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Monday, 18 June 2007


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Alternately--On eBay, blurry pictures + poor description + bad spelling + sufficient knowledge on the purchaser's part = Opportunity.

I don't make a business of buying and selling things on eBay, but on occasion I've made a healthy profit by taking a well considered risk on a poorly described, poorly photographed item, and selling it later when I decided I didn't need it anymore, using better photographs and a well written description.

Exactly what David Goldfarb said! I haven't re-sold anything, but my best buys on eBay have been the result of a fuzzy photo coupled with a poor description of the item.

Other ebay scams (or opportunities):

- tack-sharp photos, 120 pixels wide
- stock photo + pages of official info + a few sketchy words about the sample being sold
- twenty clear photos, but not one showing the area you need to see
- "I don't know anything about cameras..."

I've taken chances, and I've gotten lucky--sometimes. My pet peeve, however, is how rarely any info is volunteered about the inside of a camera.

Forget images and forget text. Feedback is everything on ebay, and more importantly the auctions the feedback relates to. An auctioneer who is dishonest, whether throught words or pictures, is quickly identified as such.

I recently bought a Soviet rangefinder from a seller whose auctions were on the cheap side, but not the cheapest by far. He did have decent descriptions and REALLY nice shots of every part of the camera, but a lot of guys have that -- they all copy the seller with the best looking auctions. I chose him because he had a history of over 1200 auctions of this type over five years and had only a handful of negative feedback.

One of the pieces of negative feedback was from a buyer who had paid $6.50 for a 50 year old, Soviet-made lens. His complaint? "This lens is not as sharp as I expected."

You just can't please some people.

Camera being sold as-is: "Don't know if the meter works because I don't have a battery to test it"

Yeah, right...

Case in point:

Yashica lens, the guy says it's a telephoto (!) 50mm/2.8, the photo shows 50mm/1.9.

So I wonder what's true. If it was not offered for the US only, I might even try, as it's still on the starting bid of 0.99 and there's just one more day of the listing.

I have one absolutely inviolable rule for buying on eBay: I never, ever consider buying something from someone with less than a 98% positive feedback rating. I figure that 2 customers out of every hundred can be irrational, but three or more out of every hundred means the seller him- or herself is probably the irrational one!

I'm serious, I absolutely will not buy from someone with a 97.9% positive rating. It's one personal rule I've never broken.


I know that Yashica 50/1.9 lens. Very, very good lens away from the light; absolutely horrible flaring possible when used contre jour or with light sources in the image. Could be worth it if you use it only under controlled lighting conditions, such as in the studio. Otherwise, you should be able to do better.


I have had good experiences with eBay, except one: a guy who sold me a Nikon FM. The pictures were not of the sample I got, and mine was clearly in a poorer condition. Fortunately the pictures showed the serial number to be different, so I got my money back from eBay!

Mike --

You'll never buy from me then. I received one negative feedback, and have only participated in 39 auctions (IANAPS).

The negative feedback was in regards to a tape deck *I* bought that was sold as-is, but had no way to power it. I asked the guy if he had the power module, if maybe he didn't realize it was important, and if maybe I could buy it from him, and he gave me negative feedback.

Like I said, you can't please some people.

As for "No battery, no way to test the meter:" I actually believe that. Older cameras take batteries with a higher electromotive force (read: voltage) and depend on that force to give precise readings. Put in a modern battery, every reading will be wildly off -- if the meter works at all. It's probably easier to take the hit on selling price rather than track down an older, working battery.

Here's an eBay buying tip for people not in the US looking for bargains. Bid on auctions that end during US Thanksgiving, either the Thursday or Friday, preferably during the east or west coast lunch and (or) supper hours. You're almost guaranteed not to have people bidding against you.

My wife uses a service to place bids at the end of the bidding. I imagine that might remove some of your Thanksgiving advantage, Robert, but probably not that much.

That's how I wound up with one of those Kiev rangefinders (that, and dasmb's suggestion). I have yet to shoot a frame with it, but I should have some B&W film by this weekend.

Not so...you just need 11 more positives, that's all. (g)


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