View Full Version : Dropping Prices

Don Wallace
31-Aug-2004, 14:07
The current move to digital seems to have had an enormous impact on prices of traditional equipment, particularly with 35 mm, and darkroom equipment for any format. Enlargers and enlarging lenses are almost being given way (good news for me, by the way). However, this does not seem to have affected the price of large format cameras or lenses, or at least, that is how it seems to me. Any thoughts on why this might be the case? Are your impressions different?

Rich Long
31-Aug-2004, 14:23
Every time I sell a lens, I'm convinced that the bottom has dropped out of the LF market and there's no demand left. Then I try to buy a different lens and I quickly become convinced that there's plenty of demand to keep prices high. Just my luck, I suppose.

Ralph Barker
31-Aug-2004, 14:27
Your impression is consistent with mine, Don. The reason, I believe, is that 35mm and medium-format film cameras are perceived to be within the quality range of prosumer and above digital. In contrast, large format is actually experiencing somewhat of a revival, compared to the last decade or so, thus the prices are fairly stable.

Ted Harris
31-Aug-2004, 14:34
I totally agree with the prior posts but want to add one little bit.

I am not sure that prices are dropping as rapidly for some MF equipment as for others. I suspect that largest drops are in prices for 6x4.5 gear and that there are only fairly small price drops, if any, for top-of-the line 6x6, 6x7 and 6x9 gear. I know that the prices I wathc, those for Rollei SL66 stuff, since I am in the market for a lens, have remained stable for the past year.

Darin Cozine
31-Aug-2004, 14:37
In my opinion Large Format is experienceing a revival because (of all things) the digital age. Information is widely available in the internet. Photographers can go without a darkroom by inexpensive scanners with transparency adapters.

31-Aug-2004, 14:47
Some things are cheaper and getting cheaper every day. Other things are selling for more then any sane person would pay. If Ebay is the market of choice all I can think is the place has gone wierder then normal. Considering how wierd it started out that's pretty wierd.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
31-Aug-2004, 15:17
From my point of view (having just sold some lenses on e Bay) the prices of certain kinds of LF lenses are dropping, while others are not. 150mm and 210mm lenses really seem to be a buyers market, selling very very cheaply. On the other hand longer lenses, particularly those useful for 8x10 and ULF, as well as unusual lenses (super fast lenses or odd portrait lenses) are selling as dearly as before.

I keep thinking that the constant fear of abandonment by the film producers, like the most recent Ilford debacle, will lower the price on LF cameras and lenses, but so far the only affect has been on the "lower" end equipment. Those 19" Dagors, American-made Petzval lenses, and 8x10 Deardorffs are not, and perhaps never will be, cheap.

31-Aug-2004, 17:03
It's my experience that prices of used LF stuff had gotten way too high, and is now coming back to where it should be. A 50 year old Speed Graphic or Busch Pressman is not worth $400, but they were going for that a couple of years ago. And a Super D Graflex with Graflock was approaching $2000! Stuff is not really cheap, yet, but it more closely represents the value of USED equipment instead of COLLECTOR prices.

Rich Long
1-Sep-2004, 06:07
Darin, that's certainly true for me. I made the 4x5 jump a little less than a year ago, but would have never done so without the information available on this site and a few others. Although I've taken a couple of darkroom and printing classes from a local camera shop, I'll probably never set up my own darkroom. But I do have a scanner and computer to help me post a few shots now and again.

Ben Calwell
1-Sep-2004, 06:57
I keep waiting for the prices of new large format enlargers to drop. Specifically, I would love to own a Saunders VCCE 4x5 enlarger, or a Zone VI 5x7 enlarger, but I just can't afford the $1,500-plus price. I'm waiting for the day when they sell for less than $1,000 -- probably will never happen.

Neal Shields
1-Sep-2004, 07:46
While I do see a lot of things that seem to be real bargins, they are always things that I either already have or don't want. The things that I do want or buy seem to be over the moon price wise.

I did buy a new still in box densometer from our local pro lab the other day for $15 when they went all digital. On the other hand, I watched Besler negaflats on the auction site for about two weeks looking for a bargin and finaly had to pay over $50 for something that sells new for $200.

We are lucky where I live to have a museum with an very extensive B&W collection that rotates regularly but always has major works on display. Right now they have four Ansel Adams "Half Dome"s on display demonstrating his changing printing style over a 30 year period of time.

Point is: I have never seen a digital B&W print that I thought could compair to a good dark room print. I suspect that as more and more people get into large format, many will transition to "wet darkrooms" and the price of enlargers will go back up.

Tadge Dryja
1-Sep-2004, 07:55
I don't mean to sound like I'm gloating (considering the post immediately above mine), but I got a LPL 4x5 VCCE enlarger for free a little over a year ago. A hospital was throwing it out.

I used it to enlarge only 35mm for a while, and then I went directly from canon EOS to a horseman monorail. I used the school's equipment for a while then bought my own. I figured, I had a 4x5 enlarger, I should probably get a 4x5 camera.

I'll admit that photo.net and this site have definetly contributed to me doing more and more photography, to the point where it was unclear that I would graduate on time in my actual major. Photo.net I'm kindof sick of, what with the like "rating" scheme for uploaded files, and the utter garbage that is constantly on display in the "top rated photos" (Naked women! Photoshopped too! Brilliant!). But I still read a lot on this site. I always feel a little guilty after reading either though. "Couldn't you have been using all that time, of, I dunno, actually shooting?" a little voice in my head nags. "I mean, I'm sure the relative merits of the red-dot-artar versus the fuji 450C are very interesting and all, but seeing as you have neither, and don't really NEED either since you already bought a long lens... which works fine..." and yet I still scour the archives for mentions of the repro-claron.

My excuse now is that my horseman is in the shop. Once I get it back though, I've got 2 boxes of "NS" (they drop the 'p' from all their films in japan for some reason) sitting impatiently in my fridge.

Without digital photography, I would have never gone beyond 35mm. No question. Digital replacing film for commercial / industrial purposes is what has allowed me to shoot film for artistic purposes.

Ed Eubanks
1-Sep-2004, 09:03
As I understand basic market theory, when demand goes down (as it has and will continue to do so for much of the traditional film market) then supply will drop at a corresponding rate; this means that production will gradually become more costly-- after all, it is more efficient to produce 1000 5x7 enlargers than 100, and therefore the price will (hopefully) reflect the efficiency that the higher demand begets. Thus, some of you will be waiting a long time, if you are waiting for the price of new equipment to come down below a certain level. It seems to me that prices for new stuff will only go up-- if it costs more to make (because they are not making as many), prices go up; if they have lower demand, also, it seems like they need a higher profit margin to justify continuing the line, so prices will go up further still. Does this strike anyone else as being true?I don't think this is true for the used market; however, my experience (which includes buying and selling my own camera gear for more than 10 years, plus working in a retail shop that sold used gear) tells me that used gear holds its value, within relative parameters, for a long time to come. I have had the experience of buying a used lens, using it for two years, and selling it for within a few dollars of what I paid-- mostly because the condition of the lens had not changed, so the price didn't either.
That said, the old adage goes something like, nothing is worth more or less than what a buyer is willing to pay for it... if cameras sell for 200% of their "actual" value, then that is what it is worth, at least to the buyer. Remember the cigar boom? Do you know that you can get some of the same high-end brands of cigars for 25% of the prices during that time, or less! (Only some of those brands, however, because many went under when the boom ended...)

Don Wallace
2-Sep-2004, 12:36
I have to follow up with a bragging story. Someone else started it, so forgive me. I just bought three enlargers: two Devere 504 's (floor models), and an older Durst with condensors for 5x7 (I forget the model - it's the huge one that looks like it is from the lab of a mad scientist). The Durst came with a 210 Schneider Componon-S and a 150 Rodagon. A local college was getting rid of its traditional darkroom and going digital. I paid fifty bucks each. It actually cost me more to haul them away than it did to buy them.

I love digital.