Just a small tip for when you're buying used: before you buy from Ebay, check KEH first.
(I don't have any affiliation with KEH (pronounced kay-ee-aitch). Wish I did. I tried to find out if they have affiliate arrangements, but didn't even get a reply.)
They won't always have what you need. Sometimes you do have to resort to Ebay.
I've noticed time and time again, however, that people often ask more on Ebay for things than KEH is asking. And for items that are frequently in much more questionable condition than what KEH has.
This has happened with me many times. I'll be shopping for a particular item on Ebay. I'll get a sense of the prices. I'll find a particular item that seems in good condition and that seems well priced—and then I'll go to KEH and find the same thing in "Ex+" condition sitting there for less money.
Here are the advantages of KEH: they're big, and often do have whatever you're looking for; they grade very conservatively; they sell only repaired, working equipment (they'll even repair what they just sold you if it doesn't arrive in the condition they said it would); you automatically have return privileges; and—I already mentioned this—their prices are sometimes lower than what you might think is a good deal on Ebay.
Oddly, I can't find an explanation of KEH's grading system online. Basically, anything above "Ex" will generally be in irreproachable condition; "Ex+," although you pay a premium for it, really is; even "BGN" (which means "bargain") items will often be in surprisingly good condition; and their "UG" grade—for "ugly"—is what some Ebay sellers call "mint." (An Ebay seller once sent me a Leica described as "9+" that was broken. When I complained, I was told that 9+ was well down the scale for him—behind 10–, 10, 10+, mint, LN, and LN+. LN plus? And how can 10+ differ from "mint"? Oh, never mind. Bottom line, he was a scoundrel.)
The nature of the internet being what it is, this post will draw out of the woodwork anyone who has an axe to grind with KEH, and we might get ten comments from people who feel aggrieved for one sundry reason or another. Know what? Don't care. I've been buying stuff from this outfit for 20 years, and all by myself I've got a good solid basis for saying it's a good company.
I'm also not saying KEH will always have what you need or that it will always be the best deal. I'm just saying, check them first before you buy elsewhere. That's all.
A word to the wise. KEH is at www.keh.com.
(Illustration photo by Rama)
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by John Robison: "KEH, B&H, and Freestyle. Three online retailers I trust completely. Service without drama, so good it's boring."