Where do you shop for used and new photography equipment?
June 2, 2005 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Where do you shop for used and new photography equipment?

I'm starting out on my own and looking for a Pentax K1000 or Canon AE1 or similar starter camera kit. I'm looking for a great place to purchase used (and eventually new) cameras, lenses, filters and all that other good stuff I am going to be learning about. I would like a website that I can really have a relationship with, someone who cares and doesn't screw me up the ass with "in stock" signs and "working condition MINT++++++" guarantees. In short, where are all the good guys?

(I would like to avoid eBay and Adorama since I've had bad experiences with them in the past.)
posted by dual_action to Shopping (13 answers total)
KEH.com or Ebay is where I go. KEH is good because you can trust their rating system on the condition of the equipment. I've never had a problem in the 2 or 3 purchases I've made from their website.
posted by trbrts at 9:41 AM on June 2, 2005

My father-in-law is a nature photographer (has a medium format camera and several expensive lenses, tripods, etc.). He uses B&H in New York. Their Web site is B&H. They also have a LARGE printed catalog they can send. I imagine it's expensive, but I don't think he's ever had a problem and he orders a lot...
posted by Slothrop at 9:41 AM on June 2, 2005

I agree with Sloth on B&H, they've never done me wrong. A buddy of mine bought a cam for his brother and had some problems with them (they come across like jerks on the phone) but they made things much better than right in the end. You can occasionally find better deals on individual items (camera bodies especially) but their selection is about as comprehensive as you could need.
posted by Jase at 9:58 AM on June 2, 2005

Oh yeah, for specific camera bodies and lenses, try http://www.pricegrabber.com to check prices, but be careful if the cheapest vendor is MUCH cheaper than everyone else, they are usually pretty sketchy. PriceGrabber has ratings right there, so you can compare.
posted by Jase at 10:00 AM on June 2, 2005

Maybe I'm not seeing the right section, but can you browse through the used selection on the B&H site? All I can find is the contact information.
posted by dual_action at 10:07 AM on June 2, 2005

Dual, used equipment is at the end of the list on the left side that starts with Audio-Professional. Also, in my experience you can look up the item you want as new, and just like on Amazon, if they have it used it will be listed also.
posted by xo at 10:16 AM on June 2, 2005

Thanks, xo! I see now, hit Used, then browse. I'm a little slow today, if you can't tell.

Thanks for all these links, everyone! I felt like I was drowning for a while there but this helps immensely. It's hard to slog through all the crap without some personal recommendations.
posted by dual_action at 10:28 AM on June 2, 2005

eBay, Henry's and Vistek though the latter is ususally high end equipment for professionals. I'd also check secondhand stores/pawn shops and Lens and Shutter.
posted by squeak at 10:31 AM on June 2, 2005

Yea, be careful with suspiciously cheap online prices. Some of those places have hidden charges, fine print that makes it add up to much more than advertised once you click "order," and it's hellish to fight them after the fact.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:07 AM on June 2, 2005

It used to be that camera shops (the non-virtual type, with walls and doors) were the reliable place to buy used equipment. You could walk in, handle the equipment, barter a little and there was probably an in-house short term (month or so) warranty. A lot of local shops made a healthy part of their profit from used trade. Such business has been almost completely replaced by ebay. Most shops now refuse trade-ins or consignment sales of used gear. Only those who are large enough to deal in big volume and have a significant online presence (KEH, B&H, Adorama) still find it worthwhile.

KEH have survived especially well by specializing in the used market and being one of the few places that are generally trustworthy in their appraisal and advertisement of equipment's condition. I've bought 'bargain' grade stuff from them which has turned out to be just as usable as 'excellent'. Who cares if a lens' aperture ring is missing a bit of paint, say?

The downside with KEH is that they're victims of their own success when it comes to inventory. Stuff in demand sells as quick as they list it (try looking for old Pentax A-series lenses that happen to work well with the new Pentax DSLRs, for example), so if you know just what you're looking for you have to visit often and be ready to snap up your object of desire. Just like ebay.

Don't dismiss ebay. There's a lot of well established sellers with good reputations in the photo marketplace there. All the usual cautions apply, of course (do your homework, know what you want and stick to it, get a good feel for the current market price, be patient, feedback matters, good photos matter, etc.), but it's generally my resource of choice for buying and selling used gear nowadays.

For new? B&H.
posted by normy at 1:38 PM on June 2, 2005

One other thought: K1000s have a deservedly good reputataion, but because of that, they're popular, they were manufactured over a long period, and many in the used market have changed hands many times. Because they're cheaper starter cameras, they're not as indestructable as you might think, they very likely haven't been handled as carefully as more expensive gear and used prices tend to be over-inflated for what they are, so getting a good one is a bit of a lottery. Consider a Pentax MX, instead, unless you're on a really tight budget, or if you are, some of the older Ricoh and Yashica bodies that used the same Pentax K lens mount can be a steal in good used condition.
posted by normy at 1:59 PM on June 2, 2005

The Camera Center has an incredible assortment of used cameras, they are honest and ship anywhere. If you call, ask for Greg.
posted by caddis at 6:40 PM on June 2, 2005

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