Is it wise to invest on m43 system?

Started May 10, 2012 | Discussions
Albert Ang
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Is it wise to invest on m43 system?
May 10, 2012

This is the question that bothers me the most when I decided to get into m43 from dSLR: is it a good idea to invest into m43 system?

Lenses:

For dSLR, we know the second hand lenses hold the value very well. I bought my Nikon 14-24mm for $1500 used and sold it after a year for slightly higher price.

One of the reason is that the dSLR users are so certain that the dSLR system will last for a long time.

Camera:

The dSLR model's replacement is every few years, unlike m43, it updates 2x a year (eg Pen series). EPL1 used to be $600 and now it's $150. The price drops to 25% value in 2 years. Meanwhile, check D700 was $3000 in 2008 and now after 3.5 years it's still $2000. The drops is only 33.3%.

Uncertainty:

Currently, m43 main competitors are Fuji X-series, Sony NEX and Samsung NX (I will ignore Nikon as it's more for compact market rather than serious hobbyist - no offense intended). Let use Fuji X-Pro as an example. It has an exellent ISO, compact and Fuji has capability to manufacture great leanses and sensors. Surely for now Fuji's AF is very lacking and the archilles heel of the system, but we can argue that it's easier to improve AF than for m43 to compete with Fuji bigger sensor's IQ. Fuji manages to keep the size compact (which is the main selling point of m43) while maintaining dSLR IQ. I'm pretty sure X-Pro2 will have an improved AF and X-Pro3 it will be as fast as EM5. When this happens, what will happen to m43?

Another concern is Canon will get into the mirrorless market sooner or later (based on rumour, it will be late 2012). Canon is a big name, capable to create great cameras, lenses and sensors. I'm pretty sure Canon learns from Nikon's mistake. They'll introduce at mirrorless with sensor at least as big as G1X (which is slightly larger than m43) and more lenses than Nikon.

Why am I asking this?

So far, I have spent quite a bit in m43 system: EM5, Panasonic 25mm, Oly 45mm and Oly FL50R. I would love to get more lenses (Oly 12mm, 9-18) and more flashes. But my fear is that everything i've spent now will only worth less than 25% in 2 years time.

I would love to hear your opinion on this.

Cheers,

Albert

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Aleo Veuliah
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Re: Is it wise to invest on m43 system?
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012
  • Well, for a short reply, I have used many SLR's, then I invested on Micro 4/3 with Panasonic Lumix, in 2008, Now I have 2 cameras and 4 lenses and will continue to invest on this great system

  • I am pleased with the results, and the easy of use and I don't want to use DSLR's anymore

  • This is a short answer I know, but for more technical stuff you have Dpreview and some other good sites

  • Note: If you are going to invest, wait a bit until the new cameras and lenses appear on the Photokina 2012 , at least the G5 and GH3 will appear, and two new zoom lenses at f/2.8 constant aperture, and they are weather sealed, but other good surprises can appear

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Bass Rock
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Re: Is it wise to invest on m43 system?
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

You need to get away from the idea of "investing" in a camera system. These days, with cameras being more like electronic devices rather than optical devices, they all depreciate rapidly as new and better models are introduced. Just like computers.

Instead, you are better off judging their value by how much enjoyment you get from using them as a hobby (or cash you earn, if you are a pro).

If you spend £1000 on some kit now, have fun with it for two years, then only get £200 back as secondhand value, it will only have cost you about £1 a day for your hobby. Compare that to other things people spend money on - beer, cigarettes etc. - and it is good value if you enjoy yourself

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tt321
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Re: Is it wise to invest on m43 system?
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

25% in two years' time? Camera bodies probably. Lenses not.

Camera bodies depreciate much faster than DSLR's in general, as you have observed, lenses tend to be more similar to DSLR lenses in terms of holding value apart from some kit lenses which are replaced by newer versions quickly and repeatedly. However there is an exception to this in the 14-45 which has somehow acquired a reputation and seems to be holding its value well.

If worried about how much an item would be worth in two years' time, the best method would be to buy mundane stuff which has already stablized at their low price points i.e. the 45-200, 40-150, 45/1.8, 100-300, GF3, 2-series PENs, etc. Super glamorous flavour of the day items are not good for investment.

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Henry Richardson
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Re: Is it wise to invest on m43 system?
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

I don't consider camera gear for my 42+ year old hobby to be an investment. Is it common to think of tools people buy to pursue their pleasures to be investments? I wonder if fisherman consider their fishing rods, reels, lures, etc. as investments? Serious question. Maybe I am just out of the mainstream here.

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eques
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Re: Is it wise to invest on m43 system?
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

I have been asking myself this question since I got the G1.
Until now, there is no system, that offers the same advantages for me:

Pentax: Q - to low IQ; K-01 - too big and chunky.

Nikon 1: excellent specs, but too low IQ, no real choice of lenses

Samsung: very tempting, but the WA lenses are not quite the quality of their mft
counterparts.

Fuji X1 Pro: very expensive, slow AF, no real WA (24 mm equiv. or wider) yet. Still very tempting.

Sony: no attractive lenses, though excellent NEX 7 and focus peaking!

However, Canon might change the game! - Peter.

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alli69
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Re: Is it wise to invest on m43 system?
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

Look at it this way, you are "investing" in memories (atleast that's what I tell my wife when I buy a new camera/lens)

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Louis_Dobson
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Very sensible question.
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

Albert Ang wrote:

This is the question that bothers me the most when I decided to get into m43 from dSLR: is it a good idea to invest into m43 system?

Lenses:

For dSLR, we know the second hand lenses hold the value very well. I bought my Nikon 14-24mm for $1500 used and sold it after a year for slightly higher price.

One of the reason is that the dSLR users are so certain that the dSLR system will last for a long time.

Yes, my experience too. None of my big FF lenses cost me much, I sold them for roughly what I bought them for.

Camera:

The dSLR model's replacement is every few years, unlike m43, it updates 2x a year (eg Pen series). EPL1 used to be $600 and now it's $150. The price drops to 25% value in 2 years. Meanwhile, check D700 was $3000 in 2008 and now after 3.5 years it's still $2000. The drops is only 33.3%.

It isn't the resale value that bugs me, it is how fast they develop and hence how often one ends up buying a new one. I bought one Ff body in four years. I've bought four MFT bodies in one year!

Uncertainty:

No, I think MFT is here to stay. It is the APS-C dSLRs that are on their way out.

Why am I asking this?

So far, I have spent quite a bit in m43 system: EM5, Panasonic 25mm, Oly 45mm and Oly FL50R. I would love to get more lenses (Oly 12mm, 9-18) and more flashes. But my fear is that everything i've spent now will only worth less than 25% in 2 years time.

As others say, this is no way to buy a camera system - just use it. But FF is a lot cheaper than people realise - once you've bought it, you've bought it, MFT, you keep spending.
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Guy Parsons
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It's no investment
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

I never look at camera buys as "investments", they are just gadgets that get used, get old, and get low resale value. I have a few drawers full of film and digital gear. Too lazy to try and sell it, hardly worth the effort mostly.

In my thinking in film days the massive expense was the film and processing, the cameras lasted 15 years or so, but the spending on film was constant.

Now the spending on "processing" is really zero (hard drives chock full of images, rarely print) and the ongoing cost is keeping a camera that is relevant to my needs. For me it seems about 4 years is the maximum life of any body in digital, some others churn bodies way more often.

Relating to what the costs of film used to be, I now see that for me a major system purchase about every 3 serious holiday trips away and occasional random lens and gadgets being added is still cheaper than before.

So no investment, I just buy what works and so far Olympus has been good for me, 4/3 to begin with and M4/3 from now on I guess. I have absolutely no inclination to go back to clunky great DSLRs, no matter how wonderful they may be. Small, easy to pack and carry, and good enough is my idea.

Regards............. Guy

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TORN
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Re: Is it wise to invest on m43 system?
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

Digital bodies are most prone to loosing value. I think this is all right since they are meant for photography and not as investment. Formerly we regularly spent on film now on cameras. My Canon 5D came for 2700 EUR and now after 6.5 years is worth rather 650 EUR.

Good lenses and other supplementary devices tend to keep their value better except if the system becomes obsolete. My Canon Ls which came with the camera still have at least 2/3 of their value if they not die on me which will happen at some point.

So if you want to make a "big investment" in photographic equipment it is best to invest in good lenses from Nikon or Canon.

If you want to invest into other brands then it seems wise to invest rather in good lenses instead of camera bodies as well and to estimate the risk of the system becoming obsolete...

OR:

If you just want to take pictures then select a camera/system that is fun to you, that you believe will fulfill your needs for the next 4-6 years and do a medium investment and do not care too much about money.

For mFT this would mean something like eventually 1 or 2 Zooms plus a selection of 14, 20, 45mm primes plus a reasonable priced body which realistically excludes the OM-D or any other 1000 USD body. This would drive you in the range of 1-2K USD for your hobby for the next say 6 years with a resell value of maybe 30-50% afterwards.

Is your hobby worth 15 USD a month?

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Henry Richardson
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$2381 for 3600 photos
In reply to Guy Parsons, May 10, 2012

Guy Parsons wrote:

Relating to what the costs of film used to be, I now see that for me a major system purchase about every 3 serious holiday trips away and occasional random lens and gadgets being added is still cheaper than before.

I remember a trip I made in 1993. I used 100 rolls of slide film (Fujichrome 100, Ektachrome Elite 100, and a few Fujichrome 400). The film + processing + tax cost me about $1500 or so and that is in 1993 dollars. Adjusting for inflation that would be about $2381 in 2012 dollars. For only 3600 photos. That was just for one trip and it was a pain in the butt going through airport security multiple times with all that film and trying to keep it from being x-rayed. Today for $1000 you can get an E-M5 (or other digital camera) and use it to take many times those 3600 photos and when you are done you can sell it and get some back. For example, that is what I did with my Minolta D7i, Canon 300D, and Canon 30D. Still have my other digital cameras and haven't gotten around to trying to sell them.

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tkelly11
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Re: Is it wise to invest on m43 system?
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

I have actually been quite impressed recently at how well some items have held their value.

I bought a new GF1 in October 2010 for £460 including the 20mm. I subsequently bought the 45-200mm for £230 about 6 months later. Just this last week i have sold both on eBay to help fund my em5 and a 100-300mm lens. I sold the GF1 body only for £143 (which when you consider the 20mm is still worth in the region of £250 then the loss is only in the region of £60-70, approx 15%). I also sold the 45-200mm for £198 with a loss of £32 (16% loss in value).

So overall i have been quite pleased and it has allowed me to re-invest in the same system. Love what m43 allows me to do without lugging about all that weight and I am far more comfortable out and about with something that other people dont really notice.

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Rriley
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Re: Is it wise to invest on m43 system?
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

Albert Ang wrote:

Why am I asking this?

So far, I have spent quite a bit in m43 system: EM5, Panasonic 25mm, Oly 45mm and Oly FL50R. I would love to get more lenses (Oly 12mm, 9-18) and more flashes. But my fear is that everything i've spent now will only worth less than 25% in 2 years time.

where is there an example where this has occurred before.. ?

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OM User
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a camera is for life...
In reply to Henry Richardson, May 10, 2012

My philosophy has always been to buy the best that will do what you want. Don't compromise - except to wait to get it.

I have 2 film SLRs and a bunch of fast zooms and very fast primes. They have served me well for 20 years and I don't need to add anything else. So it doesn't matter to me that the system is now dead.

After carrying a P & S around because of its pocketable nature and realizing the benefits of digital photography I am moving into MFT with the EM-5. Its sad to see Olympus FT languishing behind MFT but those who have "invested" in FT have had a range of cameras and some excellent lenses to choose from, most (lenses) still available. Those users should not regret their "investement" but think of the many more years of enjoyment thay can get out of it.

Back to MFT - I will only regret "investing" in MFT if the promised fast primes (Oly) and fast zooms (Pany F2.8) don't materialize and I can't build a system that suits my needs. Once I do then I will be happy. Announcements from other manufacturers that they are considering investing in MFT development is a strong sign that there will be more to come in the next few years.

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amalric
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V. good answer...
In reply to tt321, May 10, 2012

tt321 wrote:

25% in two years' time? Camera bodies probably. Lenses not.

Camera bodies depreciate much faster than DSLR's in general, as you have observed, lenses tend to be more similar to DSLR lenses in terms of holding value apart from some kit lenses which are replaced by newer versions quickly and repeatedly. However there is an exception to this in the 14-45 which has somehow acquired a reputation and seems to be holding its value well.

If worried about how much an item would be worth in two years' time, the best method would be to buy mundane stuff which has already stablized at their low price points i.e. the 45-200, 40-150, 45/1.8, 100-300, GF3, 2-series PENs, etc. Super glamorous flavour of the day items are not good for investment.

Generally speaking a system is worth what its future is. If you read the WSJ you'll see that m4/3 is the fastest growing system worldwide.

However since it is also in a golden rush, it makes sense to do the lagging technology game, in order not to spend too fast on cameras.

Some, and perhaps many lenses are here to stay, so choose with discrimination.

As a system m4/3 should hold its value more than others in the foreseeable future.

Am.

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Jeff Tokayer
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Bull's eye!
In reply to Bass Rock, May 10, 2012

Bass Rock wrote:

).

If you spend £1000 on some kit now, have fun with it for two years, then only get £200 back as secondhand value, it will only have cost you about £1 a day for your hobby. Compare that to other things people spend money on - beer, cigarettes etc. - and it is good value if you enjoy yourself

My feeling, also. Photography is a hobby. A lot cheaper than most other.

Definitely cheaper than most vices, like smoking and drinking. A lot heather also.
To reduce the depreciation cost, I tend to look for slightly used items

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007peter
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In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

Boy are you insecure. While I agree with other that camera are not investment, I understand what you mean. I have made a small fortune reselling canon lens, even after 2 years of using them The reason for that are 2 folds:

  • plethora of aspiring professional photographer who buys up canon gears

  • canon raise the lens price by 10-20%, so used price went up quite a bit as well

  • I'm taking advantage by selling some of my less use canon lens now

The disadvantage with m4/3 is the lack of aspiring professional photographers to drive up the used lens prices. When they go professional, 95% of them choose either canon or nikon dslr. They're the industry standard, don't bother argue about it. Every photography school recommend canon or nikon, even sony dslr don't get their acceptance.

It is a 2 Edge Swords :

  • Small Size of m4/3 gear - attracts consumers, but

  • Small Size of m4/3 gear - lack the professional look aspiring professional likes

  • People still associate SIZE with Quality even if this is technically incorrect

  • it take years for people to change their perception

My advice is this: Buy USED m4/3 gear at discount and don't worry about it. If you want EM5, don't buy it today, but buy it 2 years later at a huge discount. Unlike your canon or nikon gaer, you will not make a profit reselling you m4/3 stuff later. Take a look at ebay and Craigslist, m43 does hold the value well compare to canon or nikon.

Again, this is yet another 2 Edge Swords :

  • m4/3 camera has rapid replacement cycle of just 6months (GF2 to GF3) - 1 year

  • rapid pace = rapid technical improvements: ( better high iso, increase dynamic range, faster AF )

The downside are quick to obsolete , lost of that all-important bragging rights! . For example, it wasn't that long ago I envy after Olympus e-P3 users, now its EM5 and nobody care about e-P3.

If you're an astute buyer won't don't need the Bragging RIGHT. You saved quite a bid of money buying a 2 years old product. Olympus EM5 pull the thunder from GX1 and EP3. That is good for me, as I"m willing to wait for another year to buy them at a huge discount.

EM5 will get obsolete by Panasonic GH3 soon enough. I expect something wonderful and earth shattering at Photokina 2012. The price of EM5 will fall, then when EM6 comes out, you can buy an EM5 for cheap. Whatever camera you want now, just buy it used 2 years later.

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pcake
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Re: Is it wise to invest on m43 system?
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

m4/3 isn't the only system that comes up with new cameras annually. canon and nikon's entry and upper entry dslrs seem to upgrade pretty frequently.

i'll be surprised if sony or fuji deliver lenses very quickly, and a system with a poor selection of lenses isn't a good thing. micro 4/3 has a nice and growing selection, including some fast primes and long zooms. and the prices are pretty good, too.

no one can guarantee you that prices won't go down, but i'd say it's pretty unlikely they'll go down to only 25% of the original value in only 2 years. one way to keep from losing as much money on most cameras is to buy them after they've been out a while. look at the gh2 or the epl1. they've gone way down in price, so while they're no longer new tech, they're good cameras at significantly lower prices while new, although the epl1 is an unusual situation. btw, after only 1 year, you could still get a good price for your micro 4/3 gear, as well.

on the other hand, you could buy lenses used or buy older lenses like canon FD lenses, that work great on micro 4/3 cameras and aren't likely to go down.

like the others on this thread, i don't buy photography equipment as an investment. if i did, i'd probably buy used older lenses in good condition and resell them. after all, nothing holds its price that i know of when you buy at full retail right after release - not high end guitars, electronic drums, computers, cars, fitness equipment.

look at the 30d - a great camera in its time, and i loved mine. now people are selling 'em for $250. that's a quarter of what they were selling for new if you got a deal.

if you don't want to lose lots on your cameras, buy them after the rush has died down and sell them within 2 years. that applies to dslrs and m4/3 - not sure about compacts or bridge cameras as i always get frustrated and sell them quick.

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ZackOJones
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Re: Is it wise to invest on m43 system?
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

Albert Ang wrote:

This is the question that bothers me the most when I decided to get into m43 from dSLR: is it a good idea to invest into m43 system?

Great question and great responses so far. For me m43 is the way to go for several reasons:

1 - Love the compact size and lightweight of the system compared to my former Canon setups.

2 - Glass is affordable. 75-300 Olympus zoom for under a grand is much easier to buy than even a used 500 f/4L or 600 f/4L from Canon. Yes the 75-300 isn't near as fast as the two Canon L's but it gives me nice reach for the type of photography I want to do.

3 - Canon, IMO, suffers from a lack of direction or I don't like the direction they are taking. They seem to be really focused on the video aspects of things. That's not something I'm into. I want a camera that's good at taking pictures. In fact I wouldn't be bothered one bit if the E-M5 didn't shoot video. It does and I'm sure I'll sue it some but that's not why I bought into the system.

4 - There are areas where the E-M5 lacks when compared to a DSLR but in a way that's a good thing as it presents me, as a photographer, with a new challenge to overcome and that's part of the joy of photography.

When I decided to go all in with the E-M5 system my wife thought I was crazy but now that we have our cameras she saying it's one of the smarter moves I've made. For me things can only get better.
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SuvoMitra
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mFT can be cheap as chips ...
In reply to Albert Ang, May 10, 2012

Since 2003, I have bought, used and sold many DSLRs and lenses. I usually bought the bodies new nearly a year after their introduction (so price had settled), and sold them in just under a year. I got to try out quite a lot of gear for not a whole lot of money lost in depreciation. So, your point is well taken regarding DSLR resale values in the past, but I'm not sure that entry and mid level APS-C DSLRs will remain as easy to sell on at nearly full price as has been the case in the past 10 years.

If you apply similar principles to the mFT system you can build an excellent system for very little money. I started with mFT late last year with a G3+14-42 kit (£450). I then splashed on the PL 25/1.4 (another £450) and a Canon FD 50mm+adapter (£50). I then bought a GF1 (£128) and a 14/2.5 (£120) to use with it. I also bought a 45-200mm (£200 with cashback). I then bought a G1+14-45mm for £150 and sold the 14-42 for £65. Finally, I got a Nissin Di466 flash (£80).

So, I have spent £1563 for a system that covers 28-400mm in stabilised zooms, has a wide pancake for street work, one of the best fast primes available to buy, and a lovely MF portrait lens. To go with that, I have the G3, G1 and GF1 bodies. If I need to worry about low light, I have G3 and PL 25. If it's too bright, I can use G3 and/or G1 EVF.

This is a full system that fits in a shoulder bag, and is cheap in DSLR money. Do I need to worry about investment if I use this system for a year or two and enjoy the quality of images it can produce?

If you buy the latest hottest body at MSRP, then you'll shed more cash with mFT. But mFT bodies also refresh a lot faster - it won't kill to wait just a few months and buy the body that's just been surpassed by the next big thing on preorder.

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