I’ve only made the mistake of buying a camera system new from a photography store once. Every system and most of my lenses I’ve bought through Craigslist or Kijiji since. I know some people get freaked out by dealing with total strangers and forking over substantial amounts of cash in a Tim Hortons or Parking lot, though my parking lots deals are usually for paintball stuff I’m selling as pulling out a paintball gun in a Timmies tends to have negative consequences. Like the HPA bottle isn’t even on the gun people… Hello.
I bought both my last T2i and the one my Daughter is currently using on Craigslist. I still think the T2i is a fine platform and took more than a few great shots with mine. I would have strayed back into the store to buy a T4i when they came out but my wife went a little sideways on me over another camera purchase. Apparently three different cameras in a year was a bit much for her to take (even though I explained the reasoning behind it to her but she wasn’t as impressed by the new ASM focusing sytem like I was.) Her parting shot was, “Buy the camera you want and stick with it.” Well the camera I wanted was the 7D and I told her so.
“Find one.” was her reply, so I went on Craigslist and did just that.
The seller wanted $1100 for the body and he had just under 2500 actuations on the shutter. Shutter count is always something you should consider when purchasing used gear. I’ve always shot heavy, so my bodies tend to have high shutter counts, though my T2i which I sold to a friend just after getting the 7D hadn’t been in my hands long enough to run the count up too much. Anyway, as far as this 7D was concerned, it wasn’t even broken in in my eyes and it was four hundred dollars less than a new body in a store and you can add another couple of hundred for the tax as well. So to me it was a fair price. I should mention that I was in BC at the time, another thing I like about Craigslist, punch in your current city and let fly. I sent off an email and we set up to meet at his place. I picked up the money from my bank and headed over.
Anytime you’re buying from somebody I’ve always felt that the reasons for selling matter. Never be afraid to ask why the item is up for sale. In regards to photography it usually breaks down into five reasons.
1.) I bought this and it isn’t working out for me. Usually a specialty lens or mounting hardware goes with this reason. I got a very nice Lensbaby kit this way. The system simply didn’t work out for the photographer in question. I got a good deal on a system I’d been after for a while and he got to clear out some gear.
2.) Upgrading. The seller in question is moving up to bigger, better or different gear. In the case of my 7D, Bob loved the camera but felt that full frame was more his thing, so he’d upgraded to the 5D Mk2 and was covering a chunk of that by selling his 7D.
3.) Downgrading. The seller bought a DSLR plus all of the kit and then discovered the system was beyond his or her (oh lets be honest – His, most women are willing to learn over giving up) and have decided to go back to a point and shoot.
4.) They don’t use it. More common than you might think. People decide they want a hobby and spend a bunch of money getting the gear together. They even take a bunch of pictures but their interest fades and the gear just ends up sitting in a closet. These are the ones where you find the best deals, because they’re savvy enough to see the technology marching on leaving their system behind and the bottom falling out of their investment but they’re also motivated to make a quick sale. There’s usually a large amount of peripheral items to be had with this type of seller. Body + lens + camera bag + extra battery, etc. They might be a little high on the initial price but it never hurts to look over the whole package being offered. This is also the hackers haven. The place you’ll find that body you can convert into an IR camera etc.
5.) Clearing out the Camera bag. Face it we’re all gear freaks and the deeper down the rabbit hole you go, the more gear you acquire and at a certain point you do realize that you’re packing forty pounds of stuff up a hill and a camera backpack isn’t really made for hiking. So stuff goes on the market and usually at fair price. Sometimes at a steal of a deal. I picked up a Macro extender for a hundred dollars that had only been used twice – come to think of it, I haven’t used it that much either…. hmmm.
I’ll admit I’m not one for haggling. If I think the price is fair, I’m game, if I think the seller is a bit high, I’ll post a decent offer, if they don’t want to budge I move on. I can always come back to them in a bit if the item hasn’t moved and if it does, good for them.
In all the deals I’ve done on Craigslist, I have not come across any stolen merchandise or equipment but then you do get a feel for possible scams and act accordingly online. Buying hot stuff isn’t cool. The next camera gear to be stolen might be yours, why support that?
The other nice side to the whole thing is you get to meet other photographers. I still try to keep in touch with guys I bought stuff from if not to just show them what I’m doing with the gear I bought from them.
It’s nice to be part of a community.