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Thread: Return on Sales

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Return on Sales

    I think it is pretty common knowledge that lenses hold their value relatively well, with the conventional wisdom I've always heard being able to get 60-80% of your initial price when you sell it. I have seen, and even used this rationale myself, that we are more "renting" camera gear rather than buying it as your actual cost is 20-40% of the actual sale price.

    So, this winter I decided to sell off lenses I was not using and/or had effectively replaced. This included the EF 24-105 f/4, Sigma 35A, EF 50 f/1.4, and EF 100-400 Mk 1. I finished the last sale this past week. In total, I have now sold those lenses as well as everything associated with my original 7D kit including the 7D, 580 EX II, EFs 10-22, EFs 15-85, and 50 mm f/1.8 II. So, I have now sold 1 camera body, 1 flash and 7 lenses via ebay (4 lenses), craigslist (2 lenses), and a personal contact (camera, lens and flash).

    Overall, I am seeing exactly what I had expected in that I have averaged 70% recovery of my initial investment on the lenses, less on the flash and camera body.

    A few lessons learned:
    • Buy low. Most of my initial gear was purchased at the going rates via Amazon or B&H. Soon I started waiting for rebates, or other good deals such as refurbished lenses. This is how I've purchased a lot of my current gear. One of the first things to jump out at me is that, of course, the return is better for the gear where I bought low. Best example is the 35A where I recovered 93% of my initial purchase price.
    • Sell early. If I've done something wrong it is wait too long to sell my gear. I would have recovered more had I sold the 24-105 immediately when I purchased the 24-70 II. The same is true, to a lesser extent, of the 100-400 Mk 1. Instead, I waited and saw the used prices drop.
    • Little difference between Craigslist and Ebay. Based on what I've seen the difference in recovery in minimal. I kept worrying about all the fees with Ebay. But, of the 2 lenses sold on CL, 1 was sold for less and one sold for more than the average I recovered (after fees) of the 4 lenses sold on ebay. On average I made out ~5% better on craigslist, but that was mostly driven by the EF 50 f/1.8 II, where I recovered 84% on an inexpensive lens. Up to you if that is worth the hassle of CL, which seems to work better in urban areas compared to southern NH.
    • Kits are a great deal. I've bought 2 kits now, the 24-105 with the 5DIII and my EOS-M with 18-55 and 90 EX. When I break apart the "kit" and assign values I am still impressed with what I paid for each item.
    • Bodies don't hold their value as well as lenses, but I think we all know that.


    It is also tempting to conclude that I should have just invested in exactly what I wanted upfront. But I think everyone needs to go through some progression to figure out what they want and whether they need/want to invest in certain gear. So, when I look at what I have spent vs the fun I've had. Worth it.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 03-14-2016 at 06:10 PM.

  2. #2
    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    Excellent post. I've found your conclusions to be true as well. Lenses (especially high quality ones) tend to hold their value very well while bodies simply do not. That was one motivating factor for converting my EOS 7D to IR instead of selling it.

    If you think about how much you lose when you sell a lens compared to the amount of time you've owned and used the lens, the "rental fee" is usually ridiculously low. :-)

  3. #3
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    re: CL working better in urban areas. I wonder at what threshold this working better occurs. Ottawa is a difficult market. There's a fair number of people, but it's geographically huge, making it inconvenient. I found that when using local used websites like CL (kijiji, usedottawa, etc.), people around here tend to try to sell for for 95-110% of retail price, and want to buy for 20-50%. This is true for *all* items, from lenses to ice skates. It's to the point that I don't check these sites anymore. I once listed a semi-pro camcorder for 8 months before I got an offer above 50% of it's retail value. On the other hand I sold a 24-105L for 95% (took a month or two).

    I'm not sure what the Canadian EBay market is like, but if it can shave off the months of waiting for a willing buyer, for a 5% cut in price, then it's probably worth it.
    On Flickr - Namethatnobodyelsetook on Flickr | On the web - http://www.GrassStainedPhoto.com
    1DsII | 7D | 7DII | 10-18mm STM | 18-135mm STM | 24-70mm f/4L | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 | 50mm f/1.8 | 85mm f/1.8 | 70-300mm f/4-5.6L

  4. #4
    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Brant, your experience tracks well with mine although I only use CL.

    I agree about selling early - I lucked out in selling both my 17-55/2.8 and 24-105/4L before the prices fell significantly.

    In terms of 'investing in exactly what you want', as a general rule, if it's a lens that I know I want, I'll buy it new. But if it's a lens that I'm interested in but uncertain if it will become a long-term part of my kit, I buy them used to begin with. When considering lenses that I've bought used then subsequently re-sold (about 6 lenses in total), I've actually made money on those overall - enough to offset what I've lost selling lenses bought new (e.g. my all my EF-S lenses). I'm still at ~75% return on sold gear, due to camera bodies losing significant value.

  5. #5
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    Metropolitan areas it is easier. Expecting a 70% return in the rural midwest may take you some time with Craigslist.
    If you do not want to use Ebay there are not many other choices.
    The other aspect is time to sell vs the value of your time.
    I took my 16-35 II, 300mm f/2.8 and 500mm to a local shop and sold on commission. I made 15 - 20% less than the going rates but it was worth it not to go through the hassle. The 300mm took a month to sell. They had the 500mm for a full year before it sold.
    Even with commission I averaged 60% on the smaller lenses. 73% on the 500mm and 92% on the 300mm (I had bought it used).

    But now the store has changed owners. I just sold my 5D II and 35mm f/1.4L. I gave it to my son in law to sell, I made him give me what B&H's quoted as an offer from the sell and let him keep everything above. B&H is probably about 50% of what they sell the item for. Then he went to ebay and searched the items and looked at previous sells and used that as his go by price to list on craigslist. It took him about three weeks before he found a buyer. he was able to pocket $500 bucks. I am getting ready to let him do the same thing with my 1D IV.

    Selling is a pain in the rear.

  6. #6
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    I have bought and sold ...and bought more gear over the last few years than I even care to admit! A majority of the time I get about 70 - 75% of what I paid for lenses if I bought them new. If I bought them as a refurb or used, I can usually get what I paid or more. When I sold my 7d a few months back, it worked like a charm but had a very high shutter count on it didn't sell for much but I was happy with what I did get.

    When I first started photography, everything was bought new. Now, only if there is a really nice rebate going on like with my 7d II bundle. After rebate & selling the printer, I ended up spending less $200 after I deducted what I sold the 7d for!

    KEH was in my city awhile back and I laughed at what they offered for my gear! I ended up selling items for 3 times as much as what they offered so I will never sell to stores. It's easier but quite the loss!

    I sell some locally on CL to save fees and shipping but it's a hassle with spammers and it takes long since there aren't too many photographers in this area. I like selling on the buy/sell fb groups and always get a nice price for everything.

    I can't believe the hit lenses do take on original versions when there is a II version available! I sold my 35mmL for around $1,000 a few years back and now I see them going for $700!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Dave Throgmartin's Avatar
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    I prefer working on Fred Miranda. I've made 10 sales there now.

    My name is Dave and I have a problem with buying and selling mid-level photography gear...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Throgmartin View Post
    I prefer working on Fred Miranda. I've made 10 sales there now.

    My name is Dave and I have a problem with buying and selling mid-level photography gear...
    Ha. My name is Pete and I have a problem with buying lots of higher-end photography/lighting gear...nine softboxes in, I'm finally slowing down, but there are six more on my eventual wishlist.
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

  9. #9
    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peety3 View Post
    Ha. My name is Pete and I have a problem with buying lots of higher-end photography/lighting gear...nine softboxes in, I'm finally slowing down, but there are six more on my eventual wishlist.
    So it's a 15-step program?

  10. #10
    Senior Member jamsus's Avatar
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    My name is Andrea, and actually i got no problems of that type!

    Stick by 2 years with my 60D (and i love her!) + 18-135 IS STM (i also love him!), 35f2 & 100-400 L Mark II (my true love) - but i'm always keeping an eye open for something in the air.

    When i sold my old equipment i got back pretty 70-80% of the original price each time, with a bit of luck!

    I'm keeping an eye open for 7d \ 7d Mark II
    Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!

    Jamsus

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