Photography Podcast

PhotoNetCast #20 – Buying used photography equipment

Posted in PhotoNetCast Shows on 14-01-2009 | 13 Comments

Buying used photography equipment

After more delay than expected and after a fight with editing and processing, here it is the latest PhotoNetcast.

On episode 18 we mentioned that we would approach the “buying used equipment” subject. With everyone (ok, almost everyone) running a tight budget, used equipment can be a great way to upgrade your photographic inventory. But not only that, sometimes used equipment is the only way to get items that are not in production anymore.

Unfortunately, not everything is perfect with this approach and there are some risks involved. We discuss some of the things you should be aware when buying used equipment and how you can make the best out of your investment.


As always, your feedback is very much appreciated. If you have any other recommendations for online (or offline) locations for buying used equipment, make sure you let us know.

And if you can spare a few minutes, a review on PhotoNetCast on the iTunes store would be great.

Thanks for your support.


Show notes

Selected from the Web

Martin: The Commons (on flickr)—>Search it

Jim: DIY Bokeh

Brian: The Sky in Motion

Antonio: Proper Sensor cleaning

Comments (13)

Congratulations to Martin and his family on the new arrival!!!

Love the out takes at the end of this version of the podcast!

Hi Andrew,

Glad you liked them. Still don’t know if this is something that we’ll keep adding to the end. Let’s see the feedback from the listeners.

Hi Guys,

Great Podcast, as usual!

If you’re in the UK, local car boot sales are a great resource for cheap old film gear – I’ve found two Minolta SLRs, a Konica SLR and a Beirette Viewfinder, all in perfect condition, with cases and flashes. I didn’t pay more than a tenner for any of them. I just check that the shutter works, the film winder works, the focus and aperture work, the lens is clean, and the camera looks like it has been looked after (or at least just been pulled out of someones loft!) I always ask where the person got the camera and why they’re selling it – most of the time it was their parents and they’re clearing out their loft!

The tricky part could be light meters on old cameras, but I’ve been lucky enough to get models where the batteries still had power, so it was easily checked.

Another point about eBay is that when browsing items, always check Amazon or price comparison sites too. Many new, or nearly new, items listed on eBay actually turn out to be cheaper if you go to a proper online retailer!

Remember that brick and mortar shops have signs that they don’t match internet prices – however most Salespeople, or their Managers, can be persuaded to be flexible about this if they see a wad of cash…

Thanks again, Rob.

Thanks for the podcast – wanted to say that although it wasn’t a used purchase, I was browsing the Strobist site – ( a couple weeks ago – and came across a link to Midwest Photo Exchange ( – I happen to live in Columbus – so I went there to purchase a couple items at lunch one day, and when I walked in they asked me how I had heard of them – I told them Strobist – and when I went to check out with my purchase, they gave me their internet prices. Nice group of people there, and great purchase experience. They also have used equipment, and offer extended warranties on it – I overheard a conversation with a customer who was looking for her first dSLR and considering a used one.

I’m interested in the book! I don’t ever want to stop learning and I hear this book is pretty good…I’ve tried winning it twice before this but missed out both times 🙂

Congrats Martin! Any names yet?

As for buying cameras on ebay…Brian touched on it, but I’d suggest researching heavily about the camera you want to buy. There are loads of websites out there that offer camera manual downloads for free – use the manual to look for possible nuancies of a camera that a seller might overlook. I got a camera cheap because I asked questions casually but with hidden intent about the camera’s operation. The seller thought it didn’t work but I established that it did and scored a bargain.

As for the most I’ve spent on secondhand gear: $500AUS at this stage. For that I picked up a Horseman 45FA, 90/8, 150/5.6, 210/5.6, 5 double dark slides…which brings me to my next point. Universities are starting to sell off their film gear as the digital world takes hold. While the University knew the true value of the Horseman, because policy stated that equipment must be disposed of through a silent auction with no reserve I was able to score it insanely cheap.

Antique stores can be good too, but often over priced. Again, know what you’re looking for. I recently picked up an Zeiss Ikoflex for substantially less than the marked price because the dealer thought it didn’t work. Turns out it has some issues, but nothing I can’t handle.

One last point. Make friends with your local family run photo store. Often customers give their old gear in to them (I guess mainly film related, but lenses could also be given in?) and the store may not be interested in reselling for high profits, but if they know someone who’s interested…well let’s just say that I got a Pentax 6×7 for free. It needed a small repair, but hey, a freebie’s a freebie! I’ve also recieved “gifts” of expired film and other cameras. Needless to say I return the favours by buying what I can of them instead of cheaper on ebay – filters etc.

Oh, and as for the outtakes. Not too sure how I feel about them, but it doesn’t bother me 🙂

I’ve only recently started listening to the podcast, but am enjoying so far. After hearing this episode I checked out some pawn shops for used gear, but didn’t have any luck. Adorma camera sells used gear online and although I have purchased any used gear from them I’ve been happy with their service for new stuff.

And I’d like that book. It sounds good.

definately interested in the book, thanks for all the info

Hi Antonio,

Just found this podcast after reading your review of Tom Ang’s book “The Fundementals of Photography” -your review makes the book very appealing to the photographer – I am interested in winnning/reading this book – could you put me on your list of hopeful winners please – many thx !!

Your blog is compelling listening – I shall keep tuned

I have noticed here in the London UK more and more camera shops doing part-exch and also having a used equipment department – in some cases these exist as an ebay site

The benefit of buying used equipment from a store is that it is check by the experts and there is a warrantiy (in most cases) if anything goes wrong

Don’t think you get the bargains at a store that you guys (as in comments above) get though – well done !!

Indeed, I would love a copy of the book. Interesting that after photographing for so many years that I still continue to learn. Even fundamentals sometimes get obscured over the years and I like to regularly refresh this information to make sure that I am not missing the obvious. Thanks so much for making this available.

Thanks for another edition of your podcast! Would love to obtain a copy of the book since I am a newbie and I am sure the book would help me a lot to improve.

Best regards,


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