Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Review: Everything is Negotiable by Gavin Kennedy

Everything is Negotiable is a  good read for neophyte negotiators, as well as seasoned pros. For many people, negotiation is all about who ego, will and determination. That's not how it works, as any successful deal involves both side reaching their intended goals.

If you've been following along with the previous Craigslist posts on this blog, then you'll also find a few of the same principals in this book. Gavin Kennedy lays out each chapter with the main text about a basic principal of negotiation, with a follow-up case study at the end of the chapter.  The follow-ups are are useful measure to see if you understand the principal in question, and are accompanied by short and succinct answers the further reinforce the techniques being discussed.

The writing can get a little clunky at times, but on the whole, this is not an opaque text. This is by no means a desk reference, but it is a handy volume to keep on your shelf.

Here's a link for the Amazon's listing:

Friday, September 17, 2010

D7000 Shakes Things up a Little

Well, it's been a busy week on the interweb forums. It's pointless repeating the news here, there are so many other sources to catch up on D7000 news. However, there were three big surprises included in Nikon's newest camera -
  • Focus fine tuning
  • True mirror lock-up
  • AIS Metering
Up until now, all three of these features were used to differentiate Nikon's pro camera's from their consumer cameras. You can either read this to mean that the next generation (potential D400) will be even more spec'd than the D7000, or that the D7000 is the replacement for the D300s. However, in terms of used equipment, the D7000 -
  • Pushes down the value of the D90. This is given, however, used prices were already drifting down in the summer. Expect retail price to remain firm and supply to be short for the D7000 up through Christmas. Potential used D90 buyers are out there, and will likely be people moving up from the D40-D3000 cameras. The enthusiast users, however, will be salivating at the D7000.
  • Pushes down the value of the D300s and D300. This one was really unexpected two weeks ago. Even though the D300s is a more substantial camera with even more functionality, the D7000 is entirely relevant to the semi-pro market today (think weekend wedding shooters). This makes the D300 a real bargain on the used market. Prices were drifting down through the summer, and it's possible now to get one on the used market for $1,000 or less here in Vancouver. If you don't need the HD video, and you don't print larger than 14" by 11", then a lightly used D300 is a camera that will see see lots of useful life. The key is "lightly used"... these are real workhorse cameras and those that make a living off of them aren't shy about using them.
  • Preserves the value of AIS lenses. Hurray, manual focus lenses are relevant again! Once the domain of the pro cameras, now average Joe can finally meter with non-AF lenses without having to fiddle around in "M" mode. Although there are some real gems from the AIS era, don't expect these lenses to inflate much in value. Today's lenses are optically superior to the old glass, but there those ld lenses that just aren't made today. Like the 50mm f/1.2 AIS for example.
  • Slightly pushes down the value of the D700. This is bold statement to make, as these cameras speak to two different user groups. However, A lot of people in the D80/D90 camp have been waiting to go full frame, lusting for an affordable D700. With the highly spec'd D7000 arriving, those people (myself included) will be thinking twice, reducing the demand on the D700. Think about it this way if you are a wedding shooter.... if you aren't pushing out to ISO 6400, the D7000 will offer similar (albeit, likely not as good) quality up to ISO 1600, and will have HD video for clients wanting cinematography. And shoots at higher resolution. Pause for thought, right?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Anatomy of Another (Potential) Craigslist Scam

As a follow-up to the my previous summary of dodgy D700 adverts on our local Craigslist:

I present to you this dodgy ad:

Nikon D700 - box only - $30  

Date: 2010-09-13, 6:14PM PDT

"My Nikon D700 was stolen. Now I am left with a box I don't need anymore. Is in great condition. Comes with manual, quick guide, Software and USB cable. Asking $30.00 OBO."

To be honest, I am not sure if this is in actual fact, an honest ad, but even if it were, there is nothing honest about it's intent. What honest use could you have for an empty box? I can't think of any practical ones that are worth $30... but $30 is a small price to pay to give a stolen camera the appearance of legitimacy.
  1. An empty box is not worth $30.
  2. If you've lost your camera packaging and want to resell in the future, buying somebody else's packaging will not recoup the reduced price of not having original packaging
  3. The manual that comes with the packaging is not even a worthy buy for $30. You can find some pretty competent third-party how-to books for less.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Anatomy of a Craigslist Rip-Off

These posts were collected in the space of just over one month for the city of Vancouver. For your reference, the city of Vancouver is about 580,000. The surrounding metro area is about 2.1 million people. We have a very affluent community here, so one of these posts is entirely possible. You be the judge if six different people in the space of one month are really trying to unload  D700's for suspiciously similar reasons...(Underlined emphasis is mine)

Date: 2010-09-09, 10:47PM PDT
"I am selling a brand new in box *sealed* Nikon d700 body.
It was bought locally and comes with 2 years extended warranty and original receipt.
I received it as a gift, the reason for sale is I am using pentax no point to switch to nikon."

Date: 2010-09-05, 10:40PM PDT
"Brand new nikon d700 + 24-120mm VR lens kit. This kit sells for over $3600 with taxes at bestbuy. I'm asking for $2700 only. My friend bought t for my as a wedding gift but I do not need dlsr camera. Price for body only: $2350 firm." (Around here, Best Buy does not sell the D700...)

Date: 2010-08-26, 9:35PM PDT
"Received a brand new nikon d700 2 months ago as a birthday present, only used a couple time at home, I don't think I'm able to handle those types of cameras. The camera is in brand new perfect condition. Come with receipt(july 2nd, 2010), and remaining of the manufacture warranty from canada nikon. Also have original box and everything.  Also comes with nikon d700 tutorial dvd set(2 dvd disks)!  Everything for just $2300, please feel free to email me if interested. thanks!"

Date: 2010-08-22, 11:29PM PDT
"Selling my new condition D700 with very few clicks(Shutter is good for 150,000 clicks). Only used 3 times in door. Received as a gift a month ago, LIKE NEW SELDOM USED. It comes with everything in the box and receipt for warranty."

Date: 2010-08-16, 7:25PM PDT
"Hi all, I have a brand new sealed nikon d700 body for sale. It comes with original receipt and 2 years nikon warranty. This was an unwanted gift because I already have a dslr camera. Please email me if interested, thanks."

Date: 2010-08-08, 11:54AM PDT
"Brand new never opened nikon d700 body. Got it as a gift, already have a d300 and I see no point of upgrading. Comes with original receipt, original warranty card for 2 year nikon canada warranty. Priced to sell."

To be honest, I've learned to unconsciously block posts like these because they show up so often here. The only thing that has changed is that used prices for the D700's have come down somewhat in the last quarter of a year. These scam posts used to put up asking prices that were significantly lower than used market value, but since the new and used market has come down, it's been a little harder to spot the glaring scam posts.
  1. Nobody in their right mind gives a D700 as a gift. Vancouver has a lot of affluent people, but they still have more sense than to through around $2,400 camera. (That's the current CDN retail. We have 12% tax on top of that)
  2. It makes more sense to return an unwanted gift with a gift receipt than to Craigslist it.
  3. Anybody proficient enough to use a  D700 will know that Nikon warranties are not transferable.
Like I said, at best one or two of these is legitimate. Aside from the same flimsy excuse for selling, all of these posts have one thing in common - they have to paint a background picture to draw you in. A real post doesn't need to lay it on thick like this. It bears saying again, if it's too good to be true then it is. You can get yourself into real trouble dealing with people selling stolen goods. The one thing these five posts have in common is that they are likely the work of one person, or one group of people. That means that they make a living off of stolen goods. Stay well away.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Art as Commodity

Have you ever wondered how to price a painting for a photograph? This came up on the June 25th NPR Planet Money Podcast.

The most important thing is laid out at the beginning of the podcast - it has nothing to do with how good the art is. That is to say, for most of the pictures and paintings out in the world, the price that you pay for the art has nothing to do with its artistic merit.

Instead, most art is categorized by scale, intensity and medium.

  1. Scale: The larger the art, the high the price
  2. Intensity: The more detail the higher the price. Likewise, the more time  needed to produce the detail, the higher the price.
  3. Medium: The more difficult the medium is to work with, the higher the price.