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Thread: Lens depreciation - buying and selling second hand

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    Lens depreciation - buying and selling second hand

    Hi all! I'm after some general advice about buying and selling second hand lenses, and lens depreciation.

    How quickly do lenses depreciate?

    I bought a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 VC for the mid $700's in June this year. By late September it was selling new for around $500, and I sold it for $445. That's quick depreciation! Maybe this one depreciated so quickly because I bought it when it was recently released, and then it got a bunch of bad reviews...

    Another example: Over the last few months I've been eyeing the Canon 24-70 f2.8 L. I haven't been looking real closely, but I think a few months ago good 2nd hand one would sell for around $1600. I think I could get one for $1100 or $1200 now. Does that sound about right to you?

    So... is this depreciation normal, or just specific to these lenses, or am I imagining things? How does depreciation compare between Canon / Canon L series / 3rd party lenses?

    I'm asking because I'm likely to be buying (and maybe selling) some 2nd hand lenses soon. I'm particularly interested in getting a 70-200mm. I think, eventually, I'm going to want to go all the way and get the 70-200 f/2.8 L USM IS MkII, but I'm trying to hold off for a while till I can actually afford it. If I were to buy a second hand 70-200 f/4 IS or f/2.8 non-IS, would it have lost much value in, say, 6-12 months?

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    Its complex, but, I factor in 25% per annum dinimishing value

    As a general rule though 3rd party lenses will depreciate faster than well known brand lenses as well

    It does also depend on the lens, how many you can find second hand (for example try finding a good 300 2.8 VR or a 85 1.4 second hand)
    Darren
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    I've always been under the impression that lenses hold value better than bodies. I hadn't really thought much more about it.

    Having said that, from my brief installments in buying and selling lenses - I believe that the better the value, and the better the reviews on the lens the better the resale - that seems quite obvious though really.

    I've bought many a lens for 400-500 and sold it for <150. That's why I always try and recommend people buy once and buy right. If you want a telephoto lens, don't buy a 75-300, and then a 90-300, if at the end of the day you want the 70-200 f/2.8. The money you waste on the lesser quality lenses is money you could have used on the best glass you need.

    I did pick up a 70-200 f/4 non IS for 550 a while back. Which is essentially half price for a good condition second hand lens. Was happy with that.

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    The upward movement in the dollar has also skewed things lately, that's the biggest reason for your new lens being cheaper in Sept than you bought it in may, hence used prices will drop as well.

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    Agree with Darren here. Supply and demand! A good lens that is hard to find 2nd hand, will hold its value more than a lens that is easy to get hold of, and has average reviews. So it depends on the particular lens.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    A very cheap price on a used lens may not be an indication of depreciation but rather, a glorious past history of that lens.
    It may have had a triple by pass surgery, or a quick dip in the neighbours pool, or a whiff of cappucinno, or beaten blue by a jealous wife/husband.
    With modern lenses having electronics and software imbedment, unbeknownst to mortals who dare open them up, it is very difficult to peg a depreciation value on modern lenses.
    If one can afford it, buy new. The price hike difference may be the cost one pays for having fewer headaches and anxieties.
    Best of luck!
    "The greatest camera in the world is the one you hold in your hands when shit happens." ©2007 Raoul Isidro

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    Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch jim's Avatar
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    As Darren says it's complex, but for decent lenses from Canon or Nikon 25% pa depreciation seems too much. For example the lenses I bought in '91-'92 (nothing really special) tend now to be worth about 60% of what I paid for them. Roughly.
    All constructive criticism accepted with gratitude.


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    Pentax 50/1.7 manual lenses will get $100 on eBay and they came out in the mid 70's.
    I don't think I could give my 18-55 kit lens away

    It depends on popularity and availability. As said above supply and demand.
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    One thing that is important in your post that you touch on is timing: if you are buying in the first couple of months, you will cop an even bigger hit. I think that you got a great price for your Tammy - if you hadn't bought it straight away and waited for the price to come down your depreciation would have only been 10%.

    As the new price comes down, obviously the second hand price does too.

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    if you can find a good 24-70 f2.8L for 1100 or 1200, good luck! I got mine new with Australian warranty (from teds) for $1680 a few months ago. I reckon I could go and sell it for $1600 easily enough on ebay even with a scratched hood etc. The pro lenses lose very little in value with age, so sometimes it is better just buying new in this respect.
    Canon stuff 5Dmk1 w/ 24-70 f2.8L, Canon 5Dmk1 w/70-200f2.8L, 100mm f2.8 macro, 50mm f1.4, 580exII
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZedEx View Post
    . I reckon I could go and sell it for $1600 easily enough on ebay even with a scratched hood etc.
    I reckon you are optimistic and blinded by certain factors,

    Instead of your second hand lens with a scratched lens hood I reckon I would be happier with a new one in pristine condition mate at under $1400.00
    Andrew
    Nikon, Fuji, Nikkor, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and too many other bits and pieces to list.



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    wow the price has come down a bit since I got mine. d-d photo had the 24-70 for 1680 so i got teds to price match. Ah well, back when I was looking you'd see new ones from high 1600's to 1800, and second hand all over 1500. All I meant was that higher end pro gear won't lose as much in value as will lower end gear, generally, in which case it is often better to hunt down a new item instead

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    As said before, it's ONLY about supply and demand. It has nothing to do with how great or how bad a lens is but how much people want it and therefore how much they will pay. As an example, one of the best lenses that I posses only cost me $69US, and it was brand new, albeit disscontinued a while ago. But no one wants them, so they are sold at give away prices. It's quality is astounding and ALMOST equal to my Leica R of similar focal length.

    Canon 'L' lenses do seem to hold their value extremely well but they will only ever sell for a margin less than the new price so as the new price drops, so does the second hand price. The grey market has an effect too. If the new prices for 'L' lenses started to shoot up then so would the second hand prices.

    Not all lenses depreciate. Look at Yashica (yes Yashica, who would think) 21/3.5 ML. This lens is far more valueable and sought after now then when I had one 15 years ago. Then you couldn't get anything for them, even on a good day, now they sell for about $450-500USD. All due to the internet, and the folklore (bullshit) it spreads about what's good and what's not. Supply and demand, there are very few 21/3.5 ML's floating about. People want this lens and will pay for it because they can use it on a Canon body so now there is a very large base of potential users where as 15 years ago only Yashica and Contax users gave a rats a.....

    The Noct-Nikkor 58/1.2 ain't going down in price any time soon either. Essentially any lens that is 'stellar' in it's reputation won't depreciate, maybe it will even appreciate. The Voigtlander APO series 1 lenses sky rocketed on the second hand market as their reputation spread. Some people bought them new and eventually made a profit when they sold! But that's very odd.

    On the other hand, lenses like Leica R which cost an arm and a leg many years ago are far less 'desireable' NOW with Leica dropping their R series altogether. Some of these are still increasing in price, due to their useability on Canon bodies primarilly.

    If you buy second hand then you won't loose too much, generally, but you still need to buy well. If you buy new then there is always a good chance it will be worth very much less very soon.

    As some one mentioned. Don't waste your money wroking up to the lens you really want, it will cost you far more in the long run. If you want a Noct-Nikkor 58/1.2 for example (all $3500USD worth) then don't waste your money on a bunch of similar lenses that are never quite as good and that you end up not being satisfied with and then eventually sell, usually at a loss. Buy the Damn Noct-Nikkor and be done with it, for example.

    JJ
    Last edited by jjphoto; 12-10-2010 at 8:35pm.

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    Thanks for all the replies!

    So popularity (reviews on the internet) drives the prices up... and the lens I'm eyeing (70-200 f2.8L IS USM II) is hugely popular! Ah, but the catch is that I'm particularly interested in that lens because of the reviews on the internet! (And that I borrowed one for about 900 shots and loved it!)

    Maybe I need to do more research on comparable but less well known lenses. I'll start another thread for that!

    If it is true that the price of the 24-70 f2.8L has been plummeting, and if that is very atypical for such a popular lens with such great reviews, maybe we can blame the strengthening Aussie dollar (although that should affect all lenses) and rumors that it will soon be replaced...? I'm guessing that an already-superseded lens such as the 70-200 f2.8 IS USM MkI or 70-200 f4 IS USM should depreciate much slower.

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    If you buy the higher quality L's second hand you will likely lose not much on resale. The only time i think that there is a big step down in price is when a new version comes out. So if the 35L gets upgraded to the 35 II in a few months the 35L mk I will go down, maybe to 1K when the new one comes to the market. But at the moment you buy a 35 f/1.4 for $1250-1300 i think you can sell it again in 1 year for the same price. If it is in still good condition. You may get a lower price if there are several selling in that week with newer date codes, but i have noticed you wont get much more for a W than for V, since the design does not physically change.
    Buying new will always lose a pretty decent amount, but thats the peace of mind you get for buying new. EG, i sold the 100-400 11 months after i bought it for $2300. Got $1700 for it in perfect condition. When i was buying, that was approx the going price for this lens as well. In hind sight I should have purchased second hand, this lens is one of those lenses that people buy wth big ambitions but end up not using becuase it is large- or they lose intrest.

    I agree bodies will depreciate much faster. Everey couple of years a new one comes out, with a lens this is a much longer time. After the 1Dmk4 was announced the used price of 1D3 droped about $1k in a few months. Ouch
    1DIII, 5DII, 15mm fish, 24mm ts-e, 35L,135L,200L,400L,mpe-65mm
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    Ausphotography Regular Bercy's Avatar
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    Pure and simple market forces at work here. New cars drop 40% the minute you leave the car yard, because that will be waht it is worth to someone else. Rarity itself doesn't mean anything on its own either as Bart Simpson found out when trying to sell a picture of a naked Whoopi Goldberg! Nor does how good it is (especially how good you think it is) ean much in the market. Lee Iacocca made it plain for Ralph Nader, when he said that the price was simply determined by what people were prepared to pay for a product, not its cost of manufacture. So if people want it it will drive up the price, new or second hand. By definition, if people find item x-desirable, there isn't going to be a surfeit on the market, simply because people get them and hang on to them. Reckon I will get much for my Nikon 601 film camera - it is fantastic after all!
    Berni

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    agree with those above....supply and demand. I purchased a secondhand 75mm lens about 18 months ago for $3500. Even with the strengthening AUD$/weakening US$, it would sell today for around $5000. I also purchased a lens about 18 months for $700, and it halved in value in around three months.

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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant mongo's Avatar
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    Mongo respectfully disagrees with RaoulIsidro.
    Mongo has always been an advocate of second hand lenses in perfect condition or else do not buy them. Depending on the cost of the new model, the second hand lens can be excellent value and you do not take the initial BIG depreciation hit. Also, once upon a time a lens had a very long model life (many , many years) but more recently , a lens may only have a life of 3 to 4 years before it is superseded. So, why necessarily buy new when it will be superseded in such a short time and depreciate rapidly ?? We are constantly tempted with upgrades we do not necessarily need. The trick is to say no or wait for the “SALE” of the outgoing model (new) which should go for a substantial discount.
    Fault on second hand lenses used to be reasonably discernable on inspection and trial – granted , a little harder with today’s electronics. Second hand dealers usually give 3 months warranty which is long enough to find out if there is a problem. Of the about 30 lenses Mongo has purchased second hand over the last 25 years – not one has ever had a problem( sent to lenses for a spot clean after having them over a decade).
    Most of Mongo’s lenses are second hand and he has owned them for well over a decade without a problem and still going. Having said that, Mongo purchased about 3 new lenses in the last 3 years because he got them at an absolute bargain price being cheaper or equivalent to second hand versions of the same lens ! Ironically, they were not lenses at the more reason price level models but some of the most expensive model of Nikon lens you can buy. So , whilst Mongo has a loose rule to buy excellent second hand lenses at the right price, there is no fixed rule. You make sure you get the best bargain old or new as circumstances allow.
    If Jim is correct, then, depreciation of only 40% over the last nearly 20 years is nothing to complain about ; particularly given the pace at which lenses (and camera bodies) now become superseded.
    Mongo completely agrees with Maccaroneski’s comments and has made the same observation.
    Nikon and Pentax user



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