Tag: ebay

A cautionary tale on why I both love and hate Ebay

A cautionary tale on why I both love and hate Ebay

Anyone following this blog will know that I love experimenting with photography. Whether that is playing with film, building stuff, digitising my negatives on a shoestring or just having fun with stuff like Nik Efex.

A couple of weeks ago I was experimenting with digitising negatives and it became very clear that the lenses available to me were not going to be ideal for this task. They worked, just not ideally. What I needed to do a professional job, albeit it’s a home grown digitising setup, is a sharp, accurate 1:1 macro lens. Various online searches resulted in recommendations for the Nikon Micro 105mm f2.8 1:1 macro lens and I duly searched for one on the various shopping portals. By chance, this particular lens was due to complete on Ebay in a couple of days and so I set my top bid price using the Ebay automated bidding system which in this case was £239. As it happened, I won at £195 which was a good price for this lens so I was well pleased. I was surprised that the shipping option was 2nd Class Signed for but as its a 2 – 3 day service I felt reasonably comfortable. The item duly paid for it shipped next day and the shipping info was supplied. All good. Fast forward 11 days, and several messages with the seller later, still no lens. On day nine I had agreed with the seller that if the lens didn’t arrive in the next 24 hours he would refund. I have to say at all times the seller was courteous and responsive and as promised, on the 10th day he refunded my payment and the agreement was that I would refuse the delivery if and when it arrived. A couple of days later it did just that!

Now, for a few seconds I did think about accepting the lens and reversing the refund. What stopped me was that it arrived in a flimsy Royal Mail plastic bag with practically no packing. At best it felt like it had a single layer of micro bubble wrap as I could clearly feel all of the lens features. To my mind this is no way to ship a £200 lens, especially one that’s just had an eleven day trip around the UK. The opportunity for damage was simply to high. The lens was refused and returned. Hopefully it will reach the seller in good order but quite honestly, it’s somewhat of a lottery.

This obviously left me with a problem in that I still needed a macro lens. While waiting for delivery I had the opportunity to rethink my strategy and this latest research yielded several alternatives to the Nikon 105mm, for example the older version of the Tamron 90mm f2.8 1:1 macro. Searching online yielded several options but eventually I alighted on one in excellent condition, again on Ebay, this one for £179 on Buy It Now. There were a few other options available to me but I felt that I might wait 2 or 3 days and still pay close to £179 so I pressed the button and bought it. Literally 48 hours later I was unboxing a perfect example of the Tamron 90mm f2.8 and with it popped onto my Nikon D600 I digitised my first negative strip. Perfect results.

There are several things to learn from this story. Firstly, I only ever buy from sellers with close to 100% satisfaction rating and a lot of shipped items. Despite this, I got it wrong with one and right with another. Both were however courteous and responsive and that’s a big plus point. Secondly, my experience with the long and finally aborted delivery of the Nikon 105mm led me to ask the seller of the Tamron 90mm to upgrade shipping of the lens from Royal Mail 1st Class Tracked and Signed, a 48hour service, to Special Delivery which is a 24hour fully tracked service. I offered to pay extra but the seller refused the offer but still shipped by Special Delivery. That is outstanding customer service by any measure. I also asked if he could ensure it was packaged appropriately and indeed, it arrived boxed and well protected. Thank you Ebay seller jklewis133, I thoroughly recommend you to my readers.

35mm Scanning Mask – An epic Ebay failure

35mm Scanning Mask – An epic Ebay failure

Well, my attempts to buy a Lomography 35mm Scanning Mask on Ebay have met with abject failure. My first attempt, a cheeky Make An Offer for £10 fell foul of the seller with a reply of “oh, I let my auctions run, I didn’t know I’d set make an offer, sorry”. BidSnipper also failed to win it for me, my top bid of £17.39 was pipped by one for a measly £1 more at £18.39 although he could of course had set a higher bid. Bugger!! That was a nusence.

Let me explain. I want to digitise some 35mm film negatives and I don’t want to spend £200+ on a scanner such as the Epson V600, useful though it is. I’m therefore looking at various ways I can do this for pennies or a few pounds. My idea then is to use a DSLR, in this case my Nikon D600, which will sit above the film and take a 35mm image which I can later crop and process in On1 2021. The easy part is to build a light box. My idea is to use a sturdy cardboard box, A4 size, this being lined with maybe metal foil (I need to check this idea in practice as it may affect the light white balance) or at least use something reflective to push the light upward onto a flat plastic diffuser and then onto the base of the film. It’s possible just a piece of white card curved to focus light might do the trick. To help with focusing, I’m going to use a daylight LED reading lamp, the USB type which will sit below the aperture in the lid. A flash head will also protude into the box, this being the main back light when triggered by the camera taking a photo. The idea is that the flash will obliterate the LED lighting so it doen’t matter too much about whether this stays on or off or what the WB is. The only problem left then is to hold the film negative perfectly flat and parallel to the box lid and this is where the scanning mask would have come in handy as it is precision made. 

Going back to my little story, Plan B was to bid on a Diana F+ toy camera kit with loads of goodies including, yep, you guessed it, a Lomography 35mm Scanning Mask which was hidden away in the small print. Current bidding was stuck on £21, even though these little camera kits sell for £70 new.  Now, I needed to be a bit careful here because I can buy the 35mm scanning mask from Speed Graphic for £29 plus shipping so this had to be taken into account, especially as I don’t really want the camera stuff. That being said, I felt that getting a toy camera thrown even if I had to pay a little bit more, say £5 wasn’t too bad of a deal so worth a punt. No such luck!! Even though BidSnipper did it’s stuff, yet again the eventual buyer pipped me by £1 getting it all for £34.91. Damn it!! Of course, I don’t know what his highest price could have been, he could have set his max bid at £40 or more for all I know.

Watch this space as they say!