Have you ever thought about purchasing second hand camera gear? Used cameras and lenses can be a great investment, whether you are seeking to save some money or to plunge into the world of old and rare collectibles. Since a lot of photography equipment is made to last, buying pre-loved photography equipment is also a great way of supporting sustainability.
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Sometimes, photographers trade in or sell their ‘as new’ or ‘hardly used’ gear, meaning that you can pick up quite the bargain if you just know where to look. If you’re savvy enough, then you can get the best deals on cameras and lenses by heading to the used camera department of your local camera shop rather than shopping at retail stores.
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You can get great deals on camera gear when shopping second hand. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Aside from your local used camera dealer, where can you go to buy used photography equipment? It is possible to unearth some real treasures in the classifieds section of your newspaper or Craigslist. However, if trawling through the many hundreds of listings just isn’t your thing, then you may want to consider shopping for camera gear online.
Shopping in person isn't always convenient. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Shopping online is a convenient and easy way to search for pre-loved camera gear. Nonetheless, the best prices often come with the highest risk. This is especially true if you don’t have the chance to test something out before you commit to the purchase. Some online camera stores do not offer buyer protection either so if your equipment is damaged or defective upon arrival, then you may not have any options for recourse.
Trust plays a big part in shopping for camera gear online. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
In essence, trust is a very big part of buying photography equipment on the Internet. To help you score a bargain with confidence, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to shop online for second hand cameras and lenses.
Leica is one of those brands that may be too expensive for some photographers to purchase as new. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
KEH Camera is a photography store located in the USA. They’re passionate about photography and have been in the business for over 40 years, offering a wide selection of pre-owned cameras, lenses and accessories at fair prices to the public. Their inventory consists of over 55,000 items ranging from used DSLR and film cameras to mirrorless systems. You’ll find many popular brands here such as Nikon, Canon, Hasselblad, Pentax and Leica, all priced at up to 40% below the retail price.
Older Pentax cameras can be just as great now as they were when they first entered the market. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
The KEH inspection, equipment grading and certification system helps you to understand the quality of the items that you may be interested in buying. Meanwhile, their in-house service technicians are able to give you expert advice if you have any questions in relation to any equipment. In addition, the store has a 'Shopper Approved' rating of 4.8 out of 5 on consumer review website, Trustpilot, so you can rest assured that they’ll do their best to help you make the right decision when it comes to purchasing a second hand camera.
The trusty Canon AE-1 is a great way to experiment with film photography on a budget. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
All items purchased online at KEH Camera come with a 14-day “no questions asked” return policy, as well as a 180-day warranty. If you sign up for their newsletter, then you can get 5% off your first purchase on ‘like new’ products, exclusive deals, news, tips and more.
MPB is a marketplace for used photo and video equipment that is based in the UK, with offices in the USA, Germany and France as well. They trade in a vast range of photo gear across both Europe and America, offering thousands of items through their online store. Here, you’ll find everything from used digital SLR to compact system cameras, digital medium format cameras and even second hand drones. Popular brands include Panasonic, Olympus, Fuji, Sony, Phase One, Hoya, Zeiss, GoPro and Gitzo.
MPB even has equipment for drone photography. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
The in-house technicians at MPB check, grade and photograph every single item that comes their way. The condition of equipment is rated from ‘like new’ to ‘heavily used’, based on cosmetic wear and shutter count. Listings and photographs include what the items come with, so it’s important that you check them carefully in order to familiarise yourself with what is included and any components that may be missing from a particular piece of gear, such as lens hoods or tripod collars. All used items come with a six month warranty, so you can buy with confidence. They also have a Shopper Approved rating of 4.9 on TrustPilot accompanied with many great reviews.
You can find pre-loved bargains online. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Payment with MPB is fast, easy and secure. They accept major credit cards as well as PayPal. Although purchasing from MPB may not be the cheapest option on the Internet, you can bet that your gear will be in usable condition upon arrival.
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Any photographer will tell you that visiting B&H Photo in the USA is like a dream come true. While nothing compares to making a trip to their store in New York, the next best thing to do is to browse the used photography gear section from the comfort of your own home.
B&H stocks both rare and vintage collectibles. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
The B&H online catalogue is the stuff of legends. You’ll find everything from collectibles to modern cameras, covering both digital and film photography. In addition, they sell all sorts of used accessories, such as photography lighting, tripods, filters, cases, darkroom products, batteries, digital media storage, remotes, viewfinders, L-brackets and more.
You can even find photography equipment that is as new. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
With so much to choose from, it can be a little difficult to figure out what type of equipment is best for you. Thankfully, you can always call, email or speak online with one of their experts through Live Chat for a little advice.
B&H is a reliable option for buying second hand cameras and lenses online. They have a 30-day return policy as well as a 90-day parts and labour warranty. However, any claims for damaged or missing items must be lodged within two business days of receipt of merchandise in order to be eligible for exchange or refund.
You'll be surprised by what they have in their online catalogue! Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
The company has a stellar TrustPilot rating of 4.9, so you can be confident when making a purchase. Worldwide shipping is available while all major credit cards, PayPal, wire transfers, check and money orders are accepted. You can also use gift cards to purchase used camera equipment. If you’re a student, then you may even be eligible for some great discounts!
Swappa touts itself as a “safe and friendly” marketplace for smartphones, laptops, tablets, watches, home tech and, of course, second hand camera gear. Located in the USA, it is a special platform designed specifically for the purpose of buying and selling directly with other users. Cutting out the middleman results in less fees for everyone, so you can be sure to find some of the best prices and value for money when you shop through this community.
Swappa is a safe place for photographers to trade, buy and sell items. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
There are all sorts of photography-related items on Swappa, including mirrorless, action and DSLR cameras, as well as lenses and other accessories. Popular brands for sale include Canon, Fujifilm, GoPro, Nikon, Panasonic and Sony. The website has stringent listing requirements and does not allow any items which are broken to be advertised. Every piece of equipment must be approved by the Swappa team before it may appear online.
You can find all sorts of camera equipment on this marketplace. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Needless to say, the team at Swappa is helpful and their experts are available to offer advice via email to any questions that may arise during the buying process. The site has a Trustpilot rating of 4.8, meaning that you can buy with confidence. Payment is made through PayPal, where you’ll have the added benefit of receiving buyer protection for peace of mind. Shipping is free though for the moment, it is only available within the USA.
Swappa also has a Facebook Buy & Sell group that you can join to stay up-to-date on the latest used camera deals that are listed on the website.
National Camera Exchange
What’s better than a family-owned enterprise that has been operating for over 100 years? One that specialises in used photography equipment, of course! Situated in America’s midwest, National Camera Exchange is committed to ensuring great customer service, especially when buying online.
National Camera Exchange stocks all sorts of weird and wonderful used photography items! Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Their large inventory includes used and collectible cameras, lenses, lighting, accessories, flash equipment, camera bags and drones. Alongside the well-known brands such as Canon, Leica and Hasselblad, you’ll also find rarer names such as Voigtlander, Schneider-Kreuznach and Graflex.
Whether you're after Mamiya or Leica, they're sure to have something to suit you. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
The team is available to answer any questions during standard business hours via email or phone. When you purchase any camera online, you’ll receive two free vouchers to attend their in-house educational classes and events. In addition, all used camera equipment comes with a six-month warranty. If you can’t find something on the website, then they’ll happily assist you to locate the product that you are after.
Shipping is free for orders over $50 USD. International orders are not accepted online but may be made by contacting the customer service team directly.
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The motto at UK-based company, Jessops, is “image is everything”. When you look at what they have available through their online store, then you’ll understand why. While they’ve only been selling used camera equipment for the last four years, Jessops has a loyal customer base. They take pride in servicing every single piece of pre-loved photography gear that comes into their possession.
It's easy to shop online with Jessops' easy equipment condition rating system. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
In their web shop, you’ll find all sorts of cameras, lenses, flashguns and photography accessories ranging from ‘well used’ to ‘good’, ‘excellent’ and ‘mint condition’. Popular brands that you’ll see in stock are Fujifilm, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony and GoPro. Every item is individually wrapped, sealed and comes with a 12-month guarantee. If your purchase is faulty or is not as described, then they’ll organise a courier to collect it from you for repair. In situations where the item is unable to be fixed, they’ll arrange a quick replacement or refund. Returns are accepted within 14 days if, for some reason, you decide that you no longer want the gear that you’ve ordered.
Free delivery is offered on all UK orders over £50. Jessops accepts all major credit and debit cards, including American Express. Payment may also be made via PayPal or other finance options. They have a Trustpilot rating of 4.2 out of 5.
Ted’s is one of those places that you’ll find on a stretch of what is known as the ‘camera street’ in the CBD of Melbourne, Australia. Sandwiched between several other camera stores, this double-storey shop front may seem as though it only deals in new photography equipment though don’t be fooled! You’ll also find a range of second hand cameras, lenses and accessories in a range of models and brands, all of which are available to purchase online.
Ted's is a well-known name in the photography industry of Melbourne, Australia. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
Used camera gear from Ted’s comes with a 12-month warranty and 14-day exchange period, just in case you change your mind. Every item is inspected by their team of experts to ensure that quality standards are met. You can also seek advice using the Live Chat tool on their website before you commit to a purchase.
Shipping is free for purchases over $100 AUD. Delivery is within Australia only.
Let’s face it – if you don’t live in a major city within the USA, UK or Australia, then it can be difficult to purchase second hand cameras and lenses online. The answer to your woes might possibly be the world’s most famous online marketplace – none other than eBay.
You can find almost anything on eBay. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
People sell all sorts of weird and wonderful things on eBay, including rare cameras, vintage lenses and other photography accessories. While you’ll be able to purchase some items straight away, others are available as ‘auction only’, meaning that you’ll have to bid at the right price to win the item and take it home.
If you trust the seller, then it's a good place to find some amazing deals on photo equipment. Photo by: 'Unsplash'.
One of the major downfalls of using eBay to purchase used camera gear is the inability to inspect before you buy. You’ll also have to trust the seller’s description of the item completely without any guarantee that the item is in working order or good condition. However, if you pay with PayPal and something happens to go wrong, then you can always dispute the payment and try to get your money back. Shipping and import fees can also be quite high, depending on the country in which you live and where the seller is sending your item from.
Second hand cameras and lenses are a great way for photographers to upgrade equipment without breaking the bank. If you’re new to photography, then it’s also a good avenue for experimenting with camera equipment at a fraction of the cost of buying something new.
Used camera gear can provide you with the freedom to improve your skills and take your photography to a whole new level that you may not be able to achieve otherwise. Even better is the ability to shop confidently online for a huge range of unique pre-owned cameras, lenses, accessories and more.
About the author: Serena Dzenis is a landscape photographer based in Iceland. You can find more of her work on her website or by following her on Facebook and Instagram.
Have you ever purchased photography equipment online? What was the experience like? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!
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