Buying Second Hand Gear

I’ve been buying camera equipment for almost 3 decades. Over that time I have had the opportunity to purchase many thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Less than 50% has been brand new. I have to admit these days I tend to purchase new items over second hand. This is more to do with the fact there is no decent second hand camera store in the town I live in than only wanting to only buy new equipment.

Any opportunity I have to look at second hand gear I’m like a kid in a candy store. Last year my family and I were in Adelaide. I took the time to visit every 2nd hand camera store I could find. I managed to pick up for my eldest daughter a boxed Canon flash unit as new for less than half the price of a new one. You won’t find a bargain every time but you’ll find one eventually. You may even find something you never knew you needed until you see it for sale.

When out looking for the elusive bargain you need to take a few things besides money. After all there is no point looking if you can afford the bargain you find. I usually take 4 fresh AA batteries, a small torch and your camera. These aren’t for looking for bargains while the lights are out. The batteries are to put into any flash units to make sure it fires when you attach it onto your camera. The store will not necessarily have fresh batteries available. The torch is to shine into a lens to check for mould or fungal growths and dust. These will stand out more if you shine the torch in one end and you look in the other. You camera is the test platform on which you test the gear you’re looking at. Make sure it fits and works on your camera before pulling out the credit card.

The price listed on the gear is dependent on the demand for the item or the scarcity of the item. A lens that rarely comes on the market will have a price closer to new than a lens that comes in every day. But it won’t necessarily the final price. You never know unless you ask. However if you do your research before hand then you’ll have an idea what a fair price will be. Generally a unwritten rule is anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3rds the current recommended sales price. If you find the bargain of the century don’t haggle just test and buy quietly.

In my experience there are 2 types of secondhand goods, one where the shop owner has traded in the goods and will give you a guarantee on the goods, the other where the goods are being sold by the shop owner on behalf of a third party. These are known as consigned goods and usually have a small period of time in which you can test the goods and return them if required. It’s always a good idea to know under what conditions the goods are being sold under and to know the store policies on refunds and returns. I wouldn’t buy something from a store that won’t back up what they sell. If you test the goods in store and they appear to work then the chances are you’ll never need the guarantee.

Looking for the bargain is just part of the fun, in reality you’re recycling. Recycling is a good thing to do for or planent. If you can save money and the planet in the same day, then it’s been a good day.

Happy Shooting.


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