What happened to resale value?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by erichsande, Dec 22, 2017.

  1. I got into photography toward the end of the film era (1997) when camera gear held value; you couldn't quite call it an investment but if you wanted to sell something in EX condition you could expect to get ~80% of its price new. I recall a used Nikon N8008s body fetching over $500 back then.

    As an example of how foolish it is to buy anything new, a Nikon 12-24mm DX lens sells for $946.95 at B&H (I bought one in 2006 for $900). Completed eBay sales are under $400.

    I realize it's the hive (or market) that devalues items so much, but it is disturbing. I'm an avid cyclist and check Craigslist often for older bicycles and often see bikes that cost ~$4,000 new being unloaded for $1,500. I don't think a bicycle should cost more than a used car, by the way.

    Eric Sande
  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    I always bought high end bicycles when they were "obsolete" a great value, and in many cases after fairly inexpensive upgrades, virtually indistinguishable from this year's must have bike performance wise I have bought nearly all of my film & digital camera equipment used. I think there are some similarities in camera systems. Some older Nikon lenses perform nearly as well as the new ones, at a fraction of the price. The difference I suppose is in the cameras - MP and other features keep advancing. Haven't seen many electronic devices that appreciated over time. Even so, the high end old digitals with reasonable MP still take fine shots.
  3. If you sell to a dealer or on trade-in, you sell at wholesale, which is seldom more than 50% of the new price, and often much less. Selling at "retail", such as an auction site, may command a higher price. I have seen auction prices exceeding new price for high-value items, like Hasselblad lenses. That said, you take your chances of losing your gear to fraud. Payments aren't payments until fully cleared, even then the bank has recourse.

    The instant-gratification price of Zeiss Batis lenses for the Sony A7 was nearly double the new price when they were in short supply. I don't know what they're going for now, nor do I care. You "date" cameras but "marry" lenses.
  4. Sandy - I love when people "think" they need a new bike and spend another $5,000 on something. My interest in older bicycles amounts to classic steel of Columbus or Reynolds tubing. I don't know of anyone that marvels at a mass-produced carbon frame, but I love showing up on my old De Rosa/Guerciotti/Bianchi/Torpado for group rides.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  5. I do not recall any used item garnering as much as 80% of new value. As for much electronics nowadays, like TVs and DVD players and cel phones, it sometimes is hard to even give them away. We expect Moore's Law to make things smaller and more gadgety. Cameras being computers with a lens or often without a lens. And on line forums tout all the goodies and make an old camera feel like last year's automobile. A seller competes with the discontinued price of a discontinued camera shuffled off by the manufacturer. Tough competition. Lot of orphans do not desrve their fate that I agree. Savvy buyers can do well if they do homework and have timing in mind. So it goes.
    Jochen and Gerald Cafferty like this.
  6. As recently as 2013 I sold quite a few items to KEH Camera for very good prices. In 2009 I sold my Nikon 80-400 VR (1st gen) for $950 locally. I'd have to dig out my old B&H receipts but I think I paid $1,350 for it in 2001.

    EDIT: I'm giving up on photo.net. I'm having trouble responding to my own thread and even created a 3rd account to get around this. I can log in to my original 1997 account but can't do anything with it.
  7. A lot of stuff still holds its value.

    Here's a quick one off the top of my head-the 135mm f/2 DC is $1200 new. The major used vendors regularly get $900 for them.

    We're in an era of both cameras and lenses being something of a revolving door now. The excellent 12-24, for example, has basically been forgotten in favor of the newer 10-24. I think that's why the price is so low on it.

    Most of the 80s and 90s film cameras have been forgotten. As good as the N8008/s is, it's in a difficult position in the market. The AF is slow and clunky, and it has limited lens compatibility. For someone like me who likes to toss a film camera in with digital gear, there's basically no reason why I'd pick an N8008s or N90/s in favor of an F100. The F100 weighs about the same, but is fully compatible with all the "modern" Nikon glass I have. It will also meter with AI glass. The F5, F6, and F100 occupy something of a unique position in that they work with AI to AF-S glass(E and AF-P are out). The F6 is too rich for me, and as much as I like my F5 it weighs too much. As far as forward compatibility, the N80 gives up metering with AI lenses but is a much smaller and lighter camera.

    On the other end of the scale, the N8008/s is a tough sell to someone who wants to use manual focus glass. It's not exactly an easy camera to manual focus. The F4 has a better meter, can work with non-AI glass, and in its 4-cell trim isn't a lot bigger and heavier. It also has some degree of forward compatibility(I had mine out with my 14-24 2.8 not too long ago). For pure MF use, the FM and FE series are a lot lighter and are great little cameras, while the F3 and F2 have build quality. I'll personally grab an FM2n or F2AS as my choice.

    I think you'll find that when you look at digital bodies, you'll find that the current generation tends to hold good resale value, as does the previous generation. Values do go downhill beyond that. This past summer, when I was shopping for a full frame body, D810s were running $2300 or so, and D800s were running around $1300. The D810 was still current and $3000 new. With the D850 out, D810s have fallen to ~$2K and D800s to $1K. The single digit bodies decline a lot slower. The D3 is now $700, but the D3x runs $1700 and the D4s is $3700. KEH has a used dual XQD D5 for $5600.
    tholte likes this.
  8. I learned my lesson with digital gear when I bought a D2x in 2006. The price had dropped a bit and Nikon was offering a $500 rebate, so I spent $4,000 instead of $5,000. I obviously had money to burn at the time.

    I eventually was drawn back to my film gear and considered selling it, but then the D3 came out. I don't know if KEH realized what was happening, but they gave me $1,300 for it when eBay prices were around $1,000.

    I realize that if I'd kept that D2x and continued to use it, it'd still be my $4,000 camera.
  9. Around 2000, I started trading a lot in camera gear on ebay - disposing of what I had accumulated over the past two decades and getting newer stuff. By the time I disposed of most of the film gear, digital had a firm grip on the market and film cameras sold for a dime on the dollar (if that much). But even around 2000, at least for me it was uncommon to get 80% of the new value for anything (or paying that much). As Ben pointed out, there were exceptions. In my case, the Micro-Nikkor 70-180 zoom that was cheap in 2000 and whose price rose to 250% of what I paid for it (now it has dropped significantly).

    Over the last few years, I have traded a lot of gear at the local camera store, some for new but mostly for used stuff (completely gave up on ebay - deducting fees, postage, insurance there wasn't much of a margin left over simply trading at the local store, which also was faster and hassle free). 50% of current resale value (not 50% of new) is fairly standard when trading in - though if one is a "good customer" the percentage tends to be a bit higher, especially when one is buying something used rather than new.

    The 12-24 (I owned one) was excellent on 12MP bodies, not so much on higher-end ones (there also was hardly any competition when the lens was introduced). It's one of the lenses that is hard to sell on the used market (or trade) because there is excellent competition at a much lower price. Nikon's 17-55 is another example - the various Tamron and Sigma zooms push the prices down. Or in other words, lenses that tend to be overpriced new often have a hard time keeping value once (lower priced) competition is available.

    The D700 was an example of a camera holding its value well (50% of new) - until more and more used D800 bodies became available over time; nowadays D700 can be had for around 25% of new.

    Had I been able to sell my inherited Leica gear at 80% of new (or even at 80% of the average asking price on ebay); I'd have a lot more money in my camera equipment budget. Unfortunately, there is a big difference between asking prices for used Leica gear and what they actually sell for.

    In terms of percentage, my highest losses selling on ebay were some lower-end Nikon film cameras (some barely used, other new) - literally going for pennies to a dime on the dollar.

    Next up was an F5 (bought 2004/5 and sold two or three years later). As well as the already mentioned 12-24 and 17-55.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
  10. My best DX bodies are a D300s and D2x, both of which are 12mp so I guess that's why I still like the lens :)

    Buying an IR-converted D80(10mp) was what pushed me to buy a UW DX lens-I had a hard time justifying the extra cost of the 10-24 for that limited use case. I think I'd enjoy the extra width(especially now that I have the 14-24 for FX/film), but not enough to pay double the price of the 12-24 on the used market. If I'm using one of my other DX bodies, it's for the reach+extra speed they give me over my D800, meaning that I'm more likely to stick a long lens on them.

    My local shop got in a handful of D700s not too long ago and I was actually a bit surprised at what they were getting for them. I think they sold them all for $600 each or so, which I didn't think was terrible for a camera that came out 9 years ago. My impression is that the D700 still has a pretty loyal following, and there really is a lot to like about it.
    Earlier this week, I paid my local shop $20 for a working and seemingly lightly used N80. A fresh set of batteries-depending on where you buy them-can raise the value by 50% :) (I pay about $10 for 6 on Amazon, but they are often $10/pair at retail).

    Fortunately, I already had an MB-16. It lets the camera run on AAs without adding a lot of weight or bulk.

    BTW, my motivation for buying it was that I wanted an AF-S and VR compatible camera that is smaller and lighter than the F100. It's a good camera in that sense, especially for $20. I'm familiar with the control layout from the Fuji S2/S3 and Kodak DCS 14/n. I will say that having the ISO on the control dial makes a lot more sense on a film camera than on a digital.
  11. Sold an N80D with MB-16 in 2007 for $90. An N75 with MB-18 for $75. And an N65 with MB-17 for $35. Each one had to be listed multiple times; only the N80D had been used; the rest was unused (and none was purchased by me).

    Hmmh, it seems that if you weren't collecting each and every Nikon camera body, from the money thus saved, you could easily afford an F6;) That would be my approach - if I actually wanted an F6 (I am not into collecting old stuff at all). Might be the lesson I learned from trading and collecting stuff around 2000:D
  12. Fair enough-it's the only "major" single digit F model I don't have :)

    I spent enough putting together my(still incomplete) F2 collection to buy a used one, and my F2AS+MD-2 was about half the price of a used one.

    Still, though, if we're going to get specific I need an F2 plain prism, F2s, F2sb, F3sb, and F4e to round things off also. The F2sb would probably be the most useful to me of the bunch. I also would like a "red dot" F along with both F and F2 variants in black(I don't have a black F and only have a black F2 Photomic). On the F3 front, there's also the F3T and F3AF.

    For someone who wants to shoot film along side digital, there is a good argument to be made for having an F6. It is fully G and AF-S, can matrix meter with MF lenses(the F5 and F100 can't do that) and can be modified to work with non-AI lenses. It is a little smaller than an F4(4-cell/MB-20), not enormous like an F5, and at 34.4 oz. it falls between the F3HP and F4 in weight. The F100 is listed at 27 oz and some change without batteries, but 4 alkalines add an extra 3 oz. to that. I think the listed F6 weight is without batteries also, but a pair of CR123As weighs so little that it wouldn't change much.
  13. My bag with digital cameras and lenses is already heavy enough, there's no space left for film equipment even if I wanted to shoot film alongside digital. And certainly no space for any older lenses to go with camera bodies that are incompatible with newer glass. There's a F100 and a F3HP on the shelf - my guess is that if I actually wanted to use them, they would need to get some CLA first.

    What's an F3sb? You already have an F2H and and an F3H - they certainly should not be missing from your collection? And an F3P of course.
  14. Fair enough on the F2H, F3H, and F3P :)

    And you've never heard of an F3sb? :)
  15. Nope. Never. Very certain that if I were to see one, I'd consider it a fake.

    Back to resale value. Sony's A7 lost big when the A7II was announced within a year of the A7 release - all of a sudden a $1600 camera had a trade-in value of $400. Luckily, Sony gave huge bonuses to those who upgraded (and I got quite a large one too when I purchased the A7 initially). Discounts like that, or what we are currently seeing for select Canon and Nikon models tend to suppress used resale value too, as does the availability of refurbished items (and for those willing to take the risk, gray imports).

    Used D500 bodies became available within months of the release - for about 75% of new. A few months later, a discount program got you a new camera for that price.
  16. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Actually, I have gone on a trip or two with DF with F4 in place of the D 750 - works well in the same bag, and I enjoyed using the film camera as much as the digital. The lenses I usually carry work both ways. I was not as pleased when I tried the same thing with my Ricoh GXR, as I tended to default to the DF, though the GXR is a very good camera, and the bag was a lot lighter!.
  17. Well, it is not surprising, of course. Digital technology gave us three things: free stock photos, cheap microstock and more frequent upgrades. It could not be any other way, even though we might wish otherwise. But look at it the other way: there are used bargains to be had. Some photographers use very cheap cameras and they make quite a nice living from those.

    In terms of percentage, the Leica M9 still has the highest market value in proportion to its new price. You would think that it would be as cheap as the M8.2 is now, but it is not. I wouldn't be surprised it its value went slightly up over time.

    In outright terms - minimal dollar loss - it isn't first place, but it still beat all the high end DSLRs of its time (and those which came a bit before). That is quite amazing, even though its sensor is preferred to modern CMOSes my many photographers, because it has three problems: noisy shutter, small buffer, and the corrosion issue.

    The highest useable ISO is 2000, although many people would not consider that a 'problem'. I'd be okay with that limit, but I don't shoot NFL in poorly lit stadiums!

    BTW, 35mm cameras certainly did retain much of their value, but you did have to spend money on film.
  18. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    i bought a nocti (f1) and m7 for about £2k second hand and sold them separately for about £3.5k 2 years later with the nocti going for £2.5k. thankfully, leica had by then released the nocti (0.95) which went for about £6k i think.

    if you buy middle of the road nikon stuff, what do you expect?
    Jochen likes this.
  19. Over the last few years, I've bought quite a lot of lenses and (film) cameras over eBay. Manual focus stuff and mostly mechanical cameras. Out of the cameras, most of them just hold value, or loose some. Being older well-known cameras, most of them reached a fairly fixed price; at least I do not see large variations for most.
    Digital cameras just loose value, even though some hold up nicer than others. Sensors do get outdated, so nothing unexpected there, in my view.

    The lenses instead, with the rise of videography on DSLRs and mirrorless, and the rise of mirrorless in general, I could probably sell over half of them on a profit now (including Nikkor lenses that aren't particularly special, like a 24mm f/2.8). Prices for a fair number of lenses have surely only gone up, but not for lenses that do not deliver some sort of distinct difference with a lens you could also get today (smaller, lighter, manual aperture, distinct rendering or pictorial qualities). So most DX (APS-C) lenses and fully electronic stuff - that gets a lot less love, and hence deprecates. But that doesn't mean everything does - it just means the market is currently inflated somewhere else and as trend changes, so will prices.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
    Dieter Schaefer likes this.
  20. Anything electronic can be reproduced relatively cheaply. What is high-end equipment today will be outdated fairly quickly and if you buy something because you want the best, it won't be the best for very long. But if you purchase something for its utility and reliability, you won't be disappointed. It's resale value will probably hold up, but it won't really matter, because you'll be less likely to want to turn around and sell it.

    Just like you have your pixel peepers in the photographic world, cycling has its "weight weenies", who spend time and money fretting over the weight of everything they put on their bike, - far beyond that point that it matters for 99% of them.

    The cyclists that do well do so because they're good cyclists. The bikes are secondary. Same with photographers and cameras.

    I think there are people who buy stuff in order to get "oohs and aahs" from their peers. That only works for new equipment while it's still new. Classics do better.

    I ride a 30 year old bike to work 8 months out of the year. It was a good, but not great bike when it was new and I think I paid $75 for it a few years ago. I don't take it on group rides, but I could and as long as the other riders weren't completely out of my league, it would be fine. I don't worry about I could sell it for. The other 4 months of year is winter and that bike and components I spent some more money on because winter will destroy typical bike components before too long.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
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