “Buy it now.” If you are selling a very “hot” item or expensive item, list it %5-7 over market value with a “best offer” option – this will keep the scammers away or at least give you first right of refusal. If you only have buy it now with no offer to filter them through, they can “buy” your item without you having a say.
If you’re not in a hurry, play the waiting game and cross post on FB and the forums. You should still use a secure payment like Paypal, but you’ll save a lot of money and generally have a more personal/enjoyable experience.
Sell "Buy It Now" with "Best Offer" On Ebay
You want to do the reverse of what's best as a buyer, and price it right listing with Buy it Now. But price slightly higher and add "Best Offer" option to give you an opportunity to qualify potential scammer buyers. If you get a best offer from a buyer having a feedback of 0, you can simply turn down the offer - you don't get that opportunity if you simply have regular Buy It Now.
Do not sell a bundle
Not even if your camera came with a kit lens. Part it out! In our previous section we talked about how great it is for buyers who buy bundles. So don’t do it. You’ll get much more money parting out your system – this even includes anything beyond 2 batteries. You’re leaving money on the table selling a kit with 5 batteries. Lower your price, sell it with 2, and put the other three on eBay for $20 each.
Don't ask for PayPal gift
See our comments above on it. Just determine a price you need including PayPal fees & shipping. Buyers will love you for it.
If a “new” forum member doesn’t haggle be skeptical
Almost everyone on forum sales haggle. Unless you’re priced under market, someone will give you a lower than ask offer. If a new buyer who has very little forum history PMs you offering full price, do your homework on them as much as possible.
Bonus tip: two ways to research forum buyers/sellers for peace of mind:
- Before the sale agreement, google their username. Often people will use the same username on other platforms and you can see what circles they operate in. If you google their username and get absolutely no hits in Google, that can be cause for concern
- After agreeing on price, google the sellers email address. Like forum usernames, people will use their email in a number of ways. Often you’ll find a buyer’s email address will be associated with their employer – this is a very good sign. Sometimes their email address will have a name in it – google that too.
So there you have it. These are some of our favorite money saving tips for buying used camera gear online. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments below.