My Experience of Buying Used Camera Gear From MPB

My Experience of Buying Used Camera Gear From MPB

Buying used camera gear doesn’t mean just private parties anymore. Commercial sellers have entered the market of used gear, and it’s a growing business. I tried out one of them and was quite surprised.

Why Do I Buy Used?

“Start with a used one!” That’s my typical answer to whoever asks me which camera is “the best.” With a limited budget, you will almost certainly get a better body or maybe (and even more importantly) an extra lens.

If I had to choose between buying a new camera with a kit lens or its used predecessor with good glass, I’d almost certainly go for the latter. There is just one exception: if I really want to have a camera because of a certain feature like good IBIS, a new sensor, or 4K video recording.

All of my current F-Mount lenses had several owners before they found me.

An important argument (even though not game-changing if I really needed a new camera) is the impact that our consumption has on our environment. There is far enough waste on this planet already, and producing new cameras also needs some energy and resources. On the opposite side of my brain, you will find another thought: I need gear! Yes, I’m a victim of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), too. So, instead of stockpiling or giving old gear to the trash, I buy and sell whenever I feel like it. Giving and taking. That’s how it works.

Selecting a Camera Shop For Used Gear

For a long time, I was planning to get a “new” camera for two reasons: firstly, I needed a good backup for my old Nikon D750. Secondly, I wanted to have a smaller body. My Olympus OM-D E-M10 became my favorite walk-around camera, and since I have had it, I’m in love with the MFT system. I know, it’s not for everyone, and it surely has its downsides (ISO, bokeh, resolution you name it). However, it was clear that my backup would be an Olympus E-M1 Mark II.

My first tiny MFT was also bought from a private party.

I simply didn’t know it would happen that quickly. My beloved Nikon D750 turned its back on me. It showed an error on the display which I couldn’t get removed by the common workflows. I wanted to keep it and repair it, but due to current lockdowns and the fact that I’m not in my home country (and not even living at the same spot for a week in a row), I couldn’t get it fixed quickly. Yet, I needed to shoot photographs.

In Portugal, where I currently stay, it’s really hard to find good deals online. Most of them come from abroad, the best from the UK. As some of my British friends didn’t receive their care packages or Christmas presents from home, that’s a big risk at the moment. I also can’t go out and find some private sellers, because of the restrictions on travel and social gathering.

What I needed was a seller who could make me a cheap and good offer. Quickly. In another country. With fast delivery service. And I found one! If I lived or stayed in the U.S., I probably would have gone for B&H. Their used department is really big and more importantly, cheap. It would take too long to get it overseas, though. In Europe, MPB is currently a rising star on the market for used cameras, and they had exactly what I needed.

Buying a Used Camera Under Pressure

You need to know what you are searching for.

The search function on the website needs you to write the model name exactly like it’s registered. “OMD EM1” wouldn’t work, and if I didn’t place the “Mark II” into the search option, it would only show you the Mark I. Luckily, I found that out before I threw in the towel.

There were two camera bodies labeled “excellent.” One was a little cheaper because it was missing the original packaging, which I couldn’t care less about. A proper everyday lens from the Olympus Pro series was also found quickly, condition “Well Used,” which is my favorite. It was described as functioning, but with marks of usage. At MPB, you get a lot of detailed information about the condition of your future gear. Everything has been checked and rated by a specialist. Even detailed issues like “the lens feels a little stuck when completely zoomed out. It doesn’t affect its functions, though” are mentioned. Sounds bearable, just like the price.

The lens and body cost far less than a new E-M1 Mark II with a kit lens and also far less than a new E-M1 Mark III Body without a lens. Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” was playing in my head while I moved on to the payment. I became excited.

Everything was done quickly and easily. MPB offered international express delivery for a little extra money. I could even select the date of delivery. From other packages I received in Portugal (my car broke several times, here), I knew that the normal delivery takes 7-10 days, sometimes more. I still gave MPB five days. It was a Saturday evening, and I knew that I’d be at a place with a proper address on Thursday. Ordered, Confirmed!

Quickest Response Ever

Then, I waited. Saturday became Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and I got nervous. The money hadn’t been debited from my PayPal account and neither had I received a delivery confirmation or a tracking code. Would I get my package on time?

I got so nervous that I sent a friendly message via MPB’s contact form, asking if it was still possible that the package would reach me on Thursday. Then I tensely laid back, waiting for an answer. It reached me after five minutes! I don't think I have ever gotten a response to a service email that quickly. And a positive one as well: "There hasn’t been a problem, the package will be sent today. Express delivery can be done even within a day. Cheers!"

Description Matches Condition

Soft and sustainable wrapping enlivens the shopping experience.

Thursday came, and I got my new camera. I was a little bit nervous about its condition, though. Only once in my life did I buy a used lens without personally checking it. It was broken when I received it. I don’t really expect a company with such a good reputation and so many five-star ratings like MPB to rob me blind, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure either.

Unboxing my new camera was already a nice experience. No unnecessary plastic wrapping like you're used from other online marketplaces. No giant package for small products, either. Everything fit, from the recycled materials to the minimal but safe wrappings. This company is working on its image of sustainability. And they caught me. When unwrapping already feels good and your heart is beating faster, holding the camera in your hand is the cherry on top of it. I felt like a child at Christmas.

Did someone even use it?

The camera and the lens could not have been described any better. Everything fit. The “excellent” body didn’t show any marks and could have been sold as “new” if one managed to hack the shutter count. The lens, on the other hand, had some slight marks on the focus and zoom rings. Also, the lens cap didn’t really look brand new. That’s it. No scratch, only the slightest hint of dust. A little more than half the price of a new one. And yes, there is a funny feeling when you zoom out.

Clean glass, just the way you want it.

The only problem: The battery wasn’t charged. Hence, I spent a few hours staring at my new charger and waiting for the blinking light to turn green. When it did, it started to rain outside. I felt a little disillusioned, but also grateful that I managed to get such a good deal. The rest of the evening was spent pixel-peeping inside.

Conclusion

The next morning was still wet, but who can resist a "new" camera?

At least in my case, buying a used camera at MPB was a great choice. I got what I was promised, and when I looked at other people’s ratings, most of them seem to be equally happy with MPB’s service, no matter if they bought or sold products. Especially when you need something urgently, their international express delivery rocks. Even though they only deal with used gear, MPB takes their business as seriously as any other store, maybe even more seriously.

What I Liked About MPB

  • Clear and understandable description of the products along with photographs
  • Products matched the description
  • International express delivery on time
  • Quick response time via the contact form
  • 12-month warranty

What Could Be Improved

  • Improve the search function on the website
  • Batteries could be at least a little charged

As a side note: This isn’t a sponsored article but an honest review. I didn’t receive any money or bonus but had to pay the full declared price for my products. MPB is available in Europe, the UK, and the US under here. Their offices are in Berlin, Brooklyn, and Brighton. Alternatives are KEH or B&H.

Do you have experience with MBP? Let us know in the comments below.

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22 Comments

Eldon Herrath's picture

I just went to MPBs site and looked at a specific model of Nikon. They had many to chose from and looking at the ratings I saw two that were " excellent" for the same price. One had 18,000 shutter count and the other had 380,000 shutter count. Also there more of the same model with shutter counts all over the map all rated excellent. Obviously their judgement on condition is questionable.

W Mitty's picture

I have bought quite a bit of used gear from MPB and I have always found their ratings to be accurate. If anything, they tend to be too hard on grading. I have bought gear that they have rated as "good" that looks like it is right out of the box. I would suggest that you not judge them unless you have dealt with them. MPB, KEH, B&H, and Adorama are all top-notch sellers with impeccable reputations and integrity. And I think you might find that rarely is shutter count a strong influence on condition rating from any used equipment seller. In fact, MPB may be the only large reseller that provides shutter count.

Eldon Herrath's picture

I have bought from them a few years ago, very disappointed. I have bought from KEH for years and expected the same experience from MPB. Two " excellent " Nikons with shutter counts miles apart doesn't make sense. Just my two cents.

W Mitty's picture

It was unkind of me to jump to the conclusion that maybe you hadn't dealt with MPB. My experience with them has always been positive. I have always found them to be helpful, knowledgeable and forthcoming. I'm sorry to hear that you haven't had the same experience.

Max Wiltshire's picture

I bought a Nikon D610 from MPB a while ago and had to send two bodies back before I got one that was acceptable. The first back-focused like crazy (with all of my 7-8 different lenses even after maxing out the AFMA settings). The second had been used by someone with incredibly sweaty hands and was caked in grime so badly that the live view switch wouldn’t turn at all. Both these were sold as “Good” and in full working order.

After finding the email address of MPB’s founder online and emailing him direct he stepped in and got a D610 body in “Excellent” condition sent out to me at no extra cost (I’d paid for “Good”). This last body worked a treat.

So, MPB did come through in the end but it was a bit of a palaver. I wouldn’t put too much trust in their condition ratings - they clearly didn’t do much on the way of inspection on my first two D610s. In the UK I have found London Camera Exchange and Wex to be more reliable (bought about 10 items between them and no issues).

Jeff McCollough's picture

B&H used prices are not cheap.

Nils Heininger's picture

It seems it depends what you buy. When I first compared it, I found that some setups were cheaper even if I had to ship it to Europe. I was quite astonished. When I take a look at some other bodies, now, you might be right, though. In the end, one should always compare among different sellers.

Matt Williams's picture

Adorama has the best used prices out there. I regularly look for items in V (very good) or G (good - the lowest rating) because they are dirt cheap and I have never been let down by any of the dozens of items rated V or G - they almost always look excellent. If there is a big issue, Adorama puts a note, e.g. "Scratch on LCD screen."

Literally just bought a Fuji 18-55 in G condition for $219 and it's in great condition. Got an Olympus PEN-F in G condition for $489 a month ago. I love them.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Well that's a good deal for that Fuji 18-55. Used Fuji prices at B&H suck.

Matt Williams's picture

A lot of B&H used prices suck. Oddly, I've seen a few Leica digital rangefinders for a good deal on there.

But Adorama is even better, they just disappear quickly. Can't tell you how many times I've let something sit for half a day or even a few hours and then it's gone. I check their used site almost every day, in the categories I'm looking for stuff in obviously.

Jay Gaffney's picture

Link to MPB in USA is bad. It is missing one "w". It should be http://www.mpb.com/

Andy Day's picture

I bought the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 from MPB. Very straight forward, arrived promptly, conditions as described.

I've also sold several items and their collection service makes the whole thing refreshingly easy. They even upgraded one quote because they judged it in better condition than I described it, and another because I included a battery charger (for an old GoPro) that I'd previously forgotten to mention.

Nils Heininger's picture

Yep, here in Europe (feels so weird to not include you people anymore) most of their reviewers were quite surprised because of the uprating of their gear.

Kim Jensen's picture

A few weeks ago I sold my old Nikon D7000, the kit lens, and a Sigma 10-20mm lens to MPB in Berlin. In stead I got a Fujifilm X-T2.
I have only good to say about them. They arranged for dhl to pick up my old gear. When they received it two days later the agreed on my own estimate about the condition, and confimed the stated price.. I then paid the difference between my gear and the Fuji. It arrived a few days later in "as new" condition.
I don't think I would get/pay better prices on ebay, so it is much easier and less risky to use MPB I think. I will definately do it again-

J Cortes's picture

I've used MPB USA quite a few times and have had an excellent experience with them. The only time I had an issue with them is when I've tried to make a return where there was traded in gear as part of the purchase. It can take a little while for your return to go through. However, I've always gotten my return as promised. The bottom line is MPB is my preferred go-to for trading in and purchasing used gear.

Eddie Mikell's picture

I have purchased and sold $$$ cameras on MPB. Never an issue, and always feel I have received more that I paid for. Staff are fantastic. Never use ebay - always use MPB.

Malcolm Wright's picture

I've used both MPB and WEX with no issues, here in the UK. So far MPB has mainly been for purchases of Canon Lenses, all of which have been as described. The UK delivery from both has been excellent.
I did look at MPB's Olympus EM-1 MKII bodies, but they didn't carry a shutter count, so I went with WEX for a part exchange of a Canon 7D MKII plus a good condition Tamron 70-300 lens for a nearly new EM-1 MKII body (less than 1,000 actuations).
Currently I'm debating trading in all my Canon gear at MPB and moving completely over to Olympus because MPB has a bigger choice of second hand Micro Four Thirds lenses. I've only ever had Canon's APS-C sensor cameras so the difference between a 1.6x crop factor and a 2x crop factor is neglible.
I also look at Ebay but the price differences are all over the place and you don't usually get any form of warranty, unlike those offered by buying direct from business resellers.
My most recent purchase is a genuine Olympus BLH-1 battery, second hand, from MPB for far less than most (not properly functioning) 3rd party batteries, and it is perfect.

Claude Vogel's picture

I have sold 3 sets of hardware over the years. The first one was a set of H4D-50 and lenses sold to KEH, lower than I expected but a very clean transaction. The second instance was a mix of vintage (Hasselblad and Leica) and recent (Sony) gear and I didn't adore the experience one bit. I had to literally bargain over the phone. Horrible. Then last year I sold a sony a7r4 and 5 lenses, and a Fujifilm 50r, through MPB. Their quote has been $2K over the competition, and there were no shenanigans after receiving the gear. I will reuse MPB in the future and highly recommend their professionalism and honesty.

Matt Williams's picture

Selling to KEH is garbage.

I sent in a number of vintage lenses and cameras once because they offer free shipping even if you decline. They give you the minimum price paid for an item in Bargain or Excellent or Mint condition when you do the quote.

They disagreed with me on a few that I rated Excellent, they said Bargain. Ok. But then the final quote they gave for everything was 25% of what their online MINIMUM quote says they pay. Yes, taking into account the adjusted price based on the few they disagreed on.

I literally just replied "hell no, send it back."

But I am a VERY happy customer of theirs as a buyer.

Joe Crocco's picture

I just recently had my first experience with MPB and I can say it was a total pleasure. I've been migrating from Nikon to the Fuji system and replacing my camera bodies and lenses. I traded in a Nikon D800 for a Fuji X-T3. The online process from quote, to trade, purchase and delivery took all of five business days. The trade in price offered on the Nikon was fair. The X-T3 was rated in like new condition with original packing. The condition of the Fuji was exactly as described and I felt I was unboxing a brand new unit that was factory sealed. All of the original packing for the accessories and manuals was untouched and never opened. I would not hesitate to recommend MPB to anyone looking to buy, sell or trade used equipment.

Paul Johnson's picture

I’ve bought used cameras and lenses MPB in the UK and never had any issues. First class service and always prompt delivery and packaged very well.

John Jennings's picture

I love these guys as both a buyer and seller. Thumbs up.