How to Find and Buy Photo Gear Cheap

As I'm sure you already know if you've spent any amount of time as a photographer, gear isn't cheap. You start off believing you just need a camera and a good lens, but next thing you know you're filling your online shopping cart with memory cards, batteries, camera straps, bags, and more. Since making a gear purchase is inevitable, is it possible to make your next purchase without breaking the bank? Absolutely.

As a professional photographer for the last eight years, I've made my share of gear purchases. Fortunately, I was able to make the majority of those purchases and save enough along the way that when I decided to make a change, I was able to do so without losing money. The techniques and methods I used aren't difficult and can be followed by anyone. I decided to share my top five tips and methods that I personally use to buy all the gear I've ever wanted saved tens of thousands in the process.

After posting this video, I managed to land an awesome deal on a Pelican 1660 case with foam that would have cost over $350 new for only $70! Deals like this are happening all the time, the key is to be patient and to use all of the resources I discuss in the video to keep an eye out for the best prices. 

What's the best deal you've ever found on a piece of photo equipment and where did you find it? Any recommendations you can share with the community for where to find great deals outside of the U.S.? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

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Jared Wolfe's picture

7 profoto heads( 4 acute d4 + 3 acute E) and 4 power packs( 2 acute alfa 24s + acute 2r 1200 + 600e) for ~$700. I did not get all of that in one purchase but through buying some good deals. Read the Ebay description. A lot of 'broken for parts only' stuff is actually just - 'havn' tested it' and sells at a steep discount.

I know eBay is not held in the highest regard given the amount of scams and misrepresented stuff, but two years ago I scored my 5D MkII--with only 441 shutter actuations--from there for $500. The listing was from a seller who didn't know much about the camera, couldn't get it to power on, and the camera had a crack on the top screen, but not the LCD. The listing photos showed a camera that didn't even look slightly used, and the number plate on the bottom looked as if it had never seen a tripod mount. I bought a new battery and a new screen cover, and it was brand new. What made it even better is that all the other bodies at that time were going for close to $1000 with insane actuation counts. Even now, with the low count (currently in the low 2,000's) I could probably recoup all of my money from it.

Jeremy Lusk's picture

Recently bought a barely used Mavic 2 Pro Fly More Combo for $1400 on OfferUp. (Retail is $1800+). Been seeing some other good stuff on there as well, and in a city as big as Los Angeles there's lots available for local pickup.

First and foremost for me is to be educated on the item that you are looking at, especially if buying used. In many cases, a great deal really isn't. You need to be smart about the item you are looking at to truly know the condition (as best possible) as compared to the price.

I have bought many items from Craigslist, ebay, Amazon (private sellers), and the used department from B&H. I have saved huge amounts of money by being smart on what I bought used or open box, although there is always risk.

I bought a "like-new" Blackmagic Ursa 4k v2 camera from an Amazon private seller, and found out afterwards that it had a mainboard issue that I was fortunate that BM would agree to repair for $2500.

So over-all, I am way ahead of the game and have great equipment that I have saved buckets of cash on, just need to be smart about it and understand the risks for savings.