As an avid photographer, I’m always on the lookout for the latest camera gear. However, buying new equipment can be expensive, especially if you’re traveling with multiple cameras and lenses. But in this KEH Camera review, I’ll help you decide if buying and selling pre-owned equipment is worth the effort and the savings.
To put KEH to the test, I bought a used Sony a7iii from their site. And to see what the selling process was like, I also sold my Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8 lens.
In this review, I’ll share my experience with KEH to help you determine if they’re the right camera retailer for you!
Who is KEH Camera?
Before we dive into this KEH Camera review, let’s take a look at who they are as a company.
KEH Camera is the largest marketplace for buying and selling used photography equipment. They work with both buyers and sellers to provide a seamless and transparent shopping experience.
Not to mention, they’ve also been in business for 40 years! The knowledgeable folks at KEH are photographers too, so they know what they’re doing.
If you’re in the market for a new camera, KEH has over 55,000 items in their inventory. From DLSRs and lenses to tripods and cases, you can save up to 40% off retail prices by buying pre-owned equipment from KEH.
Their inventory is completely dependent on what they have in stock. That means they might not have the exact camera or accessory you want that day.
If you’re looking to sell your camera, KEH can help there too. You can sell your used equipment for cash, or trade-in for different merchandise. And best of all, the entire process is automated, which means you don’t have to deal with auctioneers or fake sellers.
KEH Camera Review: Quick Answers
Are you looking to buy or sell your photography equipment on KEH? If so, there are a few important factors to take into account.
Buying from KEH Camera
- Save hundreds of dollars on equipment. However, KEH claims they can sell for up to 40% of the retail cost.
- Easy and straightforward check out process.
- 14-day return policy and 180-day KEH warranty. On the other hand, purchases do not come with a manufacturer’s warranty.
Selling with KEH Camera
- Easy and automated process. Once you receive your online quote, you’ll send your gear directly to KEH to inspect and approve.
- Since KEH is the reseller, you’ll probably won’t get the highest price for your gear. Essentially, you’re sacrificing part of the cost for the convenience of using a third-party reseller.
KEH Camera Pros and Cons
As with any online realtor, there are both advantages and disadvantages of using their service. As part of this honest KEH camera review, I’ll cover some key factors to consider before buying or selling your camera.
- Convenience. KEH makes it really easy to sell your equipment online. Everything is automated, including the quote, so you know exactly what you’re getting in return.
- No dealing with online auctions and fake sellers, which is a constant problem on platforms like eBay.
- Transparent platform that makes it easy to see exactly what you’re getting, regardless of whether you’re buying or selling.
- If selling, you won’t get the highest price for it. If you want a higher price, you’ll have to sell it yourself directly to a third party or on a platform like eBay. Ultimately, you’re getting a lower price but that’s in exchange for convenience. If you want a higher price, you have to put up with bullshit.
- At the end of the day, KEH is reselling the product, so they have to be able to mark the price up enough to make it worth the money.
- If buying, you don’t get a manufacturer’s warranty.
- If buying, there’s no guarantee that they will have any particular item in stock. It’s luck of the draw, really, whether or not they’ll have the item you want.
My Experience Buying a Used Camera from KEH Camera
Overall, I’m pretty happy with my experience buying used equipment from KEH. Previously I was shooting with the Fujifilm X-T2, one of the best mirrorless cameras for travel, but I outgrew the capabilities of this system and was ready to upgrade.
But I didn’t want to pay full price (who does!?).
Purchasing the Sony a7iii from KEH
After Sony launched the a7iii last year, I knew this was the camera I wanted. I had also considered the Canon EOS R, but their single memory card slot was the primary thing that dissuaded me from buying it. That and the fact that Canon has a strong stance against IBIS (in-body image stabilization), a feature in which I strongly believe.
Sony also provides incredible colors, RAW files with very high dynamic range, excellent AF, and basically a list of specs that beat out every other camera on the market. It was a no brainer for me.
So I set out to purchase the Sony a7iii body with the Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens from KEH.
I bought this combo knowing that I’d be upgrading my lens to the much more expensive Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens sometime down the line. But this was the lens I was going to use for now so I didn’t have to drop $4k all at once (the GM retails for $2,198).
I knew I was going to eventually sell the Zeiss lens and buy the G-Master, so this was my interim lens.
I found the checkout process with KEH to be no different than any other online retailer. It was simple, straightforward and, ultimately, I got a better price on the gear.
How Much Money I Saved Buying a Used Camera from KEH
Here’s how the numbers ultimately broke down at the time of purchase:
- a7iii body: $1,998.00
- Zeiss 24-70 lens: $898.00
- Total: $2,896
- a7iii body: $1,742.00 ($256 savings)
- Zeiss 24-70 lens: $698.00 ($200 savings)
- Total: $2,440 ($456 savings)
With more than $450 in savings, I’d be able to put that money towards the more expensive lens when the time finally came (and it did!).
Receiving the Sony a7iii from KEH Camera
At the time of receiving my camera gear, I had mixed feelings about my purchase. But in hindsight, I’m very satisfied.
The camera and lens both arrived in excellent condition. The lens came in the original packaging but the body came wrapped in bubble wrap. I was disappointed about this as I like to keep boxes for my electronics in case I ever want to sell them again in the future.
When you get a camera wrapped in bubble wrap, it doesn’t feel like you’re getting a “new” piece of gear. Which, really, you’re not. It was important for me to keep this in mind, especially since this was my first time buying used camera gear.
All that is to say there’s definitely inconsistency in terms of how the item will arrive—it all depends on how the previous owner sold it to them.
The unboxing was a little anticlimactic, but ultimately I got the camera I wanted in excellent condition at more than $450 off MSRP.
My Experience Selling Used Cameras to KEH
For the sake of this KEH Camera review, I sold my Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8 Aspherical AT-X Pro EF Mount wide angle lens for Canon APS-C sensors. I bought this sometime around 2014 for about $800 and decided to sell it on KEH.
I wanted to be able to provide insight about both buying and selling used camera gear with KEH.
Before getting started, I do want to say that I don’t think there’s ever a scenario where you feel good about selling camera equipment. You will always get less than you paid for it, so it’s important to keep in mind that, whatever the difference in price, that’s what you paid so you could use it for all that time.
KEH Camera vs. eBay
On eBay, this lens, in an open box, was selling for about $300-$330. KEH offered me $191. So it was about $100-$140 less.
From a business perspective, this makes sense. They need to make a buck. That $100 is going to cover their overhead (shipping, inspecting, cleaning and listing the product) and also their profit.
From a consumer perspective, it’s annoying not to get the full retail value. But what you do get is convenience. I don’t have to deal with eBay auctions or people making fake bids on my products (this happens ALL the time with electronics).
I also don’t have to pay the 10% eBay fee or the shipping fee, all of which eat into margins. So I’d probably only be getting about $250 on eBay, assuming the lens sold for $300, which is kind of a big assumption.
Because the fact is, with eBay, there’s no guarantee. With KEH, there is. And not only that, I received a quote on the KEH Camera website before ever agreeing to even sell them my lens, so I knew exactly what I was getting.
After somewhat reluctantly agreeing to the price, KEH provided a free shipping label. All I had to do was package the item up and send it off. They then inspected the item and approved the quote.
If you claimed your equipment was in better condition than it was, it’s likely that you’ll get a revised quote for less money—so keep this in mind if you decide to sell used cameras on KEH.
KEH Camera vs. B&H and Adorama
That said, I’ve sold equipment to B&H and Adorama before as well. They’re both widely trusted names and I buy camera gear from them all the time. But my experience selling with them has been so-so.
Each time, I had a personalized rep call me and make me an offer. While you might think this is a good thing, I actually really disliked the experience. This rep was a fast-talking numbers cruncher and negotiator extraordinaire. By the time I agreed to a price and hung up the phone, I barely knew what happened. And I wasn’t even happy with the price I got.
So, while B&H and Adorama may be larger names and have some more “wiggle” room, I like the transparency and automation/ease-of-use that KEH provides. Frankly, I didn’t feel like I was going to a pawn shop.
For buying new camera gear, I’ll continue to use them, but if I’m selling used cameras, I’m sticking with KEH.
I hope you now have a better idea if KEH Camera is the right place to buy or sell your next camera. There are pros and cons to their service, but in general, I had a positive experience with both processes.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur photographer or an experienced professional. If you’ve been eyeing that mirrorless camera or zoom lens, check out KEH Camera—they might have just what you want in stock!
Excellent, excellent, excellent!!
Your article on KEH hit the nail on the head in SO MANY areas.
I especially liked your forthright statements ADVISING readers to remember the selling of equipment is most always not going to make you happy. That was good and very honest. I too have sold gear to Adorama and BH Photo. And I have always hung up the phone or made the trip to UPS/Fed Ex and somehow feel stupid and a bit cheated.
Hey, I know they have to make a profit. So I try to NOT LOOK at the original retail. Doesn’t work like that.
You wrote a great article. THANKS!!