How good are MPB? One constant for all photographers is the upcycling of gear. The problem with buying new is that the value plummets in the first year. Used equipment is much more stable, and if you are careful, you can get some good prices by shopping around the second-hand market. However, sites like E-Bay are expensive to sell on and teeming with scam artists, so if you prefer not to take the risk, it’s easy to accumulate a lot of gear that never gets used!
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Why Recycle Kit?
I’m a repeat offender regarding gear accumulation. I used to use E-Bay to recycle, but after a few dodgy buyers got sick of the stress and allowed things to accumulate. The reality is that if you don’t use the kit in a year or more, it’s a sizeable chunk of money just sitting on a shelf losing value.
Of course, selling used camera gear to upgrade is a reductive pastime – in other words, you sell more than you buy, but if you do this judiciously, it can work out well in two respects, you get the latest kit, and you will be able to sell it again for more money than if you hang on to your old kit for longer.
Say for example, I have a Canon 35mm L IS MkI lens – I may be able to sell it today for around €400. Next year that might be €350 and so on. If I swap it for an “as new” MkII, I may have to pay the balance of around €300, but the resale value of the newer lens is much higher, so I’m hedging against depreciation and getting a better lens.
Regular readers of this site will know I’ve been after a 16-35mm lens for a fair while now. Buying new was out of the question, but second-hand prices worked. I could trade in my 17-40mm and make up the difference. So how good are MPB.com?
Who are MPB?
MPB are a UK-based company specialising in buying and selling used cameras and lenses. They aim to take the pain out of the second-hand market by providing a service. that is nominally free and very convenient to the seller. They operate in the EU and the UK from a base in Berlin. I live in Spain and deal with the Berlin office, and MPB provides the courier pick-up at no extra charge.
What is the MPB Process like?
Firstly you open an account and wait for the email confirmation,
Then you go to the Sell page and input your gear. The site works out what you are selling as you type in the words and offers you a pick list to choose the exact model.
When you enter all the items you want to sell, you get an instant quote or move on to the gear you want to acquire. It’s the same process, To buy, you type in the make and model and pick from the list of available items. I chose two items in “like new” ad “excellent’ condition. Then you get the instant quote.
My quote ended up €199 in my favour, so a win. I traded five old lenses for two new ones + cash. I accepted their offer, and they asked me to choose a pickup date. This was confirmed within a few minutes, and I went to pack up the lenses,
When the lenses reach their warehouse, they confirm the condition is as described. If it isn’t they will want to adjust the price to reflect the actual condition. It is worth packing lenses with silica gel bags as you can’t predict how the parcels will be stored between van, warehouse and delivery. I was penalised for traces of moisture that were certainly not evident when the package left my studio.
What are MPB Prices like for Selling?
Not as good as eBay; however, you don’t pay 12.5% selling fees, or any courier fees. Neither do you have the anxiety of watching someone snap up your prized lens at a bargain price because you chose the wrong day or time to end the sale.
MPB use their own algorithms to set the price. Inputs include the number of identical items in stock at the time of the quote, the number of people searching for the identical item and a slightly nebulous “going rate”. It works out fairly well for the buyer, with my ten-year-old lenses attracting more than 50% of their new purchase price.
What are MPB Prices like for Buying?
On the expensive end of second hand. They have to make money to pay wages, and this is where they make it. On the plus side, they offer guarantees within that price, and every item is checked for faults on arrival. So you can be assured you will not get some fungus-ridden lens in a cardboard box in the mail!
Do MPB operate in the EU?
Yes, they do, so you don’t have to worry about the import duty. It may be a coincidence or a reflection of supply and demand, but the prices MPB Europe offered me were better than the prices offered in the UK twelve months ago for the same kit. I had my kit collected in Spain and shipped to Berlin. I got the confirmation mail after 4 days and it took MPB another two days to send the slightly amended quote. The money arrived in my bank account two days later.
Conclusion: How Good are MPB?
MPB tick a lot of boxes for selling or swapping cameras and lenses.
and a fair few for buying…
As I remarked earlier, getting better prices by private sale is possible, but that involves a degree of risk and more work; you have to photograph the gear, pay fees if you use E-Bay and hope the buyer is not scamming you.
I’ve been very happy with MPB; I thought the offer was fair and accurately reflected demand. The process is very straightforward. From joining up through inputting my kit, accepting their offer and packing up the gear took two hours, most of which was spent hunting for a stray lens bag! How good are MPB? Good enough to use again.
I found the whole experience simple to navigate, and you don’t need to photograph the kit or arrange insured couriers. The prices offered were fair enough given the risk and work-free nature of the transaction.
Update 26.4.23 I sold two batches of kit to MPB recently. In the first batch I was slightly disappointed to find the price of a couple of lenses had been marked down due to moisture in the lens – I always store my kit with silica gel sacs, so this could only have happened in transit. It was a small markdown and I was not unduly inconvenienced. The big surprise was the second sale where they marked up the price of a lens that I had described as in ‘excellent’ condition by €400.
Not only that, but they also returned to me at their own expense a micro SD card that I had omitted to remove from a drone I sold to them.
So first hand experience, I can absolutely vouch for the integrity of the company.
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