Film photography is a unique industry because the majority of equipment you need must be bought used instead of new. Here are our top recommendations for buying used gear:
EBAY is a great place to find used camera gear, but there are a few things you’ll want to look out for when making a purchase:
- Check the seller rating. Make sure they have multiple reviews and that their rating is as close to 100% as possible.
- Only buy from sellers with a return policy. One of the biggest red flags for a scam is when something is not returnable. Make sure that the seller you’re purchasing from has a good return policy.
- Read the description thoroughly. Check to see what is included in the purchase: some sellers will sell camera bodies, inserts, and lenses together, others will sell them separately. When comparing two cameras from different sellers, make sure you know what’s included in each purchase price.
- Make sure the item title and description match. Items marked “Near Mint” and “Excellent”, are generally good indicators, but make sure the item descriptions support these titles. You can also look to see if the item has been serviced recently and if the seller says it has, ask to see a receipt for the service. Avoid gear that needs repairs or has a lot of dents and scratches.
- Check the cost of shipping and how long it will take to ship. Make sure the shipping cost fits within your budget and that the item will be shipped in a timely manner.
- Don’t be afraid to buy from international sellers. While some countries have long ship times due to customs, our team has found that other countries ship incredibly fast. Many of our team members have purchased gear from sellers in Japan and received their packages as quickly as they would have with a U.S. seller.
- Purchase through Paypal rather than using a credit card. That way you’re covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee and PayPal Purchase Protection in the event the item doesn’t arrive or is in a different condition than described.
FACEBOOK is another great resource for buying used film gear. One of our team members’ favorite Facebook groups is Film Photo Gear. This is a private Facebook group with participants from all over the world. You can also search film gear Facebook groups by city or state to see if there are any groups with sellers near you, or search by brands (i.e. Mamiya, Contax, Hasselblad) for groups selling specific gear.
KEH is a used camera equipment dealer. If you’re hesitant about buying from sellers on eBay or Facebook, this may be the best choice for you. All of their equipment is tested and given a grade based on the condition the item is in (click here to access their grading system). If your item does not match up with the grade and description when it arrives, KEH will repair it or give you a refund.
So there you have it…our go-to guide for buying used gear. We hope these tips are helpful with your next gear purchase!