Photographers frequently buy and sell gear, whether that is because they like to try different bodies and lenses or because they would like to upgrade their equipment. So, what is the proper way to sell your old gear? I think I have found the best place on the internet.
Any of my photography friends will tell you I am a gear nerd. I love buying and selling gear, particularly lenses, and I love hunting down weird and quirky things to try out. This also means I tend to sell a lot of gear, both because I will sometimes try something and find it is not for me and because I like to get rid of things so I can find the next interesting camera or lens.
Selling gear always makes me feel more nervous than buying it for some reason. It is also more of a hassle, not just because I have to pack and ship all the gear (that is generally unavoidable), but because I have to deal with things like increasing commission fees and the like. eBay has gotten ridiculous, in my opinion, as their final value fee now stands at 10%, meaning if I sell a lens for $2,000, $200 goes out the door to eBay. Sure, eBay should get some kind of commission, whether that is a flat fee or a percentage, but I personally feel that 10% is quite exorbitant for the service provided.
So, I started looking for alternative places to sell gear. There are a lot of dedicated groups for this sort of thing on Facebook, some particularly large. The one thing eBay always had going for it that Facebook does not, however, is a robust feedback system. This made it a bit easier to trust the process of selling to strangers, as I could immediately see if I was working with a trustworthy person.
The other option is in-person sales. I have had decent luck a few times with this, though there are a few distinct disadvantages. First, when you are only selling locally, your market of potential buyers is severely limited as compared to shipping across the country or world. That might not be a big deal if you are trying to sell a TV or some other commonly used device, but with expensive, specialized equipment like high-level cameras and lenses, it can make finding a potential buyer a bit difficult sometimes. The other risk is simply one of personal safety. Advertising that you are in possession of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and where you can generally be found or met can leave you open to threats to your safety. There are things you can do to mitigate this, such as meeting in a public place, but it is still something to be aware of.
So, what do I prefer? I use Fred Miranda's buy and sell forums. The site was founded in 2000 and features an extensive forum network, including a very active buy and sell forum. So, why do I like it over other options?
First, it is a buy and sell forum by photographers, for photographers. This means that as a buyer, you can find pretty much any bizarre, esoteric body or lens you want, along with the more standard fare, which is great for gear nerds and working professionals alike. And with hundreds of new posts a day, there is a steady flow of options. And thanks to the feedback system, it is easy to trust who you are dealing with. Sellers also generally do a good job of conservatively rating the quality of their gear so you know exactly what you are getting.
When it comes to selling gear, those same benefits make it a much better experience. Since the feedback system covers buying and selling, it is easy to make sure potential buyers are not scammers. Furthermore, because the vast majority of people on there are professionals or passionate hobbyists, I have never had an issue with haggling. If you post your gear at fair market value, there is no reason to expect you will not get your asking price. There is also a convenient bumping feature to move your thread to the top of the forum every 12 hours — useful given the large number of items.
The best part, though, is the price. As I mentioned earlier, I left eBay because the commission fees had gotten out of control. Fred Miranda, on the other hand, does not charge any commissions for selling gear, only a flat fee to be a member of the buy and sell forum. The current price is $15 for 30 days, $29 for 3 months, $59 for a year, or $99 for two years, though you can buy things for free; only those who want to post items for sale need to pay for a membership. To me, it is easily worth what I save in commission fees alone, but the added bonuses of a robust community of professionals and dedicated amateurs looking to buy, sell, and trade equipment with other photographers make it, in my opinion, the most enjoyable and easy place to sell gear. I have personally never had a bad experience on the forum either as a buyer or a seller, and I have saved a lot of money by getting used gear I know I can trust when I need something.
The forum is definitely a bit on the older side in terms of design. For example, there is no way to filter listings to a specific brand or lens mount, but the search function works perfectly fine for narrowing things down. I have never had any issues navigating around the forum or finding what I need. Posting an item for sale is straightforward: you enter your item title, price, payment method, and rank its condition based on a list of guidelines. Then, you can enter a text description and post any pictures of the gear. Simple enough. Once it's sold, you have a chance to leave feedback, and you can mark it as sold so you don't get any further inquiries.
I recently moved from a combination of Sony E mount and Canon EF mount equipment to Canon RF, and I sold a ton of my old equipment on the Fred Miranda forum. It all sold quickly, at a fair price, without hassle, and netted me much more money than if eBay was taking a 10% cut. I definitely recommend it if you need to sell any of your own gear. Check out the forum here.