Thoughts on buying used equipment from online vendor?


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Jun 1, 2013
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My daughter would like to get a camera of her own...she is a beginner like me. I have never purchased anything "used" before from an online vendor and wondering if buying a used camera online is wise/unwise?

And to that end, has anyone purchased any equipment (used or not) from B&H Photo? Oh my, I think I could lose half a day looking at all they have! :)

TIA for any advice.
Depends on the vendor!

Amazon has a good rep.. and have never had issues there.

Ebay is good... if your seller has a a good rep... and lots of sales. And does Paypal!

KEH is excellent for used camera gear, as is Adorama and B&H!

If you have someplace in mind.. ask us first! ;)
I have used Ebay quite a bit...but its a little different than buying from an actual "store".
Adorama and KEH have been very good to us. they also have a return policy even for used gear. (i think we got a 14 day return policy on the 180mm f/2.8 i got used from adorama)
Amazon as well, but I prefer to purchase from stores where Amazon fills the order, not the third party vendor.
I have gotten some very good deals on buying from private sellers.
I have never had an issue with a private seller.

But as mentioned, you have to keep your wits about you when buying from a private seller.

KEH, and the Used Depts. of Adorama and B&H are all highly reputable.
When you buy from a KEH, Adorama, or B&H the store is the seller (it's not like EBay where the store is just facilitating a transaction). They "grade" the condition of the equipment and they are reliable (if they tell you it's in like-new condition, it really is in like new condition. They'll also tell you when it's so badly beat up that it's probably only good for spare parts.) However... since they bought it and trying to maximize their profit, they picked it up from the seller at a lower value than the seller could get on their own, and they'll resell it for a higher value then you could get from a private seller. They "know" what the lens is worth and will hold out to get that price. You'll pay less than you would for "new" but you'll get a better deal from a private seller.

The catch is that when you buy from a private seller, you have to be concerned that they are accurately representing what they are selling. Does the seller know what to look for? Do YOU know what to look for?

Another possibility is to buy a "refurbished" camera. These are cameras that were returned, reconditioned, and sold WITH A WARRANTY.

You didn't mention what type of camera you have, but I'd suggest you buy your daughter the _same_ brand. This makes it possible to pool your resources for things like lenses, flashes, etc. so that you don't both have to buy what would amount to the same lenses because they're for completely different camera systems.
Typing on my phone at work, it's hard to multiquote lol but thank you so much for the advice and feedback! I will be back later when I can multiquote! :)

@ cgipson .... I completely forgot about amazon! :}
I've done well too with KEH and feel like I trust their ratings; I buy plenty from Adorama too although nothing used so far.

I've had a problem with using a third party vendor on Amazon and mostly stay away from those now. I don't buy much on ebay but if the seller's description is from wikipedia and/or they got it at a yard sale and know nothing about it, as a buyer I think you'd have to have enough expertise on camera equipment to know what you're getting into.
Is there a photography club in your area? If so, it might have a website where members can have items for sale. It can be a reliable source because members have reputations to uphold. Look, too, for refurbished items from Adorama. I have purchased both refurbished camera body and lenses from them and have purchased a used lens from a fellow club member whom I did not know beforehand.

Here a site that came up:
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