New cameras are like new computers. Both of them depreciate quite quickly as new technologies and new models are churned out year after year. This presents a perpetual problem for photographers, as many constantly grapple with the question of whether to upgrade their camera to a more recent model, or whether to purchase a higher-end model so that it keeps its value longer.
Market research software company Terapeak recently did a study that looks at depreciation in Canon EOS DSLRs. The results are pretty interesting.
You probably know that, like computers, digital cameras depreciate pretty rapidly — especially when a replacement model is announced every 2 or 3 years. A sad truth about digital cameras is that the digital sensor inside DSLRs cause them to be more expensive than comparable film SLRs when purchased new, yet less valuable further down the road when purchased used. Ken Rockwell calls this “digital rot“, and writes,
Digital Rot means that a camera’s digital guts rot-out its value in just a few years because you can’t remove the digital guts. Sadly, Digital Rot is a disease shared by all digital cameras.
Buy a film camera and you can shoot it for a lifetime. Buy an expensive digital camera, and you only get a few years out of it before its value rots away.
A “new in box” Nikon F5 film SLR just sold for $1,350 on eBay yesterday. How much do you think a “new in box” 2.7 megapixel Nikon D1 (a camera that cost $5,000 in 2000) would sell for today?