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Sunday, 04 November 2007


I am always amazed at the descriptions on Ebay. Beat up trash described as "Near Mint", etc. They include a photo that clearly shows junk. Does anyone fall for these descriptions despite the photos? I guess the sellers aren't total thieves...the truly bad ones don't include a photo of the actual item up for sale.

My favorite was from a few years ago on eBay Germany. A fellow was selling a box of photographic (darkroom) B&W Ilford paper. There was a good description of it, and also a PICTURE of it, unwrapped and out of the box. The auction was stopped in a couple of days because the merchandise "had been damaged". I think that auction page got over 100,000 hits!

Absolutely hilarious! I've always wondered about exactly the same phenomenon.

My explanation? In a word: competition. We're competitive little monkeys. We like to win. We enjoy the game. People seem to get so caught up in winning the auction they completely lose sight of what the item they're bidding on is worth!

It's a great thing if you need to sell something on eBay. I've sold certain lenses a few weeks or months after I bought them for MORE than I paid for them. I'm not talking about vintage, hard-to-find stuff, either. I'm talking about something you can get at B&H, Adorama or any number of online retailers.

Strange, isn't it?

Like the forums on dpreview.com, I am convinced the data for an interesting dissertation (or at least a an article) lies in the records of e-bay bidding history. All we need is a perceptive anthropologist, psychologist, or marketing researcher to take advantage of it. I, for one, am always amazed the following phenomena: once a particular dpreview.com topic or object of sale garners sufficient attention, reason and logic seem dissapate like dew at the start of a day in the desert.


I wonder, though, if the auctioners themselves are puffing the price up. I know eBay tries to keep this from happening but...

To be fair, not everybody lives in the US so something available for 695$ in New York before tax could be only available for a lot more somewhere else, or even not at all. And even big on-line vendors may not ship all over the world (a few years ago, Adorama would not accept payment from a French credit card...).

Finally, it may actually be the buyer trying to trick the seller into a "good deal"...

Although of course the thrill of the bidding war may certainly be a factor for some!

I was bidding on a used Canon EF 70/200L f4 lens on eBay. I ended up buying a new one at B&H for $59 less than the used one sold for on eBay!

I too often wonder why people don't check prices before they buy.

I, too, have noticed the phenomenon of used photographic items on eBay going for more than the price for the same item new. It would be interesting to see if these auctions were actually completed at those prices. On two separate occasions, involving two separate sellers, I have bid on a used lens and was the high bidder (but well below new price) when I was outbid at the last minute. As it is my policy to hold to my maximum price point, I lost those auctions. On those two occasions I received, within hours, an email stating that the winning bid had fallen through, and that I now had the opportunity to buy the item at the amount of my last bid. I suspect that these were just scams to try to inflate the final price of the item.
I would also not be surprised if much of the used photographic items on eBay are being sold by camera dealers or their employees using pseudonyms. With that being said, if one researches the item and the seller, eBay can be a good thing. And never bid more than you thought the item was worth before you had entered the auction.

The best I saw was a set of empty boxes for a Leica M6 (if I recall) and a couple of lenses. Granted the description was poorly worded but it wasn't with malicious intent. They were bid up to some thousands of dollars before close reading of the description finally kicked in.

The winner paid the insertions fees and the boxes stayed with their original owner.

Taking a stroll through the "Everything Else" category can be entertaining.

I have a few hundred successful ebay transactions and have witnessed many mysterious events over the years. I actually buy most of my stuff from B&H simply BECAUSE I use them as a pricing reference for my ebay purchases. Just today I was curious about a Nikon MB-D200 and find that most used sell for within 10% of new. Silly stuff.
Years ago I caught and stopped a friend from bidding $65.00 on a piece of marketing literature for an old piece of nothing special HiFi equipment. He was just caught up in the excitement.....


I will say that one of my most exciting experiences online was when I found a trove of hundreds of rare classical LP records (London Bluebacks, CBS Six-Eyes, Living Stereo, Mercury Living Presence, etc.) at a local store and auctioned them all off on eBay. I had paid a maximum of $8.50 per record--most were $2.50 and $4.40--but I sold many of them for more than $100 and the highest went for $265. It was only later that I realized that approximately 50% of the winning bids had come from one of three individuals, who happened to live in the very farthest corners of the country--one in Florida, one in Washington State, and one in Southern California. Without eBay, I never would have gotten those three bidding against each other.

Mike J.

Here's something for the campfire. Two hoods for the original Olympus Pen, both in mint condition with case, sold for nearly the same price...even though the sales were two years apart and to my knowledge the only ones sold in that time. Spooky.

I was on Ebay one night and saw a Nikon 1Dx listed by the same seller three times. Each listing had the same price, photo, and copy. The seller was somebody in China with a zero feedback rating and wanted payment by money order or bank check. Looked fishy to me so I reported it to eBay and when I checked back later they had pulled the auction and the seller was no longer listed as a member. The three postings all had bids. If I could plainly see the multiple listings of the same thing, why couldn't the bidders?

I occasionally buy eBay items 'no matter the price' because either it is simply not available any other way to me or the exchange rate makes it a bargain for me (but perhaps expensive for others).

Remember, no two people will have the same view on what constitutes 'fair value'.

One of my favourite mislistings on eBay is the ubiquitous lens described as what's written on the filter ring: e.g. "For sale a Pentax Super ME with a 49mm Hoya UV lens."

I'm convinced that Cyril is correct, in particular for items located outside the U.S. As I am located in Germany, it makes lots of sense for me to buy stuff on eBay at prices above those at B&H, provided that the seller/item are located in the EU. If I buy items from B&H or from the U.S. where prices are generally much lower, I risk having to pay customs duties, which add close to 30% to the price of the object (plus I have to pay for international shipping). Of course, I won't pay more than the price of the same item new in the EU.


You piqued my curiosity. I went to eBay to check and the two cameras I own, Sony R1 and Fuji F31fd, seem to be cult favourites at the moment. Judging by closed auctions, I think I could sell both cameras for more than I paid for them new.

I no longer sell or buy on Ebay. It has gotten so bad for both the seller and buyer. I started receiving foreign bids and emails with unrealistic requests even when I specifically posted "No Foreign Bidders". The crooks abound! It's to bad Ebay couldn't take a more aggressive role in policing its site.

I also have quite a bit of Ebay experience, both buying and selling.

-Re. R. Edelman, I would say that in both those cases they were bidding on their own item or having a friend bid it up. Them contacting you a few hours later seems really fast and a bit dubious.

When I was going to purchase a used Canon D30, which was going to be my first digital camera, I did a lot of research, and I mean a lot. I was amazed at how many bogus Ebay auctions there were for this camera. Many were shut down, some through my efforts, but there were still lots that ended with somebody wiring $1,000-$2,000 overseas to somebody with little or no feedback, and then being surprised when their camera didn't show up. I certainly felt bad for these people, but at the same time I was asking: WTF were you thinking?!?!

Ebay really is a phenomenon, and sometimes a bizarre one!

Does this means you've been eyeing those wood fields yourself, Mike?

I noticed someone paid a little over $700 for one of these last week; but that example happened to come with a good tripod and head, mounted lens, holders, dark cloth, field case. Granted all used and the lens was not perfect, but everything looked in nice condition. A windfall for someone starting LF from scratch.

I've concluded patience and will power are an ebay shopper's best tools. Eventually, the thing will turn up and go for a reasonable or bargain price. One has only to be willing to wait... and ready to pounce.

If you really are looking, good luck!

Not an unusual event on E-Bay. Such insane bidding is why I've long since stopped bothering looking on E-Bay for any popular items.

It still has been good for childrens books and replacement dishes though.

It is mighty strange. Some people will pursue a bargain right off the edge of a cliff. I'd only used eBay for a few weeks before realizing that KEH and other retailers are usually a much better choice for common used equipment. Not only are the prices often better, you get a real description with an honest assessment, and there's a warranty and a place to send it back if you're not happy. Really obscure stuff is a different story, I suppose.

I do prowl eBay more than I should, but when it comes to buying I keep my expectations low and my bids even lower. I have a weakness for inexpensive and interesting items, very seldom going for anything pricey. This has gotten me a couple duds and a few more nice bargains. And while I have had a few SNAFUS I've never yet dealt with a seller who seemed deliberately dishonest. Slow and uninformed, yes, but not dishonest. I'm hoping my luck holds out.

Had an opposite Ebay experience, on a 70-210 f4 Nikor lens, the seller wasn't talking it up much. Paid a little over $100, received the lens, didn't look promising, soft, then I checked the filter on the front, the glass was at a wierd angle--off brand filter. Removed the filter and the lens has been a good one. Most of the time I lose on the auctions 'cause I don't want to overpay.


My son quite often sells toys on ebay for much more than he (or we) paid for them at the shops. These aren't vintage or exotic toys but models that are readily available in shops.

I think people think that if it's on ebay, it must be a bargain.

There are at least two reasons to pay more on ebay than in a shop:
1. New item from USA will receive big custom duties.
2. Not every shop ships to Europe, and in last 6 years US dollar has fallen "head down" and now it cost a half of what it used to be.
At least Large Format equipement is much cheaper in USA than other place.

Here's a funny ebay story: I was selling a Nikon 18-200 VR lens that I had owened for a year, I get a email asking me what's the difference between my lens and the ones that could be bought brand new online for the same price. My responce was thats it's a year old and has no warranty, the person still bought the lens for more money.

But sometimes u get great deals too.... I bought a phone on ebay that originally retails for 499.99 for only 250$ factory unlocked.....

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