Buying Cameras and Lenses on Ebay

Buying cameras and lenses on ebay can be very rewarding. You can find some great deals on photography equipment. A lot of the items there are brand new with marked down prices. You can also find a lot of “like new” items. For example, I have seen several people selling “like new” lenses on ebay. These are lenses that came with a new camera they bought. Because they already had a lens or lenses that cover the focal length of the lens included with their new camera, they don’t need the included lens. So, they sell it on ebay for a fraction of what you could buy it for somewhere else. The lens has never been used and is basically brand new.

Having said this, there are a couple of things to watch out for when buying cameras and lenses on ebay.

Shipping Lenses on Ebay

So, you’ve found the lens you’ve been wanting to get. It’s a great price. Awesome! But, here’s one thing to keep in mind. The lens needs to be protected during shipment. I was surprised to see how many ebay auctions for camera lenses said something similar to the following in the description:

“Lens in great shape! Ships without lens cap.”

Really? Well guess what. That lens may be in great shape now. But, you ship it in a cardboard box in a bouncy truck across the country without anything protecting the lens and see what kind of shape it’s in by the time it gets to you. Can they protect it with something else? Maybe. But here’s two questions for you to ask.

  1. If the seller doesn’t have a lens cap for it, what kind of shape is the lens really in?
  2. Even if the lens gets to you in great shape, how are you going to protect it?

You’re still going to have to purchase a lens cap for it, right? Your best bet is to find a lens for sale that has the lens cap with it. You’ll be better off.

Camera and Lens Photos on Ebay

When buying cameras and lenses on ebay, make sure you pay attention to the photos of the item you’re thinking about buying or biding on. Ebay has announced that it will be changing its photo requirements soon. But, until they do, here’s some things to look for.

I’m always a little leery about low quality photos. I mean think about it. Our phones can take high quality photos these days. It actually takes more work to make the photo smaller that to just leave it the high resolution it originally was. There’s really no reason to have some little thumbnail image of the product being sold. Unless, of course, the seller is trying to hide something. Ebay encourages sellers to use high quality photos of their items.

Another thing that ebay will be changing is the use of stock images of products. There will still be some instances in which stock images will be allowed. But, for the most part, sellers will be required to provide images of the item they are selling. Being able to see a photo of the actual item you will be getting is a great thing. Especially if the photo is high quality, allowing you to really inspect the item.

With a stock image, you really don’t know the condition of the item. You just have to take the sellers word for it. I saw one lens on ebay in which the seller described it as “like new” and “well taken care of”. The seller had an actual photo of the lens. It was filthy! The barrel had scratches. There were specs of dirt all over the glass. It looked like it had been dragged behind an angry buffalo! Now, think about this. If someone will say that an item is “like new” and “well taken care of” and include a photo that shows otherwise, how willing are you to trust a seller that says the same things and only provides a stock image, or no image at all?

Ebay is a Great Source for Cameras and Lenses

There are sellers that are simply trying to take advantage of people. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller questions. Ebay makes this easy to do. Ask questions before you make a bid or purchase. There are many con artists on ebay. One that comes to mind is the seller that had a photo of an item on an ebay auction. And that’s exactly what the winner of the auction received……a photo of the item! She did not get the item in the photo! I believe ebay made sure the “winner” got their money back, (and hopefully banned the con artist), but, you get my point.

You can find some great deals when buying cameras and lenses on ebay. Just be careful and make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for.


I'm Jason, and I have an obsession with photography. I love taking photos, as well as viewing others photos. As I grow and learn, I like to share tips and techniques with others.

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