Frequently I hear students say that they don’t have much in the way of photography gear due to cost of ownership. It is true that photography gear is not cheap, unless it’s cheap quality and hence gives cheap results. I’ve had quite a few students ask me how I have acquired so much gear in the last 18 months and I tell them all the same thing, you have to know how to find the deals.
1. Craigslist – Craigslist can be one of the best places to get a good deal on most anything, especially camera gear and lenses. I have bought numerous pieces of gear on this site, but you have to watch out for scammers and always meet people in public places like a coffee shop or store parking lot during the day.
2. eBay – eBay is handy for buying items too as you can find more sellers on there since they are world wide. The problem is you also run into more scammers. Also since you are buying on-line, there is no way to check out the item in person and you can get burned.
3. Pawn Shops – Pawn Shops are a great place to buy used gear and they often have no clue what they have. A person goes into a Pawn Shop to pawn their gear and the shop looks at what the gear sells for on eBay and then offers the seller like 25% of the actual value. If the person forfeits and the Pawn Shop can then sell the item, it is usually months later and the shop doesn’t really keep track of the value, they just price it to make a profit.
4. Local photography clubs – Often times you can find local photography clubs and there will be members selling gear from time to time.
5. Warehouse stores – Another good place are warehouse stores like Sam’s or Costco. Here you are buying new and getting a warranty and you get the better pricing offered by someone that can leverage volume pricing.
6. Amazon – Amazon is another great place to get camera gear and anything else. They have a wide selection of lenses from Canon’s FD to EF and Nikon, Sony and others as well.
The big thing to remember buying used gear is that you can get burned if not careful. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is but sometimes you do get lucky and the person has no idea what they are selling. I personally bought a Canon EF 70-300mm IS USM lens at a local pawn store for $200 in mint condition. This lens new retails for $900. I also bought a Manfrotto tripod at the same store for $50 and it was missing the release plate that attaches to the camera. I bought a new plate for $7 on Amazon, the tripod with the fluid movement head turned out to be worth $500. Just remember, if you buy used, test it good before you part with your hard earned money. Meet them somewhere public for safety and test the lens or whatever it is on your own camera body to make sure it is fully operational, NEVER take the seller’s word for it.
Good luck with buying more gear and get out there and make some awesome images!