Monday, May 27, 2013

A Survey of Used Nikon Prices on Craigslist Across the US

This is a rundown of Craigslist asking prices for Nikon bodies and lenses across the US for May 2013. There aren't any surprises, but some prices are trending down. If you are buying or selling used Nikon camera equipment, hopefully this will help you determine your target price.


I picked through the Craigslist listings of major cities in all 50 states for the week of May 19, 2013. Mostly, this is a selection of enthusiast-oriented equipment; it does not include cameras like the D5100 or lower. All reasonable attempts to eliminate duplicate and scam posts were taken, as well as items that were clearly not going to sell because they were listed too high. As you would expect, a large proportion of the postings came from major urban centers, such as in New York and Southern California. This is not meant to be interpreted as a statistically significant sample; however, because of the availability of pricing information via Craigslist and eBay, you can see that for the most part, used prices usually cluster around a reasonably tight mean value, even when looked on at the national level.

Camera Bodies

Body New Used Average Min Max StDev

D800 $2,800 $2,569 $2,250 $2,800 $190 7.4% 10
D7000 $900 $711 $575 $825 $60 8.4% 40
D700  - $1,542 $1,200 $1,900 $168 10.9% 23
D300 $1,600 $581 $400 $800 $104 17.9% 27
D90 $800 $459 $350 $550 $50 11.0% 27

Just a word on how these stats are laid out. For the most part, everything is self-explanatory. New prices vary, but I've tried to pick as representative a price that I can. (Yes, the D90 is still being sold as new across the country. Think about that for a minute...) Standard deviation is a measure of how closely grouped around the mean (average) the estimated population is. In this case, a smaller standard deviation means that there is less variation in price. For normally distributed populations, 68% of the population will lie within one standard deviation of the mean; 95% of the population will lie within two standard deviations. I've also expressed the standard deviation as a percentage of the mean value so that you can compare different cameras on equal footing. Note that the sample sizes are not large enough to draw truly statistically significant conclusions; however, some trends can be observed. These are aggregate numbers. Price variation depends on what the seller preference is and the condition of the item.

Right now, across the U.S., there are more D7000's on the used market than any other enthusiast-oriented Nikon body. In almost every major metropolitan center, there are usually multiple listings for any given day. I don't know what conclusions can be drawn from this; it's too soon to tell what upgrade path these users are taking, whether or not they are going to the D7100, or going to FX with the D600/D800. Also, there seems to be a remarkable consensus across the country about the price, with most asking prices grouping around $700-$750.

In contrast, there is a wide variation in used D300 asking prices. I believe that most actual sales occur around the $500-$600 range, but asking prices were as high as $800. Part of this might be wishful thinking on the part of sellers, based on the absence of a D400. Note that in some cases, the price includes bundled trinkets like extra grips and cards. I didn't factor this out as they are useless to the seller if only the camera sells, so things like grips tend to be sold at a great discount when they are bundled with a camera. These cameras tend to be workhorses, so it's difficult to justify the higher end of the used price range, especially when you consider that used D300's face competition from used D7000's as well. This group did not include the D300s. In contrast, the D300's sensor stable, the D90 tends to have prices that are more clustered (like the D7000). The D90 will only go down over time; used D80's are trading below $300, and used D70's are at the $200 level.

D700 values are holding steady just north of $1,500. Most listings fall within the $1,400 to $1,600 range. And yes, there are indeed used  D800's and D800e's out there; I can only presume that they are being sold out of buyer's remorse. Most of the units listed were D800's; there is one D800e included, but its price was not any different from the rest. If you are looking at one, my recommendation is that the price discount has to be significant ,more than $300, as even a minor repair will set you back that much. As well, it is a good idea to ask for documented proof that the left-side AF-module misalignment issue has been taken care off if it's an affected model.

Camera Lenses

Lens/Flash New Used Average Min Max StDev

Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VRI - $1,397 $1,200 $1,675 $143 10.2% 16
Nikon 70-300VR $585 $386 $250 $550 $60 15.7% 22
Nikon 18-200VR $850 $483 $325 $600 $87 18.1% 26
Nikon 50 f/1.4 AF-S G $440 $373 $350 $420 $22 6.0% 8
Nikon 35 f/1.8 G $200 $164 $135 $200 $18 11.2% 20
Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 $570 $486 $399 $625 $52 10.7% 22
Sigma 50 f/1.4 DG HSM $400 $375 $350 $400 $25 6.7% 3
Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 $500 $299 $250 $350 $31 10.4% 7
Nikon SB-600 - $204 $100 $299 $45 22.2% 20
Nikon SB-700 $325 $269 $225 $300 $38 14.0% 4

My first thoughts about this list is that prices have been stable, but on the whole, are trending down. Most of the equipment on this list has been out for a number of years. One notable decline is the 18-200VR; I believe that it is losing it's popularity as the market is transitioning to higher megapixel bodies. On a D80 or a D90, the 18-200VR is a decent all-in one solution, but on a D7000, it's optical compromises are amplified. Variation in pricing for this lens is considerable, so shop around if you are looking for one.

A surprising number of Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 ultra-wides are on the market right now. Even though third-party brands don't sell in the same numbers as Nikon lenses, this is a lens that has produced a wide following based on its reputation. The number of lenses listed on the used market nationally is actually quite substantial; to me that may be a sign that the sellers are the ones who have realized that they don't use the ultra-wide focal lengths as much as they thought that they would.

The 35mm f/1.8-G  lens is cheap and plentiful on the used market right now.  This is a popular lens, but some people tire of it because of the harsh bokeh and because it sometimes give inconsistent focus results. (Truth be told, all fast lenses are somewhat imprecise at focusing at wide apertures). A case could be made either way for buying this lens used or new; either way, it's not a lot of money, but if you're like me and have reservations about the bokeh, used might be the way to go; you stand a good chance recouping your money if you go the used route.

The 50mm f/1.4-G seems to be trading down from its initial heyday, but prices are consistent for the few number of active listings. In contrast, its predecessor, the once popular 50mm f/1.4-D, sees much reduced listing volume than before.

The 70-200mm f/2.8 VRI shows remarkable consistency in asking prices across the country. This is a good sign, as it generally means that the sellers are closely watching the market and pricing accordingly. Owners of these lenses tend to be affluent, well educated and generally okay to deal with. For the best deal, ook for a low mileage "closet queen", there are still bound to be ones out there.

There are two lenses that are conspicuous by their absence on this list: The 24-70 f/2.8 and the 16-85VR. Neither saw a significant number of listings on Craigslist during this period, indicating that owners tend to hold on to these lenses.Considering that these are "normal-zooms", the types of lenses that people use the most often, that is not surprising. The Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 likewise shows low listing numbers given the the overall number of lenses that are in existence. VC versions on this lens usually list for $50 more than the traditional version; this makes the VC version a poor candidate for holding resale value given the extra cost over the original version when bought new.

The SB-600 is an interesting case. Most sellers are listing near the $200 mark, but there is a handful that is listing higher. I think $200 is a fair price right now, considering how long this flash has been on the market. 


Generally, prices tend to be more consistent and lower in major urban areas. The cheapest items tend to come from the suburbs of major cities, where you get a bit of a discount for the added trouble of travel time. If you live in an area where the trading volume isn't very high (some of the fly-over states), prices can range, sometimes on the high side if there aren't a lot of local camera retail options. Some of the rural areas might not even have a significant selection of enthusiast-level equipment for sale. Tourist areas tend to have weaker used camera markets; the local job market is more service-oriented than professional, and in cases like Miami and Las Vegas, the workforce and population base can be transitory in nature.

Just a reminder, these are asking prices only; there is no way of knowing that the actually selling price between buyers and sellers is (unless you ask them. However, items with a small standard deviation in asking price will tend to sell closer to the asking price because of price competition between sellers.

Craigslist Resources


  1. How come no D700?

  2. Whoops. That line got left out. Will patch it up later today.