Dabbling in Jet Lag
I’ve owned a variety of cameras and lenses over the last eight years, each one more valuable than the last. And, if you look at my travel photography gear, you’re probably wondering how I’ve been able to afford such expensive equipment. The answer is simple: I buy second-hand gear. I know this makes most people cringe, but if you choose the right company, you’ll wonder why you hesitated.
While there are a lot of places where you can buy second-hand camera gear, I, personally, use MPB. My first purchase with them was a Nikon D610 back in 2017. And I was so happy with the quality, I never looked elsewhere. To date, I’ve bought three cameras, four lenses, a GoPro Hero 8, and a LowePro 450 backpack on MPB. And when I compare the cost of purchasing any of these items brand-new, I can’t believe how much I saved. So, today I’m going to show you how to buy and sell used camera gear on MPB, and, in the process, save a ton of money.
Table of Contents
- The Pros and Cons of Buying Used Camera Gear
- What is MPB?
- MPB’s Rating System
- How to Buy a Camera on MPB
- How to Sell or Trade-In Camera Gear on MPB
The Pros and Cons of Buying Used Camera Gear
There are positives and negatives to buying used camera gear. But, the pros outweigh the cons, especially if you use a reputable company. Below I’ve compiled a list of both with the hope of convincing you that buying used is worth it.
- It’s cheaper. New cameras and lenses can be very expensive, but when you buy used the price can be at least 20% lower. Plus, when professional photographers buy new gear, they sell their old gear before it loses value. This gives photographers like you and me the chance to buy some fantastic gear at a low cost.
- It’s not always necessary to buy the latest gear. If you’re starting out, spending a ton of money on new gear is not as important as learning the basics of photography. It’s better to buy a nice used camera and, with the money you saved, take a photography course. Not only that but you can often buy used professional-grade gear for the same price as new entry-level gear.
- Reputable resellers have excellent warranties. If you buy through a site like MPB, your gear comes with a warranty. Additionally, if you’re not satisfied, you can return it, no questions asked.
- It’s easier to recover the cost if you decide to resell. All photography equipment depreciates in value the moment you buy it. But, if you buy a used camera and later decide to resell it (to upgrade), you can, usually, recover most of what you spent.
- You can’t inspect the camera or lens. This is the biggest reason why people don’t want to buy used. You have to trust the company or the person. But, if you go with a company like MPB, you will have the option to return it. Not only that but your gear will be under warranty.
- Underlying problems. If there is a hidden default, you might not see it right away. But, again, if you buy from a company that offers a warranty, you’ll be protected.
- Scams. If you buy used gear from a site like Craigslist or eBay, you run the risk of being scammed. I don’t recommend buying any camera gear from sites like these. You should only ever buy used camera gear from a reputable company.
What is MPB?
MPB is an online platform that buys and sells used photography equipment. It was founded in 2011 by Matt Baker and has since grown into one of the most reliable places to buy used camera gear. Today, they have sites in the UK (Brighton), the US (Brooklyn), and Europe (Berlin).
Each piece of gear they receive is carefully inspected and cleaned by highly-trained personnel. So you know you are getting the best possible product. There’s a 14-day money-back guarantee, so if you’re unhappy with your purchase, you can return it. Not only that but you will get a six-month warranty. (For their complete list of terms and conditions, click here.)
In short, MPB is a reliable company that offers an excellent warranty, which eliminates the drawbacks of buying used camera equipment.
MPB’s Rating System
Before I get into how to buy and sell gear on MPB, I want to go over their rating system.
MPB uses a rating system to categorize the quality of the gear they buy and sell. There are six categories ranging from ‘Like New’ to ‘Heavily Used.’
Below are the six categories:
- Like New – The item is like new. There are no signs of optical wear. The body, sensor, glass, buttons, and screen are in perfect condition. There are no wear marks or scuffs.
- Excellent – The item is close to new but there are very slight signs of optical use. The body, sensor, glass, buttons, and screen are in excellent condition. The difference between ‘Excellent’ and ‘Like New’ is very minor.
- Good – The item is in good condition but has signs of optical wear. There might be small scratches and some surfaces might be worn. But there are no major damages or huge chips on the body. The body, sensor, glass, buttons, and screen are in good condition. For me, I would not buy a camera or lens in this category. But, for other items, like a tripod or backpack, I would. This is the lowest I am willing to go for any used item.
- Well Used – This means the item has significant signs of use. There might be scratches and the surfaces are worn. If the camera or lens you want to buy is in this category, I would wait for something with a better rating.
- Heavily Used – This means the item is significantly worn. There might be scratches and chipped paint. While the piece of gear will still be fully functional, it will look ‘used.’
- Defective – This category is only valid when reselling an item. If you try to sell a piece of gear that is not fully functional and has significant signs of use, it will be labeled defective. MPB does not buy or sell items in this category.
In all categories, MPB includes as many of the original accessories as possible. This includes the original packaging, camera strap, battery, manual, lens hood, caps, and charging cords. Be sure to check the accessories listed with the item you want to buy. As an example, I only buy lenses that come with a lens hood because finding a replacement is too expensive.
Useful Tip: If you have a question about a rating or what’s included, MPB’s customer service is very responsive. There is even an online chat!
How to Buy a Camera on MPB
Now I will take you step-by-step through the process of purchasing a camera on MPB.
Useful Tip: This same procedure can be used to buy a lens or any other photography gear on MPB.
Step 1: Know the Camera You Want
Do you want a point-and-shoot or a full-frame mirrorless? Make sure to do your research and know what you’re looking for.
Useful Tip: If the camera you want is not available you can sign up for a notification. But, if you need a camera right away, you should have a few options ready.
Step 2: Check If It’s Available on MPB
For the sake of this article, let’s say you are looking for a Sony A6500. You can either do a direct search on MPB. Or you can go to Photo & Video > Used Mirrorless > Used Sony Mirrorless Cameras. Then, scroll until you find a Sony A6500. As shown in the photo below there are 18 Sony A6500 cameras available.
While I do prefer Nikon and Canon cameras, Sony does have some nice options. I picked the Sony A6500, which is the predecessor to the Sony A6600. It’s an excellent enthusiast-level camera that appeals to beginners looking to upgrade. MPB also had several cameras in various conditions, so I could show you the differences.
Step 3: Check the Ratings
Next, check the ratings of the 18 cameras in stock. To do this click ‘Show Stock.’ And you will arrive at a page that looks like the photo below.
Step 4: Read the Description
Now, you should carefully read the description and what’s included. To do this, click ‘View Product,’ for the cameras that interest you.
For the purposes of this example, I will take three cameras with three different ratings (Like New, Excellent, and Good).
Sony A6500 Rated ‘Like New’:
For the camera labeled ‘Like New,’ it’s in nearly mint condition with no signs of use. There is no dust, and everything is working as if it were brand new. The price is $774. This includes the camera, charger, battery, and front body cap. Now, let’s compare that to a brand-new camera sold on Amazon. And, not surprisingly, Amazon sells the Sony A6500 for a lot more money, $1,434.95. That’s almost double the cost!
Sony A6500 Rated ‘Excellent’:
For the camera labeled ‘Excellent,’ it’s in excellent condition with slight signs of use. They note there is a single scratch on the LCD screen, but if you look at the picture you can barely see it. Not only that but it’s been tested, and they have confirmed that it does not affect the usage. The price is $739. This includes the camera, charger, battery, original strap, and front body cap.
Sony A6500 Rated ‘Good’:
For the camera labeled ‘Good,’ it’s in overall good condition with some slight signs of use. There are some scuffs to the paint, but this won’t affect the picture quality. The price is $664. This includes the camera, charger, battery, original packaging, and front body cap.
Useful Tip: While it was not a problem in this instance, make sure to always check for dust. A negligible amount is ok, but if there is a note about a large amount, don’t buy it. This is rarely a problem on MPB, but it’s important to be aware.
Step 5: Choose Your Camera
Now, it’s time to select which camera you want. In all three cases above, the price is lower than a brand-new camera. As I stated above, I prefer to buy a camera in the ‘Like New’ or ‘Excellent’ category. I upgrade my gear every few years and I resell it on MPB. So, if I buy in the upper two categories then when it comes time to resell it, I get more money back.
If you don’t plan on reselling your camera, the Sony A6500 with a ‘Good’ rating is perfectly fine.
Step 6: Buy Your Camera
You can either buy the camera directly or do a trade-in.
How to Sell or Trade-In Camera Gear on MPB
Step 1: Click on ‘Sell or Trade’
Step 2: Fill in the Form
Fill in the form provided with all the necessary details.
As an example, let’s say you want to sell an old GoPro Hero 8 and buy the camera from above (Sony A6500). Input GoPro Hero 8 and select the condition. If you have batteries or other accessories you want to sell you can add them as well.
Useful Tip: Don’t underestimate the condition of your gear. If your gear is on the border between ‘Excellent’ and ‘Like New,’ choose ‘Like New.’ If, after inspection, it’s in ‘Excellent’ condition, you will get a new quote. If, however, you put ‘Excellent’ when they find that it’s actually ‘Like New,’ they won’t offer you more money.
Step 3: Add Items to Buy
If you don’t want to buy anything, you can skip this step.
Here is where you can add the camera you wanted above. You can either enter the SKU number (this is an individual number assigned to each product MPB sells) of the specific camera you wanted or pick the condition and let MPB choose for you.
Useful Tip: I recommend selecting the camera you want and providing the exact SKU number.
Step 4: Get a Quote
Enter your details and a quote will be sent to your email address.
Step 5: Accept the Quote and Send Your Gear
If the quote matches your expectations, you will, then, need to accept it. They will provide instructions on how to send your equipment to MPB for inspection. And, if you are doing a trade-in, the gear you wanted will be placed on hold until MPB verifies the condition of the gear you’re selling.
Useful Tip: Whether you are selling or exchanging gear, shipping is free. This is especially nice if you are exchanging because all the shipping fees are included, saving you a ton of money.
Step 6: Validate Your Offer
After MPB inspects your gear, you will receive an email confirming the condition (i.e., the rating). And if you accurately estimated the condition of your gear the quote will not change. If you overestimated, you will receive a new quote. Either way, you will need to review the offer again and accept.
If you did a trade-in, you will need to repay any remaining balance before you can receive your new camera.
That’s it! Now, the only thing that’s left to do is practice and improve your photography skills!
Buying and selling camera gear on MPB has saved me a lot of money over the years. They are reliable and their guarantee is unbeatable. Not only that but the gear they sell is of the utmost quality. And, hopefully, I’ve convinced you to start buying used camera gear and I’ve shown you how easy it is with MPB!
Travel Photography Resources
Travel Photography Tutorials
Landscape Photography in Depth by Daniel Kordon – This is the most comprehensive professional post-processing tutorial I have done.
Adobe Creative Cloud – The best editing software (Photoshop & Lightroom) used by most travel photographers.
Raya Pro – The best plugin for Photoshop. A powerful luminosity mask software that simplifies your workflow.
The Nik Collection – A series of plugins for polishing your final images.
Read More Travel Photography Articles
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