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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Comments

A humble suggestion.

Buy used a year after introduction, sell a year or two later. That way, you can minimize expense.

Typically, the smallest amount of depreciation in value happens in the second year, while typically usage and repair problems are still well within tolerable limits.

And over time, you get to try all the flavors, as it were.

Being a year behind the times give you enough time to read all the considered user reports and reviews, as well as get past any teething problems of new model introductions and you make a more informed choice.

Your mileage may vary.


I usually adhere to a combination of strategies 2 and 3. I almost always purchase cameras new with warranty. However, I'm almost never an early adopter. At the very least, I wait for the better part of a year or until the first, big $100-$200-off sale by the manufacturer.

Most of the time I purchase my cameras on closeout around the time replacements are being introduced. I'm one of those people who are now enjoying their $499 Fuji X-Pro 1. I also recently picked up a brand-new Pentax K-3 body for under $600. The price has since risen again.

I currently have my eye on the Panasonic ZS/TZ100 as a neat travel companion. But I'll hold off until that first big sale, maybe around Christmas.

I'm less rational, but here's what has worked for me.... I buy most of my gear using the Amazon store card, especially big purchases. This allows me to pay things off interest free over twelve or eighteen months. I've also taken to buying at the higher end of the market, but m4/3 only tops out at the EM1 and GH4, expensive but not like getting a D5. The product cycle is around three years for Olympus top end, usually, so that's long enough for me to feel like I've gotten some good use out of the camera if I've bought it towards the start of its release, and gives the card some room for lenses after I pay it off, and if I can only sell it for peanuts when the new model comes out no big deal. I might keep it as a spare, or let my daughter use it. At this time I have my fingers crossed for an EM1 upgrade in the next six months with a few key improvements. And the card has long been at zero!

Improvemnts in technology may be real, but most are hardly noticeable these days. I'd say 6-8 years before advances justify purchasing a new model and probably more than that in the future. Of course, those who like to test limits might disagree.

My other major interest is woodworking and one can go crazy buying tools and equipment for that. After some disappointing mistakes, I have an iron-clad rule for tool purchases--I never buy a tool unless I have an immediate use for it. It is too easy to buy things that I "might" need someday.

Works for camera and lens purchases as well, and helps make method #2 work for me.

[You'll be amused to learn that I have a large toolbox full of exquisite, carefully chosen and expensive hand tools for woodworking. The box is way in the back of the crawlspace in the attic of my mother's house in Cambridge and I haven't seen it in years. It's still theoretically possible, albeit distantly, that I "might need them someday."

I like your iron-clad rule, needless to say. --Mike]

I appreciate your last paragraph about deciding a budget and planning based on it.

I accounted all I had spend on photography since I have a digital SLR (2007), and was able to draw a few conclusions (eg: the spending per year of course; that about 40% of all spendings is camera bodies...).
I may have to decrease the budget rather than increase it, because it of course competes with other things in life!

I'm mainly a film shooter (friends call me filmosaur!) so I do not buy much digital.
I only bought 5 years ago the Leica x1 (in that time X-trans was not yet in the market and the x1 was the only ape-c sensor with simple layout in the market) which I still use, beside the film cameras when I need the convenience of digital.
Planning now to go the Pen F road...size and quicker autofocus...
So I think I'm adopting option 2 for my passion...but this also includes computers updating (forgot to say I love the hybrid workflow), softwares, ink, printer is also 1more than 10 years old...this bring me to the option 4...
Life is short specially at my age (over 65) ...
robert

Truth be told: there isn't much camera improvement like the big jump in 2008-2009.

Thereforer, it's worth resisting the latest purchase and getting yesteryears gear, just like your example tells.

Fuji x pro 1 is still a very decent camera, especially if you can get it for a mere 500.

This whole entry makes me sad...remember when you could just buy a professional level camera and keep it forever?

Thanks to you I employed option 3 recently. You alerted me to the price drop in the Sony a6000, just before the a6300 came out. I bought a body and some Sigma lenses for it, all for under $1,000.00. I am very happy. Lovely files, a nice light camera with a lovely sensor, and, with the Sigma, a very portable kit for my old shoulders.

These days I have pretty well settled into a combination of options 3 and 4. I have an annual budget in mind and make the most of it by buying at closeout or used prices.

For my last major purchase I sort of lusted after the top of the line model, but I also wanted a matched pair. One camera would have stretched the budget, two would have blown it completely. Going one step down the line got me about 95% of the goodness for half he money. Buying used cut the cost in half again.

In the early years of digital, when we were seeing real improvements with every generation of camera, I was an early adopter, but now that the technology has somewhat matured and changes are generally incremental I can't see any reason to spend the extra money.

I have done all of the above. Depends on the circumstances.
Latest purchase is a couple of generations back D7000 camera to compliment my D750. Weird mix? Yes.
The D750 for high quality photos, the D7000 for underwater, just in case it gets wet.
Lose of the D7000 won't hurt too bad and yet it has good enough image quality for what I do. There are lots of other factors affecting underwater photos and pixels isn't the major one.

Mike:

Don't forget renting to try out before buying. My local camera store is long closed and was inadequate in any case. Feel in the hand counts a lot for me, so I'm willing to put up with the cost of a weeks rental (I use Lens Rentals) to give a good trial before purchasing. I've done this since purchasing a Canon t4 rebel. Great specs for the money and I got a nice 3 lens bundle. Fine QOF. But I just never bonded with the darn thing. Wound up selling it (via KEH, which I've had good luck with).

For my next purchase I rented 3 Sonys before deciding on the RX10.

Oh, always be sure that your workflow - Camera RAW in my case - is able to handle a camera's files before it arrives, to make best use of the rental period. A mistake I made in the case of the Sony A7.

Oh, and the price of what you finally purchase tends to be lower after the delay of being in stock for rental, etc.

Thanks, Mike. The only thing I can think to add is that these strategies are not always mutually exclusive. In other words, one can successfully combine number 1, 2 or 3 with number 4. It's certainly not wise, in my opinion, to consider camera equipment an investment. It rarely appreciates in value, and then only if you don't actually use it. My personal preference is to keep well away from the "cutting edge." Not only do I not like getting cut, I can't afford it.


I went for...

Buy a camera that'll bankrupt you and keep it until it/you dies

When not rolling a stone up hill, I'm carting around my almost eight year old 1ds mk lll.

Mike, I have taken option 3 recently and bought a Leica X-E for half list... The pictures it makes are not at all bad for a digital, and I quite like the second hand Olympus EVF that I attached... I don't know how long I will keep it, but it's not going anywhere in the short term. Though I might just be tempted by the rumoured Leica MD...

I am also currently following an earlier piece of Mike-advice and pursuing an OCOLOY, which may well turn into an old age passion (same age as yourself), I think I have fallen back in love with film. I currently have an old M2 and a 50 DR Summicron, which when the OCOLOY is completed might well turn into an MP 50 v4/5 Summicron...

...I just can't help it, I have succumbed to the dreaded lurgy.

When switching systems from Canon to m4/3, I did #3 when the Pen E-P3 was on its way out, which was a good way for me to try it out for relatively low cost. Now I think I'll end up as a #2, but it's true that the G.A.S. siren song can be hard to resist!

I, like other commenters, have done more or less all of the above, but now have settled into early adopter mode, first with the NEX 7, then the A7R, and now the 645Z. These 3 cameras also encapsulate something others have mentioned, that there is less significant movement forward in cameras in the last few years than was in evidence from 2001 through about 2008/9. The NEX 7 would still be a fine apsc camera to have, and the A7R still would be a fine FF camera to have. Both have been superseded by newer models, and there are good reasons to look to the newer models, but sheer QOF (see previous blog post)is less the reason than other features. The 645z has not been superseded at its price point after 2 years, and is unlikely to be for maybe another 2 or more, features plus QOF. Nor will many, if any, 645z owners feel an intense need to do so without massive improvements of a type that would be very surprising indeed.


My recommendation is to get into a system and stay there. That's the critical part, because you can begin accumulating lenses and other system bits and pieces. When you're in a system, you can then buy a camera at any point in its life, because the evolution of digital cameras is slowing, and unless you're simply a gearhead who needs the latest and greatest, you can keep a new camera for a while without suffering any great loss of photo potential. I think the best time to buy is perhaps a year after a new model comes out, giving time for the manufacturer to make firmware changes to get rid of bugs found by early adopters, and perhaps to begin cutting prices. (You could save enough to buy another lens.)

This doesn't apply to most gearheads, however, who are usually more interested in cameras than in photography. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I'm more likely to follow #3. By buying near the end of the lifecycle I get a lower price and it's still much better than what I have. I've done this with cameras, computers, and mountain bikes**.

**The last mountain bike I purchased was a 2-year old model that was still sitting new on the floor. The salesperson was ready to deal and told me that if I bought one bike, he would throw in another for free. Sold!

The increase in body prices across my photo life has been one of the nastiest bits to deal with. First we added complex focusing systems, and then the actual sensor and processing electronics, which kicked the prices up through the roof (Miranda Sensorex&50/1.4: $280 in 1969; used Leica M3 and 50/2: $250 in about 1973. But N90 body: $900 in 1987; D700 body, $3300 around 2009). (However, I stopped paying lab fees when I went digital, which has helped a LOT.) Plus just inflation over time making the numbers sound worse, of course.

The rate of improvement in relevant performance for any particular photographer does seem to have dropped back hugely from the early days, which is a relief. (What's relevant varies from photographer to photographer, but today most bodies are good enough in most areas for most people.)

I'm a KEH fan, and employ method #3 a lot. When I switched from Canon to M43 last year, I bought as much as I could from KEH.

This method made less sense 10 years ago, but today the camera bodies are mostly good. I think of it more as buying sensors, in a way. Ergonomics and certain features matter, too, but you can get away with a slightly older body for decent periods of time. Buy a year-old camera at a huge discount, and keep it for three years.

I've consistently followed a different strategy based on what a new camera offers that will improve the objective quality of my work. It doesn't save me money up front, but I wring every bit of value out of the camera.
For example, after years of struggling to get good quality prints from scanned slides, I jumped at the chance to buy the Canon Eos-1Ds when it was first released in 2002, as the first digital SLR that (arguably) matched or exceeded the quality of carefully exposed 35 mm film. It was ferociously expensive at $8,000, but I paid for it by liquidating my film camera system. It did indeed (sort of) pay for itself by ending my ongoing film/processing costs.
I bought new the Eos-1Ds mk III and a companion Eos-5D II because they provided much better resolution, ISO performance and usability; again, very expensive cameras, but I could print to much larger sizes, and have used both cameras very heavily. I still use them today.
I skipped the next generation or two of Canon SLR's because they really didn't offer any better output/results for the landscape photography I do. And consequently I surely got my money's worth out of my existing cameras.
I splurged on the Eos-5Dsr because it provides an obvious further leap in resolution and overall usability over my existing cameras, and I'm using it heavily.
I regard digital cameras as perishable commodities, in that they gradually erode in value as better cameras appear. So the most rational strategy for me is to buy one when it provides a substantial improvement in resulting print quality for the specific work I'm doing; then I use it a lot to benefit from that expenditure, rather than parking it on the shelf or trading up to the next shiny thing 6 months later.

I'm a 2. I shot with a Canon 5D Classic for 6 years and upgraded to the 5DMk3 eight months after it was released. When you shoot with the same camera for a long time, and can't afford a new one, you find yourself enjoying and looking forward to Photoshop and Lightroom updates.

I strongly second Steve G's suggestion to RENT equipment before making a buying commitment. (This coming from a guy historically known for living a "See, Buy, Consider" credo.) Yes, there are some items that I know I want to buy without first trying. But there are many others that made far more sense for me to first rent. As recent examples, the Leica Q, the Canon 5DSR, and the Fujifilm X-Pro2 were cameras I rented and ultimately decided not to purchase. That saved me a great deal of cash and trouble. I'm currently waiting on a rental of Sony's new 24-70mm f/2.8 GMaster lens to compare it to my f/4 GString.

Budgeting for hobby purchases looks strong on paper and, for a great many of us, is essential. But, as has been noted here already by others, the incremental improvements in equipment generations have become very marginal. Styling, rather than substance, has taken the main stage for several lines. Nowhere is this truer than in the Four-Thirds and X-Trans lines, where all cameras within the sensor have produced image files with essentially the same latitudes and characteristics for years. Renting the newest models, such as that sexy Oly Pen-F above, let you take the latest micro m4/3 sensor packaging for a test drive for a relatively modest sum.

The growth of top-notch mail-order equipment rental shops such as LensRentals makes toe-testing not only much more feasible than ever but downright whole-brained.

A variation on your strategy number 1: Decide on a camera line. Sony Alpha 7 for example. Buy the newest model. Begin to collect top quality lenses for that line. When a newer model of the body comes out in a year or so, buy it, but keep the lenses forever.

I've utilized method numbers 2 and 1 at a various times in my photographic history, but always with an eye on my #4 photographic budget. Most often #2 - when the price may come down. My latest was the number 1 option - buying new when first released, when the X-Pro2 was offered at $100.00 off with the purchase of 35 f/2 WR lens. The lack of the built in diopter was what held me back from the X-Pro1.
I hope we reach a point of stable camera body designs at some point in the digital domain, like the old film days. I had my Olympus OM1 for 11 years before "upgrading" to Canon with the first EOS film body. The issue today is camera bodies always seem to be missing some feature or two. And then there is the more MP's that keeps enticing buyers. If only camera companies would put all the effort in to bigger/better dynamic range....in a 24MP APS-C body ;-).
Mark

Mike, I buy a tool that I like, and use it until it breaks. Then I buy the same again. Just bought my second Nikon F3, but I am sure that one could pick a good digital camera as well and do the same. This is for the consumer group that just gets irritated by innovation.

I have a fairly simple rule...
The kit has to fit into a Billingham L2 bag.
Worked with two Canon F1N bodies, with a 35mm and a 135mm lens.

Works now with a 5D body, 35/1.4, 85/1.2 and a 135/2.0. When the next 5D body comes along, I have to trade the previous one because it doesn't fit.

Apart from that, I have one compact (Canon G15 at the monent), and that has to fit a jeans pocket.

Removes a lot of decision making stress.

One more possibility is the manufacturer-refurbished gear sold by reputable retailers. The warranty period may be 90 days -- but it's Nikon USA's warranty in the case of that product line. If I can't find any defect in 90 days, I'm not using it enough.

The model I'm looking at is 35% off the current selling price, 45% off the original MSRP -- and it's the current year's camera.

One caution with Nikon gear, refurbished or new, is to confirm that it is US product rather than gray market. It strikes me as bizarre, but Nikon USA will not service its own product if it was originally produced for sale elsewhere.

I'm #4. The technology moves too fast and depreciates too quickly for me to care about nos. 1-3. Just purchased a Nikon D700 which is now eight years old but well below its starting price. It still has wonderful color rendition, files large enough for my printing needs and small enough to work with, and great high ISO up to 6400. Since I don't need ISO 1,000,000,000, it works great for me.

I subscribe to method 2, for the most part. Method 3 is appealing, particularly for "toy" cameras (i.e. cameras I'd like, but really have no justification for). The problem with 3 is that by the time the camera in question is at fire sale pricing, the new model really makes it look a lot less desirable. One camera I bought this way is the Nikon J1. Technically, I bought it used, for the sole purpose of using in an underwater housing that was on clearance at B&H for $70.

The appeal to method 2, aside from not paying the beta tester premium, is that you have time to get to know the camera. Cameras are so complicated these days, there are aftermarket books on how to use them. Settings to fine tune to your liking. Accessories to buy that are likely to be incompatible with your next camera, including, but not limited to batteries and memory cards.

Strategy, smategy.

My strategy in photography is to enjoy myself, not to minimize its expense.

If one of my hobbies were scrimping, saving, making do, and so on, I might enjoy doing photography with greater emphasis on doing it on the cheap.

But I don't derive joy from that. So I would do it if I had to, but I don't, for the gear I like. If I derived joy from high status stuff, and could afford it, perhaps I would be using Leica* and other high $ gear.

But what really floats my boat is finding gear that I enjoy using, that "fits", and that is capable of producing images that I enjoy having made and enjoy sharing with others.

And, truth be told, I simply enjoy taking photographs. I'll see something I've shot many times before, and still derive pleasure out of really paying attention to it and shooting it again. Sheer waste of time, and perhaps a little $, but this is not an exercise in efficiency.

So, I drive a 20 year old convertible, 'cause it fits me, and equally elderly low end of the high end audio electronics, albeit with Class A minimotors.

I used a 5D for five happy years. OTOH, I upgraded from E-M5 to the Mark II in only 2 1/2 years, paying the early buyer's penalty, for the simple reason that it added functionality that's important to me.

I suppose I'm saying (Form of) Strategy follows function. The strategies you propose, all based on minimizing cost, will be useful for some, not for others.

* They are making something other than rangefinders, now, no? I really dislike rangefinders.

I like this as a summary of the various strategies.

One thought to consider though: what are the consequences for longevity of *images*?

Sure we can reprocess RAW files with ever-newer technology: however while the file might have started on a full-frame nikon with nice megapixels, there still comes a point where there's only 12 of them and you won't be willing to fulfil a print order (if that's your thing). In my opinion that points toward buying new; in my experience it points toward shooting everything in burst-mode for super-resolution. If largeish prints are your thing, sliding down the strategies is going to make it harder to compete.

Depressing thought: ebaying my entire Sony NEX-7 kit including two kit zooms and a couple of primes and misc toys got me less than the cost of just a new Oly 75-300mm lens, let alone the rest of the Pen-F kit. Going from strategy 3 to 1 is expensive!

I'm use both the 2 and 3 methods as it's my own money I'm spending now! I really do not like the disposable nature of digital cameras from a sustainability viewpoint, but love the rapid depreciation of such commodity gadgets. Seriously conflicted!

If buying SLR's I would go with options 2-3 as nothing there has changed greatly over the last few generations (especially looks...Canon), but with Mirrorless the reality is they are still getting better each generation. Better looking, more serviceable and efficient. I have a clutch of older EM5 cameras, so I am always being tempted with upgrades, but I justify not donig so by looking at image quality gains (not many real ones for a RAW shooter). With so much improvement in store for mirrorless, it is tough to resist.

And if you are a lousy photographer with not a artistic bone in your body just use your i-phone and be happy and a with a lot more pocket change. This advice based on personal experience.

Three thousand dollars a year? In the 80's?

[Well, not in the '80s. I graduated from art school in '85, and I certainly didn't have that kind of money in school. And it was a little confused with business expense because I always did some part-time work for pay. --Mike]

I bought an X-E1 when the X-E2 started shipping. I have resisted the urge to upgrade. When I start to crave better IQ, I'll start shooting in RAW mode instead of jpeg. Probably never happen, as I don't like playing with software.

Buy what you love and shoot what you love. Yes, do your research, take advantage of seasonal offers and try everything out first but honestly all the rest is nonsense. A carefully chosen camera and a small number of quality lenses - quality, not quantity - should give years of pleasure and fine results. No one who follows this route is likely to be worse off. They will be out there with the stuff that works for them while the gear heads and investment analysts are busy changing brands and spending a fortune trading up, down and sideways. After a few years, when it's time to change a worn-out item, I prefer to think of the good things I've had from it, rather than wonder whether I chose what I didn't really want over what I did want because it was on offer for XX off the sticker price.

I don't think I use any of those strategies. I like cameras and I'm interested in the way the technology is changing. So I buy cameras that I want to try out. Some older some brand new. Some I keep for years. Some are gone in a month. I don't sail, play golf or restore cars. I've given up everything good except Guinness and coffee.

I'm here for a good time, not a long time. So I avoid being at all sensible around cameras at all costs.

Gordon

My thought is to buy into a system of lenses. Camera bodies are just computers, they only last so long and then they are worthless for the most part. Buy the glass that you need, and use whatever body the company is offering. If you don't like the body, wait, it will change, just like Mark Twain said about the weather in New England.

I have employed all of the strategies suggested...not out of financial experimentation, but rather, out of idiocy. The three that I purchased used and at end of product life- Fuji X-pro1, Ricoh GXR and Nikon V1- are still with me, fun to use, and do not seem to have lost any value. In fact, it seems V1 is selling for about $25 above what I paid for mine. I have finally figured out, it will take the rest of my life to gain any real proficiency with the features these "old dogs" include. The greatest lesson I have learned from digital cameras is that I do not enjoy PP. I went back to film.

I'm option 1 and 4 so I'm with Moose on this. The last used camera I bought was an Olympus OM4 back in 1988 and I paid AU$800 with the 50mm when I didn't even have a job! If I want something I will get it and have to admit I don't understand the "bargain" attitude. Sure I'll shop around for a good price but what is my time worth? The amount of time and effort (and anguish) put into this sort of decision far outweighs any savings in money made. Contrary to what some people might say, the cost of digital cameras has come down IMO. My first digital body, a D100, cost something like AU$4500 yet the D700 was more like half that and the XT-1 only AU$1400 for the best IQ of them all. If I can't afford a couple of thousand dollars every few years then I should find a cheaper activity to practice. I don't buy multiple cameras and stick to one system generally so lenses slowly accumulate and I don't need to hanker after a"better" body from another manufacturer. I just know what I want and am happy with it (and myself).

A point to note though Mike is the difference in currency values. When the X Pro 1 was first released in Australia it was about AU$1700 when the aussie dollar was high. The X pro 2 is AU$2400 now that our dollar has dropped. This also affected the exorbitant price I paid for the D100 back in 2001.

I didn't start this way going to digital but I like your advise of considering the lens availability before jumping into a new camera. Lucky for me I bought into Canon. Many lens choices that can follow later upgrades in bodies.

Having been burned in my last 2 camera purchases---they did not live up to expectations for me---I have become very conservative about buying. I suppose I will now fit in #2, but I am probably gonna go the rent and try route if I can find a reasonable place to rent in Tokyo. Checking a camera out in a shop simply ain't enough. I suspect renting and trying it for a week will persuade me that I don't really need the newest one. (Though checking the new Oly Pen in the shop convinced me that I didn't really need it.)

I don't consider a camera an investment at all. By the time I am done with one, it'll probably have little value left.

Never thought of doing it the #4 way. Thanks!

Wildly off-topic:
Sure sign of Spring is today's email from Finger Lakes Premier Properties, trying to entice me into a summer vacation rental. Mike, you're not going to believe how your new neighborhood is going to change in not that many weeks.

I've mostly used strategy #3, at least lately. That's how I purchased my X-Pro1 and while I would enjoy having an X-Pro2 for all the improvements, that would dent the budget for new lenses. For example, I suspect the 18/2 may be updated. Could I live with the current 18? Sure, but then if an improved version comes out, I would have to shell out even more for that focal length. Or live with the old model. And then there's the rumoured 23/2 - I would not blink twice paying full or near-full price when it comes out. For me, mastering an "outdated" camera body is a good exercise; glass is more important.

I've never been great at #4, but I did employ that method for buying my MacBook Air. And I'll do the same for a new Mac Mini or iMac.

Strategy 5: Wait long enough and people will give you their old systems.

Mike --

Finally, a topic an economist would love (and we do not get much love, i can assure you). All economists cannot resist doing step 4, but we would hardly call that a strategy; that, Sir, is the *constraint* . . . perhaps segregated into capital and recurring budgets. Regarding the latter, most of my budget goes to printing; you can get an immense amount of high quality printing for the $60/mnth i used to spend on film&proc. On the gear side i put the bodies on a depreciation schedule since i believe that engineers are still moving the frontier forward, and the lenses are . . . my indiscretions, but much longer lived than bodies.

I just want to know when the Nikon Df is going to get cheap enough.

I have mostly followed #2 and it has served me well, with just 2 cameras that didn't click.
June 2001 - Polaroid 1300 1MP in 2001, sold a month later for no loss
July 2001 - Polaroid 2300z (2MP with zoom), sold that a year later July 2002 - Dimage 7i (New, 2nd generation, just came out).
March 2005 - Maxxum 7D (still have, still works, really like, but too heavy for me now). I did have to send this in to Sony for repair twice (1 free repair for the First Black Frame issue - wrong component used damaging the shutter, and 1 IS repair that cost around $100)
Nov 2013 - Panasonic GX7 (like, but the viewfinder is a bit weak. still have as 2nd camera).
Just got the GX8 and it just feels right in my hand, the viewfinder is excellent, and the controls are right where I want them. Also, it works very well for the way of working I like most - EVF preview in A or M mode, adjusting the exposure based on the preview image - the zebra stripes for highlights are a big plus too.

The 2 wrong turns I made were a Canon Elph S410 in 2004 (not enough manual controls, no raw file), and a Panasonic LX3 in 2010 (had raw, but the raw file quality wasn't as good as the Maxxum). The Elph died, and I gave the LX3 to someone who would use it.

The strangest thing is that the 2 cameras I wasn't able to try out before I bought were the 2 that felt best in my hand (Maxxum 7D and GX8).

I admit I am lucky in that my local camera stores are B&H and Adorama, and when buying most of these cameras, I could just walk in after work.

P.S. B&H really is amazing in person - it is a huge store and they are set up to handle just about anyone - if you know what you want and just want to get it, they have people ready to enter your order right in the aisles, and if you need help or want to look at you purchase before buying, they have plenty of knowledgable people manning the counters who will help you find what you actually need.

"Buy the glass that you need, and use whatever body the company is offering."

One interesting result of the High Res Mode of the E-M5 II is discovering that µ3/4 lenses are considerably out resolving the 16 MP sensors. Nice to know my menagerie won't be outdated anytime soon.

Photography is my only expensive hobby, but even though I am often an earlyish adopter when I do buy, I get about 4 years use out of a body, and far more from a lens. That means I tend to skip generations, though the Xpro1-2 was a 4 year wait.

It still costs far less than socialising, running a car or even just maintaining my home, none of which are excessive in my case.

And even accounting for the new adopter premium, which isn't much over 4 years, I still spend about the same as I once spent on film and developing alone.

If you drop the smartphone, that's about $1k per year for your camera budget.

I jumped on that X-Pro1 price a few months ago as a backup to my X-E2 but it has fast become my favourite waste of time. Consequently this has significantly reduced the price which I expect to pay for a body and when considering how much of a bath I took on the double whammy of Full Frame price and inherent problems with the old Nikon D600 I previously owned (which had a huge impact on its resale value) I don't think I will ever again be able to stomach spending over £600 on a body. The diminishing returns of quality and features that newer bodies see is just yet another factor.

My strategy has evolved over the years.

It started by buying/selling on eBay to afford a Very Large Format camera/lens addiction that I suffered from at the time.

When digital became a viable option and the subjects I worked with changed from the static to motion, selling the LF gear paid for the new system (new cameras/new lenses).

Then came retirement and mirrorless systems in similar time. So I sold my by then old boat anchors which paid for the move to the new system (new cameras/new lenses).

I became a "bottom feeder" when it was obvious that I'd reached the practical limits of this approach (nothing left to sell that I no longer use) and have started buying old used gear when the urge or need arises.

Strategy #5 - don't tell your wife/partner how much you are spending.
Seriously though, I'm a working pro and am considering changing systems. €19k worth of canon gear bought mostly over 6 years ago is worth about 5k on eBay now, and actually has amortised to even less. I got a good return on investment on it, but that would have been an awful lot to spend on a hobby!

Strategy R

1. One RX100 as your personal camera for 10 years.

R. Rent your latest dream team system for 2 weeks travel holidays every year. Anticipation! Planning!

My cameras have to earn their living so frequent replacements are out of the question. I used my Canon5dmk2 for 4 years before replacing it with the 6D, which I will have had for 3 years come November. I expect by then a replacement will have been announced so I hope to get the 6dmk2 sometime next year. I actually try and keep my lens collection to the absolute minimum and I probably have fewer lenses than most amateurs. This year I promised myself that I am not going to buy any equipment but a very good deal on the new Canon nifty 50 and a huge discount on my first 3rd party lens the surprisingly nice and very sharp but quite bulky and heavy Tamron 35mm F1.8, prompted me to brake my promise to myself!

Does grovelling for permission count as a strategy?

[It does if it works. --Mike]

#2, I'll use this D810 w 35/1.4G until something amazingly better comes along. Like a mirrorless that can actually focus lol.

Add to that a few ~ couple hundred bucks for a revolving lot of inexpensive film cameras to play with... classic 35mm slrs, twin lens reflexes, a large format gem, even an old Kodak Panoram.... all dirt cheap these days.

I favour an extreme #2 approach.

Either I or my camera will die first. So far, it's a tie. But we're only 11 years into the race.

6. Buy what you need when you need it.

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