What Happens To Used Equipment Prices If Leica Folds?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by james_mueller, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. Do used equipment prices increase or decrease in value if Leica goes out of business? I say in the short run prices climb.
    In the long run photogs lose interest and move on, casuing used Leica prices to decline.
  2. The only way Leica prices will go down is if there's no film available. I'm not sure if even that would do it.
  3. James, I sort of get a kick out of watching everyone's speculation. Unless you've heard that they are going out of business, I can't imagine them just folding. First, their brand is so strong that someone else would snap them up in a heartbeat, if not for the technology, then for just the brand. Second, the fact they have a business group that relieved the old CEO of his duties, tells me someone cares enough about the company that it's not likely to fold.

    To me, these threads that seek to read the will before the decedent passes on, is eerie, strange, and not likely. But that's just my take.
  4. They do more than just consumer cameras...

  5. Leica going out of business means supply drops. If demand continues flat for a time (which is what I would expect), then the resulting drop in supply would drive the cost of Leica gear Up.

    Rest assured there will always be at least minimally B&W niche market film. Photograph collectors will still demand hand-crafted photographs.

    Hand-crafted film work is like an oil painting is to a lithograph -- no comparison to an inkjet photoshopped print.
  6. I wouldn't go this far... maybe like a stone lithograph to an aluminum plate lithograph.

    >>Hand-crafted film work is like an oil painting is to a lithograph -- no comparison to an inkjet photoshopped print.
  7. >They do more than just consumer cameras...

    ... as if binoculars and spotting scopes can sustain the whole company.

    Geosystems and Microsystems have nothing to do with Leica Camera AG besides the shared logo.
  8. If there will be adequate service and spare parts, then prices will go up.
  9. Up, way up
  10. As long as film is reasonably accessible and people believe that owning a Leica M will magically transform them into great
    photographers, Leica prices will remain high. As to the M8 I cannot say. The belief that the sensor in the M8 is a product of
    magical pixie dust and will never be bested for IQ and resolution seems to be widespread and should keep the camera
    expensive well into the future.

    <p>I think Leica will be around for a while. I own several and enjoy using them despite the fact that they didn't transform
    me into a great photographer. :)
  11. Without support, M8 prices would tank.
  12. "In the long run photogs lose interest and move on, casuing used Leica prices to decline"....uhhh, didn't this happen about 15 years ago? LOL

    Really, apart from collectors and Leicaphiles (which I don't mean in a derogatory manner), Leica has been pretty much a non-issue for years.

    If Leica went out of business it would affect about 0.5% of photographers.
  13. Other than special cases, cameras are not "investments". Contax folded, and their superb medium format gear goes for a song these days. Kodak made excellent DSLRs and backs, then dropped support along with the product lines. Power supplies, special batteries and chargers are among the most difficult things to find for obsolete digital gear. Fortunately all you really need to use film cameras is a ready supply of film and convenient processing facilities.
  14. How many MILLIONS of M-3s were made, how many MILLIONS M-4s? As the price of film Leicas goes up initially,
    all over the world will try to sell off these old technology curiosities (in their eyes) driving the price down
    over all demand falls.They won't want them, why will their peers?

    While I do not believe that
    film will ever die...it will become a nitch technique as collodian on glass plates is today. The utillity value
    of film cameras will drop for the public. While my grand children
    may keep my M-3 carefully on a shelf somewhere....I really don't think their kids will. At some point, very few
    people will want one of these cameras...and there are a lot of them out there. My guess is that around 2040 or
    so, most Leicas (and other high-end film cameras) just won't be worth much.

    Just my opinion...don't mean to offend anyone.

    Drew Bedo
  15. A better question is what happens if someone comes up with an affordable RF digital?

    So many like me would not buy a M8 because a Canon 5d or Nikon d700 at half the price and better IQ.

    I however really want a home for my 5 M mount lenses, if there were a RF digital for $2500 with a near FF sensor I think there would be a lot of film M mount RF cameras up for sale.

    Not because we are abandoning film but because I know some guys who have 4 or more M film bodies and a good digital M mount camera would mean they would weed out their M tools while they were still worth a good price in the marketplace.
  16. Another aspect is the ephemeral nature of the digital world. Check the price history of any major make of digi camera...Follow the price of the Nikon D-100 down as Nikon introduced the D-200 and now the D-300. When Leica brings out a hypothetical M-10 with a 20 MP full-frame sensor and a low-light capability of, say, 64,000; what will the demand for the current D-8 be? Will Leica do an up-grade for only half the price of the new M-10? I feel that at some point, low demand will make the price of a used M-8 also pretty low.

    Again: Just my opinion...no offence ment to anyone.

    Drew Bedo
  17. "How many MILLIONS of M-3s were made, how many MILLIONS M-4s?"
    Unless I am mistaken, There have only been about 1 million Leica M mount cameras of any sort produced. And that number includes the cameras from C/V, Zeiss, etc.
    In any case, M3 production was under 250,000 (around 300,000 if you include the M2) and M4 (including variants) was around 100,000.
  18. "Geosystems and Microsystems have nothing to do with Leica Camera AG besides the shared logo."

    That's only partially true... Geosystems was originally 'wild' instruments, which was developed originally in
    partnership with zeiss, and eventually Ernst Leitz. Once leica bought out the company in 1990, they only
    gradually individualized. Don't be fooled, there is still a group of people at the top who make the decisions for
    all three companies under the leica brand.

    I know this because i know a few of the fellows from switzerland at leica geosystem's headquarters and chat with
    them through email on a semi-regular basis. Anyone who has dealt with both leica and leica geosystems would know
    that their business model and marketing strategy is roughly IDENTICAL. Lets just say that neither group makes
    their money on volume sales. For example, to get an extended warranty for one particular surveying instrument
    costs a slim $15,000 / year. Note that this doesn't include damage, only maintenance.

    All that being said, I would never buy a leica. Trading a boatload of features (and a boatload of cash) for a
    matchbox full of image quality.... let's just say the matchbox had better be made of gold or it's not even
    remotely worth it.
  19. Josh: You are right about the numbers produced...I'm a Leica aficionado, not an expert. After just a few
    minutes looking through my McKeown's (my only reference book) it is quickly seen that your numbers are on the
    money and mine are way off-base. I was mislead by my superficial awareness of the one million S/N break-over
    for M-3 bodies.

    I still feel that there are a lot of these bodies out there; I sold quite a few of them to the Japanese in
    the '80s and '90s. In the next 30-40 years, the techno-babies of our grand children (who will inherit these
    cameras ) will not know what to do with them, will not want them and no one else will either. No one now wants
    the first autofocus Minolta Maxxum or the first Kodak digital cameras, nor does anyone want any of their follow-
    on models.

    Thanks for setting me atraight on the production figures.

    Drew Bedo
  20. There are folks who'll buy old cameras regardless of their working condition so that they can put them on a shelf as decoration. I sold an old Rollei that wasn't worth fixing for much more than I expected to someone like that.<p/>Since there have been so many produced, many cameras will be used as parts for others. The only kink in this is if there's some sort of defect in the cameras that happens to many of them or all; which means that this strategy wouldn't
    work if that's the case.<p/>The mechanical cameras would have a longer life because machining a part is not as difficult or as expensive as trying to make a chip from a design that hasn't been in production for while.
  21. At one time the former Exakta (one of the first SLRs and nicely made) fetched good prices. I haven't looked recently, but
    I doubt they sell for very much, unless in pristine condition.

    However Leica is not completely alone, the RF Nikons fetch good prices (much more than their selling prices in the early
    60s). So is the case for the long discontinued Alpa 35mm cameras.

    These out of production camera styles will probably keep getting high prices (as opposed to SLR Nikons), because like
    the Leica M they represent a niche market and are hard to find in good condition (or are locked away in collectors'

    Probably Leica prices would staty high, perhaps even climb, should they go out of the camera business. Sure, they will
    no doubt stay in business with industrial optics, microscopes (despite challenges from Zeiss and Olympus) and surveying instruments. I
    guess they still own or are associated with Wild Heerburg?
  22. The weird thing is that lately Exakta and other old cameras from East Germany seem to be going up faster than the dollar is plummeting. While it could be just a blip, similar to what happened a few years ago when mainland Chinese entered the on-line markets, who know, maybe my old "Ossies" weren't such a stupid "investment" as I thought. Of course, I am partially sane, so would never have bought these with any idea they'd ever be worth anything at all. ;)

    Leica collectors were there before any other kinds of collectors though (at least according to Jason Schneider in the 1970s in Modern Photography), and I'm guessing that rich man's hobby may outlast all the others.
  23. 1.1 million M cameras of any type were made, and because of collectors and first rate service from skilled technicians doing CLA's most are probably still capable of taking pictures of being put into service with some repairs.

    I am sure while there were a lot produced there are only say tops 200,000 owners, some of these collectors have one of each model, and lots have at least 4 M cameras.

    An under $2500 digital M could clean up after those like me who won't pay for a camera with the M8's issues regarding corrective filters , coding etc. Nikon AIS lenses are very much old manual lenses and yet moderate priced Nikon digital cameras can program up to ten such lenses without special coding.

    An M digital camera could free up at least a 100,000 cameras since its the lack of an affordable digital that has Leica producing only 50,000 M8's. When Nikon discontinued the F5 its price used dropped like a rock because digital had replaced it in the pro ranks. If their were a digital path for the rest of us M lens owners we could see a big drop in M film cameras that so far has not happened due to the high M8 price and no FF or near FF camera at under $2500.
  24. I'm with John Shriver. The LTM, M & Leicaflex prices will go up -- it's a collectors' market.
  25. Camera prices might not be affected. But if you take away the M8 (without adding a new digital rangefinder) I think prices for used lenses will go back to where they were before that camera was introduced. In the months before the M8 hit the streets, you could buy a 35 summilux asph for 1,600 on ebay. Same thing with the 28 summicron.
    The M8 created so much more demand for the lower focal lengths (the 90 and above don't seem to seen the same acceleration of prices) that their prices shot up virtually overnight.
  26. "How many MILLIONS of M-3s were made, how many MILLIONS M-4s? As the price of film Leicas goes up initially,
    grandchildren all over the world will try to sell off these old technology curiosities (in their eyes) driving the price down as
    over all demand falls.They won't want them, why will their peers?"

    A. It's not millions. Far fewer. And precious few in good condition.
    B. It's very difficult to predict future fashions or demands. Who would have thought that bell bottom jeans would come
    back? Skateboards died in the 80s. Or so I thought. Young people are constantly looking for both the authentic and that
    which will boost their perceived individuality. Now it's tatoos. But in the future, young photographers may decide to opt
    out of the digital rat race.

    Many types of fine watches, cars, and other luxury items are long out of production. But demand only goes up.
  27. People want what they can't have. Take the Noctilux, for example. A year or so ago, you could get a used one in mint minus condition for US $2000.00. But now it is discontinued. Suddenly, everyone who never got around to buying one (and in all likelihood didn't need one, or even have a use for one, and knew it) has to have one. The prices are now stratospheric. You are lucky to get one for $3500.00 or so. And I see then going for $4000.00; I also see people asking $6000.00 and up.

    It is not merely supply and demand. It is psychology. Again, people want what they can't have. As long as something is available, one can always "get around" to buying one. No rush. But, when they think they can't have one: Oboy! Panic! Money is no object!

    No question: the Noctilux is in a bubble--like the housing bubble. And the bubble will burst. If Leica were to go under, there will be another bubble. It, too, will burst; but in the meantime, people will panic and overpay.

    Like in the stock market, it can be wise to buy things that are presently out of favor. If you buy what everybody else wants, at the same time they want it, you will pay top dollar, and you will take a loss when the bubble bursts.
  28. It is natural for older people to increase their nostalgic longings for older things. No one on this forum should
    worry about being able to use their film Leica for many many years to come. <p> The M8 is also a nice bridge to
    digi land for basically the same audience. the files are very nice and certainly deliver well above their
    megapixel and chip size suggests.<p> however - at the price points Leica like to charge - the audience is rather
    small. Probably not large enough to deliver the cashflow needed for serious innovation.<p> so to answer the
    hypothetical posed above - if Leica closes shop - film cameras and lenses probably go up in value for as long as
    old fogies ( joke) are around - then they become mere artifacts of a previous industrial engineering age.<p> as
    for Leica in digi land - I am sure that they will try and sell all kinds of exotic high priced stuff - but to
    who? The utility of a me too less than FF medium format system but larger frame than 35mm market is an answer to
    a question that no one is asking.
  29. Not only are Leicas great shooters but they are collectors items as well. If the company stops making them I believe they will only go up in value. Nikon stopped making it's last MF camera a few years back and you now must pay more for a good FM3A than when they were new.

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