KEH is one of my favorite resellers. But I've had good luck with all of the below. Another option to to check you local camera stores for classified. I got my RB67 Pro-S that way with 2 lenses, 1-120 back, 1-polaroid back, prism and waistlevel finders, and case for a very good price.
KEH in Atlanta www.keh.com
Midwest Photo www.mpex.com
Lens and Repro www.lensandrepro.com/USED/ubrand.html
Anothe vote for KEH. I just bought an eye-level finder from them a couple of weeks ago. It was rated as 'bargain', and was a little worse than what I was looking for. They took the return with no hassel, I used the credit for a new in box bellows for a 35% savings over B&H, and THEY paid the shipping for the bellows - 2 day air! Now that's service.
If you can't answer a man's argument, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names.
- Elbert Hubbard
KEH and MPEX. Hands down. No need to look any further.
I find that I turned into somewhat of a scavenger - I look everywhere - garage sales, pawn shops, etc. And by the way - several times on eBay. Have not found it a gamble yet, provided you use common sense and aks a lot of questions.
Having said that... the KEH price list - WOW! It is true - many a time it will actually beat eBay. If I needed a camera tomorrow, I would talk to them for sure. As it is - I make long range plans and sit in ambush for an amazing deal. Usually, it comes along!
Folks, the original poster wrote "I am not knowledgeable enough to know whether I'm buying a dud or not." This rules out the usual cheap and chancy sources of used cameras such as thrift shops, pawn shops, flea markets, eBay, ... that many of the replies have suggested.
He's best off buying from one of the dealers mentioned. The all offer at least short term guarantees. But he does still need to know how to do acceptance testing on a newly arrived camera.
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KEH, without a doubt. Go for "bargain" grade on everything but film backs. The grading is consistent, but film backs can be finicky and you're better off with an "excellent" grade one. KEH's bargain-grade is better than most other places excellent grade. My glass has been flawless.
MPEX is a strong second, but KEH tends to have better prices and a slightly better return policy.
My experience with Ritz has not been as good. Many of their older items seem to be graded based on their cosmetic/collectible condition and not necessarily their functional condition. I have returned three (out of four) cameras to them. One had a bad shutter and two had lenses with enough haze that it was apparent in the negatives. All three had been rated as excellent condition. The fourth, admittedly, was beautiful.
Depending on the make, swap meets can be great if you research exactly what you're looking for on the internet. For example, there were fairly comprehensive lists of what to check for on Rolleicords/flexes and Hasselblads in photo.net archives. Anything with electronic components might be a bit tougher. That said, I have easily gotten my best deals at the NJ Second Sunday camera show, and I wouldn't even classify it as a big show. Unlike KEH and MPEX, however, there's usually not a return policy.
B&H usually has nice stuff, but the prices don't reflect market conditions (at least not those of this decade). However, they often have hard to find bits and pieces. These don't show up on their website, but their magical back room has turned up answers to more of my odd requests (strange caps, oddball adapters, etc) than my bank account would like to admit.
Originally Posted by Dan Fromm
Good point - I think I am guilty of "I'll answer no matter what the question!"
And I hate that...sorry. Didnt mean to. But you know, sometimes you learn a gret deal through sifting junk - often lessons youwold not try with a more expensive, properly purchased item...
Although I think sticking with KEH is the wisest choice, I have to agree with Mr Gnashings a little. It's only by making my mistakes with buying some cheap junk (which occasionally worked) that I was able to fully appreciate the cameras I use now. Just remember to stick with cheap junk (an Isolette with a pin-holed but repairable bellows) and not expensive junk. But, being an engineer, I've always been a bit of a masochist.
I've purchased many items from KEH and have always been very happy with both the gear and the prices.