You know what sucks? Having to sell old gear.
As a matter of fact, I’m sure you can relate to this story...
Last year, I was selling one of my lenses (a 70-200mm) because I wanted to upgrade to the newer VRII.
I did what many photographers have done, and I listed it on Craigslist.
Feeling relieved that I actually got around to finally posting the ad, I put my feet up and waited for my phone to buzz with inquiries from excited buyers.
What came, though, was something I didn’t want. My phone was buzzing from a ton of people who wanted to buy my lens, but strangely, they were all from out of town.
On top of that, they offered to overpay for my lens and pay $150 for shipping without even seeing the lens or asking any legitimate questions.
Here's a screenshot of an actual conversation I had with a potential buyer:
That experience made me wonder, how can I more safely sell my used gear?
Well, after some digging, I found the answer - Lensfinder.
Lensfinder is the Best Place to Sell Used Lenses
If we're talking about safely selling your used lenses, there's really no better option than Lensfinder.
If you haven't yet heard of this site, let me enlighten you just a little bit...
It's a marketplace for buying and selling used lenses that photographers are raving about.
Since it's a marketplace, Lensfinder doesn't actually sell anything but gives photographers like you and me the online space to sell used gear.
The beauty of Lensfinder is that it focuses solely on used lenses, so you don't have to compete with a bunch of other camera gear to get people's attention on your lenses.
Another great thing about Lensfinder is that it's a community built specifically for photographers.
By that, I mean that unlike eBay and Craigslist where scammers and questionable buyers and sellers seem to be in such great numbers, Lensfinder is a membership site just for photographers.
So, you have to create an account (which is free) before you list your lenses for sale (which is also free to do). That alone helps weed out the riff-raff, so to speak, so legitimate buyers and sellers can get together.
And once you create an account and list your lens, Lensfinder has plenty of other awesome features for you.
For starters, you can communicate with potential buyers right within the platform. I like that because it means I don't have to give out my phone number for crazy buyers to blow up my phone.
The other nice thing about Lensfinder is that you take care of payments right then and there. Lensfinder currently supports PayPal and will soon offer support for wire transfers and credit cards.
Again, that's great for folks like you and me who would prefer to have guaranteed payment rather than meeting a stranger in a random parking lot to hopefully get paid (and not get robbed!).
You get all that for free, too. The only fees you pay to Lensfinder are when your lens sells, and even then it's just 3.99 percent (with additional fees from PayPal or your bank, of course). Way less than eBay, in other words...
But as awesome as all that is, here's the kicker: Lensfinder is the safest way to sell used lenses because they have advanced fraud filtering software.
That means they vet both buyers and sellers, have seller protection options, and offer mediation if there's a problem.
There's also a Lensfinder feedback system, so as you complete successful transactions and have happy buyers, you build your credibility as a reputable seller.
In other words, Lensfinder is simply head and shoulders above those "other guys" eBay and Craigslist.
Getting Ready for the Sale
Now that we've established the safest place to sell your used lenses, let's review the steps you need to take to get ready for the sale.
Take Good Photos
This is a real DUH moment, isn't it?
Since we're all photographers here, we all know that good photos are more likely to help you sell your lens than bad photos.
The better your gear looks, the more people that will click on the listing, and the more likely you'll be to sell the lens for the price you want.
More than just doing a better job of showing off the gear you have for sale, high-quality photos also show your attention to detail, which, in turn, tells sellers that you're the kind of person that takes care of gear.
So, don't just slap your lens down on the dining room table and take a snapshot with your phone.
Set it up like you're taking a portrait of your baby - take care when posing the lens so it doesn't roll around, ensure you've got great lighting to highlight its features, and give it a good cleaning beforehand.
Think about using white cardstock for the background to give the lens some separation from the surroundings, take photos at different angles with different points of view, and include images of any accessories, too (i.e., the owner's manual, lens caps, lens hoods, or the original box).
If you take high-quality photos, it'll be hard to disguise any exterior defects, even if you wanted to.
But this speaks to a larger point about giving an honest assessment of the gear.
If it's your most beloved lens, you need to take the rose-colored glasses off when you describe it.
For example, tell buyers about every defect you know of - scratches on the housing or the glass, any issues with the zoom or focus ring, and the like. Note if there's issues with the aperture, if it makes strange noises, if there's dust or fungus inside, and so forth.
When it comes down to it, just be ethical. Don't say it's in "like new" condition if it's really something that should be thrown in the dumpster.
A great way to draw buyers in is to tell them why you're selling the lens.
In fact, if you can connect with potential buyers by telling a story, that's even better.
For example, in your Lensfinder listing, you could put something like:
I'm selling my 85mm lens. Don't need it anymore.
Or, you could put something a little more informative, like:
After saving up for a long while, I've finally purchased my dream lens - a Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM ART. Now that I have this bad boy, it's time to part with my trusted friend over the years, my Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM. It's served me well and now I'm offering it for sale so someone else can derive as much joy out of it as I have.
It literally took me an additional 20 seconds to write the second description than it took to write the first. Which one do you think will inspire buyers more?
Be Prepared for Questions
Any smart buyer will ask you questions about the lens, so be prepared by trying to answer as many of them upfront as you can.
Buyers will want to know when you bought the lens, if there are any accessories, if you still have the original box and receipt, and if the lens has ever had to have maintenance or work done to correct a problem.
Add this information to your listing, that way you don't have to spend a ton of time answering the same questions over and over again.
Speaking of answering questions, when you get a message from a potential buyer on Lensfinder, respond promptly.
Not only does a prompt response demonstrate that you're a top-notch seller, but it also shows regard for the buyer's time and effort to actually get in touch with you.
Putting It All Together
I'm sure you've had nightmare situations selling your old gear just like I have.
But those years of frustration, anxiety, and rip-offs are over now that Lensfinder is on the scene. It's simply the safest, most efficient means of selling your old lenses!
My experiences with Lensfinder have been refreshing compared to past dealings with whacked-out buyers on eBay and Craigslist, and I'm sure you'll find the same to be true.
And as I noted earlier, Lensfinder is free to join and free to list your items. If your lens doesn't sell, you're don't have to pay a dime.
Stop wallowing in the sorrow of trying to sell your old lenses elsewhere. Trust me, Lensfinder is a MUCH better choice.