When I won an Olympus E-M1 Mark II during WPPI, I was confronted with a conflict that all of us, as photographers, will ultimately have to deal with. What should I do with my existing gear? Do I sell it? Or do I keep it, and sell my winnings?
Ultimately, after some in-depth testing, I made the tough decision that the Olympus was right for me. This left me with the question — how do I sell the existing camera gear that I no longer need?
First, Decide What and How Much
In my case, I knew I could sell my two camera bodies, a lens, battery grip and a microphone adapter. Another lens I wanted to hold on to, as it was compatible with my new Olympus camera and was by far my favorite lens on my old Lumix system.
From there, I took the items I was selling and started attaching price tags to them. You can do this a number of different ways, by looking on sites like eBay and at Amazon’s used offerings. But the best service that might help is Bokeh Market.
Bokeh Market gives you a look at current used and new prices, giving you a graph of selling trends over time. It also shows you market listings from several different marketplaces.
How and Where Should You Sell?
There are a ton of ways to sell your camera gear, with everything from Craigslist and eBay to a site like MPB.com.
Traditional Selling Websites
Using a site like Craigslist is usually my go-to, as long as it’s a safe transaction that occurs in a public place. It also means that I don’t have to worry about shipping gear somewhere, which can often be a hassle when it comes to estimating how much shipping fees will cost. With this, be sure to have a couple photos of each item that can showcase it (and to show it’s real).
The most popular selling website — eBay — is also an option. In my experience though, it’s likely to get low-balled for your gear. After paying your fees and shipping, I find this a difficult option for larger sales.
Finally, Amazon also offers trade-ins for some camera gear. While the site emphasizes electronics like cell phones and games, it will also accept some camera equipment. You’re paid via an Amazon gift card (instead of cash), but it’s a super easy and quick way to sell your gear. In my experience, the quotes offered are a little higher than most camera dealers, but they’re extremely picky in terms of how they evaluate your gear (which can result in an adjusted payout amount).
Some of my most successful sales have actually come through social media, specifically with Facebook Marketplace. I sold my G9 body within two hours for the price I was asking, and have sold other items on the marketplace for near my asking price as well.
The tricky thing here is that you have to be wary of who you’re selling to. For some security, I go with PayPal for buyers to pay me, as I know both myself and the buyer is well-protected.
Like Craigslist, be sure you upload some photos of the item you’re selling.
Use a Website Specifically for Selling Used Camera Gear
I recently discovered MPB.com and was impressed with the quotes I was receiving. For the 12-35 f/2.8 lens I wanted to sell, the quote that came back was only $50 less than what I wanted to sell it for. Likewise, my GH5 I was selling was only $40 less than what my ideal price was.
In testing out MPB.com against similar sites, I found that the quotes were higher than the competition. Plus, you don’t have to worry about shipping — you get a free FedEx shipping label as soon as you request the quote.
What About Camera Dealers?
Some camera dealers are better than others, but in my experience, the quotes you receive are typically the lowest option. Places like B&H, Adorama and Hunt’s all will take trade-ins. Chances are your local camera shop will, too.
How Are Quotes Determined?
I talked with MPB.com about how they determine prices on gear, especially given the fact that my Lumix G9, which was barely two months old and out of stock on most major websites, had a quote that was considerably less than what I ended up selling it for.
In talking with Clare Anderson, Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator for MPB.com, I found out that most of the estimates are based on demand. This explained why my GH5 was selling for higher than the newly-released G9.
“As [the GH5] has proved to be a very popular release it has held more value due to demand, which is why your quote was higher than expected,” she said.
With the G9, because it was a newer camera, demand was still unknown.
It makes sense, then, that the more in-demand the camera or lens you are trying to sell, the better the estimate. If your gear isn’t in demand or has some age to it, the estimate will likely be lower.
As Anderson states, there are several trade-offs when it comes to purchasing through sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
“Prices offered here may be attractive, but they are still risky options that can lead to issues and further expenses later on,” she said.
In the long run, it comes down to a few things — price, convenience, and risk. For me, if I’m able to get a higher price by selling it personally, and feel comfortable doing so, all the better for me. That means I can put some of that money towards a new lens or camera accessory. But if you’d rather not deal with shipping and the annoyance of talking to someone you don’t know, then a site like MPB.com is perfect.
(Editor’s note: MPB.com is a partner of Photofocus.)