This question was asked to me in different variations on youtube, so I decided to make a detailed answer.
Due to economic instability and fluctuations in the exchange rates of national currencies, people think in order to invest money so that they do not disappear / depreciate.
While I am writing this article, I am very restrained not to write:
Investing in cameras and lenses is sheer idiocy.
Oops, I couldn't resist. All the same, he wrote at once, almost without a preface.
Where does the idea of “investing” in photography come from?
To begin with, I will describe why such a “brilliant” idea comes to the mind of some people.
Some people with cameras see how the rate in the exchange office is growing ... but it's boring to buy currency, so I want to buy something fun. And the new toy is fun. But we're talking about investments here, and not about toys. This is where the concept changes. I want a toy, but we call it an investment.
More advanced level - you need to invest in glass (into lenses), it does not depreciate so quickly. For many years this has been partly true. Used lenses lose less in price than used cameras. But in general, it is still a delusion.
Another argument “for” investing in photographic equipment is she is getting more expensive. The most gifted calculate such rises in prices exclusively in national currency - without comment.
But there is another objectively determined increase in the price of lenses and cameras that happened in 2020-2021. This is a situation where even old models of cameras / lenses have suddenly risen in price in stores. The reason is the global semiconductor crisis. The world began to lack chips and other components for complex electronics. This affected not only photographic equipment. When production sags, this is expected to lead to higher prices. However, this still does not make buying a camera an investment for the future.
Here I gave reasons why people have such thoughts. Next, I will explain what the deep misconception is.
What is an investment?
The essence of any investment is to save money in the long run. The investment must be resistant to crises, currency fluctuations and even social upheavals. They should also ideally be easily convertible, that is, liquid.
Why is investing in photographic equipment a form of idiocy?
The demand for photographic equipment exists in a relatively healthy society that cares about satisfying secondary needs. In a society where survival becomes the main thing, no one needs photographic equipment for nothing.
The spring of 2020 clearly demonstrated this. Prices for used lenses quickly collapsed one and a half to two times, and then they lay on flea markets without demand. People sat at home and were afraid, they were not at all up to it. Who even needs these photo toys in a shocked society?
Maslow's pyramid must be honored.
Someone will naturally answer - sooner or later the shock passes, but the investment remains. Yes, only a real investment, not buying another toy. In the second half of 2020, prices for used photographic equipment more or less recovered. But there is another nuance here.
The photography market is shrinking and losing popularity every year.
Every year people need cameras less and less. Photographers and people who already have an optics park will disagree with me. It is clear that those who are in the subject appreciate and cherish their goodness. But I am talking about a global situation among all people, not just among professional photographers, which are getting smaller.
Photography as such does not die out, but becomes niche and intimate. Just as theater was replaced by cinema, cinema was replaced by television, and TV by the Internet. Now some people still go to theaters. But the number of such people is very small. Likewise with photography.
If the market narrows, then the demand for equipment also narrows. Falling demand leads to falling prices. That is, let's say you bought some used lens as an investment. But after 2 years you will sell it conditionally 30% cheaper, because fewer people are interested in this and in addition, new models will come out to replace this lens.
By the way, taking new equipment as an investment is doubly stupid. Just like with a car - when you leave the store with a new lens, it already drops in price by 10 percent, because. it has already become used and you will sell it at a flea market with a markdown.
Technology and relevance
Investment in photographic equipment - complete idiocy, because all technological goods are subject to rapid obsolescence.
It's just like saying and let's invest in the latest iPhone - he's so expensive. In a year, your iPhone will cost 50% less, because. a new model will come out. Last year's iPhone will no longer be relevant and its price will automatically collapse.
Fallacy of the old-timers
In the case of photographic equipment, there is such a strategy among the old-timers - to buy top-end, but old lenses. The logic is that they have already lost as much as possible in price, and you take it used and then sell it for about the same. It kind of works, but only in a certain period of time. Even they are still noticeably cheaper over time. Plus, all old equipment loses liquidity and is subject to wear and tear. BUT lens/camera repair is an expensive and thankless task.
Old good expensive lenses are also subject to price reductions. But this is not because they wear out (although this too) or because the new models are fundamentally better. They are mainly depreciated by the nature of the demand.
The largest and solvent demand for photographic equipment among beginners. They are willing to pay well for new toys. And beginners prefer to buy new top model in the store, and not scour the flea markets among the "irrelevant" and dumb photo junk. Price for those good old lenses still somehow kept at the expense of the old-timers, but this is a temporary phenomenon.
Case study: Canon announced its intention to expand its line of RF optics on about 30 more lenses by 2025.
What do you think will happen to the prices of old EF lenses at flea markets?
They will tend to the bottom. Yes, this is good news for those in the know. But these people do not define the market. The market is determined by newcomers. And beginners want to take the newest, because the photos will be better. It doesn't matter that it shoots the same way. We are talking about the economy here, not about art.
So it turns out in the end that investing in a camera or lens is a waste of money on something that will inevitably fall in price. When buying this or that lens/camera, you get a thing that has already been or will soon be replaced by another new one. This leads to a fall in the value of a thing and a fall in demand for it. You can buy some lens at a sweet price, and then you can’t sell it at all, because. there will be no demand for it.
I remembered another argument in favor of such an “investment”:
I’ll buy it now, then this camera / lens will be more expensive.
In the short term it is quite possible. But only in the short term. Globally, this technique is depreciating in the same way as all photo activities.
If you still want to buy one lens or another - then buy. But don't kid yourself that this is an investment that will save you money. Tell yourself honestly - I buy a toy for pleasure.
You can think of buying another lens as a collectible. Someone collects butterflies / postage stamps, and someone collects photographic equipment. The main thing is not to be mistaken, wishful thinking. Talking about investments is often just an excuse to spend money on your photo entertainment.
Investing is not about buying toys.
It has always been profitable to invest in knowledge. This site has such an opportunity, because I can order an individual consultation.