US buyers: craigslist advice?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Mellow, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Real Name:
    I've been trolling craigslist the last few days, thinking I might find something interesting (I'm looking for a longer legacy lens). After looking over the last week's worth of ads, it looks like there are mainly two types of sellers: (a) people who are asking WAY too much for their stuff; and (b) people who have NO idea what they're selling at all, so they can't even describe it.

    Sample listings:

    "300mm lens"

    "Canon with 50mm lens"

    "Old Nikon film camera with 3 lenses!"

    So, my question is: have any of you bought lenses/camera from craigslist and, if so, do you have any advice? How do I separate out the wheat from the chaff?
  2. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    I've sold on CL, but not bought. As a general answer though, by asking.

    Email and ask for more details. You should be able to figure out brand easily enough, and if you give the seller a phone number you can probably talk them through things like camera model, focal length, etc.

    Even the overpriced ones, if it's something you want, may be worth responding to. If they've been trying to sell it for a while, and you make them a reasonable offer, they just might be ready to deal.
  3. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Real Name:
    Mike Aubrey
    I haven't bought cameras or lenses on Craigslist, but I have sold them. Typically, the first group of people can be split into two more groups:

    (a1): People who don't expect to sell their gear for that much, but are hoping for some who doesn't know what they're doing to buy for that price anyway.

    (a2): People who are convinced that since they bought it for so much more, it must still be worth that much.

    I think most of the time it involve asking a lot of questions to the seller or, at times, meeting in person to examine the gear yourself to know that it's what you want in the condition you want. If the latter, try to make it relatively easy on the seller. If you're just wanting to examine the gear, don't make the seller drive 30-45 minutes to you.
  4. zapatista

    zapatista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Denver, Colorado, USA
    Real Name:
    My quick take, look for lenses but also camera bodies/lenses together for your given desired prchases. For example, you might want an FD Canon L 100-300mm or something like it. Often you'll find a better priced opportunity scanning all the Canon AE-1 ads with lenses.
    ***Most folks selling bodies/cameras together who didn't actually use the stuff (families/estates) assume the camera is more valuable/saleable***

    This goes the same for eBay, though more often someone else will see the deals too.

    Craigslist is frustrating and requires a lot of patience, like garage sales/thrift stores. I don't even bother selling on craigslist...too much crap (low ballers/scammers) with my camera gear.
  5. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Real Name:
    Promit Roy
    The rate of posts worth paying to on CL is going to be some in the 1/25 range. That's 4 per page. This is just normal.
  6. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Real Name:
    Thanks guys, I appreciate it.
  7. M4/3

    M4/3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 24, 2011
    I find Craigslist pretty useless for selling cameras - I get nothing but wild low ballers.

    Craigslist has worked well for me, however, when selling cars.

    Also worked well when buying lightly used computers and printers
  8. justin4192

    justin4192 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 27, 2011
    Fairfax, VA, USA
    I've used Craigslist a few times successfully to buy and sell items. The last time though really pissed me off and I haven't used it since. I was selling a lens and arranged to meet. I called the guy up just before leaving to confirm and he agreed. I drove to the shopping center which we agreed to meet at and waited 45-60 minutes. I called him a couple times during that wait, but he turned off his phone so calls went straight to voicemail. I then checked my email and he had sent an email after our meeting time saying he "changed his mind", that's it. No text, no way to talk to him on the phone. Totally wasted my time. Craigslist is a real mixed bag. I prefer to buy and sell on the forums and have had great experiences that way.
  9. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Real Name:
    I've gotten a couple of real steals on legacy lenses from Craigslist. But I only buy after having extensive email correspondence with the seller. In some cases, I have asked them to provide additional information about the lens that was not in the original ad ("please tell me EXACTLY everything that is written around the front of the lens").

    I've not tried to sell any photo stuff on Craigslist. My husband sold a bunch of random stuff several years ago, and had a mixed-bag experience. Some decent folks, and some crazy lowballers ("I know you've listed it at $100, but I only have $15 in my pocket right now, can I come by and get it anyway?").
  10. veereshai

    veereshai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 12, 2011
    Arlington, VA
    I have bought and sold photography equipment on CL when I was in DC. Infact, I bought a very nice lens off CL and when I met the gentleman, we came to know that we are both part of mu-43 :smile:. I almost always ask for photographs if the person is unable to give me more details about the lens. I have found some really nice deals as people are looking to get rid of their film equipment and are not really keen on doing any research about the current market price.

    I once had a pretty bad experience though. A sigma 10-20 went up for a sale and the guy was quoting around $300 for it and I agreed to meet him at a particular time near a metro station. He was selling some other lenses as well and he asked me to get there at around 11am. I was a bit ahead of schedule and got there by 10:45am and I see a person handing over couple of lenses to another guy. I thought it could be the same person but didn't bother much and went into the starbucks (that's where we were supposed to meet). I waited for a while and gave a call but he cut the call and messaged saying "The guy I was selling my other lens to, offered me $15 over your price, so it's sold". Needless to say, I was pretty annoyed but that didn't discourage me from going back to CL. You meet bad buyers/sellers everywhere, so that incident alone didn't bother me much. But, do read up on various scams that happen on craigslist and always do an email id check on google before you decide to meet someone.
  11. moschika

    moschika Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 19, 2012
    I got my OM-D and PL25 off craigslist for what I think was a good price. but they had good pictures of the item and describe it well. we met in a very nice public place since I was going to have a lot of cash, they were very clean and "looked" legit. he had all the boxes and receipts, so i had no problem handing him my money.

    general rule of CL though is "first with cash wins".
  12. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    It's very hit or miss. You can find great deals occasionally, but on average I find it's worth the extra money to buy through a forum where there's some filtering mechanism. It takes a fair amount of time and effort to sort through dozens of craigslist posts for the few that aren't overpriced or scams. Of course, if you're the sort of person who enjoys picking over odds and ends at garage sales, that may not be as much of a downside.