Should I buy a second-hand camera or lens from eBay ?

My experiences of buying camera gear on eBay

Some context

I wanted to write a little post on some things I’ve learned about buying second-hand cameras and lenses from Ebay.
I’ve bought maybe 5 lenses and lots of other equipment from eBay and I wanted to share my experiences.
I had a Nikon d5100 that my wife and I shared, and I quickly realised that I was getting into this photography thing. After some time, I realised the kind of photography I do would benefit from a full-frame camera, and the choice of lenses was amazing.

Disclaimer: Looking back, the limitations I had weren’t with my camera, but were with the 18-270 Tamron lens in low light conditions, and my ability to understand the limitations of a variable aperture lens in low light.

I’ve since bought a nikon d810 and numerous lenses, tripods, heads, lighting, modifiers and many other accessories on ebay.

Things I look for when buying a camera on eBay

The shutter count/number of actuations

When looking at a camera, this is one thing that is likely to influence the price. Before going any further, it’s worth understanding why people obsess over it so much.

In summary, the shutter is a mechanical component that will wear out over time. It happens. It’s also the case that it’s something that’s hard (if not impossible) to replace yourself. Having said this, it actually means that the higher shutter count, the more chance there is of the shutter failing. This number will vary between cameras, and I strongly suggest you check somewhere like here (for my d810) to check what the chances of failure are at a particular shutter count.

http://www.olegkikin.com/shutterlife/nikon_d810.htm

Capture
Looking at the example of a d810, I probably wouldn’t buy one with 150’000 actuations, but I wouldn’t think twice about picking up one with 20’000 actuations.

A big caveat to this is if it’s been replaced and has supporting paperwork.

Condition of the body

Another thing when buying a second-hand body is “how well has it been treated in a previous life”?

I care because if someone has looked after the body, drying it off after it’s been in the rain, washing corrosive salt spray off the body, and repairing broken rubber grips tells me the last owner cared about it. I can make a reasonable expectation that they have probably put it in a well-padded bag, or even that it’s just been stored away and not used very much. These are things I look for.

Boxes, and paperwork

A camera that’s had a hard life isn’t always a bad thing, you can get some great deals on ex-pro equipment, and if there is good paperwork to back it up, then that is definitely worth looking at.  Loved ex-pro gear is great. If they have the boxes, that will help any resale and is pretty positive when buying.

Grey Imports

It’s worth asking if the camera/lens is a grey import, although in the UK (where I live), I  don’t consider it a real concern.
Grey imports are a big discussion, but primarily it means that because your camera/lens was bought in another country, the manufacturer will pretend you don’t exist.
This can include
  • No official in-country warranty
  • No deals/ rebates
  • Lower resale value
  • In some countries, you’ll struggle to get it repaired as “official repair shops” won’t touch it under threat from the manufacturer

In the UK, we have a wonderful company called Fixation who just repair things. Give them a call if you are unsure https://www.fixationuk.com/

Note: I have no connection with them, other than being a huge fan and a customer.

Bidding, offers and buy it now

So to keep it simple, you should know what an item is worth when you look for it.

Bidding

Bidding provides the biggest chance of getting a good deal, just have a ceiling price in advance and do not go above it. The last 60 seconds is the only time that matters. Do not chase an item, ever.

Offers

Making offers has been a really good way of getting gear at a good price. You are taking the hassle and delay away from the seller, but annoying them with under par prices will get you ignored pretty quickly.

Buy it now

If an item is on at a decent price for buy it now, check very carefully why. If it’s a commercial seller, they will be making a profit somewhere. Make sure you aren’t paying too much, or that the product has some small print that says “for spares only”.

Know what it costs elsewhere

Often a new grey import is cheaper than the buy it now prices on eBay. I’ll be honest, eBay is my last option and usually based on price.
Some places I usually check in the UK
As well as your local camera shop (these guys deserve our support too).

Things I look for when buying a Lens on eBay

  1. Know exactly what you are looking for, know the age of the lens and common issues with those lenses.
  2. Look for worn lettering around the barrel (which doesn’t mean for sure, but may indicate heavy/pro usage). If this is the case, ask for some detail around servicing paperwork. Nothing wrong with a well-used lens if it’s been loved.
  3. Look for the magic words “no fungus, optically perfect”. If you see this, it means you have some recourse if that turns out not to be the case.
  4. Personally, I look for the original box and accessories because it makes resale easier if I choose to ditch it.
  5. Check the postage and understand how it’ll be transported. You want absolute clarity if it doesn’t arrive. Offer to pay for better carriage if it’s going to save you having a broken lens.
  6. Where is it being transported from? If it’s in your own country, you may be better picking it up personally.
  7. Please feel free to disagree here, but there is a lot less to go wrong with a prime, than a zoom, or something with VR.
  8. Know what a new grey market lens would cost. Second hand Nikon 24-70 f2.8 was going for £1400 on eBay, £1299 shipped from Digital rev.
  9. Know where you can get them repaired even if out of warranty/grey. In the UK we are lucky to have fixation who repair anything. https://www.fixationuk.com/
Happy hunting, I’ll update this blog as I get time to add more.
Should I buy a second-hand camera or lens from eBay ?

Using a Synology host for NFS file mounts with Fedora 31.

Often I use NFS as a simple way to keep my home directory consistent across multiple (and ephemeral) VM’s at a time. The Synology NAS makes this really easy.

Enable NFS on your Synology NAS.

The default NFS version is v3, v4 can be enabled. I’m using v3 for this demonstration.  Open the control panel and check the “enable NFS” box.

control-panel1

Create an NFS export on the Synology NAS.

Create a new shared folder and give it a name and select a volume to back it.

control-panel2

You can encrypt the folder if you wish.

control-panel3

You can use the back end Synology features such as file compression and quotas.

control-panel4

Make a note of your settings. As this has a folder of “nfsexports” and it’s on “volume3”, my NFS export path will be “/volume3/nfsexports”

control-panel5

You can add specific users for security, I usually configure a specific host to have access. I also squash users.

control-panel7

I’m now in a position where I can mount the NFS volume on my Fedora server. The only issue is that Fedora will be expecting NFS v4 out of the box, and i’m running v3.

To resolve this I edit the NFS client configuration on my server to expect v3 by default. This can also be done on the command line with options

The config file options are

[root@hansolo nfs]# grep -v ^# /etc/nfsmount.conf
[ NFSMount_Global_Options ]
Defaultvers=3
Nfsvers=3

The command-line test is

 mount -t nfs -o nfsvers=3 192.168.0.241:/volume3/nfsexports /mnt -vv

At this point I can go back to the Fedora cockpit and mount my nfs volume

Log in to cockpit as the administrative user

cockpit-1

Click on Storage and select NFS mounts

fedora-1

Specify the mount credentials

fedora-2

Then check it’s been mounted

fedora-3

It’s as simple as that.

Any, and all comments welcome.

Matt –

 

 

 

 

Using a Synology host for NFS file mounts with Fedora 31.

Use iSCSI block storage from your Synology NAS, with Fedora.

iSCSI has become something of a staple in the world of Linux block storage. It’s quick, it’s reliable I wouldn’t consider it the most secure option but it does “just work”.

I often use iscsi block storage for persistent container storage, as well as a cheap way to add more disk to my VM.

This used to be something of a chore, with iscsiadm and manually copying and pasting long target names, trying to keep track of what is where. Remembering what order to do things, and testing over and over. The Cockpit package within Fedora makes this totally simple now.

This walkthrough will show you how to use your Synology NAS with Fedora 31 to mount remote storage within minutes. NOTE: I’m not using CHAP authentication, as this is just for my own vm’s. In a production environment, you should be using “at least” CHAP.

Ok, what you will need – a volume on your NAS and a local area network. Ideally a Fedora (https://getfedora.org/) vm to test.

Configure the LUN on the NAS

The LUN is the block of storage you want to present. The target is the device that will present that storage to the rest of the network.

Create the LUN

Log into the Synology NAS as an administrator and select the iscsi manager icon.

iscsi-manager

Click on LUN, and create.

Give your LUN a meaningful name, and select how much space you want to allocate from the Synology Volume.

iscsi-manager-2

In order to access the LUN you are creating, you’ll need a target. This can be done at the same time by selecting “Create a new iscsi target”.

iscsi-manager-3

Here you can give your target a sensible name, and the complex “iqn” name will be generated automatically. If you were running a production system you would enable chap authentication at this point on the target.

iscsi-manager-4

Now that is finished, we can see our target with a mapped LUN. How simple was that?

iscsi-manager-6

 

Configuring the client (the Linux box)

In your web browser, connect to your Fedora server with your administrative user. I’m connecting as root for testing, but ideally, this should be your user with SUDO privileges,

cockpit-1

Once logged in, click on the storage tab and scroll down to iscsi targets. This is a list of iscsi targets that your Linux box is aware of. As we don’t have any, we’ll need to add a target and scan for available LUNS.

cockpit-2

To scan for LUNS on a target, click the + button and you’ll be asked for a server address. This is the IP, or hostname of your synology server. Click Next to start scanning.

cockpit-3

Here you can see a list of targets that it’s found. You are probably wondering why we see 3 targets when we only created 1 ? Well, we have IPv6 enabled so they all present the same lun, it’s just a mixture of ipv4 and ipv6 interfaces. As I use ipv4, i’ll be selecting that one and clicking add.

cockpit-4

 

When we now look at our storage drivesin cockpit, we can see a new disk drive. This is the LUN we selected in the previous step. It can be formatted and treated like any other disk.

cockpit-5

Click on the new Synology drive and you can create a partition table on that disk.

cockpit-6

Personally, I like ext4 and I’ve chosen to zero the disk. I’ll be mounting it on  /home/iscsi

cockpit-9

When this completes, you’ll have a 1gb drive mounted from your synology server to the directory /home/iscsi of 1gb. As seen below.

cockpit-11

That’s it. A really simple, effective way to add more disks to a VM or physical hosts without having to touch a screwdriver.

Please let me know if you have any comments or feedback.

Matt

 

Use iSCSI block storage from your Synology NAS, with Fedora.

Automatic backups to a USB disk on your Synology NAS

Context

I’m a hobbyist photographer and I have about 30’000 images that I keep on my Synology drive. My NAS is a core part of my workflow, but bad things do happen. If they do, I still need to be able to access my images while I’m getting my NAS repaired, or replaced.

I don’t have time to do any of this manually, so I’ve automated the process of backing up my images once a week or on-demand from my NAS to my external USB disk.

You will need…

  1. A USB disk large enough to hold all your images. Ideally, a disk that you can leave plugged in for an extended period of time.
  2. A Synology NAS
  3. Some photos
  4. Shell access to your Synology NAS drive.

 

For this example, I will be using the username “myork” and my NAS is called “yoda”.

 

 

Setup Steps

Plug your external USB drive into the back of your Synology NAS. If it is a USB 3 device, be sure to use the blue USB ports if available.

You should be able to see it in the external drives tab of your Synology NAS web console.

external-disk-settings

here you can see it’s been mounted automatically and a new shared folder called usbshare1 will now be visible in your folder list.

disk-list

 

Collect the information about your files and your external disk.

Log into your Synology web console and ensure SSH is enabled.

enable-ssh

Once the service has been enabled, you can then ssh into the Synology NAS.

ssh myork@yoda
...
myork@yoda:~$

As we know the drive is mounted under the name “usbshare1” we can get the full path from the ssh console.

myork@yoda:~$ mount | grep -i usbshare | awk '{print $3}'
/volumeUSB1/usbshare

The result tells us where the Synology OS has mounted the disk on “/volumeUSB1/usbshare”. Now we need to locate all of our photos.

Fortunately, we can do this from the Synology web console. Open the file browser and get the properties of your photo folder.

get-vol-name

 

Make a note of the location. In my case it is /volume1/photo.

Now, we can use a tool called rsync to help up backup our files.

 

The command will look like

/bin/rsync -avzh /volume1/photo /volumeUSB1/usbshare/

 

where /volume1/photo is the source of my files, and /volumeUSB1/usbshare/ is the destination (my external USB disk).

 

Create the task

In the control panel of the Synology web console, click “Task Scheduler”

udscript

Give the task a useful name and run it as your own user. Do not use root as this is the UNIX/Linux super-user and any mistake could damage your system. In my case, I’m using the myork user.

run-user

Click the task settings tab, and put the command into the “user-defined script” box. Feel free to get it to email you if you want that. The option around abnormal termination relies upon the command exiting with a non-zero exit code, which will work with rsync.

runscript-command

Now select when you’d like this to run. Please bear in mind that a disk copy could take some time to run, so you’ll probably want to run this once a week, or maybe daily.

runwhen

You can then attempt a test run of your script and see if your backups are created.

test-run

That’s about it. If you find this useful, or your have any suggestions, please let me know.

Thanks

Matt

Automatic backups to a USB disk on your Synology NAS

A Linux Admins guide to using Synology NAS

Recently I replaced my Synology DS1815+ for a DS1819+. I decided to rebuild from scratch (while migrating my data). I’ve used Synology for about 10 years and I’ve also got a strong background in Linux, so I decided to write a series of articles that describe how I use my Synology NAS with my Linux desktop.

I should make it clear that Fedora & Red Hat are my distro of choice, although most of what I will demonstrate is transferrable to other distributions.

Disclaimer, I work for Red Hat, but this is a personal blog not affiliated with them in any way. My thoughts and blogs are my own.

I encourage, and welcome feedback. If something doesn’t work, doesn’t make sense, then please feel free to reach out to me.

Posts

Configure the SSH server on your Synology NAS.

Automatic USB backups from your Synology NAS

Using Synology for iscsi block storage with Fedora

Using your Synology NAS for NFS with Fedora 31

A Linux Admins guide to using Synology NAS

Configure the SSH server on your Synology NAS.

As a Linux admin, the first tool I reach for when a new device appears on my network is SSH.

For anyone familiar with SSH, you’ll need a few things.

  1. A remote user to connect with
  2. A remote SSH server
  3. A public/private key pair of the correct type
  4. Permission on that server to log in

In order to use SSH, there are a few things you’ll want to configure on your NAS.

Enable the SSH service

From the Synology Web console…

  1. Open the control panel
  2. Scroll down to Terminal & SNMP
  3. Change the port number to suit taste.
  4. Check “Enable SSH service”.
  5. Click Apply.

 

enable-ssh

Test the SSH service.

In this example, my Synology NAS hostname is yoda. My username is myork.

Attempt to log in from the command line

$ ssh myork@yoda
The authenticity of host 'yoda (192.168.0.241)' can't be established.
ECDSA key fingerprint is SHA256:9v9azyqMIubJzRlIeJbo45Snr6jkZaRLAC5QGM56jn8.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no/[fingerprint])? yes
Warning: Permanently added 'yoda,192.168.0.241' (ECDSA) to the list of known hosts.
myork@yoda's password: 
$

 

Configure SSH keys

Generate the SSH public and private key pair.

$ ssh-keygen  
Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/myork/.ssh/id_rsa): 
/home/myork/.ssh/id_rsa already exists.
Overwrite (y/n)? y
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): 
Enter same passphrase again: 
Your identification has been saved in /home/myork/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /home/myork/.ssh/id_rsa.pub.
The key fingerprint is:
SHA256:gKak7Eza2WkuEETS/8L4tlmbMGS4SP0taPrXGhb1GGY myork@fedoralaptop.local
The key's randomart image is:
+---[RSA 3072]----+
|oo               |
|...  .           |
|. ..o .E         |
|oo.+. +.+        |
|.=o+oo .S.       |
|Bo.*=.+          |
|o+++**o.         |
|  +o+*o+         |
| ..+=o+          |
+----[SHA256]-----+

Copy the ssh key to the Synology NAS.

$ ssh-copy-id myork@yoda
/usr/bin/ssh-copy-id: INFO: attempting to log in with the new key(s), to filter out any that are already installed
/usr/bin/ssh-copy-id: INFO: 1 key(s) remain to be installed -- if you are prompted now it is to install the new keys

Number of key(s) added: 1

Now try logging into the machine, with: "ssh 'myork@yoda'"
and check to make sure that only the key(s) you wanted were added.

 

Log into the server. Notice you are still asked to enter a password. This is because depending on how your home directory was created, the permissions need to be corrected.

$ ssh 'myork@yoda'
myork@yoda's password: ########

Correct the permissions on the home directory. Replace myork with your username.

$ sshuser="myork"
$ chmod myork:users /volume1/homes/${sshuser}/
$ chmod myork:users /volume1/homes/${sshuser}/.ssh
$ chmod myork:users  /volume1/homes/${sshuser}/.ssh/authorized_keys
$ chmod 755 /volume1/homes/${sshuser}/
$ chmod 700 chmod 755 /volume1/homes/${sshuser}/.ssh
$ chmod 600 chmod 755 /volume1/homes/${sshuser}/.ssh/authorized_keys

 

Update the SSHD config file to allow remote login. First, your user will need to be in the “Administrator” group to elevate privileges. This can be done via the Synology GUI.

ssh-admin-user

You can now elevate privileges using the sudo command. We need to make sure the following lines are uncommented. If they don’t exist, they should be added. I’m using vim as it’s my favourite editor. Just replace it with your preference.

$ sudo cp /etc/ssh/sshd_config /etc/ssh/sshd_config.backup
$ sudo vim /etc/ssh/sshd_config
RSAAuthentication yes PubkeyAuthentication yes

Then restart the ssh daemon.

$sudo synoservicectl --reload sshd

You should now be able to log in without a password to your new Synology workstation.

Configure the SSH server on your Synology NAS.

RHEL8 – Where did my network scripts go ?

In RHEL8 the old network scripts have been deprecated. However, if you want you can addd them back in.

Red Hat have provided them in a package called network-scripts

$ sudo yum install network-scripts.x86_64

This adds all your favourite scripts back in

$ sudo rpm -ql network-scripts
/etc/rc.d/init.d/network
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-lo
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifdown
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifdown-bnep
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifdown-eth
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifdown-ippp
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifdown-ipv6
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifdown-isdn
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifdown-post
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifdown-routes
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifdown-sit
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifdown-tunnel
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-aliases
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-bnep
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-eth
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-ippp
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-ipv6
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-isdn
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-plip
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-plusb
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-post
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-routes
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-sit
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-tunnel
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifup-wireless
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/init.ipv6-global
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/network-functions
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/network-functions-ipv6
/usr/lib/.build-id
/usr/lib/.build-id/df
/usr/lib/.build-id/df/fce1383c3b10c1e20c4e4684d16a35c65cad1d
/usr/sbin/ifdown
/usr/sbin/ifup
/usr/sbin/usernetctl
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts/examples
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts/examples/ifcfg-bond-802.3ad
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts/examples/ifcfg-bond-activebackup-arpmon
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts/examples/ifcfg-bond-activebackup-miimon
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts/examples/ifcfg-bond-slave
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts/examples/ifcfg-bridge
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts/examples/ifcfg-bridge-port
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts/examples/ifcfg-eth-alias
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts/examples/ifcfg-eth-dhcp
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts/examples/ifcfg-vlan
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts/examples/static-routes-ipv6
/usr/share/doc/network-scripts/sysconfig.txt
/usr/share/man/man8/ifdown.8.gz
/usr/share/man/man8/ifup.8.gz
/usr/share/man/man8/usernetctl.8.gz

Feedback welcome as always!

RHEL8 – Where did my network scripts go ?