Accomplished nature and landscape photographer Kieran Metcalfe shares his thoughts on buying secondhand, and why he prefers to buy from used specialist retailers
Why do you buy a lot of equipment secondhand?
I’m self-employed, but not as a photographer, so I can’t justify massive expense on my camera gear. I shoot with a Canon EOS 80D (bought used), with various lenses (all bought used too) to soften the blow somewhat.
Who do you buy from, and why?
In building my kit collection, I’ve used four of the main retailers and never had a problem with any of them. The EOS 80D was from Camera Jungle, two lenses from WEX Photo Video, two from London Camera Exchange and one from MPB.
Buying from private sellers and auction sites can be the cheapest way to add to your kit. However, there are two main considerations which push me towards buying used gear from retailers rather than private sales: trust and warranty – and the peace of mind both of these give far outweigh the modest increase in cost. You will still save a packet based on buying new.
It is a sad indictment of folk on auction and classified advert websites that I feel I dare not buy from strangers online. I’m sure 90% of sellers are upstanding citizens and their items are totally above board. However, the few certainly spoil it for the many, and I have heard far too many stories about faulty gear, incorrect items, even bricks in a camera box to be comfortable taking the risk. And if you do buy something, and it then breaks, what recourse do you have?
Buying used from a retailer, for me, sidesteps both of these issues. They have a reputation to uphold, and in most cases I have bought from them based on that reputation and have no reason not to trust them (not to be confused with online retailers selling new kit at to-good-to-be-true prices… that’s a whole different ball game).
They also back that up with a warranty – some companies offer six months, others a full 12. You have all the recourse you would reasonably hope for in any gear purchase.
Ever had any problems?
Typically, for me, the only time a lens has failed on me was weeks after the warranty ended! A good insurance policy covering mechanical breakdown would have been the ideal solution here as the repair cost more than my excess would have been had I been insured at the time. The other benefit of used gear is the lower level of depreciation of your item when you wish to sell it. Buying a new lens for, say, £1000, will hit hard when you try to sell it.
See more of Kieran’s work here.