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Lens Sales: is it just me, or are lenses not selling?
Old 09-06-2015   #1
bobby_novatron
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Lens Sales: is it just me, or are lenses not selling?

Just thought I'd put this post out there to get some general opinions.

Recently I've posted several ads here on RFF, and had a couple auction items on the 'Bay. I priced my items reasonably, typically at what I paid for them originally.

I am very careful with my equipment and I have tried to price my lenses fairly.

Instead, I've noticed two things:

#1. The lenses on the 'Bay sold for considerably less than what I expected.

#2. The ads on RFF are generating interest but no takers.

I'm not trying to spout 'sour grapes', I understand that market conditions can change. But is there something else going on?

Is it the economy? People's disposable income? Uncertainty about Leica's new offerings in 2016? Or is the market for rangefinder equipment already saturated?

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Old 09-06-2015   #2
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Part of the market dynamics on camera equipment:

- Lots of people are on vacation during the summer months. They usually buy the equipment they're going to take on vacation in early Spring.

- Many people, on return from summer vacations, are getting children ready for school. Many also have the bills from vacation to pay.

I've noticed that more gear tends to sell, and at higher prices, in the time period from end of September to the holidays, and then from about February to mid-May.

G
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Old 09-06-2015   #3
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I second Godfrey.
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Old 09-06-2015   #4
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I'm on the second round at RFf with my Elmar-C 4/90. and no bites. I've noticed KEH is slashing prices...
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Old 09-06-2015   #5
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Thanks for the input, I just may have to sit on these sales for a few more weeks until we get closer to gift-giving season. Maybe that would help.
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Old 09-06-2015   #6
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You have 2 lenses sold in the classifieds. That isn't too bad. If you give more details on that J-3 it might sell. I had to reshim my J-3 to align with my Bessa R. It's a finicky lens but once you get it shimmed right it's a great lens.
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Old 09-06-2015   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
Part of the market dynamics on camera equipment:

- Lots of people are on vacation during the summer months. They usually buy the equipment they're going to take on vacation in early Spring.

- Many people, on return from summer vacations, are getting children ready for school. Many also have the bills from vacation to pay.

I've noticed that more gear tends to sell, and at higher prices, in the time period from end of September to the holidays, and then from about February to mid-May.

G
This is valuable information to keep in mind!
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Old 09-06-2015   #8
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It could also be the 4/3rds craze for "legacy" glass has worn off. The prices paid for older lenses the past few years has gotten a little crazy. Everyone was in search of the holy grail of lenses but after fiddling around with old, manual lenses, many realized they prefer autofocus and the ability for the body to communicate with the lens. I'm glad to see prices starting to drop but at the same time wish I would have jumped on the bandwagon and sold off some of my older glass I no longer use regularly to capture the great selling prices. I guess I'll just keep the lenses and use them!
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Old 09-06-2015   #9
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Just had two lenses sell (with issues) in minutes of listing them on eBay. I gave a good price since they had some problems for the future owners to deal with. YMMV
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Old 09-06-2015   #10
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Leica lens prices have been down some time on the open market. You can always tell when prices are down because folks try and sell at a BIN prices on eBay rather than let an auction run from $1.
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Old 09-06-2015   #11
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Add to the above, that with the recent nose dive in the stock market, the "Fear vs. Greed Index" currently has the needle pegged all the way to the fear side.
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Old 09-06-2015   #12
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Godfrey is right about the usual fall slump, but no doubt in general, lens prices have been falling, with a few exceptions.
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Old 09-06-2015   #13
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Wait for the holidays if you can.
I have a big lot to sell and will wait until November.
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Old 09-06-2015   #14
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I have this kind of feelings. Two known lenses, low priced. Can't sell.
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Old 09-06-2015   #15
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Yes, the lens trend is way down, from a peak about 4 - years ago. In large format too, which I did a lot of buying and selling in for several years. Then, ANY quality lens was increasing in value every 6 months, by any maker, in any mount.

Today, only a very few, cult lenses are selling for the money they were selling for then. I've sold a lot of my lenses that were very hot then, like Canon 1.2s (were $800, now $300), Angenieux 25/.95 C mounts (were $1200, now $400). I could name many more that you probably wouldn't know in antique large format lenses that are similarly way down, almost half of what they were selling for in 2010. Back then, you could "discover" a dusty old lens to buy for $50 or $100, and flip it easily for $300 to $700. Today, it's all leveled off. Most of the treasures have been scooped up, flipped at least once, and are now sitting, unsold, for too high prices.

Many of the legacy lens shooters went from being middle aged, technically savy people with good careers, to young hipsters with no money. The people using a high end Summicron have been replaced by people using Holgas and 1970s Japanese SLR lenses.

Or Smart phones.... When everything is online (not printed), does it matter if that "retro look" is from an Instragram plugin, or an old Leica lens? Most would rather get the look for free.
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Old 09-06-2015   #16
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Prices are definitely down. I just saw a Elmarit-M 28 Asph go for just over $1,100 on ebay. Thats almost exactly half its current retail price.
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Old 09-06-2015   #17
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I think that a lot of people have realised that they can get incredible results with legacy lenses from the likes of Minolta (who are so good that they made some stuff for Leica), Pentax etc so why bother with pricey glass?
Excellent lenses like Minolta 35 2.8 and 50 1.4 can be had for under $50. Often way under $50. So they may think why drop coin on something else?
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Old 09-06-2015   #18
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with digital folks wanted to use their favouite manual legacy lenses…some worked well some didn't..so people went on a shopping spree to find better fits…lens to body/sensor…but i think more folks like me either tried and then went directly to oem lenses to 'fit' best with their bodies or just went directly to oem lenses…i use fuji bodies and the fuji lenses are excellent…why would i bother with legacy lenses that present problems with some sensors or need to focus manually?
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Old 09-06-2015   #19
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Because at the time, 5-10 years ago, there had been a slump in all manual lenses. It was a perfect storm for quality glass from Germany and Japan's 1950s - 1970s golden era. Those companies spend millions to design glass, and their lenses were too expensive for many of us to afford, when current.

So rather than picking up Canon AE-1 glass at the Goodwill for $8, a lot of people started realizing their dream lenses from Nikon and Leica were quite reasonable, often just $100 or so. Whereas a current Canon or Nikon DSLR lens was much more. The internet fostered the discussions, and competition and bragging started happening. Prices rose too far, too fast.

Of course, this is the Rangefinder forum, and we are more esoteric people. We wanted small, precise optics and cameras. When we started adapting to digital, we realized the smaller RF lenses were a good size for the smaller digital cameras. And still are.
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Old 09-06-2015   #20
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All good responses, and good information. Thanks to everyone for your contributions.

I also was thinking that perhaps the 'legacy glass' phenomenon has kind of run its course. At any rate, I think I'll just have to be much more patient and perhaps dial back my expectations of what the market can handle right now.

And yes, I sold a couple of lenses this weekend, but they weren't 'state of the art' lenses and I sold them at a small loss.

Another example: I recently auctioned off a Zeiss ZM 21/F2.8 on the 'Bay after I couldn't generate any interest with classifieds. I purchased the lens used about 3 years ago for $950, and at the time I thought THAT was a great price. This week it sold on eBay for $650. I have to admit I was a little stunned.

Bad timing or cosmic justice! Anyway, live and learn.
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Old 09-06-2015   #21
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The most important lesson is this. I have seen it over and over for many different antique areas. When people start saying these types of things, you should remember NOTHING is certain when there are rapidly increasing prices in antiques. The faster the rise, and the more hype statements like below, the more you better be careful you are not buying at the top:

"You better get one while you can!"
"They are getting out of sight in price, better hurry"
"They are doubling in value every year, by next year, they'll be $xyz.!!!"
etc....
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Old 09-06-2015   #22
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Could we have reached 'peak lens'? There are many contributing factors. I never got out of Leica. Fortunately I did get into Zeiss M mount. And the then came the M9, and the original Monochrom. I just can't think what else I would now want as I have more lenses than I need, and almost all that I want.

Those who didn't want to stick with the CCD Ms left, perhaps for good. The Sony A7 satisfies a lot who left, and others new to the game. The X100 satisfies others, in small numbers sure. And then the iPhone 6. And then there's all those very good DSLRs that just don't need upgrading and so stops people moving across. 'Peak DSLR' must slow the churn in everything. And the legacy lens on M 4/3 or anything else must eventually prove a bit of a drag. And then many may have been forced out of film for lack of local availability.
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Old 09-06-2015   #23
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I never really understood why lens sales are ever exceptionally good. I have a few nice lenses that I spent a good amount on and fully expect them to last my lifetime. Lens technology doesn't exactly move at the speed of light (I know, bad pun), and I have found any relatively high end lens of the last few decades deliver exceptional performance. What more do people need?
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Old 09-06-2015   #24
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what was driving the market the past few years was China.

What's been going on there recently?

Add to this, the dollar is strong...it's much cheaper to buy gear from Japan or other places now. This lowers the market.

There you have it.
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Old 09-06-2015   #25
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Speaking just for folk Down Under, a couple of years ago the Aussie Dollar was sitting at about $1.10 USD, meaning that often it was much cheaper to buy camera gear from over there, even after shipping was factored in.

Now we're at $0.69 USD - no more cheap buys
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Old 09-06-2015   #26
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Most of these posts address the demand side. I think some of the problem is on the supply side. There are a lot of lenses for sale out there. A quick count of Canon 50mm 0.95 lenses currently on e-bay is about 20 items in various configurations. If you sort the list of similar offerings by "lowest price + shipping" and if your listing are not near the lowest price, the lens isn't going to sell.
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Old 09-06-2015   #27
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I agree that the time of the year has a lot to do with it. Sellers are much better off by selling in the couple months immediately prior to the Xmas holidays.

I violated one of my own rules (never sell items during the summer if you want top dollar) by selling a Nikon 6006 film camera this past week. OK, so we're not talking about a high priced item, so it probably didn't make too much difference for this particular item, but it sold today for less than the N6006 camera's usual selling price.

Good timing can make quite a bit of difference in the final selling price.
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Old 09-06-2015   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_novatron View Post

Another example: I recently auctioned off a Zeiss ZM 21/F2.8 on the 'Bay after I couldn't generate any interest with classifieds. I purchased the lens used about 3 years ago for $950, and at the time I thought THAT was a great price. This week it sold on eBay for $650. I have to admit I was a little stunned.
I assume you’re quoting USD? I see you’re in Canada (so am I). As you know, three years ago the CAD and USD were roughly on par. Now it’s 1.32 CAD for every USD… so your $650 sale nets you ~$850 CA (ignoring losses on exchange, sales commission, etc.). It’s not quite so dramatic a loss, in CAD and likely reflects the true value of the USD rather than its numerical value.

I bought that lens new in 2011 for roughly around $1100 CA. Based on B&H’s listing of $1428 US, it’s now roughly $1900 CA. (see below).

Quote:
Originally Posted by splitimageview View Post
what was driving the market the past few years was China.

What's been going on there recently?

Add to this, the dollar is strong...it's much cheaper to buy gear from Japan or other places now. This lowers the market.

There you have it.
I was in Tokyo in earlier this year. I visited Yodobashi and Map Camera. Zeiss and Voigtlander pricing was amazingly low compared to US retail at the time, and still is pretty good. Since then, some places, such as this site’s host, have reduced their USD Voigtlander pricing to be more competitive, but you can still find some deals over there. Zeiss has been the more remarkable example. That 21/2.8 ZM noted above, sells at Map Camera, pretax for ~$900 US. In this light, its used selling price of $650 US seems fairly inline.

It’s the US retail pricing on some brands/products that is out of line with ‘global reality’, or at least some other markets. IMO, Zeiss is particularly egregious in the US (and which affects me here in Canada because my understanding is all Zeiss is imported from the US). The Otus lenses retail for approximately $1000 US more than Japan retail prices. Zeiss has reduced their ZE/ZF pricing via instant discounts to be closer to other markets, but is still high. Unfortunately no such love for ZM glass.

I was very interested in the ZM 35/1.4, but not so much at $2290 US, or about $3000 CA. I happen to know the dealer price for that lens is ~$1850… which is still about $100 US more than the RETAIL price of the lens in Japan. I can understand some price differences, but that is pretty significant.

Anyway, this is one facet of the 'problem'.

The other would seem to be the points mentioned by others. I also think demand for Leica is probably rather flat right now. Sony a7 has pulled some away from Leica too, if the Leica specific shooting experience is not critical. Add to that sensor compatibility problems with RF glass on Sony a7, and many who were experimenting with various lens options have either settled on what they like, or have gone to native lens options, now that those have filled out more.
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Old 09-06-2015   #29
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When Canon added video to their DSLR's and started the "everyone can be a famous filmmaker" fad, the rush for vintage glass went crazy. The M4/3 video capable cameras added to the old lens buying frenzy. It was a cheap way for the average 17 year old to chase his dream of making a killing shooting feature films with his T3i and a bunch of old $50 Nikon or Minolta lenses. Prices for just about any old lens went up.

Now, even the 17 year olds are shooting video with Sony A7s' with $1000 OEM's. Those adults still chasing their filmmaker dreams have graduated from 5D III's to Red Phantoms and $3,000 "Cine" lenses. A lot of this is being driven by the rapid move from shooting video at 1080p (HD video) to 4K and beyond. That old glass that looked great at 2K resolution doesn't look so great at 4K and beyond. The market matured and a lot of the old lenses are being dumped.

Photography equipment is a terrible "investment."
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Old 09-06-2015   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antielectrons View Post
Leica lens prices have been down some time on the open market. You can always tell when prices are down because folks try and sell at a BIN prices on eBay rather than let an auction run from $1.
eBay was discouraging auctions a few years ago and had developed a fee and marketing structure that favored fixed price listings. I think their mentality was that auctions just frustrated buyers, plus the previous CEO wanted to morph eBay into being like Amazon. In any event the upshot was to permanently harm the auction process on eBay, and although eBay has backtracked on this, auctions have never quite recovered their old glory - they lack the number of bidders they once had, and so yes sellers are harmed too since they lack selection and market prices. Buyers now find fewer auctions and less selection since sellers are skittish about losing money to a failed auction.

Auctions are very fragile events and they need a large pool of potential buyers and a wide selection of auctioned product to attract participants to that type of market place, which is why most other attempts to create auction sites have failed. eBay apparently was not even aware of that fundamental fact and assumed they could simply turn it on or off as they desired.
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Old 09-06-2015   #31
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I've found that, if KEH has it, their prices are competitive with stuff on eBay, and KEH has a great guarantee.
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Old 09-06-2015   #32
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Quote:
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eBay was discouraging auctions a few years ago and had developed a fee and marketing structure that favored fixed price listings. I think their mentality was that auctions just frustrated buyers, plus the previous CEO wanted to morph eBay into being like Amazon. In any event the upshot was to permanently harm the auction process on eBay, and although eBay has backtracked on this, auctions have never quite recovered their old glory - they lack the number of bidders they once had, and so yes sellers are harmed too since they lack selection and market prices. Buyers now find fewer auctions and less selection since sellers are skittish about losing money to a failed auction.

Auctions are very fragile events and they need a large pool of potential buyers and a wide selection of auctioned product to attract participants to that type of market place, which is why most other attempts to create auction sites have failed. eBay apparently was not even aware of that fundamental fact and assumed they could simply turn it on or off as they desired.
Nice analysis, David. That's how eBay has felt to me over the past few years. I tend to use the fixed price method when selling, but add the "make an offer" option which allows for flexibility for me and the buyer.
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Old 09-06-2015   #33
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It is definately a buyer's market right now but Leica is really getting to a 5 year low.

I wanted to get a Leica 35mm FLE but prices were still up close to 4K. Then three weeks ago I scored a really recent serial number in new condition with a warranty for $3,500, a perfect sample too, focus is smooth as butter, even sharper than the one I rented. Now they are dropping below that to $3,200-$3,400 easily, I doubt they would hit below 3K.

I have a pre-FLE 35 asph to sell but will sit on it until later this year, I got it for a steal but will be happy to break even.
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Old 09-07-2015   #34
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What with 24MP entry level FF cameras now a reality, many old lenses are outresolved by affordable cameras. Old lenses may be growing less popular among pixel peepers...
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Old 09-07-2015   #35
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About 3 years ago I bought my first mirrorless. While I bought into the system for the lenses (fuji) I was quite poor at the time and so decided to shoot all relatively inexpensive legacy glass. I ended up buying quite a stack of lenses that gave satisfactory results but were a bit of a pain to use. A year down the line the prices of OEM lenses came down to near legacy level prices so I bought a few, quickly to discover the results were far better than the old lenses I was previously shooting with and much easier to deal with when it came to actually using them.

I still use some of the lenses on film cameras, but for the most part I barely use any of them anymore and I'm planning to give most of them away/sell them. Even my most top shelf SLR primes are handily beaten by fuji's worst lenses.

I wouldn't be surprised if my habits were indicative of a general trend that was sped along by decreasing mirrorless lens prices. Now with FF mirrorless the issue is probably even worse since many lenses besides not having AF, auto-diaphram, suffering from poor handling (adapters), also suddenly show poor corner performance that was previously cropped out of APSC sensors.
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Old 09-07-2015   #36
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Well holiday seasons and perhaps changing demographics aside, I suspect that the emergence of sensors that can out-resolve legacy glass, the hassle of using legacy glass relative to say touch screen autofocus and the drop in prices of system AF prime lenses of excellent quality have all helped many users to realise that many classic lenses are overpriced. Indeed if such lenses are not selling it could be that many have been bought at the very top of the market and there are no more 'have a go' buyers out there in the market who believe they can buy and either get most of their money back if they later sell, or make a speculative profit.

In some respects this reminds me of Tulipmania, a speculative bubble. This site sums it up a few well chosen words:

"the story of tulipmania involves many timeless issues like behavioural biases, malfunctioning markets, inequality, and basic economic concepts like supply and demand imbalances."
http://www.businessinsider.com.au/tu...ced-a-flower-1
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Old 09-07-2015   #37
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For us living outside the US, the USD currency appreciation has made it more expensive to purchase lenses or anything stateside for that matter

Missed your DR Summicron by a hair though. I was ready to pounce but my CC company couldn't clear my funds immediately
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Old 09-07-2015   #38
esearing
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP Owens View Post
I've found that, if KEH has it, their prices are competitive with stuff on eBay, and KEH has a great guarantee.
I have always found KEH to be much higher than eBay, especially after I add 7% sales tax here in Georgia, and they won't even let you come pick it up without whining about it. I have also seen prices rise and fall over the last two years. Depends on the item. I missed out on the wave of M6's for under $1000, now mostly selling between 1200 and 1400. I have found good deals from here, APUG, and Fred Miranda. Rarely on Craigslist or Ebay.

I buy used lenses from Japan due to the favorable exchange rates and quality they offer. Far more trustworthy than KEH. Large format gear from there has been relatively stable in price for the past 3 years.

I also feel the used digital cameras are way over priced for the risk you take that the previous owner did not abuse it or have a temporary fix in place.
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Old 09-07-2015   #39
Range-rover
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I think your right, on this site I had a lens for a month and nobody grab it,
so I sold it to B&H and didn't do to bad.
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Old 09-07-2015   #40
splitimageview
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rscheffler View Post
It’s the US retail pricing on some brands/products that is out of line with ‘global reality’
This thread is about used prices, when it comes to new gear, it's difficult for manufacturers when it come to exchange rates. That's why there have been rebates from all the big names most of the year.

As far as used gear goes, the demand from China was so strong over the past few years, it wasn't long ago that it was easy to pay retail for a new Leica lens in the US and sell it to China and make a tidy profit.

I've sold lots of photo gear over the years on ebay and I'd estimate 80% went to Hong Kong or China.

But with the chaos in the Chinese economy over the last few weeks, the demand has really dropped, and so have the prices.

Combine this with a favorable exchange rate with the Yen, there are many more Japanese sellers on ebay selling really nice gear for much lower than the gear has typical sold in the recent past.

It's a great time to get some deals.
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