Happy New Year! Now the sales really get going; time to break out that un-maxed-out credit card!
If you're shopping for a digital camera, here are some sage words of wisdom:
Procrastination is a virtue in a deflationary market.
In plain words: when products are getting better/cheaper with every passing week, the longer you put off buying something, the better off you are. Never buy a camera before you need to.
On the other hand, don't put off buying a camera when you need to. If you keep waiting for the best possible deal, you will never ever buy anything. The deals will only keep getting better and better. The price/performance ratio isn't going to stabilize any time soon. Not for years, maybe not for decades. Pure performance hasn't plateaued, either. The equipment is going to just keep getting better for a long time.
Just as with computer equipment, there are two broad strategies that buyers follow, depending on their needs and inclinations. The first is to "buy high." In computer terms, buy as much power as you can afford; push your budget to its limit. It may be more power than you need right now, but it means that a couple of generations down the road you'll still have an entirely usable computer.
The second strategy is (big surprise) "buy low"; get a computer towards the low end of the performance range. At least as much as you currently need, of course, even a little more, but minimize your expenditure now and figure you'll be upgrading again in two years.
Understand that there is no objectively correct strategy. As I said, it's about your needs and inclinations.
The same applies to digital cameras. You can buy a premium model today and figure that you're likely to be happy with its quality five, maybe even 10 years from now (which doesn't mean you won't lust after something better, but that's different from need). Alternately, you can buy the minimum camera that satisfies you today, figuring that you'll be getting a much better one in just a few years for the same money.
There is no right answer. My personal style and work habits favor buying high on the computer side and low on the camera side. Our average computer lasts 7–8 years before being relegated to second-tier status, and we live and die by these things. On the other hand, I've bought two digital cameras in as many years; while I think my current one will carry me for more than one year, I certainly don't expect it to carry me for five.
I won't try to defend these choices, because they don't need defending. They work for me and that's the last word. Figure out the strategies that work for you. In the long run it will reduce your stress and save you money.
Featured Comment by Player: "Hello Ctein, I've always seen you as a bellwether of good sense and practicality when it comes to the tools of the photographic trade. You know what you need and you know what you don't need, and if you don't need it, but it would be nice to have, you don't buy it. As you know, this is very rare. And you have persisted from the film days. Even when all the temptations have blipped on your radar, you just continued to work with your trusty Pentax 6x7. It almost isn't fair that you have street smarts too. :-) Happy New Year to you Sir!"