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Used market prices - Pro bodies vs. Prosumer bodies

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jonathan F/2, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. I've been watching the sales forum on the 'cafe and other fora that sell camera equipment and one thing I noticed is that flagship bodies tend to take the biggest hit in the used market! Not only do they get major price hits once a new update or body come out (ex: D2X to D2Xs to D3) once they are replaced, their price significantly drops. Yet with prosumer bodies (D200, D300, etc.) they usually hold their price at a certain threshold. I'm beginning to wonder if it's better to invest in prosumer bodies due to the rate of replacement since cameras are becoming more like computer in that sense?

    I mean, I shoot for a living, but having to upgrade, sell, rinse and repeat is beginning to get really annoying! I pretty much have all the glass I want and at this point in my career and the way the economy is, I'm beginning to think prosumer bodies are a far better investment, especially in the fast pace of upgrades. Looking back, I've literally have gone through over a dozen camera bodies in the last 5 years! I bet the camera companies are richer than ever before. Ridiculous!

    Any other others want to chime in? Thanks!
  2. I think gold or oil commodities are investiments. I buy a tool which does what I need.
  3. JMontes


    Jun 22, 2007
    Edgartown, MA
    Digital camera bodies are like computers, don't buy one thinking you are going to get a whole lot back when you sell. They definitely are not an investment, unlike good glass :biggrin:
  4. I agree we have to buy the tools that are necessary to get the job done. But with the D300, D700 series of cameras having most of all the technical pro features (withstanding pro-durable build) you can't really get much better. In fact my circle of photographers, the D3 has barely caught on, because most are in agreement the D300 is good enough and cheap enough.

    I'll give a good example of a decision I made recently which is:

    Either buy a D700 or a 200mm f/2 VR for my job. Both have its uses and advantages, but which one would be the better investment?

    I ended up buying the glass, because I know it will last a lot longer than the body. I'll probably pick up a D3 soon enough, once they get dumped due to the D3X being out! :wink:
  5. LDB415


    Apr 26, 2008
    With a few exceptions perhaps, I don't see any camera equipment as in investment asset. Bodies are a throw away with the only question being how long until it reaches throw away status. Glass is a depreciating asset that has the potential to hold most of it's value if chosen wisely and handled sensibly. Mutual funds, diamonds and gold are potentially appreciating assets.

    I'm not sure how depreciation works for a photography business but presume it's similar to trucks for a freight transportation business. In that case, one buys based on need and suitability to task, generates the revenues available with it, captures the depreciation and eventually replaces it when a replacement can generate more revenue than the current piece.
  6. I do think of camera bodies like computers - if you want it to last you several years without being too 'outdated' - spend a little more now and buy more than you need - it'll give you room to grow as well

    Glass on the other hand for the most part will work on any bodies so spending more on a good lens is wiser as well.
  7. You know, with the D300/D700 hitting 8 fps and CAM3500 being pretty darn good, this is the first time I'm beginning to think I don't need to invest in the flagship bodies. I can make my money back within a month with the D300. Lenses will make it's money back throughout it's lifetime. Especially buying my pro glass used, when I do sell I'll lose very little financially. If you need a D3 buy one, but what I'm trying to wonder is why the pro bodies don't hold their value higher?

  8. Lurker


    Jul 21, 2007
    First of all I'm scared to see pro's not seeing a D3 or D300 as an investment, because it is. But, unlike oil or gold, it is not a speculative investment. Instead, the return of the camera body comes out of the income it generates. Writing it off as an expense (like one would do with nails, paper, gasoline) doesn't make sense - you expect income out of it.

    An "outdated" D1 has no value in that sense as it can barely generate any money in today's market. Hence the relative low resale value - nobody can afford to pay more for it as it wouldn't warrant the investment. Besides that, the inital cost was pretty high - selling the camera for 25% of it's original price still gives a decent return.

    With consumer cameras the story is different. Consumers don't grade a camera by the return on investment, but simply by it's "intrinsic" value. "It's still a good camera, I'd rather keep it as a second body instead of selling it for $150". Of course, the initial value of the camera was a lot lower so there won't be a lot for really low values on the market.

    So there's your answer: pro cameras will usually only get sold when their "squeezed out" from a business point of view - at a low fraction of the price that they were bought. But that's still enough to get a good chunk of money for it.
    Consumer cameras will only get sold while they're still worth anything - at their low starting price, that's at a relative high fraction of their price. Any lower, and people rather keep it as a back up.
  9. Just FYI, the D200 and D300 are now labeled as pro bodies by Nikon.
  10. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    do you need to upgrade, or do you want to upgrade? is there a feature that the new body has that your current body doesn't and so prevents you from getting your shots? if that's the case, then you don't have a choice, bite the bullet and upgrade. if you don't need the new features and can still take your shot with your current body, then don't upgrade.

    i can empathize as i've gone through five bodies in seven years, but i've only sold two. can't sympathize though, as resale value down the road was never a consideration when i bought a new body.


  11. I buy bodies based on features, I really had to think long and hard about purchasing a D700 which btw I'm still on the NPS priority order list! Yet I ended up using that money for 200mm f/2. It just sucks donkey rocks because having to to upgrade constantly to stay competitive gets expensive. And what sucks, the photo market is getting very competitive and the money ain't where it used to be. As a hobbyist, sure buy what gives you your jollies, but when you need to make money, getting what's good enough ain't so bad.

    If you ever hang out in sportsshooter.com, those guys always sound like their struggling to make ends meat!
  12. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    You might be onto something Jonathan. Back in the day, it made sense to buy a rugged body that would last 5 years or so. Now-a-days, you can still buy the tough body, but the technology peak does not last as long as the body does. So yeah, buy just enough body to last until it's time to buy the next one. If you are trying to stay at the crest of the tech wave, that's probably what, a year, year and a half?
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