Thursday, January 16, 2014

Craigslist Used Nikon DSLR Postings, U.S., January 2014

This is a rundown of Craigslist asking prices for Nikon bodies across the U.S. for January 2014. There aren't many surprises, but overall, prices are trending downward across the country (See the May 2013 survey for past results). The number of listings tends to go up during and after Christmas due to the the number of people who have bought new equipment who want to recoup the value of there existing gear. If you are buying or selling used Nikon camera equipment, hopefully this write-up will help you determine your target price and get you closer to your goal:


Craigslist listings of major cities in all 50 states were examined from December 1, 2013 to Jan 12, 2014. The exceptions to this were New York and Los Angeles; because of the large number of postings in these cities, listings were only available for the month of January. Consequently, even though the New York and LA metropolitan areas produce a large portion of the total listings, they are nonetheless, under represented in this sweep of the U.S. listings. Said another way, the "n" values are not to be taken as a true representation of the proportion of cameras listed by state.

This survey is not meant to be interpreted as a statistically significant sample. Nonetheless, because of the availability of pricing information via Craigslist and eBay, you can see that used prices usually cluster around a reasonably tight mean value, even when examined at the national level. In other words, unlike a test-book sample population, the subjects in the used camera market aren't truly independent of one another as many buyers and sellers are gravitating to the same sources of pricing information.

All reasonable attempts to eliminate duplicate and scam posts were taken. Camera body-only prices may not exclude extras such as batteries, straps and grips, but in every instance, bundled lenses were excluded, except for the combination of the D7000 + 18-105mm. Variations in asking price reflect additional bundling, location of listing, and general age and condition of the equipment. (Note: This was the same criteria used in the previous survey). Regrettably, only using posts that excluded extras would have narrowed down the sample size to an unworkably small number of postings, and would not have been representative of the true nature of the Craigslist secondary market.


First, some difference from the previous sweep of the U.S. Craigslist postings. Because of the large number of D7000 kits (camera + lens), this particular combination was included in this survey. New to the survey are the D600 and the D7100, which now have sold in enough numbers to appear in appreciable quantities on the secondary market. A frequently listed combination (but not included here) was the D7100 with 18-140mm kit, though this may be an aberration of the 2013 Christmas season. That is to say, a number of these D7100 kits appear to be unwanted gifts.

One camera that has been dropped from the previous survey is the D90. Though there are a large number of them on the used market, D90 listings, like the D300, tend to include a lot of extras like memory cards and extra batteries. This tends to dull the rate of decline in the average listing price for both cameras, but given the age of the cameras and the lower average asking prices, only the D300 was included due to time constraints. Likewise, the D300s, D800e, D3/D3s and D4 are not included because of their relatively low numbers on the used market.

D800 D700 D600 D7100 D7000 Body D7000 with 18-105 D300

n 47 69 31 26 110 46 70
Average $2,226 $1,344 $1,375 $949 $656 $812 $497
Median $2,200 $1,325 $1,350 $970 $650 $800 $499
Min $1,500 $750 $1,100 $820 $400 $450 $250
Max $2,800 $1,800 $1,800 $1,050 $1,000 $1,150 $875
StDev $281 $235 $177 $65 $114 $136 $114

Bear in mind that these are descriptive of asking prices. The true selling prices between buyers and sellers cannot be determined by this method. As a comparison, these are the differences in average prices for four different camera bodies between May 2013 and January 2014. Note the difference in the rate of depreciation between the full frame cameras and the D300 and the consumer-oriented D7000:

May-13 Jan-14 % Change

D800 $2,569 $2,226 -13.3%
D700 $1,542 $1,344 -12.8%
D7000 $711 $656 -7.7%
D300 $581 $497 -14.4%

(Prices for Camera body + extras but no lenses)

A word on price distribution, which has been broken out in graphical format for this survey:  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 reference, in classical "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. In keeping with the efficient market hypothesis, a smaller standard deviation of average asking prices tends to reflect greater agreement between buyers and sellers. However, as you will see below, the distribution of the results don't truly fit the ideal "normal distribution" that basic statistical analysis depends on for data analysis. That is to say, it would be dangerous to make any hard conclusions from the numbers, as the sample doesn't meet the criteria for rigorous statistical analysis. This is due to the wide variation in condition and accessory bundling. An easier way to understand the distribution of the prices is to normalize the standard deviation figures as a percentage of their respective average values:

Camera Normalized StDev

D800 12.6%
D700 17.5%
D600 12.9%
D7100 6.9%
D7000 Body 17.3%
D7000 Kit 16.8%
D300 23.0%

Unsurprisingly, the older models tend to show a greater amount of variation in pricing because of the greater amount of variation in condition of the units, and because of variations in accessory bundling in order to make older units more attractive on the used market. The sample sizes are not large enough to draw truly statistically significant conclusions; however, some trends can be observed since the used camera market isn't a "classic" sampling population in that the listings aren't truly independent of each other. That is to say, when everybody is watching what everybody else is doing, clumping is to be expected.  All prices are in USD.


The number of D800 listing increased significantly during the second half of 2013. Even though it is a current camera at the time of this writing, it is no longer a "new" camera, and as such, there is an increasing proportion of high-mileage units entering the used market. D800's that have been used professionally tend to sell at a lesser price than those being sold by amateur photographers, but the pros also tend to include more items in the listings such as extra batteries, vertical grips and L-brackets. As would be expected, the majority of the listings come from the more populous urban areas, with very few in the "fly-over" states.


Let's get this out of the way: as of the start of 2014, there is no such thing as a low-shutter count D700. However, as with the D800, condition varies greatly for D700 bodies. Some are beat-up work horses, and some are closet queens. However, the D700 is a tough camera, and it is fairly common for cameras (all cameras, in fact) to exceed the official rating on their shutter lives. Though the D700 is no longer a modern camera in terms of performance and technology, the allure of full frame is maintaining it's secondary market value. Comparing used prices of the D700 against the Canon 5DmI is a study in contrasts; these are not directly comparable cameras but the D700 has definitely aged more gracefully.


2013 was not a kind year for the D600, and that's been reflected in the secondary prices.  There can be no doubt that the way that Nikon handled the excess debris issue and the inauspicious introduction of the D610 contributed to the accelerated depreciation of D600 units. At an average asking price of $1,375, this is over a 30% drop in a year and a half compared to the typical street prices seen at the D600 launch, and is much greater than the rate of depreciation in D800 and D700 asking prices over the same time period.

Price, however, is a reflection of supply and demand, and not always a true indicator of worth. Undoubtedly, there are a number of unaffected D600 units out there that don't deserve to have their resale vales affected by the debris issue. For the least amount of hassle on the buyer's part, it's best to find a unit that has had the shutter replacement. An interesting possibility exists for bargain hunters, though. Even though the warranty does not transfer, an unserviced unit may be still a bargain if the seller is letting it go for below the average going rate. Even though the second owner would have to pay for a shutter replacement, the cost of service might be offset by heavy discounting on the seller's part.



Because the D7100 is a relatively new camera compared to the rest of the Nikon lineup, asking prices tend to be more tightly clustered. A large number of used units are being listed at just under the typical retail prices seen in stores and online, which means that the savings amounts to a modest discount and no sales tax. In other words, the savings is relatively minor compared to the other cameras listed, and there is the downside of not having the manufacturer's warranty, which is not transferable.


The D7000 was the most frequently listed Nikon body in the previous survey, and that remains true for this one as well. Unlike the FX cameras, used D7000's can be found listed in a wide variety of locations. As time is marching on, the number of listings that include extras like grips and batteries is increasing, as sellers tend to work harder to entice buyers with older cameras. However, the D7000 (like the D7100) is still a "current" camera as of January 2014, so the average asking price is not that much less than typical retail prices. That said, supplies of the D7000 are drawing down, and it will likely be (mostly) gone by the 2014 Christmas season.

D7000 Kit

For curiosities sake, the D7000 + 18-105mm kit asking prices were included for this survey because of the number of people selling their complete kit. Despite the advanced-enthusiast leanings of the D7000, a large number are still sold with convenience zooms like the 18-105mm kit and the newer 18-140mm kit. Not included in this study: a large number of D7000 + 18-200VR listings. Though not quantified in this survey, the trend is that more body-only listings occur in the populous states, whereas sellers in the smaller states tend to bundle more lenses with their listings. 


Like the D700, there is (virtually) no such thing as a lightly used D300, though there are still plenty of good condition units available on the secondary market. These are tough cameras, so high shutter count is not the deal-breaker that it once was with older digital cameras. However, D300 listings are the most likely to be padded with extras like the batters, memory cards and grips. Listings with asking prices below the reported median of $499 tend to be body-only whereas the listings above the median tend to include extras, often more extras as the price increases. As such, the decline in asking price for D300's at this point in time isn't as sharp as would be expected because of the prevalence of item padding in the Craigslist listings.

A sign to watch for buyers of D300s that come with extra EN-EL3e batteries: one or two extra batteries is a sign of a busy shooter who needs the battery life to last through a working day.  However, multiples of batteries (four or more) is not necessarily a good thing, as it could mean that original batteries were worn down and replaced with newer units. This shouldn't be a turn-off, but having a large number of batteries ought to go hand-in-hand with heavy usage. 

Closing Thoughts

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 within in the big city. If you live in an area where the trading volume isn't very high (some of the fly-over states), prices can vary considerably, sometimes on the high side of average 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. However, tourist destinations that attract wealthy and mature visitors (Hawaii and Fairbanks, Alaska) have active secondary camera markets, though not as vibrant as the major metropolitan areas. Aside from New York and Los Angeles, Seattle, WA and Austin TX seem to punch above their population sizes in terms of used market activity.

Just a reminder, these are asking prices only; there is no way of knowing what the actually selling price between buyers and sellers is unless you ask them. However, an intuitive sense of the what the true selling prices might be can be approximated if you follow the listings for a period of time. The longer you watch the market, the better your intuition becomes.

In general, there is only a modicum of benefit to buying a newly released camera on the used market. For the modicum of savings, you are giving up the manufacturers warranty, which is not transferable. This is an especially important  factor outside of the U.S. in countries like Canada and the UK, where the warranty is two years, not one.

For sellers, the most recent price of a new camera is a larger determinant of used selling price than the condition of the camera. In other words, a low-usage cameras will sell well on the used market, but it cannot exceed the price of whatever the new market is at. This is an important point to consider, as new prices drop throughout the life cycle of a product. Often, you will see postings that are obviously too high for the given market value of a product, but most of the time, it is a case of the seller being "stuck" at the previous value of the camera and not keeping up with current trends. For most people, there is far more utility in enjoying their camera than trying to maintain it's condition for resale.

An additional area of lost value for sellers is in accessory grips. Take the MB-D11 grip for the D7000: if you sell your camera, the grip is of no use to you, as the D7100 uses the MB-D15 (thanks, Nikon...) Grips aren't cheap when when they are purchased new, but when sellers unload their cameras there is a strong incentive to sell the grips ASAP. Unfortunately (for the seller), the increase in selling price is modest compared to selling just the body only.

A reminder again that these figures are national averages and not directly applicable to local business. Regardless of the fact that national figures of any sort rarely apply to specific instances, a good way for buyers and sellers to come to terms is for both sides to first acknowledge what the general going rate is and then decide how much the item being negotiated for differs from the norm. In this sense, the used camera is both local and national in nature. Your local circumstances will have a large influence on the demand of a particular item, but because of the importance of online retailers (B&H, Adorama, Amazone et al) and resources like eBay and Fred Miranda, camera prices tend to also be influenced from a national level as well.

Additional Craigslist Resources

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