Second hand shopping in Paris

    CAVEAT EMPTOR !     Beware buyer !

A precondition: vigilance and good knowledge of the coveted item (without that go directly to FNAC, fair play even with the naive ones ...)

First case : purchase from a private individual and/or on a fair: especially and above all to be wary of the stolen goods. The hope of a juicy bargain should not plug you. Ever never buy without an original invoice. And that is all, folks!

Of course no guarantee on behalf of a private individual.

Second case: in shop. You will have an invoice. And in theory a guarantee. If the retailer proposes a sale without guarantee, he is wary of his gear: fly away. He will say that because of absence of parts it is not any more possible to repair etc... Not of it to believe a word; he had diagnosed a risk and prefers that the purchaser bear it.

The best thing to do is to intensely (not brutally) use your new purchase in the three months to test it.

I will not tell my vexations, simply my opinion does not come from the reading of the photo reviews.


THE reference in France: FNAC/Chasseur d'Images price guide :
Must it be trusted with blind eyes ?

At the end of the Eighties the FNAC and Chasseur d'Images joined to publish a price guide of second hand gear. The main new concept was a grid of price accounting to the state of the hardware and not to its age. This point of view is relevant; the market adopted it and from now on the price guide FNAC/CI rules; that one published by Phot' Argus (which became Photo Argus) does not convince anybody any more apart from and the assignee in bankruptcy and insurance companies (eminently honourable as everybody knows but somewhat disconnected from the market).

The FNAC/CI price guide however has defects.

The least is to suffer of printing errors, in a reduced number but which are renewed with each edition. Have you noticed the price of the 8 mm 2,8 Nikon fish-eye (two lines for only one lens, one of them with 2500 F - I would buy it immediately) and that of the 55 mm (sic) 1,2 Noct-Nikkor (58 mm would be more convenient, take it in hand - or only read a Nikon catalogue - for you to convince of it ?) The error on the 58 mm Noct (supreme aspherical ultra-luminous lens) is serious as it exists a junky 55 mm 1,2 - the malignant ones benefit from the inadequacy of information of credulous amateurs. These are not the only mistakes...

The largest defect is the lack of reactivity compared to the market trends. Always taking the example of Nikon, the price guide had the ridiculous, after having kept in 1992/1995 undervaluations of Nikkor, to rectify at rise in 1996, while the market was exhausted. It was necessary to go in Canossa and to drop just after having increased.
Other example: the Leica R, chronically overpriced and the Leica M chronically under-priced until the rise at 97' corner... except that there too the 35 mm F 2 Summicron was carried to 4990 F a little time before the output of the 35 aspherical, which rolled the price of old. The FNAC being bound by its price guide, it garners of Leica R and did not see any M until the readjustment. Some weeks one could have gathered all the R range almost by visiting the Parisian FNAC!

Sad tropics ... not convinced ...? Is the Contax 15 mm f3,5 worth the 20000 F of FNAC/CI price ? surely not, having seen simultaneously during months three specimens in very good condition between 12000 and 14000 F at Photo Mac-Mahon, Shop-Photo Nikon and another shop of which I forgot the name. The FNAC does not take risks on this price since it does not buy back this lens...

The usual objection of FNAC/CI to this type of criticisms is that the retailers over-price. Not at all; their first virtue is realism. If they can sell at high price, they do it, for example the Olympus OM1 and OM2 or the Leica M. If the market is below the FNAC price guide, they tag it or refer to it in the discussion but bargain well below to sell.

FNAC/CI price guide thus is essential like the reference... from which one can reason by difference!


Price guide for manual focus NIKON, LEICA M and HASSELBLAD (in French)

These prices are, in my opinion, fair in Paris. In other towns in France prices may be seriously higher, since local markets are very narrow, which allows retailers to keep prices high.

You will find prices for "état neuf" (as new or nearly), "bon état" (mint), and "usagé" (strongly used), also rarity (from R1 to R9) and demand (from --- to +++). Rarity from R1 to R9 concerns second hand market with effective use in mind. R1 means usual ... R9 nearly never seen, even in 3 or 5 years. Scale of rarity is different for collectibles, as they stay on the shelf a longer time. In absolute rarity, the equivalent of R9 for second hand to use effectively could be R7 for collectibles.

Difference of price from as new to mint and from mint to strongly used are not constant margins.

As new or nearly (état neuf): means absolutely no marks, even slight, perfect working. All accessories coming with the item new. Not necessarily boxed, except if the box is a part of the harnessing, like the big disposable case of super tele.

Good (bon état) : very few scratches, absolutely no hurts, very good mechanical working, all accessories as "état neuf" (if they are not there, a minus on the price), generally not boxed.

Used (usagé) : a lot of scratches, paint abrased, internal signs of using, but working well, absolutely no misfunction. Accessories straight, but not mandatory.

You will notice that these prices are not higher than the German and even US prices for second hand gear. In Germany, new items are approximately 10 to 15 % cheaper than in France, because of lower taxes and more competitive retailers. More, prices on Japanese brands (new) may reach in France up to the double of the New-York City street prices.

I haven't quoted every existing items. But I have tried to give a price for really rare ones. All items have been seen offered for sale at least one time (as the Nikkor 6 mm f 2,8, 13 mm f 3,5, 1200 mm f 11 and the Nikon F3 high speed).  There is only one exception in Nikon, the Nikkor zoom 200/400 mm AIS, never seen (but I founded prices on US ref. at 8 to 10 k$) and one in Leica : the Noctilux f 1,2. 


The trends on the Parisian market

Until 96 the manual focus Nikon had kept their high prices. They had been cut of  20 / 40 %. The prices in the current FNAC/CI guide are OK, except really exceptionnal models as the  F2 Titanium or the 300 mm f 4,5 ED non IF. The older ones  (F non AI) are at give away prices, and some of them (35 mm F, 300 mm f 4,5 AI non ED, used F cameras) are nearly non tradable. 

Since 98' summer, the Hasselblad prices of cameras, backs  etc ... went down. The C lenses are hard to trade, only at low price. The EL/ELM and  F series are nearly impossible to trade, even at low price. The lenses are well regarded (100 CF, 150 CF ...) and some command very high prices (180 CF, 50 FLE ...).

The Leica M are easier to find since the introduction of the TTL series. The aspheric lenses have cut down the prices of the former 35 mm f 2 and 21 mm f 2,8. The 135 mm f 2,8 and f 4 are even more difficult to trade off than last years.


Shopping in Paris for second hand gear

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© D. Césari - last update monday december 11, 2000