How to Make The Most Money Selling Your Used Camera Gear

How to Make The Most Money Selling Your Used Camera Gear

You may have received a new camera or gear for the holidays, or you took advantage of all the deals in December and upgraded your kit with some new toys. But what about your old gear? Well, if you have decided not to keep it as a backup and have emotionally moved on, you might have decided to try and sell your old camera body or lenses. Now, it is time to maximize your selling price and get the most for your old stuff.

Before Listing Your Gear

There are about one million ways to sell your stuff both online and the old analog way these days. But there are a few key pieces of information you will want to decide and have on hand when it comes time to sell.

First, do your market research. See what your gear is worth. Google, search eBay, and browse Craigslist to see what comparable gear is selling for. You may be pleasantly surprised or thoroughly disappointed by the numbers, but this reality check gives you a ballpark range of what you can expect to get and what to list your gear for. Also, decide on a price floor that you are not willing to go under. Doing this upfront helps prevent some sweet-talker from getting the deal of a lifetime. Expect people to haggle and counteroffer over dollars and cents.

Second, take pictures, lots of pictures. Especially if you're listing online, you'll want to have every inch of your gear photographed well. Assuming you're a photographer, this shouldn't be too hard. Present the item well, with no distractions. Show areas of concern, like the lens' front glass and LCD screen. Include shots of accessories and the box if you still have it.

Finally, make sure everything is working correctly. Double check and triple check. The number one complaint with reselling items is they show up not functioning properly. Nobody wants to go through the return process and having to deal with upset buyers.

Selling on the Used Market

You have packaged up your gear and you are ready to sell it. But now. it is time to decide how you're going to sell. Be honest with your listing and give as much information about your gear as you can. There are three main options, each with their own pros and cons:

Auction

Sites like eBay are popular and offer a national and international buyer community to purchase your gear. You could have thousands of people interested in your camera or lens and that could result in a nice payout due to demand. But sites like eBay require a lot of backend work to get set up. You will most likely need to set up a PayPal account, connect bank accounts, and become verified. In addition, eBay buyers tend to be wary of brand new users who don't have a strong seller rating. Sites like eBay tend to side with the buyer in most disputes, but having a large corporation facilitating your sale can protect you from scams. Auctions can result in getting less than you hoped for since you have less control of the price and you have to wait days to see if your items sells. There are also fees associated with a sale that could bring down your net payout. If you plan to sell a lot of things over time on sites like eBay, it's probably worth the legwork of setting up an account and building up your reputation.

Local

Sites like Craigslist and apps like OfferUp make it simple to list your gear quickly and skip things like fees and shipping costs. Most transactions happen with cash and are person-to-person. List your gear with as many photos and information as you can. They not only make your listing more appealing and likely to receive an interested buyer, but all that information upfront limits the chance of a dispute. Set your price competitively, but on the higher end. Most people will make a lower offer than your asking price. Expect anywhere from 10-50% below your asking price.

Don't ship your items and always meet face-to-face. Meet in public and bring someone along if you feel uncomfortable. Account for travel time if someone lives a distance from your location and the cost of getting there. If possible, meet near your location. If someone really wants the item, they will make the effort. Finally, don't list your phone number until you have a confirmed interested party.

Another option is to just sell to someone you know. But usually that leads to the "friends and family" discount.

Store

Probably the simplest way to get money for your gear is to sell it to a used department of a local camera store or a site like B&H. Unfortunately, this will probably net you the least amount of money for your items because the reseller does all the work for you and has to make a profit. If you want quick cash and don't feel comfortable taking the time to meet people to sell them your old camera, selling this way is best and the tradeoff is probably worth having a little less cash in your pocket.

Shipping Your Sold Items

It is up to you whether to include shipping costs in your listing price or not, but many times, the cost of shipping an item is hard to estimate, so a flat fee is the way to go. Regardless, go an inexpensive shipping route and shop around. UPS, FedEx and the USPS can all be priced very differently for similar service. However, the number one thing is to protect yourself. Many sellers think the transaction is over once you ship the box out the door, when in reality, it's not. Make sure you insure your package for the purchase price, have a tracking number to keep for yourself and to send to the buyer, and require a signature to prove delivery. Packages can get lost, damaged, stolen from doorsteps, or any number of other unfortunate events. Protect yourself and your buyer so if a dispute does arise, you've protected yourself.

In conclusion, know what your gear is worth and protect yourself. People are always looking for a deal and can be difficult to work with when they assume you operate exactly like a retail store, when in truth, you don't. We all have horror stories of buying and selling used gear, so don't be surprised when something doesn't go exactly according to plan.

Log in or register to post comments

14 Comments

michael andrew's picture

By far my absolute favorite method is camera classified forums like
fredmiranda.com. Users have good ratings to choose from a transaction and the communities are very well behaved.

Craigslist is kind of a joke, it works but the high rate of scammers is nauseating.

Jozef Povazan's picture

It all depends where you are located and how you approach the sale process. All my used gear is sold on local craigslist, cash only, no shipping and works like a charm. Just sold a D750 used for 1 season, in Mint condition, with 60K Shutter actuations for $1850! It was bought a year ago for $2200. Buyer payed asking price no bargaining. Whoever is trying to bargain with silly offers I simply do not sell it and wait or ask my friends who wants a great deal and they get special price on it :) Never sold anything on eBay!

I haven't sold any gear, but I have bought used gear. B&H was mentioned; I've bought a Canon FD 28mm f2.8 and a Canon Macrophoto 20mm f3.5.

One reseller that wasn't mentioned is KEH (http://www.keh.com/). I bought a used Canon F-1N SLR with the AE Finder FN, AE Motor Drive FN, two metering prisms for the F-1N, and a bellows unit. They have a six month replacement warranty and also do repair work.

I will buy used gear from B&H and KEH again.

Andrew Feller's picture

KEH is my favorite place to buy used from... they also have a "request a quote" function that helps gauge what the minimum you should sell something for in your local market before resorting to just trading it in somewhere.

Tom Leonard's picture

I second that for KEH. I've never had an issue with buying their used equipment. Very reliable grading scale. Craigslist is my number #1 place for selling. We have a good CL community where I live and camera equipment goes fast and no need to worry about shipping. Plus I appreciate letting someone first try out whatever I'm selling and ask questions before they buy it; I don't like being duped and neither does anyone else.

Anonymous's picture

Spot on for mentioning shipping with any product. Several years ago, I sold my entire Magic: The Gathering collection. 7 full binders which sold for over $900. I shipped via USPS and I got a media shipping rate (for books and videos) but did NOT get the shipping tracked. As you can guess, the buyer said he never got it and paypal sided with him.

Sean Molin's picture

Once upon a time, eBay used to treat shipping insurance like it was designed to protect the buyer. Shippers would optionally offer insurance to you when you were purchasing their stuff. It wasn't until I shipped a high-end ukulele to someone and it got stolen in transit that I discovered insurance is 100% to protect the seller.

Kyle Medina's picture

Um, over price your asking, They'll negotiate you'd down to what it is really worth and what you want. Instead listing it at what you want and them talking you down below what you wanted. Ever watch Pawn Stars.

When it comes to selling used gear, the original box and any manuals or CDs will help you get a premium. I have every box from every new body, lens, and flash I have ever bought. And I always get top dollar when I sell locally.

Also, bundling your gear will net you the least amount. A body/lens combo is fine, but if you have multiple bodies and lenses, price them individually.

Kyle Medina's picture

I always look for the bundles. Gives me an advantage of getting a better deal when I ask if they will take $__ for whatever I am looking for.

Bundles are deals for buyers, not sellers. A local seller listed the following items (he valued them at $7,200) for $5k:

Canon 5D and 40D bodies with batteries, chargers, and grips
Canon 24-70 2.8, 70-200 2.8, 17-40, 85 1.8, 50 1.8, 28 1.8, EFS 10-22, and Tamron 18-200 lenses.
4X PocketWizard Plus II transceivers
Canon 580EXII, 420EX, and 3X Vivitar 285HV with AC adaptors
3X B+W 77mm filters, a Nikon 77mm CPLII
A bunch of other stuff that was certainly worth some money, like Manfrotto stands and clamps, a LowePro bag and Tamrac backpack, and misc bits.

That ad was up for months. He finally brought it all to my house. I was prepared to offer $4,200, and before I could, he said he couldn't go lower than $3,700.

Again, bundles are for buyers. :)

Usually I sell my stuff in my local environment but I came across this site: https://fairpict.com/ Looks pretty good... And the commission for the sellers is low... I think I'll give it a try.

Nice selling platform. Serious sellers and serious buyers. Easy to use!

Cody Slingerland's picture

For anyone looking for a place to sell their gear, and keep the most amount of their money, I'd recommend selling your gear on Grid50: http://grid50gear.com/

The selling fees are only 3.5% compared to 10% on eBay. Plus, it's a site dedicated to only photo and video gear.