May 122012

I sold my Nikon 10-24 ultra-wide lens today. A little over a year ago, I wrote a post titled “How Wide is Wide Enough“, and concluded it was personal choice.  I’ve definitely continued to make heavy use of the 10-24, which is why when I looked back on 2011, I found that it was my second most used lens, behind the 24-70. I also enjoyed my short time with the 14-24, which is huge and inconvenient, but takes incredible wide angle shots.  So why did I sell it?  As I noted in that post, while most full frame lenses are useful on a crop camera, the one place where this isn’t true is on the very wide end of things.  The 10-24 was a DX lens, and now that I’ve moved to the full frame D800, it’s really not useful anymore. So alas, I took a few last photos of it, and put it on Craigslist:

It turns out that the D800 isn’t the only thing that Nikon has a tough time making enough of; the 10-24 is also back-ordered at all major U.S. retailers. I finished up my post just before 4:00am (it took longer than expected photograph the lens, find sample pictures I took with it, and write up a post). An interested gentleman contacted me at 9:45am, and by 3:00pm I was no longer the owner of the lens you see above. I’ve kept roughly 1,000 photos taken with this lens, which means I likely took about 4,000 shots with it – in spite of having and using the 14-24 for a decent stint during my ownership.  If the slightly more expensive full frame 16-35 delivers results that are on par with the 10-24, I’d probably already be satisfied.

The point of this post isn’t just to comment on having sold the lens rather quickly, though. Even without the current stock issues, the asking prices on Craigslist for this lens on the rare occasions it actually shows up are usually in the $700-800 range.  I sold my copy, which was in very good condition, for $725.  I paid $798 for the lens shortly after its release, in July 2009.  So for almost 3 years of use, 4,000 exposures, and 1,000 keepers, it cost me a grand total of $73. I’ve definitely rationalized (many times!) the purchase of nice but expensive lenses with the theory that good ones don’t depreciate much, but this was the first time I’d really put the principle to the test. And had I bought the lens used in 2010, it’d probably have cost about… $725, making my use of the lens over the years free.

Not every lens is going to hold it’s value quite this well (though some actually appreciate) – but this is certainly helping me feel OK about the cash that’s locked up in the rest of the lenses I own! Interestingly, the 10-24 is also the last lens I purchased new; the rest have been used purchases on Craigslist, at prices that effectively haven’t changed over the years. It’s absolutely stunning to think that I could box up my 24-70 tomorrow, sell it, and have gotten the use of that fabulous glass for several years for free.  Where are you going to find a $1,500 stock that generates that kind of guaranteed return on investment?

(Below, a SmugMug gallery/slideshow of some of the shots I’ve liked with the 10-24 over the years – though it’s more places than people since I put it together as part of the Craigslist posting)

 Posted by at 9:05 am

  One Response to “Goodbye Nikon 10-24… and lens economics”

  1. […] it (though that would be nice). In large part, it was the realization (such as with selling my 10-24 ultra-wide lens) that lenses really are a capital investment, and that even buying new you […]

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