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Tips for Buying Used Gear

Here’s some top tips to consider when buying used gear. Whether you’re buying from a camera shop, a forum, eBay, craigslist or a friend, there’s a lot to keep in mind before you plunk down your hard earned cash. This is not a definitive guide, but some thought I wanted to share with you when buying used gear.

I would suggest that you look at your camera store’s used inventory before hitting the open market. Reason for that is your camera store is going to offer some sort of guarantee with a return policy and they have their business’ reputation on the line. Not to say it’s a bad idea to find used gear on forums, craigslist or eBay, but starting at your camera shop is a good idea and often the prices may not be dramatically different than from private sellers.

If you’re looking on forums, make sure that the seller has a proven reputation with good feedback, that they send you detailed photos and description and that the conditions of the sale are easy and known. Meaning that you can pay via PayPal and not some alternative method that seems complicated. Same with eBay. Make sure the seller has plenty of excellent feedback and that the terms and conditions make sense. If they’re charging ridiculous shipping fees, maybe a good idea to try to find another seller with reasonable fees. Make sure there are good pics and if not, ask for more. With Craigslist, be sure to arrange to meet in a public place like a Starbucks where there are lots of people around. Even before you take the time to meet, make sure the seller sends you good pics so you have a clear idea of what you’re buying and not wasting anyone’s time. Try to get the negotiation started before you meet so you know about how much money to bring and how flexible the seller may be on price.

Take your time to inspect the items your buying. With lenses, check for dust and fungus. Check for smooth focusing operation and smooth zooming. Check that all apertures work. Check that the seller has the original box and bits. Lenses are commodities and you will likely sell that lens someday, so the better condition and more original bits you get with it will help you sell it in the future. With cameras, again, take your time. Go thru the menus, try different settings, put on a lens, take a bunch of shots etc. Look at condition and wear and all the bits that come with it. It’s easy to tell when someone really takes care of their gear as compared to someone who is rough with it.

No doubt some of this seems totally obvious, however it’s all good mentality to keep in mind when looking to buy used gear.

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