I've recently posted a couple of blogs about the best equipment for starting photography and vlogging, where I mentioned I would write about buying camera equipment second hand. So in today's post, I've gone through the different places to buy second hand (and new!) cameras and accessories. There's also some general advice of things to be aware of when buying second hand.
What can frequently happen within photography, is that someone takes up photography as a hobby buys every single piece of equipment they think they might need, a year or two goes by and they've not pursued it, so they sell all of their equipment. This is where a bargain can be found. The equipment has been barely used, but the price will be much cheaper than a brand new product. I've had almost brand new Bowens lights at half the new retail cost, and a Canon lens for just over half the retail cost as a result of given-up hobbies. The way people sell their equipment varies, and I'm going to talk a bit about the different avenues you can get a high quality piece of equipment for much less than the retail value.
Note, if you're buying a DSLR second hand, always ask for the shutter count/actuation. The shutter count is, funnily enough, the number of times the shutter has been opened (and therefore the number of photos it has taken). This can give you an idea as to how much the camera has been used, and how much life it has left. Generally, the more the shutter has been opened, the closer the camera is to death (so dramatic). For instance, a Canon 5D Mark II will usually last at least 100,000 shutter clicks, but the likelihood the camera will die after about 150,000 shutter clicks increases dramatically. You don't want a camera dying on you mid-shoot, so start looking around for a new camera at about the 100,000 shutter click mark. When buying a DSLR, anything with up to 20,000 shutter count still has a lot of life left in it.
I know a lot of people are a bit unsure about eBay, particularly when it comes to buying expensive photography equipment. I can understand being wary, but eBay is an excellent place to buy barely used second hand, and sometimes even new, equipment. When you've found something you want to buy, thoroughly read the listing, and the reviews the seller has received from other people. As a general guideline, try to buy from within the UK as you can risk buying cheap knock-offs from abroad otherwise. Also, pay with PayPal. If you receive the item and it isn't as it was advertised, or the product never arrives, PayPal protects you and ensures you will get your money back. Always opt for recorded delivery, and if the seller is nearby you can often go and collect it yourself.
On a related note, Curry's have an eBay shop. They sell both their full price items there, as well as customer returned items which will have a hefty reduction. Usually the products are returned because they aren't wanted, so are brand new but just had the box opened. I saw an unused Canon 5D Mark III on there for £1600 last year, at least £600 off the normal retail price. The products they have will vary, but it's definitely worth checking, and some products have a year's warranty included.
As well as selling brand new equipment, Amazon operates a Market Place where individuals and companies can sell their new and old products. If you click on a product you want to buy on Amazon, there's usually an option to buy New and Used and you can find the same product much cheaper. It's a good idea to check where the item is being delivered from, and to read the vendor's reviews.
There's a number of larger photography shops that also sell used equipment in addition to brand new. They often stock the used equipment in store, so you can go and have a look or try them before you buy.
Calumet have a few stores across the UK as well as an online shop, and have some very competitively priced used equipment.
Wex Photographic have a big showroom in Norwich, but are also well known for their extensive selection in their online store, with a great used equipment section.
Park Cameras have two stores (in London and Brighton), with a good selection of used equipment available online too.
Ffordes is possibly my favourite on this list. I was up in the Highlands in Scotland visiting friends when they mentioned a really good photography store not too far from them. We paid a visit and I've never seen a place like it. It's a medium sized store but has shelf upon shelf of new and second hand equipment. They were very happy to let me try some really rare (and suitably priced!) lenses on my camera. They list all of their stock on their website, which includes a really great key to give you an idea of the condition of the used equipment. It's obviously not the most convenient shop to visit, but worth going if you're ever in the Highlands, and the website is very comprehensive.
I've included these websites on this list because, although they're not second hand, they are very competitively priced. They sell equipment for much cheaper than you will usually see as most of their stock is imported. This can sometimes be an issue from an insurance perspective, as some insurance companies need VAT receipts not offered by these sites, or won't insure imported goods. I also cannot guarantee that everything from these sites is genuine, so I would recommend caution. I have heard particularly good things about Panamoz, however. The products are genuine and they have excellent customer service.
Your Local Camera shop
It is always, ALWAYS, worth checking with your local camera shop. They are usually very competitively priced with a good selection of used equipment, with unsurpassed knowledge of anything photography related. Plus, there's not many of them left any more, they're vital to the photographic industry, and it's always good to support small, local businesses!