CAMERA/LENS PRICES and the Global Pandemic - What do you think?

M. Valdemar

New York City
I personally have a lot of anxiety about the COVID-19 virus. It's an existential worry. Most people are concerned about survival and not camera collecting.

I used to be a pretty avid eBay buyer and seller, but due to eBay's insane anti-seller policies, and now my worries about just surviving, camera collecting is not a major concern with me right now. I have suspended all my eBay activities.

Having said that, I try to keep my mind off the virus by sometimes scanning eBay and other venues.

So far, I have not seen much lowering of prices on the collector's market, even with COVID and the stock market disaster.

Do you think the market for rare and desirable photography items is going to tank?

Will a lot of the older guys who collect and love old cameras get killed off, depressing the market even more? Will families of deceased collectors start to dump rare and valuable cameras on the market?

What do you think?

PS: The vintage watch market has not been affected too much yet either. Maybe rare or gold Rolexes will be seen as barter? Unhappy times we live in.


Hall of Famer
Central Ohio, USA
Real Name
I think we are still too early into the whole thing to know how prices will be affected on anything long term.

my guess is that short term demand for non essential items will go down and that most who have them will try and just wait it out. If this carries on for more than a few months we might see some lowering of prices.

all speculation and conjecture on my part for sure as this is something that I’ve never had to live through before. My parents did in ‘16 to ‘68(polio and other flu), which was the last time something of this scale came about.

so, if you have the ability to look back at the markets andeconomics from that time period or event the Spanish or Hong Kong flu epidemics, you might get a better grasp on how this will go.
I started selling part of my Minolta collection via Catawiki (an auction site similar to eBay), but I put that on hold since a few weeks ago. Even though Catawiki reassures us that buyers are still active, I have the impression that prices go down, especially of the more common items.
Prices on a lot of uncommon lenses are way down in the last year or two. I suspect this will be the trend for all but a few lenses.
I also think that the current crisis will fuel some short-term sell-off as people's income needs to be supplemented with selling a few items off.

Long term - I think the trend will be lower prices for the high-priced collectible stuff, and higher prices for quality cameras and lenses that are usable for a new generation discovering film. I am learning that cameras like the Nikon FM are going for more than $50 these days. A number of cameras that I;m used to be $20~$50 are getting about double that, some even more.
Milwaukee, WI USA
Real Name
I will say this: I've had a couple of lenses on my eBay watch list and I have received two unsolicited, direct offers from sellers, offering the lenses at lower prices. But I haven't seen any changes in the official listings of items.

This is new(ish) feature that eBay has added to the seller's toolbox. Any item that starts to accrue "watchers" and eBay will send a message to the seller, something like "you have watchers that are ready to become buyers.....make them an offer" and the sller can decide what the "sale" price is and to whom the offer gets sent.


Hall of Famer
There doesn’t seem to be any difference at this time. Seen quite a few people jack up the prices of lenses possibly in hope more than anything else. For example I’ve seen quite a few version II Elmarit 90mm f2.8 lenses where the seller has put a $2.7k asking price in the last month. This is a lens that can be had for $800 if you play the game correctly.

M. Valdemar

New York City
Just a note about eBay. I have been a seller since 1998, thousands of good feedbacks.

Since about a year ago, eBay seems to have declared TOTAL war on sellers.

I used to sell valuable items, up to the value of $10,000. No more.

eBay is attempting to be Amazon on the backs of their sellers. Buyers can return any item. Just say it is "not as described", and eBay forces a return, extracting the money from the seller. Up to six months later in some cases.

Very bad for sellers of vintage or collectible items. Lots of "parts swappers". People who buy things to play with, then demand returns months later. Incorrectly using vintage items, forcing things until they break, or breaking things they don't understand. No matter that the camera is 80 years old. Force the advance lever past the last frame and destroy it? Tear a hole in the shutter cloth? Drop it and dent it? No problem. "I want my money back! Full refund plus shipping both ways!"

I sold one expensive lens. $1800. The buyer dropped it two months after he received it. I mean completely shattered it into pieces. He demanded a refund saying it "fell apart by itself". eBay forced me to accept return.

In many cases, eBay just tells buyer to keep item, then refunds out of your account. No recourse, no appeal. It is that bad.

If you don't believe it, you are not up to date on what is happening with eBay. They did it to me several times on less expensive items. I have had enough.

Great time to be a "buyer", though. Buy anything you want, make a ridiculous claim, and return something else to the seller and keep the item. It happens thousands of times a week. No appeal.
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Hall of Famer
Cheshire, England
Real Name
Martin Connolly
Prices on eBay seem to be pretty high to me for lots of camera gear. Reputable dealers are, in many cases, asking less than eBay prices, with warranties thrown in. At the moment I think I would not buy off eBay, and certainly not sell.
The Minolta Electro-Shot that I bought off EBay was packed in a bag and dropped in shipment. The filter ring was dented in transit, the wind lever was bent, and the shutter would not fire. I could still use it for parts- so took photographs of the damage, asked to return it OR for a 50% refund. I also pointed out how important that using a BOX was. The seller told me to keep it, gave a full refund. I would have preferred the camera to be working, but they did everything to make it Okay.

My rule of buying off Ebay: buy it like it was a parts camera, pay parts camera prices.

M. Valdemar

New York City
Yes, it started years ago but only recently became totally unrelenting. Before, a seller could appeal, buyers had to have some proof that the item was actually defective.

Not any more. Now eBay wants to out-Amazon Amazon. Sellers can drop dead, eBay just rips them off for anything and any amount just to keep buyers happy.


Hall of Famer
Hmm... I was thinking about a certain Leica lens going for relatively cheap, wondering what's going on. I've been following the stock markets and been betting money on index funds rather heavily now. Rather obsessively even, I must admit.

I didn't connect the points but it makes sense that if the markets do poorly, it can reflect on other goods. So if you speculate that the economy will be up in 12 months and you see a $$$$ lens going for $$ then you just might make a smart investment there.
I would never buy gear as an investment- buy it because you like it, want it, and will give it some use.
I've picked up a lot of lenses in the last two years, all at good prices. Some needed work. All for a fraction of what they sold for 10 years ago.
Before the Leica M8 came out, you could get a Summar or Summitar for $60, a Summicron collapsible for under $100. A Canon 50/1.5 for under $100. I bought a lot then, traded up. But never thought to make a profit on it. Now- converting lenses to Leica mount, that I did enough of to pay for the M9 and M Monochrom. Just because I did not want to spend money from my day job on them.


S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
I've been pretty lucky selling on eBay - never had a buyer force a return, just a few that backed out after purchasing the item (I don't understand that) and asked for a refund.

Hopefully those who experience bad buyers are able to utilize the rating system to at least warn others, though I think the ability to rate goes away after a set amount of time. I try to never rate a buyer till I've at least received a positive rating from them first.

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