Buying and Selling Used Photo Equipment in Hong Kong

All of the stuff I was selling that I previously posted here has been sold, with the exception of one lens that will be gone by tomorrow.  With that in mind, I thought others might find a little guide to buying and selling used photo equipment in Hong Kong useful.

The Used Equipment Shops

You’ll find shops selling used gear in all of the computer malls in Hong Kong.  A partial list includes:

  • Wanchai Computer Centre – Hennessy Road right near the Wanchai MTR station
  • 298 Computer Centre – 298 Hennessy Road in Wanchai
  • Mong Kok Computer Centre – Nelson Street in Mong Kok
  • Golden Computer Shopping Arcade – Sham Shui Po

You’ll also find used shops in several other malls and buildings.  This list is not meant to be comprehensive – it can’t be in a metropolis the size of Hong Kong but I think it hits most of the highlights:

  • Sino Centre  - Nathan Road in Mong Kok
  • Sim City – Shantung Street in Mong Kok – this is 3 floors of mostly photography stores, with several shops selling headphones, computer equipment and other odds and ends (including one sex toy shop)
  • Oriental 188 Centre – 188 Wanchai Road in Wanchai – mostly video game-related stuff last time I was there but some used shops as well
  • Sin Tat – Argyle Street, Mong Kok – a shopping mall dedicated primarily to mobile phones, but some shops have used photo equipment
  • Ap Liu Street in Sham Shui Po – I’ve seen stalls in this street market selling a variety of antique cameras
  • Camera stores in Central – many of the shops along Stanley Street (and one on Lyndhurst Terrace) have small selections of used equipment

And there’s one very unique shopping mall in Hong Kong, Champagne Court, at the corner of Nathan Road and Kimberley Road in Tsim Sha Tsui.  This place is unique because it has a dozen or more shops that cater to people who still shoot and collect film equipment.  You’ll find tons of classic cameras and lenses here. Keep in mind, older lenses built for film cameras work just fine on digital cameras and are often tack sharp as well as representing a good bargain.

That being said, selling your used equipment to one of these shops is a losing proposition.  It’s only recommended if you need to sell off your stuff fast.  The reason is that these guys know the market value of your stuff much better than you do and they are in business to make a profit (duh!).  So they will offer you somewhere between 25 to 50 percent less than the current market value.  Your ability to get any more than that out of them depends on your bargaining skills and how desirable they deem the equipment you’re trying to sell.

I’m not even a big fan of buying stuff from these guys either.  Again, it’s my impression that you cannot get the best price from these guys.  On the other hand, generally the stuff they’re selling is in excellent condition and, if something should go wrong, it’s easy to find them and try to get things taken care of.

Online Sites 

There is of course the Hong Kong edition of Craig’s List but my impression is that this isn’t as popular as it is in other locations (although their Google Pagerank of 6 isn’t too shabby).

There’s the Hong Kong edition of eBay.  But they don’t have an English language version of the web site and it seems as if every time I’ve searched for particular items there, they’re from sellers not located in Hong Kong.

There are a large number of sites targeted at the expat community in Hong Kong that offer free classified ads.  Two of the most popular are GeoExpat and AsiaXpat.  I have no experience with the former site and too much experience with the latter.

I’ve bought several things from AsiaXpat, usually not photo-related, and usually pretty decent deals. Trying to sell there is another matter entirely.  Most of the responses I get are from people who think they’re shopping on Temple Street and offer 50% less than your asking price, usually writing something like “$500 for quick sale okay!”   And then there are those people who will write – always on the second message, not the first – “I’m buying this as a gift for my son who’s volunteering as a doctor in Nigeria.”  Yeah.

It stands to reason that in a place where 95% of the population is Chinese, the most active web sites are going to be Chinese language ones. And the best one for photography equipment is DCFever.

Comparing simple statistics:

  • AsiaXpat currently has 102 ads in the Camera section (and many of those are duplicates, while many may be of items that were sold and not updated by the seller)
  • DCFever has 958,248 ads (though an unknown percentage of those represent concluded transactions)

The problem for us foreigners is that DCFever is a Chinese language-only site.  How can you use if it you don’t read or write Chinese?  The answer is remarkably simple.  I use Google Chrome as my browser and that can instantly translate any web page.  (Other browsers may also have this functionality.)  As many of you may be aware, machine translation of Chinese to English seriously sucks.  But it’s good enough.

The problem is that there are elements on the page that you may need that won’t get translated – items on drop down lists, for example.  It’s not a show stopper.

Nuts and Bolts

So, if you’re going to sell something, the first thing you need to do is find out what it’s worth in the current market.  If you bought something when it first came out, perhaps the price for a new model has dropped. Perhaps there are a lot of other people trying to sell the same thing.  Search on DCFever to see the price other people are asking then base your own price on that.  Maybe you want to hold out for a high price or perhaps you’ll settle for a lower price to get a quick sale.  Keep in mind – people here bargain for everything.   You will almost never get your asking price. So make your asking price higher than you actually want.  If you want to get $10,000 for something, better ask for $11,000.

And now – post your ad.  (Duh!)  You can post English language ads on DCFever – actually the content of your ad can be any language.  I always add in this line at the bottom, “Sorry, please respond in English only.” I don’t include my phone number or email address with the ad; I prefer to have people send me messages via the web site.

One other tip.  The last two times I’ve had stuff to sell, I thought I might get more money by creating a big bundle – putting everything together, toss in a few essentially useless extras, and put in a higher asking price.  It doesn’t work on DCFever.  I had one single ad for my Sony NEX-7 and all three lenses on DCFever for a week.  I got very few responses, most of which were a waste of time.  I deleted that ad and put up three ads – one for the camera with one lens and separate ads for the two other lenses.  Everything was sold the same day.

Important Tips

1 – Save everything.   People who are buying used goods here want the original box set – that means the original box itself and all of the items originally enclosed with it.  Software, cables, instruction manuals and, most importantly, the warranty card.  Your goods will fetch a much lower price if you don’t have the original box or you are missing any items.

2 – Forget grey market goods.  You bought something grey market to save a few bucks?  Good for you.  No one else wants it.  People want items bought from authorized retailers with the manufacturer’s warranty.  You will have a much harder time and get a much lower price if your item is a parallel import.

3 – Be polite. Perhaps for most readers this tip isn’t necessary.  But I thought it is worth including.  Almost everyone I have been in contact with and everyone I have met via DCFever is really nice, very respectful and a pleasure to deal with.

I think that sums it up.  What did I leave out?  What did I get wrong?  What tips or tricks do you have for buying and selling gear in Hong Kong?

(I think I will follow this post up with a guide to buying new photo equipment in Hong Kong.)

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6 Comments

  1. davethevet June 24, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    Thanks for this, wil definitely give dcfever a try, I hate giving money to the guys in Sim City.

    • spike June 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

      Saw this already but thanks for the thought.

  2. GANESH December 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    HAI,I WANT TO KNOW THE PLACE IN HONG KONG WHICH SALE USED PROFESSIONAL VIDEO CAMERAS,LIKE SONY PD-150,PD-170 AND MUCH MORE RELATED LIKE THAT .PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHERE I CAN FIND THESE STUFFS

    • spike December 15, 2012 at 1:57 am #

      I’m sorry, I’ve got no idea.

  3. LOK DHOJ SHAH February 18, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    GOOD PLACE FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME WHO NEEDS EVERY YEAR VARIOUS CAMERAS

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