Issue: Selling camera lenses on eBay. Difficulty: I am clueless.
January 11, 2014 6:51 AM   Subscribe

Well, I do have a little knowledge, but it is years past. Basically, I am trying to find out how to list camera lenses on eBay. Details inside.

The basic situation is that I used to fancy myself a photographer in college. So I had the obligatory Pentax K-1000 and some lenses and stuff. The camera is long gone but I have 3 lenses that I would like to sell. I am not asking for pricing info as I will offer this as auction, but I want to be sure that I am posting the correct info.

This is the basic lens info.
Sigma Fish-Eye Ultra-WideAngle 1:8 f=12mm
Telsor MC Auto Tele Zoom Macro 1:45 80-200mm
Vintage SMC Pentax -M 1:2 50mm K mount

I suppose the question is this: What should I be talking about in terms of condition of the items and what info would “camera people” want to see in a posting? Are there parts of the lens I should take closeup photos of?

I can add pix of the lenses in question as necessary to this thread.

This is not some huge sale btw...I just would hate to let these things sit any longer rotting away. If I can make a buck off it, great. If not, no biggie. What I absolutely do not want is to sell something that is mis-represented though.

posted by lampshade to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would probably list like this:

Sigma Fish-Eye Wide Angle Lens 12mm 1:8 for Pentax - like new

Take photos of the lens from each angle with good light. You can look at some other lenses that have sold on ebay to see what their photos are like. If you have a photo of every angle, you've got it covered. I like to take a photo of the lens from an angle so you can see there are no scratches on the lens. (Rather than head-on where the lens can just look clear.)

Also - check out the listings on Fred Miranda. There's a vibrant community of photographers buying and selling there as well, without ebay fees.
posted by kdern at 7:13 AM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You should do an ebay search for finished listings for "Pentax K-1000 lens" & maybe for the brands & for "fisheye", this will give you an idea of what people are getting for these lenses as well as how they describe them.

As an owner of Pentax equipment & occasional ebay shopper, I'd want to know whether these were K mount or screw on, and if K mount, whether they work with Pentax auto-focus etc (e.g. are they KA style?). Have you kept them protected by skylight filters, and if so are the filters included? Are there any scratches or cloudy spots on the glass? Does the mechanism work smoothly? Is there noticeable wear-and-tear, e.g. is the blacking worn down to bare metal is spots, are there dings on the edges? If there are none of these problems, I'd list in like-new condition; if there is moderate wear I'd say "used but excellent shape", otherwise I'd just say what's wrong.

If you're tempted to offer these starting at a buck, make sure the shipping & handling allowance is adequate to make it worth your while. There are lots of these old lenses around, they won't go for a lot.
posted by mr vino at 7:44 AM on January 11, 2014

Best answer: Photography on the net also has an extensive buy and sell forum where photo geeks swap out gear. I've had excellent experiences buying and selling there.

If you're wary of selling directly to individuals, you can always go with KEH, a company here in Atlanta that buys and sells used photo equipment. You can get a quote online and mail it in to them. You'll get a bit less than if you sold directly, but their reputation is top notch.

As for what to include in the description:
- The exact make, model and version information
- The condition of the lens and any glass parts you can see. In particular any scratches and dings on the front or rear element.
- The condition of the body of the lens. Including any blemishes and cracks and so forth.
- The exact price (quite a few people forget this) including any fees and shipping
- How you'll ship the lens (UPS, FexEx, USPS, etc.)
- Where you are now and where you'll ship it to. Sometimes you get inquiries from far away.
- Why you're selling the lens. What you have here is probably more than enough.

And plenty of good clear pictures of the lens, both of the front and rear lens elements and the body of the lens. Also good are some example photos that were shot with the lens, though I realize you might not have many of these digitized.
posted by Mercaptan at 7:46 AM on January 11, 2014

Best answer: Great advice so far. I sold a few lenses for my father on eBay and was pleasantly surprised by the bidding and prices brought. Unless you're a far better photographer than I, it may be difficult to show the lenses' exact condition, such as the absence of any internal dust or fungus. With anything of this nature where the condition of the item is critical, but difficult for the buyer to assess, it's important to offer a generous return privilege.

Here's an eBay guide, written from the buyer's perspective, that may help you construct the listings:
posted by Snerd at 7:49 AM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow! Thanks all. This advice is great!

fwiw, I know a bit about eBay selling (have sold quite a few items), but these items are outside of my knowledge.

When I get pix (later this AM) I will post them. That way, you will be able to see that I am bleating on about!

Thanks again!

Keep the suggestions coming!
posted by lampshade at 9:36 AM on January 11, 2014

Response by poster: Hi....the lenses in question........

The telephoto lens
The fisheye lens
The generic Pentax 50 mm lens
(they are kinda huge pix, but i wanted the better raw image to be put out there. If you want better images, i have a pretty decent eBay photo setup and can drill in)

If somebody wants more detail, I can provide that. However, what I am looking for are general guidelines for sale. Like I mentioned upthread...If I can make a buck off it, great. If not, no biggie.

From comments above, I must say, I am impressed with the knowledge being imparted as to selling these things!

posted by lampshade at 11:08 AM on January 11, 2014

Best answer: Not bad. You probably won't get a lot of money on Ebay for them. I'd be willing to bet the whole set would go for $100, tops. There might be a vintage or specialty forum where you could find a more focused buying market.
posted by Mercaptan at 12:57 PM on January 11, 2014

Best answer: The info you've listed already, plus check for any internal dust or smutz, and verify they're manual focus k-mount, without electrical contacts (for aperture sensing - that's KA mount iirc) . Do a quick google on the fisheye and the zoom, just to see if there happens to be anything special about them (there's exactly nothing special about the m50 f2. I like it, but it's dead common.). The fisheye is probably the only one that's going to see much interest.
posted by wotsac at 1:08 PM on January 11, 2014

Best answer: You won't get a tonne of money for those particular lenses. Photos are essential, especially close up photos of lens. Try taking a few photos pointing the lenses at a light with a wide open aperture - this helps show up dust and fungus. You will want to highlight no dust and especially no fungus (if there is no fungus.
posted by smoke at 2:49 PM on January 11, 2014

Response by poster: I'd be willing to bet the whole set would go for $100, tops

hell........if someone wants to pay for shipping, they can have them at zero cost for all I care. I just don't want to throw them away.

internal dust or smutz
there is smutz unfortunately. (sigh) This is partly the reason I asked this here before putting it up for auction.
posted by lampshade at 2:56 PM on January 11, 2014

Best answer: Couple things: List them and detail what you DO know. At the end of your auction wording add that you're happy to answer any questions potential buyers might have.

Also, I'm fairly certain you can't add "like new" in your title. eBay just doesn't allow that.

Also! If you can, try to locate the lenses in ebay's catalog. After you select your category, this will be an option. If you can find the lens and add that catalog listing it will lay out a ton of details for you.

Good luck! I've sold plenty of lenses on eBay (even ones with quite a bit of smutz) and made decent money.
posted by youandiandaflame at 4:30 PM on January 11, 2014

Best answer: Photographs - you need to show the glass and front ring, with the filters removed. For old lenses, the number 1 issue is that the glass has to be clean inside (lenses are viciously hard to work on. Nobody would bother cleaning a lens that isn't special). Issue #1a is to state manufacturer, model, maximum aperture, and mount. #2 mechanical: smooth focus and aperture ring motion. #3 paint and plating wear (brassing), is the filter ring (the threads at the front of the lens for attaching filters) straight or has it been bent? Bent badly enough a filter can't be screwed on? Are lens and mount caps included? Original or replacement?
posted by wotsac at 4:31 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I am taking this all into account.

great advice. thank you very much. this has been a very clarifying series of responses! exactly what i was hoping for!
posted by lampshade at 11:49 AM on January 13, 2014

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