If you are a photographer, you may own a lot of camera gear. You may even suffer from Gear Acquisition Syndrome, or G.A.S as its commonly referred to. It's a pretty common condition that artists go through and can change in severity throughout their careers. As years pass, your closets fill can fill up gadgets and gizmos that are no longer needed. It's like a Toy Story, but your camera's don't talk and it isn't funny. Dust gathers, and some of the gear becomes obsolete and worthless. This article shares my experience over the last few years in selling camera gear. I hope it helps.
If you carry an insurance policy (which you should) on your photography gear from accidental damage, loss, or theft, then you know this expense depends on the value of what you have insured and the replacement cost for each item. Over time this can really add up and you might want to consider selling off things you might not need or want to insure.
Your gear may also be a part of a tax program that you've set up for depreciation with your business. This may be different for everyone but I wanted to state that you should always understand how you are treating your investment in these assets with your company. So make sure you are talking about this with your CPA if you haven't yet made a plan for how to write-off assets like camera equipment.
A few years ago, we went through a "spring cleaning" at PRO EDU, and we went through every piece of gear that we didn't use, or need. We amassed a huge pile of random photography, video, audio, grip, lighting, modifiers, etc. We decided it was time to sell it off and list in on Craigslist and then Ebay. That was a big nightmare.
It took us time to organize, test, clean, lookup, photograph, and write descriptions on Craiglist for each listing. Craiglist was a convenient option because we could list for free, but the time and energy it took was a nightmare. That simple process cost me valuable time and resources of several studio employees.
We ended up selling MAYBE 1/4 of the gear and spent months answering emails, meeting people in person, and responding to messages online. We even had one person purchase a light and then return it because they broke it and threatened us with a lawsuit because they claimed we sold something broken. What a nightmare scenario!
I finally just decided to move on and put what was left back in the closet. It wasn't worth the hassle.
A few months ago, I found out about Adorama's Used Gear Department and was pleasantly surprised to find out how easy it was to send it in. The process is simple and convenient. You have a quick email or phone chat with a team member after filling out an initial form HERE, and then they send you pre-paid shipping labels.
You pack up everything in boxes and send it all in. After a few weeks, I received an email with a list of all of the items' values. I could decide if I wanted to sell the items or if I wanted them to ship them back to me. I agreed, and Adorama then sent me a check. I sent in 15 huge boxes of massive lighting, cameras, lenses, batteries, drones, monitors, and computers. The cost alone to ship this was more than $1,000 as each box was about 50 pounds and very large. I didn't have to pay a dime.
Adorama says that you will receive 75% of the value of the item, so they are keeping about 25% for the hassle, which in my opinion, is worth it. Also you are getting their expertise in what the item is worth based on the condition it is in.
This percentage may be a deal-breaker for some who want to get 100% of what THEY think their gear is worth, and that is a valid argument. I believe it comes down to the amount of equipment you are selling and your capacity to deal with the general public. Let's face it; strangers can be weird and a valuation on certain things may be difficult.
At the end of the day, if I can use something to make art, and make money with it for years and I can find the sweet spot in valuation BEFORE it becomes worthless, then that is a good model. Especially for upgrading gear if it is necessary.
What I Love About It: They pay for all of the shipping costs and the return shipping costs of gear if you don't accept the offer you get on the valuation. You only need to put everything in a shipping box and drop it off at U.P.S. You also don't have to worry about a warranty of someone coming back to you claiming that it's "broken" demanding a refund. Research how here.
What I Didn't Like: The entire process took about one month to get paid. Not the end of the world, but the process did take longer than I expected. This delay was in the middle of a pandemic, and I sent in 15 boxes of gear, so I get why it took longer than I expected. But in hindsight this was 100 times faster than trying to do it on my own.
Also, for some of the items I sent it, they were missing smaller items and random cables, resulting in an "incomplete" product. This is a good reason why you should keep original boxes, the manual, and all of those tiny useless cables that come with everything. I usually throw the manual away, and in this case, it came back to bite me.
What I Love About It: This is good for selling 1 or 2 things occasionally, and you get to keep 100% of the cash or Venmo/Cash App.
What I Don't Like: This requires a lot of time and back and forth with strangers, answering questions, meeting people in person, and haggling with the "low-ballers." This also requires you to use your personal Facebook profile, and people leave reviews. I recently got a negative review because someone didn't like my "prices" after selling a rolling magnetic whiteboard.
What I Love About It: I wouldn't say I love much about Craigslist, but it is easier to remain anonymous with their disguised email relay features. Outside of this, the platform is outdated but still might be the "norm" of local garage sale listings.
What I Don't Like: Just about everything here is bad. The entire listing experience, navigation, and usability is bad. It's tough to communicate on this platform and seems really sketch and only getting sketchier.
What I Love About It: eBay was once the preferred method, and they have a lot of features to make listing things easy. I haven't sold anything on eBay in years, but have only had negative experiences buying things, so this is very low on my list.
What I Don't Like: Ebay is great for people with a "credible" history and a good seller rating; however if your main job isn't selling on eBay, this can be hard to sell, especially when you have to factor in the shipping costs.
What I Love About It: There is nothing here that is good. Don't sell expensive electronics to your family if it could break or if you aren't prepared to give them a refund. It's almost a guarantee that the item will break within a few months, and then they will blame you for the rest of your life or maybe ask for a refund. Don't sell anything to friends or family. It's just not a good practice or idea.
This boils down to how much free time you have to sell something and your tolerance with dealing with strangers online and in-person. If you own a lot of gear, and you haven't used a lot of it in 12-18 months, then ask yourself if you REALLY need it. It may be time for you to make a listing and ship it away.
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