Tips Buying Photography Equipment

Buying photography equipment can be a very confusing, expensive and frustrating experience. No sooner have you made a decision (after having carried out much research and working out the best deals etc), than a new raft of cameras, lenses and equipment are launched and you either have to start again with the research or (if you’ve just purchased) you might feel justifiably annoyed because your brand new and expensive camera has just become “old news” and doesn’t have the features that the new version comes with.

It’s difficult not to get caught up in this frenzy to own the very latest “super camera”, and many people do end up buying far more often than they intended. And that’s why eBay is such a great place for smart photographers!

eBay is packed with nearly new equipment which owners are unloading to help pay for the next big thing! Think of it: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the kit – not a mark on it in most cases and much of it may still be within the warranty period!

If you are on a budget but want top quality equipment, buying last seasons gear at rock bottom price on eBay can be a very smart strategy.

But how to make sure you don’t end up buying a broken, scratched, damaged camera and being ripped off..?

Here are my recommended steps to getting great photography equipment on eBay:

Check out the latest gear and see which models have just been updated or superseded by new versions. This will give you an idea about which models you can target.

Go to eBay and register for a free account. Also sign up for a PayPal account if you don’t have one (this is by far the safest way to pay on the internet and most eBay sellers will require payment by PayPal).

Search for your item by typing in a keyword at the top of the home page, for instance when I was looking for a great Nikon SLR to move up from my D40X I searched on the keyword: “Nikon D80” but you could also search on “SLR”, “DSLR”, “Nikon camera”, “digital SLR” etc. Searching on different keyword phrases and mis-spellings may find more products because some sellers don’t put good keywords in their auction listings – and that’s good for you because maybe less people will find the listing so you will have less competition when you bid.

Look at the listings for the model you are interested in and read the descriptions. Shortlist those which you think are most promising and click on “watch this item” at the top right of the auction description page. This will send the listing to your “My eBay” page so that you can monitor bids and information on your shortlisted cameras.

Some auction listings will give more information than others – if you don’t find specific information, you can ask the seller by clicking on “Ask a question” at the upper right of the listing page under “Seller info”.

Look at the sellers feedback for similar items – click their id under “Seller info” and look at any bad feedback the seller may have received over the last year or so. I advise caution if the seller has less than 99% positive feedback. If the seller has only sold a few items, the positive feedback should be higher – at least 98% and preferably 100%.

Also check to see that the item being sold qualifies for eBay Buyer Protection (this will be shown on the listing).

Look at all the photos for condition – BUT some sellers show “stock” photos so if in doubt ask the seller what the condition of the camera is.

Look at lots of listings to get a feel for what questions you need answered.

If everything checks out and you decide to bid, set a budget and stick to it! How much are you willing to pay for the camera. What is it worth to you? Decide and don’t go above this price when you bid.

One way of setting a realistic maximum bid price is to go back to the search results page and refine your search to find only “completed listings”. You can do this by checking the “Completed listings” button under “Show Only” on the left sidebar of the page then hitting “search”. Note: you must be logged in to do this. The search will then return only sold items where the auction has ended (some will have sold – these will be shown in green) and some will not have sold (this can be because the reserve price was not met or no-one bid for the item). The green listings will show the kind of deals people have made and give you a target price.

Remember – if you don’t get the first or second or third camera you bid for, there are always more being listed all the time.. Be patient to get the best deal.

Other ways you can tip the auction in your favour: subscribe to an auction sniping service such as hotsniper. This service will record your maximum bid and bid in the last few seconds as the auction ends – it will bid in increments to get you the lowest possible price and it does it superfast – no-one bidding manually will be able to compete so you may snag a real bargain! The other advantage is that you do not have to be there for the auction – hotsniper will automatically bid for you whether your computer is on or not – and you won’t be tempted to break your decided budget!

If you use an auction sniping service, you could target auctions which finish at times of day when others may not be able to bid – during working hours or in the middle of the night etc.

Bidding and buying on eBay is very safe now, especially with all the safeguards which have been built in to eBay and PayPal over recent years. I personally have never failed to get a great deal and only once had to get my money back (which I did with no problem). Why not get yourself a great camera for a rock bottom price – and have some fun pitting your bids against others.

You can even make this into your own small business and resell the equipment for a profit. Improve the listing – make it look great with really good photos and presentation and get a higher price than you paid!

Have fun!