It’s no secret on this blog that I’ve owned and used a few hundred cameras.
This simply wouldn’t have happened if the heyday of my photography passion hadn’t coincided with the abundant availability of cameras through the internet, and most specifically, eBay.
I would guess that if I’ve had 200 cameras, then probably 190 of them have come via eBay.
The rest have been either gifts, or lucky charity shop finds.
Here are the seven biggest reasons why I’ve bought so many cameras (and lenses) from eBay, and why it still has such an allure.
1. Cameras are magical machines.
I’m not someone who buys a wide range of items on eBay. Perhaps the occasional unusual kids toy or a rare battery or something, but mostly it’s about the cameras.
Film photography has its own special kind of chemical sorcery, but if anything, digital cameras hold even more of a magnetism for me.
The fact that they can not only capture what your eyes see in front of you as a permanent image, but that they can do so in a split second, I still find mind blowing.
So having thousands of these wondrous little devices only a click or two and a short trip courtesy of Royal Mail away makes them very hard to resist.
Which leads to…
2. Receiving parcels in the post.
In this increasingly digital and virtual world, real, physical items hold more appeal than ever. Whilst I’m an avid user of email and think it’s an incredible resource that allows across the world communication daily, there’s nothing like receiving a parcel in the post.
And when that parcel is hand wrapped, usually in whatever paper, card and bubble wrap the sender could find close to hand, it just emphasises the rustic charm, the romance, almost, of having a parcel brought to your door.
And even if of course you do know what’s in the package because you bought it three days previously on eBay, unwrapping that specific item for the first time has a kind of magic to it also.
This brings us to…
3. Each item is unique.
Even though often I might be buying a camera that was produced in hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands, this actual item now in my hands is unique, and has its own story, and mysterious history.
It’s survived where many of its brethren have been forgotten in drawers or wardrobes, lost on holidays or simply chucked away after breaking. And it’s about to enjoy a new lease of life in my hands.
Whether it’s a cheap digital compact from a few towns away, or a more exotic camera from the other side of Europe, the US, or Japan that’s hard to find on home soil, it just feels so much more special and interesting and exciting than picking up a brand new generic item off the shelf in a high street store.
A quick search tonight for digital cameras in used condition and working, in the UK, under £10, brings up 3251 results.
Push the boat out to £20 and you have a choice from over 7000.
There are even 137 currently under £1!
This availability of such affordable cameras pushes temptation through the roof, especially for a penny pincher like myself!
What else can you buy for these paltry amounts? A fat and sugar loaded meal deal for two in a service station? A gallon of fuel? A posh cup of coffee?
How do any of these compare to the sheer wonder of owning and exploring a new (to you) camera (see point 1 above!)?
5. The Watch List.
As long as I can remember (and I’ve used eBay since 2002) there’s been the Watch List.
This single function is a masterstroke of the brains behind eBay, in usefulness and even more so in devilish deviousness.
It’s super handy to have all the cameras (or anything else) you’re watching on auction at any one time on a single page.
Add in convenient reminders by email or pop up notification to inform you when items you’re watching are ending, or when you’ve been outbid, it amps up the psychological addiction ever further.
I love and hate the Watch List in equal measure.
It’s brilliant, simple and ingenious, and yet I am so very aware of how it preys on some of one’s less appealing traits like addiction, greed, and competitiveness, essentially to make eBay’s owners even richer.
6. Saved searches.
As with the Watch List, this is an equally clever way of reeling you in to buying more than you need.
It’s genuinely very useful to set up searches for more obscure and unusual cameras, and saves a great deal of time scouring through listings manually on a regular basis.
The best way to use this is set up searches for the cameras you really do want, but only come up a few times a year perhaps, then stay away from eBay unless you get an email alert with a camera for sale of the type you’re seeking.
The foolish way to use this, as I have found from experience, is to set up more general searches like Pentax DSLR, UK only, less than £50, and then be emailed daily with a dozen new matches to tempt me, even though I have two absolutely charming Pentax DSLRs that I love and cost me well under £50 each already.
7. Because it’s so easy.
This last reason is really a culmination and a combination of all the others.
From the comfort of your own home you can use the killer one-two of the Saved Search and Watch List to find, buy and have delivered wondrous magical machines, in curious makeshift patchwork packaging, each with a unique story to tell, for mere pocket money.
Oh, looks like I could have made this post about 800 words shorter.
It’s really no wonder that the only way I’ve been successful in resisting eBay has been by avoiding it completely, clearing my Watch List and disabling (or deleting) all Saved Searches.
How about you? Have you bought many cameras (or other camera gear) from eBay? What do you find appealing/addictive/infuriating about it?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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