I found my copy of Canon’s EF 20-35mm F/2.8 on eBay of all places, and while I don’t typically sell on eBay, I’ll buy like no other. People are worried about scams and not receiving items as described, but in my experience of buying upward towards 500 expensive items, I’ve only had issues with only about 5 items, all of which eBay’s buyer protection had back. I’ve bought lenses, computers, cameras and all sorts of random things for photography (often finding that some stores like Adorama, Newegg and Best Buy, exist), as well as other household items and even props. It’s really convenient, and you can save quite a few extra dollars if you do things right.

Save some cash and eBay smart like me!

I like using eBay to save a little bit of money on some used items, and this is how I do it. eBay has a program called eBay Bucks. Basically it’s a reward program that gives you 2% back on most items that you purchase, and it’s credited toward your eBay account for use on other purchases– you do have to sign up for it to take advantage of it, so Google it! You can then use another rewards credit card, such as Citibank’s Double Cash card which gives you 2% (1% on purchase, 1% on payment), to reclaim some cash. And occasionally, eBay will run promotions on eBay bucks, sometimes giving you 4% back on the purchase to use on future purchases. So sometimes, I can save up a good amount of rewards! Oh, and remember, there’s no tax!

I only go for listings that have a lot of photos on it and only buy from people who have a decent amount of feedback (more than at least 20). I feel that if they don’t have feedback, the likelihood of wasting some time may go up. For auctions, I’m pretty evil and I use the sniping method of bidding which is basically waiting till the very end of the auction and bidding the maximum amount of money that I would spend on the item. That’s if I’m feeling really patient and can wait until the auction ends. Most of the time though, I end up searching through the listings in the Buy It Now category and filtering things by most expensive to least expensive then finding the range that I want spend– keeping in mind the photos and the condition of the product. If I’m worried about listing and its legitimacy, I’ll often try to contact the seller to find out more information like a picture of the serial number and any flaws. If something doesn’t feel good about the transaction though, don’t do it. Trust that gut feeling!

Screen Shot of eBay Transaction

Now, what did I find?

The lens, Canon’s EF 20-35mm F/2.8L, is Canon’s first professional wide-angle zoom lens that has seemed to be forgotten. This is the best bang for the buck for anyone looking for a pretty stellar wide angle lens for a Canon body. I picked mine up for just under $390. Buy it Now options are all over the place ranging from $380-$600, depending on the seller. I got mine from Japan and found a listing that had loads of pictures showing the condition and any blemishes (thankfully, mine didn’t have any). Those pictures are important. Whenever I pick up something expensive, I end up taking pictures right when I receive it, including the box before I open it. I do that just to cover my butt in case I have to use eBay’s Buyer Protection and have to file a claim. Better safe than sorry. It really didn’t take long to get it to my door. I think it was about a week, and after inspecting the box, the lens and mounting it to my camera, I calmly accepted it and felt good about my purchase– and the money saved. If you were to buy this lens– really make sure that the lens works and is like what the seller described. While the specific copy of my lens works really well, I’m sure others have been abused and don’t work super well– file a claim right away with eBay Buyer Protection.

Canon EF 20-35mm F/2.8L

Canon’s newer lineup consists of their 17-35mm 2.8L, 16-35mm 2.8L (which replaced the 17-35mm 2.8L), and the 17-40mm 4.0L in the order of their release dates. With the exception of the 17-40 4.0L which is made of a plastic body, those lenses are also in the order of their price tags. Those new lenses range from $600-$1300, which, if you’re penny pinching, can be slightly painful to your bank account. This lens has been spectacular for my film bodies. It makes a different noise than the newer USM lenses, which is slightly hard for me to overlook– and I nitpick like that for some things– but its just so good of a deal that I can’t really pass it up.

I’m pretty dang careful with all my equipment, but if you aren’t and you tend to abuse your stuff, I’ve got two things to say to you: 1, stop. 2, this lens may not be for you. Due to the age of the lens, you probably won’t be able to send in the lens for repair– Canon may not have replacement parts for it still. Buying used items that don’t have a warranty, may be kinda

This lens is great for the film bodies and full frame bodies, if you’re using a Rebel or a crop sensor of some sort, this lens puts you into no-man’s-land in terms of focal length. If you like being artsy, this lens does make a lot of flares when you point it at the sun, so maybe you’ll like that. I know I do. I’m sort of a hipster at heart.

Using eBay responsibly can yield some really good results and some pretty decent savings if you end up using eBay all the time. The extra cash back and percentage points add up pretty quickly! If you have any suggestions for other people who buy used online, feel free to share it with people leave a comment below!