How to Effectively Sell Your Photo Gear on eBay

It would appear that the majority of you have accepted your illnesses and conceded that you have little to no interest in being treated, given the success of my previous blog titled “Diseases That Plague Photographers” and the numerous amusing answers that I have gotten as a result of that essay.

Thank you for your feedback! That would imply that throughout the course of your lifetime, you will most likely purchase and then dispose of a significant amount of photographic gear. As a result of this, I reasoned that it could be beneficial to learn how to optimize your potential to acquire the highest possible price for your old equipment.

There are many other channels through which you can sell your equipment, but I feel that eBay is one of the finest organized marketplaces to do business since it provides a significant amount of security to buyers and sellers alike and exposes you to an exceptionally large market.

There are many other channels through which you may sell your equipment. The purchasing procedure on eBay will be the subject of the following article, while this one will concentrate on the selling side of eBay.


1. Focus On Legitimacy

The idea of legitimacy may be summed up in a few words: it means not just appearing to be what you portray yourself to be but also truly “being” that. Keeping this straightforward yet potent idea in mind as you traverse the auction process can help you differentiate yourself from other sellers on eBay, guarantee that you obtain a fair price for the items you are selling, and enable you to get positive feedback scores on eBay.

Why do I place such a strong focus on legitimacy? People are genuinely concerned about doing business with trustworthy people, feeling confident that they get exactly what they bargained for, and being treated fairly because we live in a world where there is slick advertising, fine print, and numerous drug side effects that sound far worse than the illnesses they purport to treat, and the occasional con artist. In many aspects of life, including eBay, “a little bit of the Golden Rule goes a long way.”

Your number one priority should be to make it a point, throughout the entirety of the sales cycle, to ensure that every facet of your communication and interactions with other people both projects and reinforces the idea that you are a reputable person to buy from.

People are often wary about parting with their cash, mainly when the purchase involves a piece of merchandise that they cannot physically possess until after they have paid for it and which was sold to them by a person they are highly unlikely to ever see in person. As a consequence of this, prospective purchasers come into an auction with a considerable number of concerns. You have to show that you understand what they are going through and provide them reassurance at every turn.

Keep in mind that you will be competing with other individuals who are selling their Nikon 50mm 1.8Ds as well as other types of equipment unless you are selling a highly uncommon item, such as an exotic Nikon fisheye lens that is no longer being manufactured.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your product stands out from the competition, to offer prospective customers information that will assist them in making a choice, and in differentiating yourself from other sellers by the manner in which you manage business conversations and transactions in a professional manner. And if you stick to a few basic pointers, achieving this result won’t be difficult at all.

2. Know Your Gear And Its Value

You should begin by having reasonable expectations for your gear, taking into account its age, condition, and the going rate for products of a like nature. The first thing you need to do is perform a comprehensive examination of your equipment, make a note of any unique problems that have to be conveyed to prospective buyers, and precisely categorize the state of your gear in accordance with the descriptions that eBay gives.

Never, ever, ever allow a customer to be the one to advise you that you omitted to indicate some part of your equipment’s condition or that your definition of “like new” was more similar to “should have been donated to Goodwill!” These kinds of predicaments can never have a happy ending.

3. Take Great Pictures Of Your Gear!

One might assume that this goes without saying, but a cursory examination of some of the higher-end lenses and cameras available on eBay will quickly demonstrate how little care some people put to the photographs produced by their equipment. Photographers, more than anybody else, ought to be able to capture high-caliber photographs of their own equipment. This does not turn out to be the case far too frequently.

It is not unusual to find cameras or lenses being sold for prices ranging from $800 to $2,000, with photographs that significantly undercut the value that is being advertised for them. If a person is selling a Nikon D3 and the images it takes seem like they were taken with a Polaroid camera in the 1970s, then it should raise a red signal in the eyes of potential purchasers. On the other hand, I can understand why a parent would post subpar photos when they are selling their child’s metal baseball bat.

What exactly is the big deal about shooting images of camera gear that aren’t very high quality? To begin, it demonstrates a lack of regard toward the person who is making the purchase. Second, it gives the impression that the merchant is not very careful with their work. Third, it plants the seed of uncertainty in the minds of prospective purchasers.

Fourth, there is just no justification for such behavior. As a photographer, you should know and be capable of something that is superior to what others on eBay can accomplish, who either do not have your equipment or do not have your knowledge.


A transaction that might end up involving the exchange of hundreds or even thousands of dollars is not off to a good start if the images being used are of poor quality. Customers want to have a clear understanding of exactly what they are purchasing. A few of grainy photographs taken with your Nikon D700 that are dimly lit will not do much to instill trust in the mind of the potential purchaser. I never consider purchasing a camera that has a terrible photograph.

If someone doesn’t grasp the value of exhibiting their equipment in the best possible light, I always have reason to be suspicious about how honest they are and how effectively they will perform the other steps of the auction process. The one and only time I make an exception to this rule is when the equipment is being sold as part of an estate sale or in any other case in which a person who is not a photographer has inherited a wide variety of photographic equipment.

Taking photographs of your gear that are of a good grade is not overly complicated. You can create photographs deserving of a Nikon advertising brochure by using a good white cardboard backdrop, a touch of dusting with a lint-free cloth, a fine brush, an air blower, some diffused flash, and a bit of straightforward processing in Photoshop.

There are probably hundreds of different guides available on the internet that will teach you how to snap images of your gear that are of good quality. Discover one or two, become an expert in the techniques connected with them, and you will never again list an item on eBay with terrible photography.

Take pictures from a number of perspectives and make sure that any noticeable markings, dings, scratches, or other types of damage are brought to people’s attention so that they can comprehend the full scope of the problem. eBay has a fee associated with taking additional images above and beyond the average number.

Spend the additional money so that other people may have a good look at your gear and benefit from the opportunity to do so. Do any of your products have borders or graphic embellishments that help them stand out from the rest of the crowd? Additionally, pay for those since the additional attention is well worth the investment.

It’s possible that having great images won’t automatically earn you a substantial premium on eBay; nevertheless, having photos of average or bad quality will almost certainly lead people to reconsider placing bids and/or cause them to question the worth of the item you’re selling.

Keep in mind that you are competing with a number of other merchants unless you have an item that is incredibly rare and no one else does (which is quite improbable). If you approach the photographing of your equipment like you would any paid project or highly regarded photo contest, you will get off to a strong start with your endeavors in this area.

4. Tell A Story And Make A Connection

Everyone can see that you are selling your 50mm AIS lens, but why? People want to know the story behind any piece of gear, particularly for higher-priced items. Your reasons for selling the equipment could be one of many: upgrading to a new model, accumulating a number of lenses with overlapping ranges, discovering that you don’t shoot as much macro as you initially thought, you might need a faster lens for low light shooting, your photography interests changed, and the lens rarely comes out of the bag, you recently purchased a 500mm 2.8 lens that requires a heavy-duty tripod/ball head combination, etc.

Whatever the reason, share it with potential buyers. It doesn’t have to be a narrative, but a paragraph or two can make a big difference with respect to helping people understand the story behind the equipment. If you are selling a lens, camera, tripod, or flash, share some of your best pictures taken with it via links to your website(s), such as Flickr, Smugmug, zenfolio, 500px, etc. People love to see what you have done with a given piece of gear, even if they could likely find many other photos taken with similar equipment.

Showcasing your photos, your experiences using the equipment, and how it helped you in your photography journey makes both you and the item much more personal to potential buyers. It also earns you some instant credibility as someone that knows what they are doing has some talent, and is likely someone they can trust. Again, you need to give people reasons to do business with you. Both a brief story regarding the equipment and the photos taken with it assures potential buyers that they are getting a great piece of gear from a credible source that will enable them to take great photos as well.

5. Anticipate Questions And Be Upfront

Don’t wait for obvious questions to be asked. Anticipate and answer them in your description of the item. When did you purchase the item? Did you buy it new or used? Is it still under warranty? Has it had any repairs or maintenance? What is included with the gear? Do you have the original box and paperwork? Does the item show any apparent signs of wear? Does the lens have any fungus? Leave out no details.

Provide a link to the product’s description on the vendor’s site. If someone is going to bid on your Nikon D300, they already know its flash sync speed, the types of memory cards it takes, etc. Don’t waste space simply repeating what someone can easily read by navigating to the manufacturer’s site.

6. State Your Business Terms

Declare unequivocally that you will only be interested in conducting business in particular nations. Don’t, for the love of penguins, forget to leave out the detail that you won’t ship to Antarctica, and then be surprised when “Penguin_Lover_22” ends up being the winner of the auction. Indicate the number of days that must pass before the sale can be considered null and invalid. Bring to the notice any additional regulations for conducting business, such as taking payments solely through PayPal. Make it clear that additional payment is required for insurance.

If you know the dimensions of the box and the overall weight, prospective purchasers will be able to estimate the amount it will cost them for shipping more correctly. You should specify the maximum number of days an individual has to pay you before the transaction is canceled and the item is relisted. Never take anything for granted, and always keep in mind the age-old proverb that goes along with the phrase “assume”… My prices for each item begin at one dollar. This idea makes some people uncomfortable, but I have never sold anything for less than what I considered to be a reasonable price for it.

7. Provide Your Shutter Actuation Count

Regarding this particular topic, several people could hold varying viewpoints. If you are selling a camera that is considered to be of a medium to a high level of quality, I feel that you should be prepared for the possibility that the prospective buyer would inquire about the number of times the shutter has been actuated.

After shooting a photo that is saved in the JPEG format, obtain a copy of the free Opanda EXIF reading software, count the number of times the shutter was actuated on your camera, and include that number in the item description. This is not only respectful, but it also saves both you and potential purchasers a significant amount of time because it eliminates the need for lengthy email exchanges on the matter.

8. Be Extremely Responsive

As soon as you have posted your item for sale on eBay, you should make it a habit to check your inbox several times each day. It is essential to indicate that you are respectful of the worries and time of others by replying to individuals as quickly as possible. In no event should you delay more than one day to get back to potential purchasers, and this rule is fundamental on the last day of the sale. It is helpful to place your item up for sale at a time when you will be available and ready to answer in a timely manner on the final day of the auction if you want to maximize your chances of making a sale.

This may need you to list your item on eBay at 10:30 at night so that you may be at your computer during the closing hours of the auction to respond to any inquiries that may be asked. It is never a good idea to list your stuff for sale on eBay a day or two before leaving on a trip to a secluded Caribbean island that may or may not have internet service while you are there.

Always respond to the possible buyer with politeness and consideration, especially if they ask questions that they should already know the answers to after reading your advertising. It is an inevitable consequence of running a commercial enterprise.

Put both the questions and the answers online for everyone to see. Because of this, you will save some time because it is possible that other people will have some of the same issues. I hope they have success in the auction, and I strongly encourage them to ask any further questions that come to mind.

9. Be Prepared To Ship Promptly

Do not wait until someone buys your equipment before realizing that you do not have a box that is acceptable for shipping, good bubble wrap, packaging tape, etc. Obtain these materials before the final day, then check to see that your gear can fit within the box while still providing adequate protection.

You should immediately mail the goods the next business day after receiving payment for them. In the event that you are unable to send the item right away, make sure to provide the buyer with a particular ship date as soon as you are able to, and communicate the FedEx or UPS tracking number to the purchasers so that they may monitor the progression of the shipment procedure.

10. Be Appreciative And Show It

Spend some time on a handwritten message of gratitude. The buyer very certainly had more opportunity to bid on products that were comparable to what you were selling. Recognize and value the fact that the customer bought something from you and decided to conduct business with you. Inform them that you would appreciate it if they could send you any photographs that were taken with your equipment, particularly cameras, and lenses.

As photographers, we have a propensity to form emotional attachments to our equipment (even if we do occasionally switch things up!). Finding out that your belongings have moved on to a new home where they will be cared for properly is a pleasant feeling in and of itself. When people email me links to stunning photographs that were shot using cameras or lenses that I had previously owned, I get a peculiar feeling of pride. Remind the individual that you would like it if they left favorable feedback on this transaction and that you will do the same for them if they do.

11. Feedback Is Everything

The lubricant that keeps the eBay machine humming for all of us is feedback that is accurate and provided in a timely manner. Respect the positive feedback you receive and do everything in your power to acquire more of it as the auction progresses. Give it out freely to those who treat you with the same respect that you give them and who turn out to be reliable purchasing partners.

In the event that someone forgets to submit feedback about the sale, you may send a kind email reminder and inquire about how much they are enjoying their new equipment. Things come up in life, and sometimes people forget. After they get the realization that they have let it slip, nearly everyone will promptly reply.

12. When Things Go Astray

Following the rules presented above is one of the most effective ways to prevent running into problems. Despite this, there may still be some problems. Always make an effort to be reasonable and find peaceful solutions to problems.

During the course of the past five years, I have parted ways with a considerable quantity of lenses, cameras, flash units, and other pieces of equipment. During one period of time, I parted ways with my complete Pentax kit, which consisted of a significant amount of equipment. During the years that I spent selling items on eBay, I only came into two problems.

The first challenge was resolving a dispute with a young guy who wanted his payment for the lens to be contingent on his cousin’s brother’s father-in-law delivering him a portion of a rebate check…or something along those lines. In this particular instance, I was required to convey to him in a manner that was courteous but firm that it was unacceptable for him to put our transaction for the lens in a subservient position to any other transaction.

I told him a time and date by which, if I did not get money, I would inform eBay that the transaction was terminated due to lack of payment, and I warned him that this would not reflect well on him. If I did not receive payment by that time and date, I notified eBay that the sale was canceled. It was sheer good fortune that he was able to complete the payment before the specified due date, at which point I was able to dispatch the lens.

The second problem was a customer who wanted to return an earlier version of the 50-millimeter lens that he had purchased from me. It appeared like there was some dust on the lens, according to what he said. It was difficult for me to believe that anybody could have assumed that this lens did not contain at least a few specks of dust, considering that it was manufactured in the early to middle of the 1970s. According to my understanding of the situation, the individual in issue had changed his mind about making the transaction. I didn’t stop him from returning it, though.

When I examined it alongside some of my more recent lenses, I saw that it had the same amount of dust as the others. There was neither more nor less dust on it than the others. Given the age and condition of the lens, as well as the fact that it had some typical wear and tear, I might have made a problem out of it with eBay considering that my description correctly represented that given the aforementioned information. In light of this, the presence of a few specks of dust inside the lens was pretty much to be expected. In this particular instance, though, I came to the conclusion that arguing about it would be a waste of my time.

13. Summary

You have a fantastic chance to expose your used photographic equipment to a big potential market of customers when you list it on eBay. The notion of auctions can work to your advantage since many people will get caught up in the “bidding wars” and, as a result, offer you the highest possible value for the item you are selling.

You can quickly grab the attention of customers and stand out from the competition if you devote a small amount of time and effort to display your equipment and yourself in a professional manner, are precise about the terms of your business, and treat people as you would want to be treated. Buyers can get the confidence that you are a reliable business partner and that it is justifiable for them to trust you with their hard-earned money if you solicit and accumulate excellent eBay ratings using a combination of two methods: rating solicitation and rating accumulation.

Do you have any experiences with eBay that you would be willing to share with others? People will always be grateful for the chance to pick up new skills from others. Leave a comment below, letting us know what you think.

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