eBay is the answer?


Photography is great for bower birds.  Collectors all of us, with items kept long after their usefulness has waned.  Some of it has become surplus to requirements, some of it is broken and not worth repairing or too difficult to get repaired in this country, and much has become redundant because you have changed camera systems, or even changed complete formats (6×6 to 35 mm for example).

I found myself in that situation a couple of years back after purchasing my Panasonic Lumix Digital DMC-FZ50.  It took a year of deliberation (some might call it ‘hesitation’ or just plain ‘dithering’) before I made the fateful decision to a) go digital and b) go Lumix, after more than 20 years of using Nikon exclusively.

Of course, some of you will ask why didn’t I stay with Nikon, with its full range of digital SLRs?  Good question, but easily answered.  The upper level Nikons are now very expensive, and whilst I had some excellent Nikon manual focus prime lenses, they were not going to be all that compatible with the new Nikon digital auto-focus systems.

That also brings in one of the salient reasons in the purchase of the Lumix – the fantastic 35-420 Leica zoom lens that comes with the Panasonic Lumix, coupled with the electronic anti-shake technology so you can hand hold, even at 420 mm.  With digitals these days, I believe that you are best served with electronics from an electronic company, with lenses from an optical company.  The Lumix definitely fits that.

Having made the irrevocable decision, I looked at my now defunct Nikon 35 mm film system.  I had two cameras, a much loved FM2N, and an FA.  The FM2N was the typical journalist’s workhorse with more rolls of film through it than I’ve had hot dinners, whilst the FA was the back up.  Only thing was the FA was no longer working, having some kind of internal problem, by which the mirror was locked in the “up” mode.

The lenses were a 24 mm wide angle, old and growing its second crop of fungus (the first was cleaned off about five years ago), a 50 mm ‘standard’ lens and a 135 mm ‘portrait’ lens.  I also had a spacer for macro work, which was also very old, but was the good one that still allowed the auto exposure function to work.

Quite frankly, as far as I was concerned, these items were now surplus and it was going to be very unlikely that I would use any of it again (although I would still take the FM2N out of its bag and lovingly stroke it every so often).

It was at that stage that a good friend of mine suggested I sell the surplus items, and said that he had excellent results selling items on eBay in the UK.  He was returning to the UK himself and offered to sell them, and I thought, “Why not?  I’m getting nothing for them sitting in the old camera bag.”

He had been back a couple of weeks when I got the following email:

Watchers Bids £
FA 14 7 28
FM2N 39 13 65
Spacers 16 5 22
24 mm 40 23 108
50 mm 55 13 68
135 mm 17 5 34

That little lot came to 325 pounds sterling, which at current exchange rates is around 17,000 baht, which certainly made purchase of the Lumix a breeze (duty-free price).

His advice for anyone contemplating selling via eBay was to take good photos of the items for sale, and be scrupulously honest in the descriptions.  If the item is broken, or scratched or repaired or whatever, declare its condition truthfully and this avoids come-backs later.

The lenses all went for very good money, though I would have thought the 135 mm would have been more desirable than the 50 mm, but the 24 mm did attract the highest bid, as I thought it would.

The moral to this tale, is to look at the old camera gear, broken or otherwise and clear out the cupboard and sell it.  You will get more than you ever imagined, but it certainly helped having a friend, a regular eBay user, and stationed in the UK.