Leica lenses can be quite expensive so it is easy to wonder, do Leica lenses hold their value? In this article let’s find out if the prices go up or down with examples form 1956.
Since Leica makes some of the most expensive cameras and lenses in the world, no one wants to buy something only to find out it is worthless after a few months when you try selling it. So in this article we will find out…do Leica lenses hold their value? Also check out if Leica makes for a good investment.
Do Leica lenses hold their value?
Most people associate Leica lenses with the Leica M mount, and these hold their value very well, disproportionately so. If you take a photography 101 class, and they tell you to get an old film camera, you can get one for anywhere between $50-100 for the body and the lens.
For most Leica lenses you are looking at above $2000 for lenses that have been around for decades. To be clear, unless a specific lens becomes a cult lens, they will lose their value right out of the gate.
Leica lenses do lose value too. But the amount of money you will get is still substantial and they are the lenses that hold their value the most in the world.
Example of price history
|Leitz 50mm Summicron f2 M||1956||$159||$1,708.64|
|Leitz 50mm Summicron f2 M||2022||$682.69|
|Leitz 50mm Summarit f1.5 M||1956||$189||$2,031.03|
|Leiz 50mm Summarit f1.5 M||2022||$1193|
|Leitz 85mm Summarex f1.5 LTM||1956||$360||$3,868.62|
|Leitz 85mm Summarex f1.5 LTM||2022||$2,589.00|
|Leitz 135mm Hektor f4.5 LTM||1956||$141||$1,515.21|
|Leitz 135mm Hektor f4.5 LTM||2022||$149|
Even if the lenses are more affordable now, fact of the matter is, these prices are for lenses that are 6 decades old. You would still pay premium price for an old 50mm Summicron f2 even if it’s less than half the price now. For reference you can get a Nikkor lens from that time for $30-50.
Evidently the cheapest here is the Hektor lens. Leica is not immune to the most fundamental law of economics: Supply and demand. This lens is actually from the 1930s so it had a huge asking price even in 1956. But the reason for the low price is…it’s simply not that sharp. And as a general rule, the slower the lens, the lower the value retained.
The opposite is also true compare this to the fast 85mm’s current asking price and you see what I mean.
And these are pre “Leica” lenses. These are prices for when Leica was named Leitz and you see how much these old lenses are still worth. The prices only go up from there.
Why do M lenses hold their value so much?
So why is it that Leica lenses hold their value? Multiple reasons.
First is compatibility. You cannot use an old console game on modern consoles but you can use decades old Leica M lenses on the latest M camera. The LTM lenses are too, a very thin adapter is needed.
Second, the lenses are valuable because they are sharp lenses that have been hand made, so it is not just about the Leica brand and lastly, Leica lenses are so durable they will likely outlive you.
M lenses are mechanical and made out of metal. So there’s little that can go wrong that cannot be fixed even for if you have one for decades. All 3 of these reasons make it so that Leica M lenses hold their value extremely well.
What about third party M lenses?
Sadly, some alternative lenses from Zeiss and Voigtlander do not hold their value so well. They are above many other brands in the secondary market but unless it is a cult lens like the Ricoh 21mm (LTM lens), the value decline is steeper than Leica.
These are metallic, just as durable and compatible but are missing the brand power to sustain their value. They are often inferior to Leicas in terms of quality too.
Not all Leica lenses hold their value
However not all Leica lenses hold their value. By and large only the Leica M lenses do. Even if the R lenses were well regarded upon release they can be had for really cheap. This has recently changed because for some reason the cinematography crowd has pushed the price up a bit (but still more affordable than M lenses).
The jury is still out about the mirrorless lenses like the SL and TL lenses, but those too can be had for a fraction of the price new.
There you have it. Do Leica lenses hold their value? Only when it comes to Leica M lenses and LTM lenses. The other Leica mounts have not fared as well. When you combine compatibility, handmade, brand value and durability it is no wonder that no other lenses hold their values like M lenses do.