Rant: Stop Overvaluing Your Gear and Lowballing Mine


This is a public service announcement.

I’ve been selling a lot of camera gear lately, changing systems, testing new lenses/bodies, etc. I’ve met up with a lot of different types of people, pro and amateurs, veterans and newbies, and guess what? We’re all into photography. We all love gear, so why not treat the community as such?


NO. The lens you paid $1,300 for is NOT worth $1,200 firm.


NO. The lens I paid $1,300 for I’m not going to sell to you for $500.


NO. Trading the lens you paid $1,300 for, which you are offering to me at $1,200, for my lens, which I paid $1,300 for, and you are offering me $500, is not going to fly.

Now I understand there are a lot of lowballers who use services like Craigslist, and yes, I understand everyone adds a little extra $$$ into their price for wiggle room. Guess what? You’ll rarely (if ever) get that price, and people are going to lowball you anyways.

I’ve also come across a lot of people who tell me they’re “motivated to sell” and will take $XXX less than listed price, but no one is reaching out to them. I tell them to drop the price to whatever the actual going rate is, or whatever they’re willing to take. Fun fact: Once they do that, it sells. Imagine that?

But how do I know what my gear is worth? Here’s the easiest way to find out what the market will bear. Look at eBay sold listings for used gear, and grab the average sales price.

The difference between the low and high sold price? That’s what people are willing to pay.

The sold price – shipping costs – eBay listing fees – PayPal fees = What sellers are getting for their gear.

If you think your lens is worth $XXXX because you’re in love with it, just keep it. You’ll end up buying it back when you miss it, and your love for it doesn’t define the market value. Plus, it just makes people hate you.


If you hate the lens or don’t use it, it doesn’t mean you should accept a lowball offer either. Your dislike for something doesn’t mean anything to market value either. Unless you’re desperate for money, wait until you get someone interested before accepting a lowball. The gear is sitting there collecting dust anyways, so who cares?

Yes, if you have the original packaging/warranty info/excellent condition gear, it does make a difference, but not at the price you think: I can buy it online for significantly less (see eBay above).

Which brings me back to my first point. We’re all in this for the love of the art. We’re all people who spend their hard earned money on something that’s barely maintaining relevance, and seems to be on the way to being completely replaced by smartphones. The person you’re talking to on the other end of the email, text message or phone is just like you.

I’ve done business with people whom had I had to meet at the bus station and people who’ve showed up in $200,000 cars, and everyone I meet up with are excited to shoot the breeze with me for an hour talking about process, the gear and the results. For all of you who think you’re going to get some ridiculous top dollar for your gear, you won’t.

Oh and one last thing, your kit lens probably isn’t in high demand. There’s a reason why they sell for pennies and no one wants them.

Thanks and have a nice day.

Your friendly neighborhood photog.

About the author: Johnny Photo is a photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area who loves photography and camera gear. No, Johnny Photo is not his real name.