Selling Second-Hand Camera Equipment

There are many people out there who have second-hand camera equipment they sometimes want to sell, but determining what it is worth and supplying the details to potential buyers can be difficult if you do not understand exactly what you are selling. Some sellers have camera equipment that they want to sell that they were given as a gift, inherited or just older equipment replaced with something new and sometimes assume it is worth a lot of money when it may actually be worthless. In this article I will only be covering the sale of camera bodies and lenses as most other equipment has little or no second-hand value.

Selling a Camera body

The resell value on SLR camera bodies drops very quickly as technology progresses. Once a camera body is out of production its value may become less than 10% of it original cost. Since the advent of digital SLR cameras film camera bodies have become items for collectors or as “display” items and their monetary value is sometimes next to nothing.

35mm Film SLR Cameras

On auction sites you can pick up 35mm film camera which where considered top of the range in their day for around R150 in great condition (like new). Last year I purchased a Minolta Dynax 300si with lens kit and 3000xi flash unit and great camera bag for R300 with postage included (around R90). I do not use any of the equipment but bought it purely for its sentimental value since I lost my original Dynax 300si. The bag is used as a holder for my small extras. If I was still shooting film the camera may have had value, but I do not and do not intend ever returning to film, so it in monetary terms it is worthless. If you have a film camera and kit lens (the basic lens that came with the camera) you will find it very hard to sell to anyone who is not using film. The value of a film cameras are very low and unless you have additional lenses to compliment the collection you cannot expect to sell it for more than R300-R500.

There are not many questions a buyer may ask about the camera itself unless they are interested in its display value. If you have a manual, look at the specification list in it and provide as much detail about the camera in the media you advertise the item for sale in. If you do not have a manual, use an internet search engine and type the make and model into it and get as much information about the camera as you can. Also check popular auction sites to see what others may be offering the same camera for. Provide photos of the actual camera, not a picture from the internet, so a buyer can see cosmetic wear (multiple photos from different sides).

Digital SLR Cameras

If you have a digital SLR which is out of production you cannot expect to sell it for more than 50% of its original purchase price (sometimes far less). Every successive upgrade camera the manufacturer produces will reduce the value of your camera even further. I am going to use a Canon series camera as an example: The Canon 650D (18mp) currently sells for around R8000 with kit lens. In 2005 the 350D (8.2Mp), the predecessor by a few generations (succeeded by 400D, 450D, 500D, 550D, etc), also sold for around R8000 with a kit lens. Though the price has remained the same, making the camera more affordable in today’s terms, the technological value of the 350D has dropped significantly. On popular auction sites the 350D now sells for an average R1200-R1400. This is a big drop in value and a loss on your original investment of R8000 when it was new, but this is the way technological improvement lets us down.

Questions that buyers may ask include age of the camera which refers to how long it has been used. You may also need to find out how many photos have been taken (an estimate) as a camera which has done many thousands of photos (called shutter actuations) may actually be at a point of failure (see my article: Your digital SLR camera WILL die). A camera which has not been used for a long time may actually become worthless as moisture may already have affected the shutter blades. You will also need to provide how many megapixel images it creates, condition of batteries (how well they retain charge) and the type of memory card it uses. Find this information from the manual or internet before trying to sell it and supply all information in your advertisement if possible. A detailed advertisement will always attract more buyer interest. Always include a photo of the camera or you may never be able to sell the item.

Selling Lenses for Cameras

Most buyers will be more interested in the lenses that come with a camera body than the camera itself. I have purchased camera and lens combinations and thrown away the camera body as the lens is all I want. If you have just a lens it is very important that it is well protected. You need to have the front and rear caps which protect the glass from even the tiniest scratches. You also need to know what camera body or bodies it will mount on. Though lenses also lose value they do not lose value as rapidly as camera bodies. Selling lenses may get you into a whole new technical world, so it is a good idea to search the internet for the particular lens make and model and provide the specifications in your advertisement where possible.

Here is what you need to supply when advertising a lens for sale:

  • Lens Make
  • Lens Model (written on side)
  • Focal length (refer image)
  • Aperture (refer image)
  • Filter size (refer image)
  • Camera Mount Type (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Minolta, Pentax, etc.)

For older type lenses that do not Auto-Focus you need to mention this too.

click for larger image

If there are any filters attached (usually screwed onto front of the lens) this will make the lens more desirable as the buyer will know that the lens has been cared for and risk of scratches on the front lens are much lower. A scratched lens may be completely worthless, so any filter that has been fitted is a plus. The filters are cheap to replace, but the lens glass cannot be replaced.

Determining a price for your lens will depend on many factors. Kit lenses, the ones that came with the camera in the first place, are usually worthless on their own (or can be sold for R30-R80). Basic entry level zoom lenses (usually aperture values 4.5-5.6 with 70-300mm focal length) are of little value as they can be purchased brand new for under R2000, so few buyers will risk scratches, fungus and other wear and tear for more than R500-R700). Check popular auction sites to see what others have sold similar lenses for.

The lens should also be completely free of fungus. The longer the lens has not been used the greater the risk it may be completely useless due to fungus infection if it has not been stored correctly. To understand what lens fungus is and how it affects your lenses, read this great article by Gene Walls : What Is “Lens Fungus”? Can It Really Affect My Camera Gear?

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