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Discussion in 'Antiques and Collecting' started by getalifeagain, Jun 20, 2006.
How collectible do you think Leica's will be in the future if purchased now?
Personally, I think Leica has done the collector's market to death with its commemorative models ("50 Minutes Since We Last Thought Of Something To Commemorate", etc.). As far as I am aware, no one has gotten rich by buying these, I think almost all can be bought today for less than the original price. I think Leicas will continue to hold their value relatively i.e. better than other film-camera brands but will not be unaffected by the extreme contraction of this market.
PS: Your post is headed Leica III cameras. If you can buy some of these new at 1933 prices, it would certainly be a great investment !
Generally, unless something is truly rare, and it can be well documented, or certified by Leica, then probably little chance of gain. One exception might ba a Leica rangefinder used by a professional photographer, but only if that photographer gains some notoriety.
All III series bodies are generally good classic style user cameras. The IIIG is one exception, but prices are already so high that they might actually drop in price. This market is sort of like buying a Ferrari, just on a cheaper scale. You would be better off actually using one, rather than speculating.
As you are probably aware, there is a pecking order among the III series cameras - the IIIa is a very good user, but collectors look down on it because so many were made. The IIIf is more expensive but may be the best user, for some reason collectors pay more for a "red dial" model than a "black dial." There are some very bad IIIc models around which were made during the war from inferior materials, you can tell these easily by the fact that the chrome finish is cracking and peeling off. The IIIg was regarded in awe by users of screw-thread Leicas as being the ultimate form of this kind of camera - as the ranks of people who thought this way become thinner with time, it has probably become less desirable, since an M2 or M3 can be had for the same money and is much more practical. I personally have owned models IIIa (2 examples), IIIb, IIIc (2 examples) and IIIf (2 examples). I enjoyed using them all but am quite happy now with a Voigtländer T. The best investment camera I had (but sold too soon) was a British Reid III, a copy of the Leica IIIc. The Reid was an inferior picture-taking instrument (fragile shutter) but because of rarity now sells at £1100 or more in mint or near-mint condition. I don't see any III-series cameras gaining significantly in value - for example, when I was a student in the 1960s, I bought a Leica IIIa with Summar lens in probably Exc++ condition for £25. This would now sell for £250 to £300, which is only in line with the rate of inflation.
There ar'nt many original IIc left, prices don't reflect this yet. Most have been synched by 3rd parties or converted to IIf...
My Leica IIIf with the f/3.5 Elmar would have cost $278 in the States when I bought it in Japan in 1953 for $150. In perspective, my pay as a junior Navy enlisted man was maybe $100. A functional used car was maybe $100 or $200. Gas was $.20. Even if the IIIf was in good used condition it would not have kept up with inflation. Better speculation at that time might have been the Japanese cameras that have become rare. My Leica M equipment, after hard use, hasn't nearly kept up with inflation. However, it has provided decades of reliable performance.
I'd like to ask the question again, almost five years later.
How collectible (or as an investment) do you think Leica iiif cameras are now?
Thanks for all replies.
Collectible? Yes. There's always a market for Leica cameras. Investments? With a few exceptions, no. Bad as an investment.
I dont think you would want to sell a Leica if you are a serious photographer. This is a investment for your photography. You can invest to stock market , gold , platinum also but they cant effect to your photographs. You must decide , do you want art , do you want money . All paths are different for you.
If you are from the camp who thinks your zeiss , nikon are better than peoples Leicas , you will not have fun and you have no business with Leica camp.
Lots of people do not understand , read anything from Leica shots here and this forum is not a good place to ask peoples opinion on Leicas.
There is Leica forum at internet but they are so busy to take out of focus 10000 dollar noctilux shots with digital ones.
I think Leica culture lives with rare serious Magnum photographers and dont ask this forum but look at their pictures and decide for yourself.
There are so many americans here , they were using 4 tons cadillacs 50 years ago but today they swear best car is toyota.
You get the point , I think.
Leica's took a serious dip in value a few years ago so my M3 and Summicron halved in value, same for my IIIa and Elmar & Summar. However since the start of this thread back in 2006 the market has bounced back and is now back above the level before the market fell.
A good Leica M series or late II/III series F or G is likely to be a good investment as well as an outstanding performer. Post WWII optics are way ahead of the earlier lenses.
All 35mm cameras have continued to slide into lower and lower prices since you last asked. The collectors who bought them in the 70s through the 90s have taken a beating. One friend of my had hundreds of quality 35mm cameras he liquidated the past 12 months, saying "I should have sold 5 years ago when they were higher...."
Maybe if you can get them for $100 for a body they will come up again in the next 20 years, if emerging consumer markets get interested (China, for example). The problem is, the people that inherit them think they are still at the peak of years ago, so they want to sell them for too much. You could also get stuck with equipment that stays at rock bottom for 20-50 years, only to crawl up after they are 100 years old. Do you have 50 years to wait? It would be like investing in buggy whips in 1920.
Leica's are in a different class mainly because the Cosina made Bessa's Zeiss Ikon's etc in both screw & M mount along with new lenses has resurrected the market.
So while prices may have slumped heavily for some cameras this is no longer true of Leicas.
Right now, used Leica prices are on the rise in the US, mainly due to the continued erosion of the US Dollar - not changes in supply nor demand.
Leica prices, like most collectibles, are cyclical. Right now on an upward trend... Like other "investments" you should buy the best quality of scarcer issues if you hope to have any return... Having said that, its hard to believe any of the more common Leica bodies will ever gain that much more in value... The IIIg is interesting example to follow....probably the 'best' modern SM Leica body to invest in...this camera used to sell for $ 1500+ back in the mid to late 90's.... now it sells for $ 750-1000 all day long....
See the chart below. Last 6 months of the US dollar versus the other major currencies...
There's no way I'd consider camera gear as an "investment." Rarely does it even keep up with inflation. If you want to invest, buy stock in Union Pacific railroad. I use and enjoy old camera gear--I have Petzval lenses from ~1860 & ~1875, two 6x9 folders dating 1914 & 1937, and a couple of rapid rectilinear lenses dating to the 1890s. (I don't own any 35mm stuff.) I consider all of these to be toys in that that they won't give me any $$ return, just fun/entertainment. The way I'm looking at it, the pool of buyers for film gear will always exist, but it will become smaller and smaller, resulting in less & less demand. I've mostly bought camera goodies made before 1900, but even with that I don't see myself making any money on them. The Union Pacific stock will at a minimum keep up with inflation, and probably do better than that. If you want a Leica IIIf then go buy one. Just don't try to justify it by thinking it will be worth more five years from now. Likely, it won't be.
Kent in SD
A hobby is just that and an investment is not the same. Expect the ROI to be the enjoyment you receive in using the camera and don't worry about if it will appreciate in value. You can be disappointed in both if you try to mix them together. If the equipment used in your hobby happens to appreciate over the long term or depreciate as fast as other equipment, be happy but, do not plan on it. If buying a Leica for use, get a serviced user and concentrate on the glass. If buying as an investment get the best affordable and put it under glass.
Some years ago I bought my Leica and have loved using it. Today it is selling for about the same price as I bought mine for. My profit has been the enjoyment in using a camera I felt good with.
I think Leica would be a good asset for the future..
Probably but I already have my 'asset' in enough cameras now!