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have lens prices peaked?
Old 03-04-2012   #1
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have lens prices peaked?

i look around the classfieds here and elsewhere and think to myself...these prices are crazy!!

i know that with so many digital cameras now accepting m mount lenses that they are in demand all over again...but why are they so expensive...and not just leica brand lenses...cv, rollie, old lenses and new!

do you think this will continue? or have we peaked?
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Old 03-04-2012   #2
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I don't know if it will continue, but most old lenses are by definition not produced anymore. No new supply (a a small number of them lost/broken each year), steady or even increasing demand...
And quite a lot of people do not want to pay a qualified repairman, and try to tinker with the gear. Some are wise, some just use WD40, lighter fluid, ... More and more dubious/broken gear on the market.
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Old 03-04-2012   #3
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The prices won't go down until the recession is over. Some vintage lenses like 'lux pre-asph e46 and apo-cron, will still fetch insane prices, while more common lenses will go down a bit.
All new lenses will drop a bit too, unless the production stays low (Leica).
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Old 03-04-2012   #4
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They better not, as I have quite a sum of money invested towards a set of -luxes and -crons...
I have seen local sales of m42 lenses go for 2-3times their usual going rates in the last few months ...
I think the price hike will not stop as more and more bodies are able to accept the legacy gems and less and less of the said lenses are available on the market.
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Old 03-04-2012   #5
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Probably not. As Leica raises the prices on their lenses, they drag everything else up with them. The "high tide raise all boats" phenomena.

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Old 03-04-2012   #6
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Unfortunately, when (and it will eventually happen, just not soon) the economies worldwide pick up, we will see inflation like never before. Lens prices will not likely be going down ever.

Historically, lenses have always been a much better "investment" than cameras which always tend to go down in value, but not lenses!
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Old 03-04-2012   #7
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Now that photography has become much more generalized than ever before, everybody is looking for some way to distinguish his or her photographs from the other fellow. In lieu of unique creative vision, unique gear (which may contribute to vision but is not a prerequisite by any means) commands greater and greater attention. I don't think prices will come down. Currency valuation however is likely to undergo drastic change.

I just ordered one of the Japan CLE version 90/4 Rokkors from KEH. At $265 for an EXC-rated lens, it's probably US$100 more than it would have been 5-6, or maybe even 3-4 years ago, but it sure was a bargain by today's standards.
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Old 03-04-2012   #8
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There are a limited number of classic cameras out there, especially the german ones (Leica, Rollei, Hasselblad). However, there are a growing number of potential classic camera buyers, especially in places like China, Russia and India. They tend to follow in the footsteps of the Japanese and Korean pattern. Many of them probably never put more than a few rolls through them. Lenses that are compatible with cameras today (especially Leica) will continue to get high prices.

It is still a good time to get classic Japanese gear, for which there is way more supply and not as much interest. Nikon FM, FE, F2 for example, and AI glass. The Nikon F has already had a big jump in price I think, from the $150 range for a body and lens to more like $450.

Large format gear seems to be getting a little cheaper today. I think a lot of large format shooters are moving to digital, which will probably accelerate with the release of the D800. 36mp has approximately the same resolution as 4x5 in real-world (not testbench) shooting.

The whopping bargain I see is the Mamiya RZ67 system. These are still sold new for about $4500 for the body and $2500 per lens. I bought a body in EXC condition and three lenses in EXC+ for $725. The lenses are tippy-top quality. The 50mm ULD, for example, has 15 elements in 11 groups! Possibly the most complex prime I've ever seen. This is basically a tripod queen, though, definitely not a walkaround camera although you can handhold it for brief periods.
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Old 03-04-2012   #9
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I'm going to offer a contrary view here. Most of these lenses are NOT rare, and the demand for them really is not that great. Of the millions of amateur and professional photographers in the world, how many own an M8 or M9 and how many, really, are using M-mount lenses on other digital cameras with adapters? Tiny percentage.

If you look around, the price of used goods of all sorts have gone up dramatically in the last few years. Used cars are outrageously priced now. I bought a car last summer, and everyone in Fort Wayne was trying to sell junkers with 180,000 miles for seven and eight thousand dollars. I'm talking common mid-priced cars like Fords and Chevys, nothing rare or expensive when new. A few yrs ago, such cars were two or three thousand dollars here in Indiana.

Its the economy. With so many out of work and so many working people earning far less then the actual cost of living, anyone selling some used thing is trying to turn lead into gold. Lens prices are driven today by Ebay, and a few sellers on there started doubling and tripling prices and offering things as buy-it-now only at these prices, which made others think that was what the stuff really sold for. Didn't take long for everyone to be asking such prices, making these the de-facto prices since no one is offering anything for less. People who wanted or needed things had to pay.

Make no mistake, this is still largely driven by desperation. People who formerly had good incomes are in poverty and selling their possessions and trying to squeeze as much as they can. I think prices will come down IF the economy improves. It isn't going to though. Those who control the economy do not want it to improve; what we're seeing is a deliberate shifting of wealth from the common people to the few at the top, and they're not giving it back.
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Old 03-04-2012   #10
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It depends on the lens. If you are talking about those that have increased by very large amounts, in a short amount of time, that's called a bubble. It's caused by a new set of buyers deciding something is worth a lot more than comparable items, then it's inflated quickly by speculators hoping to cash in on the rise. We've all seen what happens to bubbles, when prices double in a year and then double again. At some point, it crashes.

Smaller increases of prices of non cult lenses are more likely to remain in their price zone, moving slowly upwards, as new cameras (digitals) breath new life into old glass.

Recently I've seen people buying vintage lenses for very high prices on Ebay, with the new owner putting them back on Ebay the next week at an even higher buy it now. Things like that don't usually last very long, if you recall all the real estate "flip this house" type of shows and devotees, who are all bankrupt now. I'd expect any vintage lens that has doubled in price more than once is teetering on a very narrow price edge.
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Old 03-04-2012   #11
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i was thinking that i should wrap my current m gear and store it and wait for really insane prices...and just play with the d90 for now...
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Old 03-04-2012   #12
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They are really join overboard.
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Old 03-04-2012   #13
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The prices only look high when viewing the dollar (or euro or yen) as being equal to what it was 5 or 6 years ago. The is definitely not the case. But I can't believe inflation to be the only factor. Look at all the shiny new digital camera we can mate old and very good lenses to; demand is up but not necessarily for the film bodies and even brands the lenses were built for.
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Old 03-04-2012   #14
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Even FSU lenses are ridiculously high in price now. The few CV lenses I bought new or near new I couldn't afford to pay what they are going for on todays used market.
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Old 03-04-2012   #15
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I don't see the prices peaking until Leica's new factory is online and they raise their MSRP prices high enough to match the prices in the secondary market.

As for used old lenses, the prices will remain high until China's economy crashes.
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Old 03-04-2012   #16
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let's not be so leica-centric...i'm talking about cv, rollei, old canon lenses as well...
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Old 03-04-2012   #17
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Many here seem to think prices can only go up from here on. If you are amongst that crowd, I have a question for you: Have you recently (in the last year) purchased a lens because if you waited, you believe the cost would become unaffordable to you?
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Old 03-04-2012   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
let's not be so leica-centric...i'm talking about cv, rollei, old canon lenses as well...
Me too. Witness the rise in price of the Canon 50/1.2 over the past few years. As Leica raised the price of the Noctilux, the Canon followed quickly behind. You used to be able to buy a Canon 50/1.2 for a few hundred bucks several years back. Today this lens will set you back more than $500.00 USD.

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Old 03-04-2012   #19
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Many here seem to think prices can only go up from here on.
First the dot.com market, then financial markets and then housing. Consumers demand a new bubble!
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Old 03-04-2012   #20
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Vintage lenses are like lakefront properties: god isn't making any more of them.
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Old 03-04-2012   #21
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Vintage lenses are like lakefront properties: god isn't making any more of them.
And yet, the price of many lakefront properties went down when the real estate bubble collapsed.
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Old 03-04-2012   #22
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It nearly axiomatic that a peak in the market can only be identifies in hindsight, once the downturn is well begun. So I would say, no -- prices for high quality lenses has not yet peaked.
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Old 03-04-2012   #23
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First the dot.com market, then financial markets and then housing. Consumers demand a new bubble!
With all these bubbles, I think it might be wise to exploit the bubbles bubble before it pops! Or just invest in printing plates for when we give up on our current currencies.

As for cameras, any system will eat some cash, so I have been careful to invest in those systems that have characteristics that allow the lenses to be repurposed to modern bodies. It's less about making money than about not losing it.
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Old 03-04-2012   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
let's not be so leica-centric...i'm talking about cv, rollei, old canon lenses as well...
How can you not talk about Leica when they are the one influencing the market? It's like you can't talk about prices of consumer items without talking about the price of oil.
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Old 03-04-2012   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n5jrn View Post
Many here seem to think prices can only go up from here on. If you are amongst that crowd, I have a question for you: Have you recently (in the last year) purchased a lens because if you waited, you believe the cost would become unaffordable to you?
I do think that prices will inevitably come down, but not right now. I am also thinning my Leica collection as time goes by but I wouldn't get rid of all of them at once.
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Old 03-04-2012   #26
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Originally Posted by Jockos View Post
The prices won't go down until the recession is over. Some vintage lenses like 'lux pre-asph e46 and apo-cron, will still fetch insane prices, while more common lenses will go down a bit.
All new lenses will drop a bit too, unless the production stays low (Leica).
Econ 101 says it is the other way around.

Recession = less disposable income, less demand, prices fall.

End of recession = more disposable income, more demand, prices rise.
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Old 03-04-2012   #27
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How can you not talk about Leica when they are the one influencing the market? It's like you can't talk about prices of consumer items without talking about the price of oil.

i did not say to stop talking about leica, note the 'as well' at the end of my setence...only that i was talking about all lens brands.
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Old 03-04-2012   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
i look around the classfieds here and elsewhere and think to myself...these prices are crazy!!

i know that with so many digital cameras now accepting m mount lenses that they are in demand all over again...but why are they so expensive...and not just leica brand lenses...cv, rollie, old lenses and new!

do you think this will continue? or have we peaked?
Leica has increased prices across the board 5 to 10% twice a year
for years now.

As long as that continues,
expect to see the used lenses to continue to increase as well.

The yen seems to have stabilized against the dollar.
it went from an average of 115 yen to the dollar to 75 yen to the dollar.
that could hold new Japanese products at their current levels.

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Old 03-04-2012   #29
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Originally Posted by Aristophanes View Post
Econ 101 says it is the other way around.

Recession = less disposable income, less demand, prices fall.

End of recession = more disposable income, more demand, prices rise.
The situation is way more complex than some simple rules of thumb can explain. There are so many different types of lenses (vintage that are hard to find clean, new modern that are not in stock, ultra limited editions, etc) and each of them has slightly different groups of buyers and sellers. For new lenses that are not in stock, as soon as you can find them anywhere online, price premium will disappear. For vintage lenses, their prices will drop once people are strapped for cash. For limited edition ones, their prices are dictated by collectors. If their fortunes start to sour in a recession, they might be forced to sell some of the items.
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Old 03-04-2012   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Araakii View Post
The situation is way more complex than some simple rules of thumb can explain. There are so many different types of lenses (vintage that are hard to find clean, new modern that are not in stock, ultra limited editions, etc) and each of them has slightly different groups of buyers and sellers. For new lenses that are not in stock, as soon as you can find them anywhere online, price premium will disappear. For vintage lenses, their prices will drop once people are strapped for cash. For limited edition ones, their prices are dictated by collectors. If their fortunes start to sour in a recession, they might be forced to sell some of the items.
Your last sentence just said the same thing as my post!

Supply and demand. If a vintage lens is no longer made, the last one is priceless. For collectors, every lens is priceless or they are engaged in arbitrage, and not collecting. Groups and buyers move around, but I bet if you graph the price, you'll see a constant relationship between supply and demand. Instant online price checks have made that an absolute as we are no longer reliant on local markets.

What people seem yo be assessing here is not that relationship, but the timing of the market for their purposes. They get a m43 adapter for a lens class and then have lens price sticker shock. Well, maybe it has something to do with that adapter creating more demand.
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Old 03-04-2012   #31
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From maybe 2000 to ~2005 or 2006, just prior to the original release of the M8, Leica mount lenses were essentially flat if not dropping slightly in value.

I can also recall getting some hefty rebates on the purchase of a pair of new M6 classics.

But the digital revolution in RF and EVIL cameras pretty much assures that RF lenses will hold their value.

Leica Camera AG is doing their part in not flooding the market with new lenses. When an anxious buyer is told their choice of a new Leica ASPH lens is on indefinite backorder it isn't a stretch to understand their motivation to shop used which maintains a premium value for the used lenses.

There was a visible upturn starting in late 2009, early 2010 for Leica M lenses, which is easily attributable to the release of the M9. I see current prices and feel very fortunate to have acquired most of my newer Leica lenses in early 2009. They all have appreciated from their purchase prices. But if I sold what would it cost me to reacquire?

Once a new digital body is purchased, it is going to loose some value, unless it is a M9-P which is likely otherwise backordered. Historically digital cameras do not devalue to a stable plateau such as film cameras.
From 2000 - 2005 Leica was poorly managed and perhaps was not likely to survive without a certain forestry magnate flushing the company with cash. With the transition to digital in question at that period, Leica users were faced with the possibility their investment in lenses would solely be usable on film cameras, and perhaps decline in values the whole digital RF segments was perhaps going the way of the dodo. So prices flatlined and Leica offered rebates until the M8 and M9 revived demand. And with that revival (and a lot of wealth in newly developed countries) demand went up, and so did prices.

Buy low, sell high. Well in your case, you got the first part right (lucky *******)
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Old 03-04-2012   #32
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I am not sure the prices of vintage lenses has much if anything to do with the current economy. There appear to be a couple of factors driving prices up:

1 - A tilde wave of mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras with adapters that let you mount M lenses and
2 - Leica's inability or willingness to produce enough new lenses to meet demand

Leica operates at the luxury end of the market so there were never that many lenses out there (compared to Nikon et al) to start with. Therefore even a small increase in demand will have a large impact on price.

For those who already own the lenses this is good news assuming you want to trade it in for something else. For those want ing to get into classic Leica gear times are tough. I don't see the prices dropping any time soon.
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Old 03-04-2012   #33
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Technology is constantly changing. I think the prices will inevitably come down because people might not need to take pictures with traditional lenses anymore. (Like the new Lytro camera).

For those who bought Leica lenses to mount on their digital non-Leica bodies, if one day they realize that Leica lenses don't really give them better images or if there's another way to take better pictures, they will abandon the Leica ship.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JSU View Post
From maybe 2000 to ~2005 or 2006, just prior to the original release of the M8, Leica mount lenses were essentially flat if not dropping slightly in value.

I can also recall getting some hefty rebates on the purchase of a pair of new M6 classics.

But the digital revolution in RF and EVIL cameras pretty much assures that RF lenses will hold their value.

Leica Camera AG is doing their part in not flooding the market with new lenses. When an anxious buyer is told their choice of a new Leica ASPH lens is on indefinite backorder it isn't a stretch to understand their motivation to shop used which maintains a premium value for the used lenses.

There was a visible upturn starting in late 2009, early 2010 for Leica M lenses, which is easily attributable to the release of the M9. I see current prices and feel very fortunate to have acquired most of my newer Leica lenses in early 2009. They all have appreciated from their purchase prices. But if I sold what would it cost me to reacquire?

Once a new digital body is purchased, it is going to loose some value, unless it is a M9-P which is likely otherwise backordered. Historically digital cameras do not devalue to a stable plateau such as film cameras.
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Old 03-04-2012   #34
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I don't think Leica really has much to do with the increase in prices at all. Most people out there are not shooting Leica glass nor ever will. All vintage lenses have gone up in price from Minolta to Olympus to Pentax. It's a combination of the rise of micro four-thirds systems and forums like this that talk up how great an Olympus 50mm 1.8 MIJ lens is. Vintage lenses would not have risen in price without either being around. So, yes, Leica glass has gone up in price, but Leica the Company really has little to do with it.
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Old 03-05-2012   #35
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Econ 101 says it is the other way around.

Recession = less disposable income, less demand, prices fall.

End of recession = more disposable income, more demand, prices rise.
True, but econ 101 also says that premium items will increase demand in recession, crazy as it seems.
At least the 101 I got

Also for the gold diggers, I don't see the price of tilt/shift lenses coming down any time soon. They fetch a crazy prize, but have an actual practical application, contrary to say a Canon 1.2 which only has "character".
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Old 03-05-2012   #36
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And of course you need an expensive lens to become famous!

Miroslav Tichy bypassed all this asset based angst and took his photos with this:





Makes a Lux with haze and a few dust particles seem excessive.
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Old 03-05-2012   #37
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True, but econ 101 also says that premium items will increase demand in recession, crazy as it seems.
At least the 101 I got
True. because premium product manufacturers cut back, reducing supply.

And because in a recession objects besides currency are seen as repositories of value, like precious metals and jewelry. I think some lenses fall into that category, but far fewer than many assume.
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Old 03-05-2012   #38
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Inflation is the key factor, my FX rate when I started buying higher end Leica lenses was at 48-52 to a US$ now it's at 43 and that was not too long ago. I believe I can't really afford any Leica aspherical lenses nowadays though, used or new.
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Old 03-12-2012   #39
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Don't forget to add the following factors into the mix:

1)Forums like this one allow many many more of us to share our pictures and talk about our purchases - label it a "sleeper lens" (eg: M-Rokkor 40mm), post some pics across different fora, add in some google search, and voila, the price of this "hidden gem" can very well go up within a few weeks. High demand, low supply can help sustain it. This also happened to the Nikon SB-25 after strobist.com hit the big time.

2) The FED and many other central banks around the world are injecting cash into their economies at frightening levels and at interest rates at, or close to, ZERO PERCENT. For those that can tap into this pool, this is effectively FREE MONEY! Or close to it.

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Old 03-22-2012   #40
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I would like to arise another point that I think nobody mentioned: what would happen in, say, 10 years when "everybody" is using their tablet/mobile gadget for taking photographs, and "nobody" is carrying that bulky camera with lots of unneeded accessories and "stuff"?

I can imagine a near future where the camera can be used as a mobile phone and also as a "post-production" station (or an ultra-portable PC with multiple connectivity options and a 3D photo & video camera, or... well, I guess you get the idea)

Then, I suppose very few lenses will retain value, while cameras may hold theirs better, as "antiquities" or simple collector's items.
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