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01-18-2011, 07:39 PM   #1
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When did the bottom fall out of the manual lens market

So I'm considering selling some of my stuff to finance a K-5 purchase, and as I was researching what appropriate prices to ask for are, I'm seeing 50mm A f/1.7 lens going for $50 when they used to go for $135, 135mm A-2.8 for barely $100 when I used to see them for $200. Is this real? What did I miss?


Last edited by GregK8; 01-18-2011 at 07:57 PM. Reason: fix typos
01-18-2011, 09:02 PM   #2
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Where are you seeing the prices you quote?

I've been doing a good bit of dealing in Pentax MF lenses as of late and I can't agree with your observations. Lenses have gone modestly up in price lately, mostly because people are "discovering" Pentax bodies again and in turn creating a seller's market for good Pentax legacy glass.

I dunnow, maybe some folks are quick dumping their old glass in a rush to raise cash for a K-5 ... but I don't think it's market-wide.

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01-18-2011, 09:27 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by GregK8 Quote
So I'm considering selling some of my stuff to finance a K-5 purchase, and as I was researching what appropriate prices to ask for are, I'm seeing 50mm A f/1.7 lens going for $50 when they used to go for $135, 135mm A-2.8 for barely $100 when I used to see them for $200. Is this real? What did I miss?
That's about what KEH will pay for those lenses. They sell them for twice that.
01-18-2011, 09:31 PM   #4
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When 2008 crash came, old lens prices tumbled too. And they have not come back 3 years later, in my experience of buying all through that time.
These issues have been mentioned on the chatter I read:
- af kit lens more respected
- af zooms more respected in general
- af is getting better
- viewfinder is worse - look through an MX!
- less people who know how or want to use the old ones- look at the posts on this
- ripoffs , risk and high shipping costs for old lenses
- those familiar with old lens are going blind, difficult focus, like me.
- full frame did not happen
- the plastic lenses in 15 years before dslr are not as liked as the earlier metal ones
- comments about new lenses having better rear coatings to match the flare off the sensors
We also have to be aware that repair of the old lenses is often not worthwhile, some are deteriorating and they are thrown away.
I think old lenses will go into a cult sub class of users aware of the times, I will be in it , but i can see why younger users might not have any interest.

01-18-2011, 09:46 PM   #5
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Lens prices are incredibly variable. There's a low baller around every corner, and you need to be patient if you want good money for your lenses.

There are some issues of value (unless you are a collector) w.r.t. a lot of the old classics which go for 500-700 dollars used, and are manual focus. I have an A 50mm 1.7, and whoever spent 135 on it was likely getting a really bad deal. I can understand 80-100 for it, no more. In general though, you will need to wait for someone to pay this kind of price because many people who don't know what they have are selling them for less, and they are not exactly rare lenses. Same goes for the 135mm f 2.8. The quality of modern lenses is pretty amazing, so most of the used market is bargain hunters, not big spenders.

The best returns seem to be on ebay, which is why I never shop there.
01-18-2011, 10:51 PM   #6
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I would have said that retail prices for used gear from dealers and asking prices on private resale sites have been gradually but steadily rising for the past several years, with a larger price spike following the last major Pentax lens MSRP increase. Even with higher prices, retailers like B&H and KEH don't seem to be able to keep used Pentax gear (AF, manual or screw mount) in stock in any quantity.
01-19-2011, 12:04 AM   #7
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There's a newer generation of Pentax users due to the popularity of cameras like the K-x. The newcomers are quite unlike the dwindling old geezer generation of Pentax users who typically started photography with 35mm film cameras and for the most part started photography during pre-AF days. The new demographic opt for the convenience of AF over manual focus and zooms over primes. While some will try MF lenses, most won't buy more than a couple of lenses. As a consequence, even though the ranks of Pentax users have increased, not all are clamouring for legacy stuff.

Also a lot of the old stuff are really old now, have passed hands a couple of times and it gets harder to find stuff in good condition. So whatever residual value for the old stuff goes down. People nowadays want something that doesn't dent the wallet yet can provide good optical performance. A lot of old glass can't match new lenses in terms of color and contrast. Also as people get older, their visual acuity to focus manually isn't as good, so more are opting for AF lenses.
01-19-2011, 12:14 AM - 1 Like   #8
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I'm not sure about your contention; I' ve seen some crazy prices for old manual lenses here in Australia.

Speaking for myself, I'm reluctant to pay some of the asking prices for something that could well be a sketchy old lens filled with dust/fungus/scratches, when I can get a new lens with autofocus, guarantee, multicoating etc for typically only a couple of hundred dollars more, or a second hand "newish" lens for only 100-150 etc more. Unless it's truly extraordinary, I'm not interested in legacy - and if it's truly extraordinary, it's out of my current price range anyway!

I do think whilst old lenses can be fine, when you start getting past the $200 mark, you are very hard-pressed to justify paying the same or close-to prices that new lenses at similar if not identical focal length and arpeture designed for APSC command. If find old legacy glass that's going for +$250 (unless we're talking really long focal lengths) seems to rely quite heavily on mystique and other hard to pin down characteristics, and I don't have the wallet for that kind of romance, I want facts!

01-19-2011, 12:58 AM   #9
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I love the old manual glass, and since the Pentax price-hike, itīs just about all I can afford. Iīve bought only one AF lens since the hike, but about 10 manual lenses. The price of manual lenses has gone up slightly in the last year & a half, but not massively so. All of mine are in excellent to very good condition, with only cosmetic damage. I buy only from photographic dealers, whether online or real shops, that way I get a guarantee and no nasty surprises. I donīt use ebay ever, as Iīve been robbed too often, and some guy selling his dadīs old gear wonīt know what to look for to accurately describe the condition an item is in. I would buy from the marketplace here, except that Iīm usually too slow off the mark & prices & delivery charges are higher than in shops.
01-19-2011, 02:24 AM   #10
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I love my old lenses. I wouldn't give my 3 Takumars up for anything. My K-mount 50 is lovely too, and I'm getting very impressed with what my old Vivitar zooms can do. Sorry. I'm not nearly as impressed in some ways with my AF Tamron 28-200MM and as lenses go that one is actually not a bad one. I don't think legacy glass is all that cheap. I have yet to see another Takumar that I'd like to have at a price I can afford and for the record I spend a lot of time drooling over what I think are somewhat overpriced old lenses!

(One day even if I have to eat rice and beans for a year I'm going to finally own a 300MM Takumar prime, and a Takumar wide angle!)

The only reason I have the good lenses I have acquired is by virtue of sheer dumb luck. I haunted Goodwill and CL and I scavenged every darned one of them for free or well under $15 each as I could get them most of them. Most all of the good lenses I've gotten? I never see them for anything less than $50 pop looking online and most of the ones I'd really like to have are considerably more most of the time. If I had to buy them all at the prices I usually see? On my budget I'd probably be carting a camera bag with maybe 2 lenses in it all total.

Timing is everything when it comes to acquiring old lenses, but no, I absolutely wouldn't spend $200 plus on a single lens not when I could have a couple or even few of them for the same price. I'm admittedly new to SLR lenses and what they can really do but I know enough to know I'm getting much better results with my old bargain lenses than I am with a $260 (retail) Tamron Super Zoom.

I actually put that Tamron up for sale on my local CL without too many qualms. I would never do the same with my Takumars, my Vivitars, or my K-mount Pentax 50. I often joke that they'll have to pry my Takumars out of my cold, dead hands, but it's not that much of a joke actually now that I've used them on my *ist with an adapter. As far as I am concerned the legacy Pentax lenses are GOLD and I wish they were all going for a lot cheaper than they are so I could afford a whole kit full of them!
01-19-2011, 02:46 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by paddy567 Quote
I'm reluctant to pay some of the asking prices for something that could well be a sketchy old lens filled with dust/fungus/scratches
This.
If your ebay auction screams "excellent condition" and you include a few high-res photos taken through the lens I think your lenses will sell for more than average. The cheap ones are people selling off kit they inherited (some good deals possible here) or trying to shift lenses with problems.

One trick I've noticed is to take an obscure and not particularly great lens and say it's a cult classic, highly in demand, etc. I saw some random Vivitar 28mm go for about Ģ150 yesterday while a M 200mm F4 (bad photo, no description) went for Ģ38.
01-19-2011, 02:48 AM   #12
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Some of those spikes were very short lived. I've seen in recent weeks, for instance, the A50 f1:1.7 go for anywhere from $45 to $90. Just like any other day, it depends on who is looking, and what they are willing to pay. List your stuff at what you want for it and see if anyone takes it. If not, relist. If Still not, you may have to lower your price. If you're buying lenses to resell, you have to figure on getting bottom dollar on them. Otherwise, you paid too much if resale was your goal.

That said, the K5 does quite nicely with MF lenses. I use it where it's available to me but I've never thought AF was all that it's cracked up to be.

01-19-2011, 04:43 AM   #13
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The Tak prices have risen dramatically over the past year and a half, and have EXPLODED in just the last week. On eBay AND at KEH:


For example, as of today, KEH doesn't have a single 50 or 28 in stock. And the S-Tak 35 2 is $199, and the 85 1.9 has skyrocketed to $429!

So while some can argue over the superiority of the mega-legacy lenses--Taks vs. M--the market has spoken, and the Taks keep going up in price.
01-19-2011, 06:43 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
So while some can argue over the superiority of the mega-legacy lenses--Taks vs. M--the market has spoken, and the Taks keep going up in price.
I thought this was because M42 lenses were usable on other cameras, specifically Canons. The market is just way larger for these great oldies.
01-19-2011, 07:07 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
I thought this was because M42 lenses were usable on other cameras, specifically Canons. The market is just way larger for these great oldies.
K-mounts are usable on Canon APS cameras as well. You only have to modify them for FF.
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