I spend more time than I would care to admit watching cameras on Ebay. I have a feeling that my knowledge of cameras has come as much from Ebay, as it has from anywhere else. Why? Because when you are considering making a purchase, you do research. Research builds knowledge, and before you know it you are an expert on obscure cameras that haven’t been in production for decades. I thought I would share some of the things that I look for in a camera on ebay, before I make a purchase.
First of all I want to give a shout out an Ebay seller named certo6. His ebay camera auctions can be found here. I am not sure if it is his full time job or not, but he is committed to selling great cameras. He buys old cameras, repairs and restores them beautifully, and then lovingly describes their characteristics thoroughly in his Ebay listing. He has earned a great reputation for having wonderfully restored cameras and as a result his cameras receive a premium final bid. I have only purchased one camera from him, but he is the only seller that I follow religiously despite rarely making a bid.
If you can’t buy a camera from certo6, you are going to drop down a notch into the deep sea of the unknown. There are so many camera auctions going on that it can be overwhelming. Here are some tips that will help you get the camera you want.
1. Hold your horses! First, don’t expect to get the camera instantly. I think this is the biggest mistake people make. People get excited when they find something cool. They make a bid before doing any research. Next thing you know someone outbids you and it becomes a battle to win the auction rather than about getting the right camera.
2. Watch similar items. This is where patience is a virtue. Before you bid on a camera you should try to get an idea for what it is worth. If you have the time to watch similar items, and track what their final selling price is then this information will give you a general idea what you can expect to pay for the camera.
3. Learn about the camera If you are bidding on antique cameras or rare camera, information is your friend. Do a Google search for the exact model and look online for as much info as you can find. There is probably a Flickr group dedicated to that specific camera where there are threads talking about it. Look for common problems, and typical problems that your camera may have. If the camera you want has a tendency to have shutters that go bad you can ask the seller to address whether or not the shutter is working. This will save you from buying a camera that looks good but is actually broken.
4. Decide what you are willing to pay and stick to it. An interesting psychological thing happens with auctions. After someone makes a bid on something they have imagined themselves owning the item. This has the side effect of giving a feeling of ownership over something you don’t actually own. Now when someone bids on “your camera” it feels like a personal insult. So you counter bid and the camera ends up selling for more than it is worth. Decide the maximum you are willing to pay for the camera and when it goes above that price walk away. I mean it. Walk away. You can take consolation in knowing that some idiot just over payed for it! This helps reduce buyers remorse, too.
5. Keep your options open. Watch a variety of auctions for the camera you want. This will help you avoid getting emotionally connected to a single item. It is much easier to walk away from an auction if you are watching another similar item.
If you follow these camera auction tips eventually you will end up with a great camera at a fair price. If you have experience buying cameras on Ebay and have tips to add to my list, please leave a comment below. Finally, here are some of the camera deals on Ebay right now…