Well, I did it. This weekend, I sent off all my Canon gear – my 5DMII, even my Rebel xti, lenses, flashes, extender tubes, and extra batteries to a used camera store to get a quote. He’s sending me a check tomorrow. A part of me feels empty and a part of me feels excited. After my review of the Fuji X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition, I decided I just could not live without the mirrorless. The final nail in the coffin was shooting a wedding last weekend with my typical (boring) Canon gear and really missing that X-T1. So, pulled the trigger. I decided to sell it all and make the switch. Here are some tips if you are considering doing the same.
An Emotional Process
I began my career with a Canon Rebel kit bought from Costco almost 8 years ago. Like most “mommy togs,” I bought it because I loved taking photos of my favorite subject – my baby girl. It evolved into a career and I was able to pick up my first “pro” lens – the Canon 24-105mm f/4. After my first year, my mom and dad who’ve always supported me in all my crazy notions, decided to buy me the just released Canon 5D Mark II and a couple of flashes. Somewhere along the way, I also picked up a 50mm f/1.4 and that completed my kit. Simple, nothing fancy, but that kit (along with renting the 70-200mm) took me through hundreds of portrait sessions and weddings. My Canon kit and I have been through a lot and so giving it all up for something completely foreign to everything I knew and have worked with, well, it’s actually a very scary and an emotional process.
I know the Canon brand, I know the camera, I know the lenses, I know the accessories. For Fuji, I’m not totally sure what lenses they have, what flash systems work with it, the correct battery to use, etc. I’m thankful I have Anthony Thurston, our product review editor (and recent Fuji convert), who has answered all of my questions thus far. But goodbyes are rough, even when it’s just an inanimate object and even if you’ve been bored with that object for a while now. My Canon and I have been through a lot together and packing it all up in boxes was actually much tougher than I expected.
Where to Sell Your Gear
There are many options when it comes to selling your gear. There isn’t one option that is a one size fits all and depending on your needs, one option might work better for you than another.
1. A Local Camera Store
If you want the easiest option with the least amount of stress, selling or trading in your gear at a local camera store is a great bet. They will look at your equipment and offer you a price for it. You can negotiate or accept their offer and you walk away with store credit or a check. You’ll most likely get the least amount of money than the other options I’ll list here, but you can avoid the hassle of having to photograph it, list it, collect payment on it and ship it – or meet someone sketchy from Craigslist.
This is actually the option I went with. I sent all my stuff to a camera store where my friend works, they paid for shipping and offered me a price that was a bit lower than I’d hope for. I negotiated for a bit more and we settled on a price. I got the check in the mail and it was easy. Could I have gotten a higher price if I went with another option? Probably, but for me, the hassle free transaction, being able to get rid of all my equipment at once and having a check in hand so I can turn around and buy my Fuji kit was worth it to me.
KEH is a solid and reputable option. Many photographers trust them to give a fair price and you are able to input your equipment for a quote on the spot. You then send your gear in and their staff will inspect your gear, which takes anywhere from 7-10 business days and they give you a final quote. If you accept the quote, they will send you a check or money via PayPal. If you don’t accept it, they will send all your gear back to you free of charge.
KEH has a reputation for great customer service. If you’re in the market to buy a used lens, I hear they offer warranties and their products are in great condition. Again, you won’t get as much for your gear than if you sold it yourself, but you are paying for the hassle free experience.
Again, both are very reputable, but both will offer you lower prices than the rest. Out of all three of the above, B&H gave me the lowest offer using their online quote calculator. Both companies offer free shipping to have your gear shipped over and phone quotes as well in the event you want to speak to a real person.
You can probably get the most for your gear using this option as you can set your price minimum and let people bid to their hearts content. There are a few drawbacks though: you will need quality photos of your equipment (your own photos of your gear will instill more confidence for people who are shopping), a high seller rating so that people know you are legit and you get all the hassle of advertising, listing and shipping that comes with selling on eBay. This is why I avoided eBay like the plague. Too much effort on my part (I’m lazy).
I’m always leery of selling or buying from Craigslist. I mean it has worked for me in the past; I’ve gotten a practically new vacuum, and have sold bookcases, baby toys and even a car on Craigslist, but I’m always worried about the people that I meet. There are so many stories of people getting robbed or even killed over Craigslist transactions. For me, that’s just not worth it, not for camera equipment. I know many people that have had lots of luck buying and selling via CL, but I didn’t want to take the risk, plus I didn’t want to be responsible for selling it all, piece by piece. Who knows how long that would take and I wanted my new camera right away.
6. Facebook Groups/Social Media
I’ve seen many people post about selling their gear in their statuses and also in groups/communities specifically geared toward selling photography equipment. There are brand specific groups, photography clubs, community college departments, shootout groups and more. Just do a search on Google or type in ‘used camera gear’ in your search bar in Facebook to see what pops up. The same issues apply though – you have to go through the hassle of listing and selling and following the rules of that particular Facebook community.
A Few Tips When Selling Your Gear
These are just a few things that helped me when I sold my gear.
1. When you buy new gear, make sure to keep the boxes, and along with it the manuals, warranty cards and all the straps, cords and discs. I kept everything and so when it came time to package and ship it all out, I went to my storage unit, collect the boxes and put my gear in. Easy peasy.
2. Make sure you remove all the memory cards, added hand straps, batteries, etc before you ship/sell
3. Treat your gear nicely. Matthew Saville is notorious for banging up his gear, most recently letting his Nikon DSLR and Sigma lens take a little swim in the ocean. Protect your gear as much as you can. Use a protector for your screen, make sure you send it in for servicing, etc. You’ll be able to command a better price.
4. Sell at the right time. When is the ‘right’ time? Well, I’m hearing of more and more people jumping the DSLR ship for mirrorless and as companies like Sony and Fuji continue on their path of ridiculously awesome camera/lens making, it’s going to become more common. If you’re looking to upgrade to the next new camera body or lens, listing your equipment as early as possible, perhaps after the announcement or release date, might be a good bet. Personally, I decided to sell sooner rather than later since my camera gear wasn’t getting any younger and rumors of the Mark IV were getting more frequent.
Selling my entire Canon kit was both easier and more difficult than I thought it would be. I did not expect that I would get so emotional about parting with it, or so fearful to try an entirely new system. Actually selling it was quite easy since I decided that it was more important for me to have piece of mind and less stress (I already have enough stress in my life) than a few hundred dollars. If you’re thinking of selling your gear, what a process it is! I hope some of these tips will help you in your quest.
If you’re on the opposite end and are looking to buy used camera gear, check out this article: HOW TO BUY PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK.
Do you have experience selling your gear? Any advice you’re willing to share? Feel free in the comment section below.