Why do you buy a lot of gear secondhand, and where from?
Simple – because I save money. You can usually get up to a third off the retail price, with some older bodies selling for a fraction of their original cost. For example, I recently bought a mint Canon 1D Mk. IV for less than a fifth of its release price.
I haven’t had any real bad experiences buying used gear. I recommend buying from major used retailers rather than auction sites (such as eBay). The price you will pay from used retailers is around the same, plus you will get a warranty with every purchase. I usually buy from three major used specialists: MPB, Camera Jungle and London Camera Exchange. They all provide good warranties on their used gear, which gives real piece of mind.
As a sports photographer, what are your top tips for buying used cameras and lenses?
First, have a list of your photography wants and needs with a maximum price that you are prepared to pay for each item. Review this list every three months or so. Second, be aware that the condition of lenses on used retail sites is usually better than described. When it comes to camera bodies, however, I never buy a body described as being in anything less than in excellent condition.
If you are a Canon user, when buying Canon EF lenses, be aware that there are often multiple versions of the same lens with or without image stabilisation (IS). I’d recommend that you buy the earliest non IS version unless the lens is known to have issues. Many of the newer EF lenses are simply incremental updates of the older version. IS isn’t vital for most sports photography if you are using a high shutter speed in decent light.
Then, move quickly when buying gear from used stores such as MPB – the bargains don’t hang around for long online. Finally, if a body/lens has been on sale in a store for a significant period of time (over a month) and is just above your maximum price contact the store with a reasonable offer – they might accept it!
Ed’s specialties include corporate sports shoots, non-league football and taking photos of special educational needs children with their siblings. See more of his work here.