Got up and decided to drive to Pasadena where it might or might not be a tad cooler. I also went there for the monthly Bargain Camera Show.
I've been to this little gathering of photo-goods buyers and sellers a bunch of times before. More often than not, I've come home empty-handed. Not that there hasn't been plenty of stuff I wanted to buy, I just couldn't haggle a good enough price for the stuff I coveted.
The sellers at these shows are hawking everything from vintage camera gear to new stuff and everything in between. It's the kind of place where many photo-enthusiasts who are (most likely) long-time, card-carrying members of the Cult of the Photo Vest gather.
I brought enough cash with me to cover most anything, within reason, I might be moved to purchase. There are more than a few sellers at these little photo-flea-markets who take plastic, and ATMs are always nearby, but on-hand cash speaks so much more eloquently when you're
Upon arriving, the first thing I noticed was the parking lot was packed! They hold this monthly show at the Pasadena Elks Lodge: A big, old, three-story, white-painted wooden building which looks like it's been sitting there for a century or more. Anyway, the parking lot was packed and it probably has spaces for a hundred vehicles or more.
"Whoa!" I thought. "Looks like a few people had the same idea I did today."
Usually, when I've gone before, the parking lot has been half-full... or half-empty, depending on how you look at it.
I found a parking space, parked, walked in, paid my $2 admittance fee, and started browsing all the photography wares laid out on tables throughout the show's two, big rooms.
The joint was definitely packed: Not just with buyers but with sellers too. More sellers, in fact, than I can remember ever seeing there.
As I moved up and down the aisles, nothing really caught my eye. Yeah, there were hundreds of cameras and lenses, from vintage to new. Maybe even thousands of them! And boy! If I ever want to buy some used sticks, screw Ebay and Craigslist, this is definitely the place to shop. There were used tripods everywhere. I also noticed plenty of sellers trying to off darkroom gear. Good luck, guys!
I came on a table where the seller had two, Alien Bees carrying bags. Naturally, I figured there were some Alien Bees inside them.
"How much for the Bees?" I asked.
"Oh. They're not Alien Bees," the seller responded. "They're Zeus heads," he continued. "I have the whole kit, the heads and the Zeus power pack." He pulled out the heads and also showed me the power pack, a Paul C. Buff Zeus 2500WS. "I bought this stuff a while ago and only used it once, for 45 minutes."
I examined the gear: It looked brand spanking new! Not gently-used or barely-used but like-new... like it just came out of the freakin' box! I couldn't find as much as a fingerprint or a smudge on this stuff, much less a scratch, a ding, or whatever.
"How much?" I asked.
"I paid about $1500 for this stuff," he said. "You can have it for $750."
Before I could say, "Lemme think about it," the seller added, "I'll also throw in this brand new Paul C. Buff, folding, medium, soft box." He held up the soft box, in a PCBuff carrying bag.
"I gotta think about it." I said. "Let me walk around for a bit and see if there's something else that catches my eye."
The truth is, I wanted this gear. And I figured the price was right. Maybe more than right. Plus, having once been a buyer and seller of vintage, antique, and collectible things at flea markets, antique shows, and elsewhere, I knew a
I walked away.
I went to the other room, found a seat, sat down, and pulled out my iPhone. I went on the web to look up the retail prices for this stuff. In a moment, I realized the power pack and heads were, indeed, about $1400 new. Add to that the soft box, which retails for about $120, plus the carrying bags at $17 each, I was looking at a kit that cost, new, around $1550. (Plus shipping from Chez Buff's in Tennessee.)
I then read some online reviews about these products. This comparative test, reported at DPreview.com, comparing the Zeus with Broncolor, Dynalite, Profoto, and Speedotron gear, heightened my interest in buying this Zeus stuff.
I went back to the table where the Zeus seller was at. When I arrived, I spotted an adjustable scrim holder on his table. It looked new as well. I picked it up and toyed with it. (I'm always a sucker for interesting grip gear.)
"How much for this?" I asked, rather nonchalantly.
"You know what it is?" the seller asked.
"If you take the lights," the seller said, "I'll throw that in."
I looked up and studied the seller for a moment. This guy definitely needed to go home with some cash in his pocket. The scrim holder was probably worth about $25 or so.
"I don't want to insult you with a low-ball offer," I shrugged. "You're already selling this stuff for a bargain price."
"Make an offer," he challenged.
"Okay. $600. Cash. For all of it."
The guy neither flinched nor hesitated. "I had to rent a car just to get here today and make some money." He confessed. "Give me $650 and it's all yours: The pack, the lights, the soft box, the carrying bags, the scrim holder."
I smiled appreciatively and pulled out my wallet, counted out six Ben Franklins, two twenties, and a ten-spot, handed over the cash and the gear was mine.
"You just made my day," the seller told me with a smile.
Yep. I suppose I did. And he made mine as well. I scored!
BTW, when I got home I set it all up. Everything works like a charm. The reflectors hadn't ever been removed from their sealed plastic bags. Used once for 45 minutes? I totally believe that. In fact, this stuff doesn't look like it was even used once!
The Paul C. Buff power pack and 2-heads I bought today can be seen on THIS PAGE. I snagged the Z2500 Power Pack and two, Z2500SH Standard Flash Heads.
The pretty girl at the top is Cytherea from 3 or 4 years ago. Shot in my studio on a day when I was feeling slightly artsy.