Down Market Buying – Upmarket Results

I often castigate sellers and buyers of camera equipment that is obscenely expensive. They take no notice of me, as they live and read in strata of society that few of us approach…and I am grateful for that. The last thing I should want is malevolent attention, particularly when it is cashed-up.

Rather than rail against the luxurious, I decided to investigate what might be done with the frugal. To this end I checked out a re-conditioned camera and lens from the camera shop and started to wring it out over a bucket..

Reconditioned may mean any number of things – returned as faulty in a warranty situation, demo stock returned as unsalable from camera shops, demo stock that has done the rounds of camera shows. Whatever it is, as the reconditioning is done by the national wholesaler as a manufacturer’s representative, each unit contains a warranty and the warranty acknowledges the fact that the sellers are bound by state law to sell adequate products or make good with repairs, replacements, or refunds. In the case of the Olympus camera I tested, I know that the local rep is dead-straight honest and the shop itself is reputable…so the business part of the deal is safe to do.

Whether a camera and lens that are a generation back in the maker’s lineup is a good deal is the other question. Some buyers are so wound-up about having the latest of everything that they can be played by the maker’s advertising department like steam calliope. They can further be made to dance to the tune of whichever website promises the goods within the day. Or the hour. Or the minute. They are a driven lot…

I would rather hold whip than be the back. That is why I write advertisements and weblog columns for the camera shop. I am not entirely evil – I do not tease desperate geeks into hanging on the shop doorknob overnight in the hope of having the first of the newest whatever in the country. I leave that to the owner of the business, and I have heard some of the promises being made. I do champion frugal photography and sensible buying, and I think that the idea of reconditioned gear from a reputable manufacturer is a likely to be a good thing. I’ve purchased the bulk of the photo equipment I’ve owned over the years from the secondhand market and that is a muddier set of waters than the reconditioned stream. In most cases I’ve had no trouble whatsoever.

Not the case with buying things from eBay, or buying aged electronic hi-fi equipment, however. I have a number of defunct electronic boxes that will never run or be repaired again – they did function when received but the gremlins of the intermittent fault claimed them. Just as they will claim old computer gear…you need to be philosophical and just buy new what you cannot possibly repair.


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