Just wondering...do you have any sort of inbuilt limit for how much you'll spend on a major photography purchase, such as a camera, lens, or printer?
I recently got the idea to buy a new lens (this one) because I was fascinated by what I could detect of its performance from online samples. I even went so far as to ask my salesman friend at my local camera store to order one in for me. I figured I could run it through the wringer, write about it, and "sell it on." I'd lose a few hundred bucks, which seemed reasonable considering what I'd get out of the experience. Made sense to me. But I found I was constitutionally unable to fork over the cash for it...I've just spent too much of my life living too close to budgetary peril. It's a psychological issue, not a rational one. But I couldn't give up my grip on a whopping $1600+ for one single-focal-length 24x36 lens. Just couldn't bring myself to do it.
I do owe my salesman friend an apology. (Kevin, are you reading?) [UPDATE: See below.]
I have a local reader friend who shoots with an S2*. He actually makes a very good living as a photographer—he makes more money selling prints than almost anyone I know, in fact—and that camera makes perfect sense for his work. His earnings more than justify the camera's cost. But it almost gives me the willies to handle it. I mean, I could drop it. In fact, this was the chief issue for me during my "Leica period" circa 1991–3. I just never got used to having $3k hanging from my shoulder. It was insured—I was all right—but from first to last I just never could get comfortable.
So how about you? Do you have an upper limit? A comfort zone? Is it just me? Just wondering.
*I used to have a rule of thumb as an audiophile—your stereo should never cost more than your music collection. Maybe there's a similar rule for cameras—your camera should never cost more than your car. The S2 would violate such a rule in my case—and that's just the body, never mind the lenses.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured (partial) Comment by Tom Clifton: " I am thinking that you shouldn't spend more on your camera/lens than you spend on your computer."
Featured Comment by Andrew Karre: "Amusing. I have two semi-expensive hobbies: cycling (I have a Rivendell, coincidentally) and photography. I am never troubled when the value of the tools I use to practice either exceed the value of my car—but I take no particular pleasure in driving. My limit formula goes like this. Never own a bike or a camera that's so expensive that you couldn't replace it basically immediately if it were lost or stolen with another that would replace the quality of the experience. To me, that's the point at which the cost of the tool infringes on the enjoyment of the activity."
Featured Comment by Jay Frew: "By the time this round of comments is published on your blog, I'm sure I won't be the only one to suggest this: Insured rental for 21 days is $11/day (plus shipping). Three weeks should be enough time for your 35/1.4 bee to find its way out of your bonnet ;~))
"I often rent a super telephoto for two weeks in the Spring (Red Tail Hawks) and I have rented lenses to help with lens purchase decisions. It works for me. Since photography does not contribute to my 'bottom line' (and I like it that way), I don't 'need' any equipment. I am quite happy with what I have (save for the lack of the aforementioned super telephoto—the price of which is out of my orbit). So, I definitely have limits and those limits are trending downwards. Cheers!"
Featured Comment by Kevin: "Apology accepted. ;) Don't let it keep you away Mike. I do enjoy our occasional chats. I understand the comfort zone issue. I have them myself, for camera gear, and other things too. I start to get edgy when I even get close to them. Sometimes even purchases that I rationally know make good practical sense for me require a lot of self-convincing if they bump up against those comfort zones."