At KEH, we know a thing or two about buying and selling used camera gear—after all, it’s been our bread and butter for nearly 40 years. And while we live and breathe this stuff every day, not everyone is as aware of the benefits of purchasing second-hand photography equipment as we are. Let’s change that, shall we?
The state of the market
Why should you consider buying used? Well, for one, you can save a ton of money. Unless you’ve got incredibly deep pockets, it’s basically impossible to keep up with the latest and greatest in the industry. Fierce competition in a technology-driven field has resulted in short product cycles and a constant stream of small, incremental upgrades that are periodically paraded in front of consumers.
And since camera equipment depreciates quickly but is generally durable, well-built and reliable, tons of quality gear routinely hits the second-hand market at prices well below retail. Here at KEH, that usually results in savings up to 40%—which makes buying used the smart choice.
Buy used and get better gear
When budgeting for gear, consider buying used and you can get something that may otherwise be out of your league. For example, with the money it takes to buy a new entry-level camera, you could probably buy a used, older mid-level camera that has superior specs and will ultimately better serve your needs. Experienced photographers often use this method to squeeze more value out of their budget and you should too.
The pitfalls of the early adopter
One advantage of buying used gear is that it’s time-tested and well-documented. It’s easy to research a lens that’s been out for several years—you can probably read hundreds of reviews online, see sample images and watch tutorials on YouTube to discover if it’s the right lens for you. A lens that’s just been released on the market and costs twice as much doesn’t offer much in the way of social proof and only time will tell if it’s worth the sticker price.
Choose the right reseller
The main concern that people have with buying used gear is that pre-owned items don’t usually come with the same guarantee as new products. This is why choosing a reputable source is very important when buying used. Here at KEH, for example, we put every pre-owned item through a rigorous 10-point grading process to assure quality and condition, plus we guarantee satisfaction with extended warranties and return periods.
Obviously, face-to-face transactions through Craigslist or local classifieds don’t offer that same level of reassurance, so only pursue those if you’re comfortable with the risks involved.
Save green—be green
Camera gear has a long lifecycle, so when you purchase pre-owned products, you’re extending the usefulness of those items and keeping them from being discarded. The last place a good piece of gear should be is in the trash, so by buying used, you’re not only saving money—you’re saving the environment!
More money, more options
Ultimately, the used market allows you to get more—whether it means more funds to round out your kit, more features for your budget, or more money for a fantastic trip to inspire new photos. At a fraction of the cost of buying new, pre-owned gear gives you the freedom to take your craft further than you would’ve been able to take it before.
There’s also quite a few benefits to selling your gear, but we’ll cover that another day.