Ever wonder Where to Buy Camera Gear? I’ve been a professional photographer for more than a decade and over that time, I’ve purchased new and used camera gear. I’ve rented, traded, traded up, and bought just about every piece of camera equipment you can imagine, and I have the best knowledge on where to get the best camera gear for your buck. Below I’m going to present my favorite 5 options for buying camera gear with pros and cons for each.
#5th best place to buy camera gear:
KEH.com KEH has been around my entire career. Besides ebay, it was the first place I had heard of to buy used camera gear. They have cheap prices on used camera bodies, lenses, and accessories. KEH has an ok amount of stock, which means you might have to be patient waiting for what you want because they might not have it. Con of using KEH: slightly higher prices on most items. Also, with any used-only shop, you don’t know how well the gear was treated or any of its eccentricities.
They do have a nice grading system, but there is still a certain mystery about what you’re getting, how often it was serviced, if it was ever sent in for repairs, etc. And for pricing, as a reference, I’ve priced the same camera body across all of my top options. Price for Canon 5D MK IV body: 1744.00
#4th best place to buy camera gear:
mpb.com MPB came on the scene much later than KEH, but has become a major player in the used camera gear space The pros and cons are similar to KEH. However, their stock of used camera bodies and lenses appear to be more extensive than that of KEH, and the prices are slightly better. Price for Canon 5D MK IV body: 1689.00
#3rd best place to buy camera gear:
borrowlenses.com I wrote about Borrow Lenses a long time ago (before #2 came around) when I recommended to try before you buy new camera bodies or lenses. At the time, I was an affilliate for Borrow Lenses, and while I’d never promote a company I didn’t believe in, BL has lost its touch since I promoted them in 2009. They were bought by a larger company and while that means they typically have a bigger inventory for rentals, they lost that personal aspect with the photographer base. They tend to nickel and dime customers (a big turn off) and aren’t forgiving or friendly from my personal experience.
That aside, a huge pro of buying from BL or #2 (keep reading) is that the lenses and camera bodies are constantly being serviced, cleaned, and examined. This likely explains their higher price point. However, you know what you’re getting when you buy from these two options. Price for Canon 5D MK IV body: 1850.94
Honestly, the Real MVP is Lensrentals.com
#2nd best place to buy camera gear: Lensrentals.com. First of all, this is my #1 best place to buy used camera body and lenses. They are everything BL wishes they were. Lens Rentals has incredible customer service, a fun brand, are in touch with photographers, and have better prices. They are my go-to. Hands down.
On the buying front, they do something really special (which they don’t have to do): the Keeper Test Drive. If you rent something and decide you must have it in your camera bag, you can buy that gear and Lensrentals will take up to 7 days of rental fees off the purchase price. To me, that’s a no-brainer happy program to take advantage of. On top of that, their prices are better than BL. Price for Canon 5D MK IV body: 1673.
Finally, my #1 best place to buy camera gear
bhphotovideo.com B&H has been around for forever, are the most reputable for new camera gear, and have amazing prices. I tend to buy all my new gear from B&H unless I’m in a super hurry for it and can’t wait for it to ship to me. An added bonus of always buying from the same company: it’s an easy email search when it comes to tax time or insurance time. Price for NEW Canon 5D MK IV body: 2699 (again, that’s NEW).
Wait… what about shopping local?
You might say, but Dale… what about local camera shops? Isn’t shopping local better? While local camera shops are great for products you need right away, they typically aren’t cost effective. Since you have to pay sales tax (or use tax) regardless of buying locally or online, there isn’t a savings there. Of course, you do save on shipping, but local camera stores typically have to mark up their gear because they don’t purchase high quanities.
AND BEFORE YOU GET ANGRY WITH THAT ANSWER: my dad owned a literal “mom and pop” camera store, that was put out of business by walmart and bestbuy and b&h. It’s not personal, it’s business.
On the other hand, shopping at your local camera store for accessories, film, processing, printing, etc is great. Non-big ticket items are a win-win for you and for the local camera shop. They don’t make a ton on camera lenses or bodies usually. Their bread and butter are items like film processing, printing, and camera accessories. The other great advantage of being in your local camera store is that you get to network with other local photographers, and with the employees. There is an intangible aspect of being part of the local photo crowd that your local camera shop offers. So there. 😉
I hope this has been helpful! Feel free to share any comments below, things I missed, or topics you would like for me to cover.
Talk to you soon,