Buyers’ guide Lots to be desired Bid farewell to your equipment blues – there’s another way to find photo kit at knocked-down prices. Read on for essential auction advice, from top services to insider insights
the excitement and spend too much. This first figure is your ideal price, but try to imagine how you’d feel if you missed out, then you’ll know whether a little extra is sensible. Those who often win at auctions are diligent. Register for updates and set reminders for yourself, so you don’t miss events. Sit in on one as practice, to be avoid being overwhelmed on the day, and do your research with the catalogue and (hopefully) kit in advance. Remember, if an item fails to sell at its reserve, you can enquire about a lower price after. Selling at auction The second-hand market is as much about freeing up cash as it is spending it. If you have kit to shift, this could be the place. We don’t all have a £1m Leica 0-Series inscribed by Oskar Barnack in the loft, but your boxes of old lenses, cameras or prints could be worth something to someone. With newer kit, you stand a chance of making more than you’d get from a second-hand dealer. A good bet is to get a trade-in price from them and set your reserve there. If you’re selling through an online auctioneer, remember to factor in postage and insurance costs, too.
THESE ARE CASH-STRAPPED times, so more and more photographers are looking at buying pre-owned camera kit. But while most head straight for second-hand dealers, there are other options. You can get some great deals at auction. With many auctioneers offering both modern and recent-generation kit via private sales or liquidation, opportunities abound. And a wealth of vintage gear is out there, such as classic cameras, collectibles, prints and other photographica. This could be a chance to reunite with a camera you loved a long time ago, or even find rare, legacy lenses to fit an older body. Remember, purchasing at auction isn’t like buying from a dealer. Yes, prices will likely be lower, but there’s a reason for that. Even if it’s boxed and ‘as new’, equipment will most likely come unserviced, without any sort of warranty and only the most minor checks. Review the boxout below on buying auction kit for some ways to prevent disappointment. Better bidding Of course, you’ll need to master the process of bidding. If an item is especially desirable, it’s sensible to set a limit, so you don’t get caught up in
Special Auction Services (SAS) › specialauctionservices.com › 01635 580595
buy or sell. Prior to auctions, a professional, colour-printed
£150-250 prediction and sell for £440. A black Leitz Wetzlar Leica M6 rangefinder with Summilux 50mm f/1.4 lens was estimated at £1200-1800 and sold for £2400. Best of all, SAS has knowledge and experience to help either
Whether looking for modern-age gear, something a little out of the ordinary, or to sell kit to a new home, check out Special Auction Services (SAS). SAS started life in 1991, and its Photographica & Cameras auctions have proved hugely popular with enthusiasts and collectors ever since. The company runs up to ten a year, typically with kit from Hasselblad, Leica, Rollei, Zeiss, Nikon, Canon, Pentax – as well as mahogany and brass plate cameras. The next one runs on 23 August 2022. Equipment is sold as it comes to SAS, but the company grades it for cosmetic and optical condition, doing basic checks, like testing the mechanical shutter. It’s possible to request condition reports from specialists. Recent auctions saw a boxed Canon EOS-1D Mark IV DSLR camera body, with all accessories, exceed a
catalogue is produced and listings are published worldwide. Sign up to bid online or head to the salesroom in person – and even watch the auctions live on the website.
CHECKING AUCTION KIT
to look for sensor dirt or damage – and ensure the mirror moves freely. Continuous mode is a good test of that. Ensure buttons/dials move as they shoot and change corresponding functions, and that screens and viewfinders work. For lenses, aside from scrapes, check front and rear elements for chips, dust and condensation. Also see that the zoom and focus rings turn smoothly. Take test shots on an AF lens, to probe accuracy.
If you’re smart and attentive, you can sometimes get hands on with lots before the event, to check for damage and faults. There may be an opportunity for a more specific condition report from auctioneers. A brief examination should show obvious signs of damage; you could take test shots with a lens or body if well-equipped. So take a suitable battery, memory card and laptop. For digital cameras, shoot blank walls or sky at a small aperture
GOING, GOING, GONE At a recent SAS auction, a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV sold for around double its estimated price
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