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Sunday, 22 May 2016


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What I'd spend on a camera in the next three years is constrained entirely by my income, not by my feelings of propriety. Guesstimating ahead that far (when I'll really need a new camera at least once somewhere in there) -- I'd be surprised to be able to spend $2k. That's nowhere near enough for the cameras I want (and even make some use of), but between tech improvements and the used market I expect I'll be able to continue making pictures.

On cars, I've bought 5, all new. The latest (7 years old now) was the most expensive, and it barely broke $20k (and I had a very profitable job at the time). So I'm pretty sure you've spent more on cars than I have, in less time; maybe you really are a spendthrift in that area.

[Possibly. I'm 59 and I've only owned 7 cars in my life. Is that a little or a lot? Four of them since 2010! If I'm a spendthrift, clearly my problem is recent. --Mike]

The most money of my own I ever spent on a new car was $8,500 for a 1 year old Skoda estate in 2008 which I still use. Trade value is now about £3000 so it has cost me less than £1000 a year.

That's less than I spend on cameras... ;-)

I like cars, but much as I would like to drive someone else's Porsche, I would not want the bother of having to actually own one. Small cheap cars are ridiculously capable and safe these days, so I can't ever see myself spending more than £10,000 ($14,000) on a car.

On the other hand I would very much like a Triumph Thruxton R for 'fun' motoring in addition to my car. I can just fit both in the garage...

Our old Weimaraner, Spencer, would appear to be mostly deaf once he got to 11 or 12.

Start sliding a baguette out of a paper bag 2 rooms away though, and he was right there.


About dogs. This says it about as well as I can. It would be a better world if we all lived up to our dogs high impressions of us. They are more honest, more honorable, and kinder than we. They make the world a better place.

It's an interesting point regarding cars. In my vague "I've just won the lottery" day dreams I sometimes wonder what car I'd buy (and I'm very much a car guy - or at least was) and I never really find an adequate answer (not that it's a problem). I increasingly think I'd find it immoral to spend more on a car than many spend on a house - I think I'd just feel like a flash git who was compensating for a lack of personality. But like I say, it's never likely to be a problem...

I read "The Millionaire Next Door" and my reaction was, life is too short for that. Why would you want to pile up money but never spend it? You know, work hard, buy the cheapest stuff you can find, never take a vacation, so you can die rich. Really? I can understand living modestly so you can pursue interests that don't pay the big bucks (photography) but I really don't understand being a miser, which is really what "The Millionaire Next Door" is sort of about. You may differ...

Dogs: My wife and I both commute to work (though one of us or the other works from home a couple days each week). A dog would make life more complicated. Dogs are demanding. They make life better, except when they don't.

Cars: The most I would spend is far less than the most I *could* spend, because cars just aren't my thing.

Cameras: The max I could image is about $2000, but the max I'd likely spend is more like $1000. (I could see myself going for a nice FF kit down the road, probably not in three years, though).

Books: I was influenced by Burton Malkiel's "A Random Walk Down Wall Street". On the photography front, I'm part way through Peter Beard's "The End of the Game" though I'm not really treating it as a photography book.

Back to cars and cameras, I've probably shared this in a past comment, but years ago, I attended a one day "Nikon School" seminar (I was shooting Minolta at the time). At one point, the presenter said he was going to talk about super telephoto lenses, and the 600/4 in particular. He prefaced his talk by saying that at a past seminar, a woman came up to him and told him he shouldn't have wasted so much time talking about a lens that costs "as much as a small car". He replied "Do you need a small car ?" He then explained that while the lens obviously isn't for everyone, you have to decide how much photography means to you and if it's important enough, it's worth trying to find a way to afford what you want in order to shoot what you want. I suppose that works the other way, too, if a car is important enough to you.

My wife would substitute cats for dogs in your theory. Our cats occasionally knock over a plant. Our dogs, well, one ripped into our new couch a week after we moved into our new house... anxiety over the mailman I think. So we have a blanket for that spot.

The most I have ever spent for a camera, (and perhaps ever will) is $1800. First for the Olympus E5, and now for the Pentax K1 (yet to ship, so I could still cancel I suppose). The Pentax is hard because I have to get a couple lenses too... but there are abundant old fuzzy primes to play with for cheap. I'll get one good one for now.

I agree with your dog theory.

My prime criteria for vehicles is reliability and along with that, I hold to the maxim that if I have to drive more than 30 miles for warranty repairs, it is not a good car/truck. Thus I am unlikely to ever own a Volvo, Mercedes or even a Kia since none of those have a dealership within 30 miles of my rural location.

Likewise my rule for cameras has more to do with the technological capabilities of the camera than the price. I paid around $1700 for my Canon 7D kit when I bought it about 12 years ago. It has been worth every penny IMO. OTOH I've looked at cameras that run $3000+ that I wouldn't touch because they aren't suitable for the kind of photography I do. I'm considering a shift to mirrorless (I do a lot of hiking and at 71, weight is becoming an issue, both my weight and the camera's) but I want one that has the same capabilities as my 7D.

I have nothing but used cars on my "if I hit the lottery" list. 1934 Bugatti, 1957 Chevy, 1963 Corvette Split Window Coupe, 1981 DeLorean DMC-12, ...

I agree with your sentiments about both dogs and cars (although I've yet to spend as much as $25k for a car initially. Add to that subsequent modifications, repairs, and maintenance, though, and all bets are off!)

Here's my favorite photo (so far!) of Miss Abby, a four-and-a-half year-old standard poodle I adopted from a local rescue society last summer:

She has become my muse and I carry a camera with me every time we head out the door for a walk. In fact, I take so many photos of her now that I have started a photo-blog dedicated to sharing them.

And here's hoping that despite her hearing loss, Lulu has many years left before she truly enters her dotage!

". . . they give back to me more than I ever give them."

I agree and I have a complimentary theory of dogs: they give us more than we ever give them. In so many homes with dogs, people want the pleasure of them for a very short period of time every day. But they don't have an "off" switch. The rest of the day they are bored and lonely.

Dogs hate being alone. They hate being bored even when they are not alone. Most households that have dogs are not a great situation for the dogs. I'm glad Mike's is.

The future for most people, hopefully, is robotic pets. They do have an "off" switch. Aibo was a great start. We need to take this much further. Check out this lovely video:


Dogs. Yes. 100% agree (or, in my case 500%). Dogs are absolute. Cars, cameras, books etc. are only relative (although I do have old cars, cameras and books)

Oh well 2 out of 3 ain't bad, dogs and cameras in that order. I have no use or passion for cars they are simply a necessity in the area I live. I would love to have mass transit or a bike for transportation options. I would spend no more than 1,200 on any camera and dogs well that's a whole different topic. I read an article many years ago that a vast majority of major corporation CEO's all grew up with dogs in the family. Yeah I know what does that mean? You are either a dog person or not and you just can't have " What a dog brings into you life" discussions with a person that has never had a dog. Back to cameras..... please can some manufacturer develop a B&W digital camera that is affordable? Can it really be that difficult?

Old age does indeed give selective hearing and creaky limbs. Feeling it more everyday. However, I still come bounding immediately when someone yells "Ice Cream".

I had a dog, Brownie, for 19 yrs. Looking back now, I realize she was the love of my life. She was a small dog, Cocker Spaniel and Poodle mix. A bundle of joy. She was born in my lap, but that's another story.
Around 17 yrs of age, she turned deaf quite suddenly. Couldn't hear a word I said or shouted. I soon learned that a loud clap would catch her attention, even from a distance. So for the last two yrs of her life that's how I communicated with her. And yes, dogs are special, with many qualities which we humans still don't fully understand or appreciate.

I've never used a dime on cars. Living in Northern Europe and UK, the compactness makes the infrastructure excellent and cheap.

I've read The Millionaire Next Door. A few years before it came out, I'd said to friends: "I think that if one is really rich, the cool thing to do is either live in a castle or a cheap loft."

My clothes budget per year is probably the same as a young woman use in a week. I feel that if people can't see who and what I am, I'm not the one to impress them with status symbols.

Hey Mike,
Couldn't agree more with you about dogs. I've raised Alaskan Malamutes for 45 years. Suggestion for an old dog, sometimes helps a great deal: pulverize 2-3 triple flex tablets (chondroitin glucosamine MSM) into your dog's food every day. Toss in two large fish oil pills too, chances are your dog will love them. The nsaids like Rimadyl and metacam can help but use them only after the triple flex stops working, as there will be eventual gastrointestinal negative side effects. Powdered turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory as well, and can be added to the mix. I keep my dogs until they just can't stand up anymore, then I have to say goodbye. Good luck! Michael Howard

[Thanks Michael! I put 2 tabs of chondroitin glucosamine MSM, crushed, in Lulu's food this a.m. thanks to you. Hope it will help. --Mike]

Dogs: I'm in total agreement. They make life better and I feel better when I'm around them

Cars: We're around the same age, Mike. I've been a drivng enthusiast all of my life and even raced cars (SCCA Showroom Stock and Formula Ford) in the 1970s. My wife and I together have, to date, purchased a total of three vehicles costing more than 20 thousand dollars and none more 25 thousand. It offends me what cars cost today.

As for Road & Track, like most other automotive publications, they don't generally get cars that cost less than $30K. They've become numb to the cost of cars because they've driven too many high-priced pieces they didn't have to pay for. When looking at equipment levels, many things they regard as "needs" (leather seats, navigation, high-end sound systems, etc.) are merely "wants" in my book. Remember, their job is to help sell cars.

Cameras: Like you, I thought $1200 was my limit. But I've been looking at the Panasonic GH4 lately because I'm interested in getting into video. But I can't seem to pull the trigger at its current $1200-and-change price. $1000 or less is probably the real answer for me.

I don't regard myself as cheap. But I tend to respond quite negatively if I feel I'm not getting my money's worth. Which is why I have been generally upgrading one generation behind when it comes to photographic tools for the past few years.

Books: I recently picked up hard-cover collections of the novels written by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I am enjoying them immensely.

Money and cars, yes a subject near and dear.

First of course, having a cars itch makes cameras seem inexpensive. It's all relative, of course, because boat people laugh at car people , and airplane people laugh at boat people, except really rich boat people who laugh right back.

But back to cars. You can go many ways with cars without being broke. You can buy used, and buying used is great fun even if can afford to buy new. A 2-3 year old CPO car from one of the German makes lets you drive a perfectly great car for peanuts IF you sell it a couple of years later: BMW 1M. . You can buy a car that's old enough to appreciate in value a bit while you own it: E30 BMW M3; BMW 2002.

You can also buy into an actively appreciating collectible market : 993 Porsche, the last of the air cooled 911s. Borrow $50K, drive a classic for a few years, sell it for $75-100K. Your borrowing costs and insurance all covered and you've driven something wonderful while your friends drive depreciating SUVs.

Or you can say the hell with it, and buy a Porsche Cayman GTS, the best handling Porsche there is except maybe for the GT4, and say that's why I worked hard for a long time. It redlines at 7500 RPM and makes the best sounds. If you haven't heard a flat six wail six inches behind your ear, you're missing out. If you don't want to shell out $80K, buy used and let the first owner absorb the depreciation.

Dogs are great. I'm willing to spend a lot more for a dog, and on a dog than any camera. They do make life better.

I think 15,000 for a new car is a lot of money, but I thought that back in 1997, too, when that went a lot further. Used cars are holding their value pretty well up to the ten year mark, (when you effectively can't get a loan anymore), so it looks more sensible to buy new than used, especially compared to the 1-3 year old versions. Sadly, I need a gm station wagon, but they don't make them anymore. If the boat-like 13 year old sedan I'm currently driving dies, I'll probably buy the cheapest coupe gm* makes, if they still make those. I really liked the Pontiac Sunfire, but that whole brand is gone now.
I'll be careful to never buy a Miata, my car curse has spelled the doom of AMC, the classic Beetle, Datsun, Saturn, and Pontiac. Seriously, after riding in, liking, and attempting to buy or buying each of these marques, within 24 months they disappear. (Also, after I was loaned a Cadillac for a year, they stopped making them with bench seats, which is a mission critical requirement for ferrying a mix of a half dozen old people and small children. Coincidentally, Cadillac's future is looking grimmer by the day.)

The most I will spen on a new camera in the next three years is 400$, which will be in April of 2018, when they put the Panasonic Gx-85 on clearance. If I had 750$, I'd own one today. I've had my Gx-7 for a year and a bit, and I can report that is an excellent camera in every way, one that I will replace with an identical one tomorrow if it broke. However, they are out of stock, and the almost identical replacement, the Gx-85, has two new features that I will absolutely use: in camera focus stacking, and 8 mp jpegs at 30 fps. I very rarely need to shoot sports, but when I do, using the 4k video as a source for those 8 mp images is exactly the right solution.

Dogs are great.

*a family member insists on American cars. I insist on reliability. If I had 35-40,000, I would insist on a Tesla ;)

I like to keep cars a long time, sort of as a challenge. 100K miles was my old benchmark, but cars are MUCH better now, so 200K is the new goal. Last year around this time I traded in a '99 Solara (bought used in 2003) with 230+K miles on it, for a 2010 RAV4. Over my 57 years of driving, I've owned about a dozen cars (the first a 1950 DeSoto I inherited when my father died), three of them new, 2 project cars that didn't run and which I eventually gave up on, and the rest used. The price points went up as I earned more, but I never went for luxury. (Always wanted an Alfa Romeo, though).

I never spent much on cameras until the last four years. What changed? I started reading TOP, and Visual Science Lab, and Luminous Landscape, and a couple m43 forums, and became a GAS-afflicted nut case. I hope I've settled down now. I like both my LX7 and LX100, gave the GX7 to my wife, plus we have a GH2 in the camera drawer, and a flock of lenses, some adapted.

Put "coffee" on that list for me, but not fanatically so. Once I find a good dark roast from a local roasting house, I'll stick with it.

My current car is the only one I have ever purchased new in my half century on this little blue rock, which replaced my 10 year old Subaru. It's the current Mini John Cooper Works and although I didn't need to spend US40K on a car, I still get out of it with a big grin on my face every time. I consider it cheap therapy rather than an expensive toy. A wonderful way to enjoy a mid life crisis.

I'm not really rich, per say but I am debt free. And since I don't play golf, collect anything or own a boat, I allow myself to buy the cameras I want (which I can deduct anyway). The most expensive body so far is the wonderful Leica SL. It's also my favourite so far, although in equal first place with any M body. I like cameras, as a separate thing from photography and will try out a few new ones each year. Some get kept and used a lot. Others stay for only a short while. All of them are interesting.


I am a social studies teacher in a public school system in Texas. I have a daughter that is about to (or "fixin' ta" as we say in Texas) begin her senior year in high school. She then plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin, then med school. So new car--not anything for a while, the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder should get us through that as a family car. My daily driver, the 2005 Toyota Corolla CE, lovingly known as Chick Magnet, is too much a part of the family to depart us anytime soon. The daughter's 2011 Corolla will get her through college.

As far as my cameras go, the Pentax K1000 and ME Super are still working like new. The Minolta SRT-102 and X-700 are as well. The Nikon D90, not quite as well. I am thinking of going with a used Pentax K-3ii. Pentax seems to be on a nice comeback and I don't really need a new camera since there may be some good deals on the K-3ii with the introduction of K-1. I have issues with spending more than $1,500 for a camera for my use. Of course, if I was shooting professionally, or had an abundance of funding, and a legitimate use for it, I could see myself spending in the area of $30,000 for a Leica S system.

I'm really cheap. These days I buy only used everything except camera lenses. Lenses are for life so the money is well worth it. For the camera body I will never spend over a $1000. The most I spent on a camera body was $750 for a Nikon D40X and that was August 2007. The last was a used Fuji-X-Pro1 for $600 last March 2015. I will not be buying a new Fuji X-Pro2.

There is too much hidden cost with a X-Pro2. New and faster computer with much bigger storage drives. That alone will be around $2000. This is because the size of a X-Pro2 RAW file is about 50MB.

And after a year with the X-Pro1 I've started to really enjoy the camera. So it has at least another 2-3 years min. of life left in it for me.

I also really want an Epson P600. I love prints.

Motor vehicles including pickme up-trucks and those that try to be so; I drive a 2011 Honda Ridgeline, because i can fit into it, most important when you stand 4 inches short of seven feet and weigh 400 pounds. Bought it as a demo still C$48,000 plus 13 percent sales tax.
And I figure i'll keep it for at least another ten years; I keep my vehicles until they expire or are demolished in an accident. Given my poor physical condition, this may well be the last vehicle I own. And a new Tesla S here in Ontario sells for close to C$100,000 and I see more and more them on the road; most larger than life SUV's are also approching the C$90,000 mark. Sort like a three-bedroom bungalow in Toronto, about C$1.2 million and climbing.

Cameras? Am a sucker for new toys, however the current-owned D750 was almost C$2500.00 and so far will be it until either i can't hold it due to weight or I give up photography. Also have a cheap used Canon AA battery powered point and shoot. Actually I like the Canon the most account it doesn't need a wall wart to charge it.

I've been involved in motorsport for years, and if I won a lottery, I would become Hertz' dream customer. I like driving cars, I like participating in and watching motorsport (rally mostly, but race too) but I hate owning cars. I'd get a different rental every month for the rest of my life.

I had never spent more than $16,000 (CDN) on a car till this new one I have now, a Golf wagon. It's so good that I can't imagine what more you'd get in a more expensive model (other than size). I understand the fun of more power, but seriously, where can you use it?

If you want to drive faster, take a racing course and learn to drive better.

Road & Track is basically just Playboy. They show you things you can't have because they know you'll pay good money to be teased. That's why strip joints are still a thing.

The most I've spent on a camera was a little over $1000 (CDN) on a new Sony R1. Sony has been screwing around for 10 years making this and that, but all they really had to do was put new electronics in the R1 body.

Dogs are cool.

[There's a Golf wagon?

I've always wanted a Volkswagen but they are always too expensive for me compared to the competition. The one I like now is the GLI with a stick but I worry about the steering. The new electronic steering that everybody is using is the pits, but VW/Audi seems to do worse with it than almost any other carmaker I'm familiar with. Steering on Audis for example is both dead and wandery, a terrible one-two sucker punch. The steering on my fancy Civic (Acura ILX 2.4, my current car) is not very good. --Mike]

I spend fairly large on a very few cars (also 7 in total), but tend to keep them until the only future they have is charitable donation. The only new car I've ever bought for myself is the one I'm driving now. It cost mid-50s and will probably last for 15 years, if it isn't made completely obsolete first. By then I want a chauffeur or one of them "imminent" self-drivers.

I'd tell you much I would spend on a camera, but I think my local dealer reads your blog. Books, you might like Stuart Franklin's "The Documentary Impulse" http://www.amazon.com/Documentary-Impulse-Stuart-Franklin/dp/0714870676/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463975131&sr=1-1&keywords=stuart+franklin

"most authentically rich Americans buy used cars."

Bull**** I've known quite a number of authentically rich Americans, and while many of them bought mundane cars, I've never known a one of them to buy a used car. And they owned cars. Sometimes fleets of them.

Some people really like cars, just like some people really like cameras, or hanggliding, or really like dogs. Others don't.

Dogs do make life better....

[Ya kinda have to read the book for the authors' argument. Their research showed that most millionaires are self-made entrepreneurs in humdrum businesses, and tend to live invisibly; that many people who live, and appear, to have high net worths actually don't, but are living hand to mouth on high salaries, with high debt; and that most self-made entrepreneurs tend to buy used cars. It's their CHILDREN who buy fancy new cars--with inherited money. A good example is Sam Walton, who drove an old pickup even as a billionaire. Anyway, you might be right, but check out the book before you scoff. --Mike]

Dogs? Hmmm I guess the same applies to cats, tho they're very different.

Cars? A used Toyota, 8.5k€, which we still use. Reliable like a marine. My motorcycle (Honda) turns 22 soon, so she (it) 's just out of adolescent age (read: much younger than me). And riding a motorcycle is so much more fun than being in a cage with wheels. And 210kg with a cardan shaft drive is just perfect for me - fuel her up and go, with a big grin on your face.

Cameras? I have all I need, and I hope I don't have to spend anything on them over the next three years. Micro Four Thirds with 16MP is just good enough for 30x40cm prints - don't have enough wall space for bigger ones.

I heard that the motorcycle of my father-in-law broke, so maybe I'll spend a bit on that. It's a Honda Innova, so you'd get it new for under 2k€, and that one takes under 2l/100km. Perfect for those small roads in the Malaysian farmlands.

It's all relative. You own what you can afford, and that's just fine. Affording is a result of many factors, but primarily education in the right field, hard work, drive, and a little luck. In many areas of this country six figure cars are commonplace.

Cars: I have twice spent about £20,000 on a car. Once was about 16 years or so ago when I was contracting in the IT industry and generally working away from home - I wanted a comfortable (had to have AC which was rare at that time), reliable and effective car, and a s/h BMW 3 series met the bill. We keep that car for about 8 years - my wife took it over from me. Great car, but it drank fuel (it had a 2.5l straight-six engine) and I shudder to think what the emissions were. The second one is the car I have now. It's my retirement car, bought a couple of years or so ago when I was 63 and approaching retirement. A VW Golf, small engine, petrol rather than diesel (I've heard too many stories about blown-up diesel engines - not just VW - as a result of particulate filter problems), manual not auto (I've heard too many stories about the cost of replacing an auto box on an otherwise fine 8 to 10 year old car; again, not just VW), comparatively simple options (2 cylinders only firing when required sounds like something you don't want to trust when the car gets old), etc. I aim to use this until it dies, then stop driving. Or perhaps it'll be me that dies first.

Dogs: I've never really got dogs. Perhaps it was because when I was a teenager my father had dogs and maybe I resented them taking my space. I certainly never had that "8-year old bonding" experience with them.

Cameras: just over £1,000, both for my 6D and my 7DII. The latter was a mistake and I feel it's going to the auction site. The 6D, on the other hand, I love.

Dogs: they are definitely better than us, and the only chance a moral-type alien overlord won't destroy our planet seeing that there is something good to salvage. I have an half-baked theory that they are our real conscience; just think how they look at you when you're doing something you shouldn't... I don't like them only when they chase me while I'm running or on the bike ;)

Cars: my car was the last gift from my late dad. I seriously don't see myself changing that anytime soon, as long as I can keep it working. Even should I win the lottery, I doubt I'd spend more than 15.000€ on a car, used or new, especially considering now you can't drive anywhere without bumping in a speed radar set for a super-low speed limit!

Cameras: until they come out with something like global shutter and, more importantly, quantum film or an equivalent tech (basically mimicking the same rendering of the highlights with a digital sensor, with a vastly extended dynamic range so that highlights are almost impossible to blow out) I don't see myself changing the A7r (tripod shooting) or the X-T10 (handheld). An sure as hell I won't spend more than 1.200/1.300 on it! It's much more likely I'll buy another medium format film camera, or two, in the meantime.

Books: the best (photo) book I've read recently is the wonderful Larry Towell's "The World From My Front Porch". Some - unfortunately not the vast majority like I hoped - of the pictures are awesome. That said even the few are so good that make up for the rest. But what I did not expect is that it is an interesting and engaging, albeit intimate, reading as well.

We thought dogs make life better. Then we got a malinois.

Strangely, our 14 (or 13 or 15 - she was a rescue, new to us at age 4...or 3 or 5) year old Border Collie has the same affliction - call her for her breakfast? No trouble hearing what's been said. I think dogs just increasingly understand, as life goes by, that doing things humans ask doesn't actually matter so much...

But food does...

A Random Walk Down Wall Street.

I"ve never been much for dogs. But I am a bad person.

The most I’ve ever spent on a camera and two lenses was 1200 euros (for a used XE-2 including the 35 1.4 and the 14 2.8). Significantly more than I’ve spent for my first and only used car. I still prefer cameras because they don’t need insurance and gasoline.

The most I've ever spent on a car was 14k for a 2007 VW polo in 2009 (this was in Iceland). It's so much fun to drive, fully automatic, very responsive, and I was glad I was able to buy in cash.

I bought the Fuji x100 as soon as it was possible, paid about 12-1300 dollars, and don't regret it in the slightest. I've sold off my 5D and lenses, and use only the x100 and now the 50mm screw on converter. It's been over 5 years now and I have zero regrets. The AF is a bit slow, and sometimes that annoys me now that I have a 17 month old son, but the image quality, and the handling of the camera itself (love those physical dials in the Icelandic weather where I nearly always have to have on gloves), as well as just how compact it is.

'Dogs: I have a theory about dogs; see what you think. "Dogs make life better." That's all of it. Make sense to you? I seldom mind caring for my dogs—they give back to me more than I ever give them.'

Ours has. Moxie is still less than a year, but starts each day as if the planet Earth is the best place ever.

The same maxim is also true of our cat. She is entirely complementary (as in "she completes us," not as in "she says nice things about whether our jeans make us look fat").

I understand that there are cat people and there are dog people. I am a "both" person. But I would also amend your statement Mike; seems to me that the lucky among us have an "X" we could put in the place of "dogs" that sentence I quoted above. Could be "parrots," if that is your thing.

As for a car: as long as it is reliable, I will drive it, and hopefully at the lowest possible price. But then again, I bought my last two cars -- Subaru Outbacks -- very used. They are nearly perfect for the climate at this (Vermont) latitude. The current one has 250K on the odometer and is just now starting to give hints that the upcoming repairs this year (head gasket, at least, if my nose is any judge) may tip it over into the glue-factory column . . . :(

As to cameras, it really seems to depend on which day you catch me. When I bought my Fuji X-Pro 1, $1600 was about my limit. But then again there is that M9 sitting on the desk in front of me. I have spent $3k-5k a couple of times. Those cameras (m9, Nikon D3) were transformative in terms of how I could see with them and the images I could produce. For what I do they represented a certain level of technological maturity in a way that, say the M8 or the Ricoh GXR, for all of their wonderful innovation, did not. Since then, I have down-sized on income and would be hesitant to spend that much again unless the new rig was a solid step up from those mature cameras. Not saying "never," but the $3K annual or biannual upgrade cycle is over for me. I also REALLY resent having to upgrade my supporting hardware and software to cope with files from new wiz-bang cameras. That business model is fundamentally broken -- for me at least.

Here's an odd fact: In my life I have owned four cars, which cost collectively around $47k in unadjusted dollars. I am not emotionally up to calculating an exact number, but as an educated guess, I think I have spent easily 2x that on cameras and photo gear over my adult life. It is not a fair comparison as I lived in cities for the first half of my life, started driving late (by US standards), and only owned my first car at age 26. But the two numbers reflect with an odd accuracy the relative importance of driving and image-making in my life.

I recently bought a new (used) car. It occurred to me to add up all the money I've spent on cars in my whole life. At age 57, I still haven't broken the $40K barrier. Maybe the next one I buy won't have a steering wheel.

Dogs with responsible owners make life better.
The other kind make life worse for everyone including the dog.

The best book on money I ever read (and I've read a lot) isn't a book. It's Warren Buffett's Letters to Berkshire Shareholders available on-line for free.

I printed them (all 39) and put them in a three ring binder to read, save and reference. Today I'd probably download the PDFs to a tablet.

I bought my first house in the mid 70's for $17,500. I swore I'd never buy a car for myself that cost more than that. I have been successful so far. Cars we purchased for my wife to drive - a Volvo and a Chevy Volt - don't count.

I manage an E-Comm photo department, and the software problems, organizational problems, and digital camera problems have about killed me, so the answer is: I'm not spending any more money on digital cameras at all, for the rest of my life. There is far less craft involved, and far less craft in the way that it's done, with digital, than in my previous 30 years in film photography. I'm going to get the bellows fixed on my 8X10 Deardorff.

I agree on the dog theory. Until my wife decided she wanted them a year ago I wouldn't have. I still joke that they are hers, but I don't think she's buying it.

I've bought new cars, well used cars that need fixing, and older cars in excellent condition (your Miata for example). By far the best bang for the buck is the used cars in excellent condition. We are unlikely to ever buy new again after finally recognizing the depreciation hit in the first few years.

The most I've spent on a camera was on a D800E. I think $3300 when they first came out. I'm now considering only buying low mileage used cameras as well. The D800E still works as good as the day I bought it. A replacement would be about 1/3 of what I paid.

The '03 Miata was nice. I bought it used and it gave me many years of enjoyment. I think it was the last year before they started doing the electric roof etc. and they lost their way for awhile. My Fav was the '95 Special Edition however, in BRG. Until now.

Do NOT take the 2016 for a test drive! I had no intention of picking one up until I did. I was hooked. They've rediscovered what "fun" is with the 2016.

Awesomeness in cars doesn't have to be expensive. Bought two Porsches at the bottom of their depreciation curve. Very fun and cheap because you can sell them for about what you paid. Vipers also seem to not lose their value once the initial depreciation hit is taken. On the other hand, I bought a D200 and a D810 at full retail, but it was for work and it has paid for itself. I think going forward I'll be buying used versions of whatever the successor to the D810 turns out to be. The cameras are well built enough that it doesn't seem like a gamble.

Cars, dogs and cameras. Wow, you've touched on three of my favorite things. However, rather than start a discussion on the similarities I find between the experience driving pre-1973 Porsches and photographing with my all mechanical M4...I'll simply say I get a great deal of joy taking snapshots our two Cairns on a regular basis, since they're so much a part of our family.

I also enjoy photographing dogs whenever I travel. You can tell so much about a culture by how their dogs are treated. In the case of Cuba, they're everywhere and clearly taken care of or watched over by the community. Here are a few snapshots, from a much larger set, which I refer to as "The Dogs of Cuba", taken in 2014 when I was on a photo workshop with Peter Turnley. Hopefully a few of you will enjoy these.


Dogs - Couldn't envisage life without them. My soul is part dog.
Cars - I live in the country and have an electric bicycle but still need a way of getting further afield.
Cameras - Photography discovered me a long time ago and I admit to feeling incomplete if I leave the house without something to capture images with.
Books - Ah, books, the stuff of life ...

I'm a cat person for certain. But I understand the companionship offered by dogs. My cat acts as if he were a dog but that's another story. Have had a cat(s) in my life since I was a child.

Cars, ah I have day dreams about certain cars. As I'v gotten older they have taken the place of day dreaming of certain women. Have had a DD (daily driver) and a special weekend car for years. Usually German cars but they can get expensive in their care and feeding. I'm now looking for a used Lotus Elise - a nice one can be had for $30K or so. The search continues.


My theory of dogs is that they're empaths. I like virtually every dog I've ever met, and they like me (with the decided exception of a psychotic Mexican miniature belonging to the sour Chinese neighbor lady I once had. In that case it was dislike all around.) I've definitely learned more from dogs than they have from me. Some evolutionary scientists maintain that our relationship with dogs was instrumental in our becoming fully human. From my experience, I'd say that's about right.

I've owned a total of nine cars, I think, which is about six or seven too many. In my (admittedly eccentric ) view, a car should last a lifetime given regular maintenance and upkeep. I like cars, though, almost as much as I like dogs. Of the cars I've owned my favorites were a 1986 Toyota Celica GT-S Coup, and a 1974 Volvo 145 Station Wagon. The Celica had a wide wheel base and a low center of gravity and cornered like a big cat. It was utterly reliable and fun to drive. The Volvo was given to me, not bought. When I got it, it was 22 years old and had half a million miles on the odometer, which had stopped working some years before. The driver's side door wouldn't open, so you had to step in through the window. Oddly enough, though, it was what we called at the time a "real babe magnet". It didn't like to start in winter, so sometimes my date would have to give it a little push from the top of the hill where I parked it in front of the house. You might think that would be off-putting, both for me and my dates, but for some reason it just added to the charm.

$3000 is, in theory, about as much as I could see myself paying for a new camera; but only if someone custom fabricated a camera for me to my own design and spec. As it is, I'm willing to shell out between $1500 and $2000. I'm mostly happy with the X-T1, but I may sell the two I have and replace them with X-T2s if the low light focus acquisition on the new model is as good as rumored - that's the one area where the X-T1 lags.

I haven't read any books about photography in recent years. Not because there aren't some good ones available, which I'm sure there are, but because I just don't read many books these days. Alas.

Just in the last week



Not suggesting it was the dog's fault - but they don't always bring joy..

Dogs are great. Mine is looking at me as I write this. My kids and/or grandchildren never look at me that way.

My wife (who had a '57 TR3 and used to drive in Gymkanas (sp?)when I met her) and I have had at least 45 cars in 50+ years together. I've sorta lost interest and want comfort/reliability (currently own and lease two Subaru outbacks)these days. She mostly agrees but points at every interesting machine that she sees. If I won the lottery I'd probably buy some old Brit sports cars and get a resident mechanic.

My next camera will most likely be a Fuji XPro2 so the threshold will probably be around $2K with a lens. That will be the most I've ever spent

After reading this column, I had a brilliant idea about how to combine sports cars, dogs, and photography:



"(I have a photograph of a Rolls-Royce sporting a bumper sticker that reads, "My Other Car Is a Rolls-Royce!")"

Yes, but Mike ... can you FIND that photo? Sorry, that was a bit mean. But I couldn't resist.

I am relatively late to dog ownership. We had two when I was a kid, one not so successful (a border collie that bit one too many people so had to be put down; I know, owner problem, not dog problem,) and a little poodle who was a high IQ delight. When I got remarried I moved from cats only to cats and dogs. It's been a delight - all our dogs since have been rescues, and we moved into fostering rescues for a local (Rochester) organization. Fostering has been one of the most satisfiying things we've done, though sometimes it breaks our heart to let one of our charges go to a new home.

But, ahem, how much would I spend on a new camera? Seeing how I spent approximately a mere $130CDN on my first OM about 1974/75, the Scot in me hates to spend what I consider a LOT on a "miniature" camera. I did spend ~$900 on a Chamonix 4x5, and have invested in LF lenses, tripods, holders, etc. ... so I'm not adverse to spending whatever is necessary to have the gear I need to get the job done.

But I would spend more, even up to full retail for the X-Pro2. I have very much bonded with my (used but like new) X-Pro1. It is imperfect in ways that the X-Pro2 has corrected, but I haven't nearly gotten what I considered really good work out of it. So I will continue to use it until I feel that I really need the X-Pro2 to take the next step. (And I would change-up/augment my stable of fast primes.) Which, of course, may be never. But at least the price will have dropped. I'm a Scot.

Cars, cameras, dogs.
Old saying: It's more fun driving a slow car fast than a fast car slow.
What's preferred: sitting in traffic waiting to pay a toll in a 400 horsepower super/luxury car, or flying by that traffic mess in a plug-in hybrid with a car pool lane sticker (that's a California thing) and still getting 65 mpg?
Old saying: lock your dog in a car trunk for 45 minutes (theoretical scenario and definitely not recommended), and the pooch will still be glad to see you when you finally open the trunk. Try that with your spouse.
I think that there are more "service dogs" around because people know how most dogs hate to be left alone.
My favorite camera ever? That's the Canon FTb my late mother gave me as a gift many years ago. My other favorite camera once was a Canon EF, then it was a Canon A1, then it was a Canon 10D, then it was a Canon 5D, then it was a Sony A7, and now it's my Sony A72.
And that's the good news: the cars and cameras just keep getting better.
But canines are good as they are, no need for improvement (well, except maybe if they could be made so they don't have to poop).

Thanks for the book tip, Mike. It looks excellent. Btw, the cover image is an iconic contemporary art world piece by John Baldessari. It's the best of a series of photos in which he was trying to throw three balls in the air and photograph them in perfect alignment. It's a pretty stupid exhibition when you see the whole series, actually. But it's found a home.on this book.

P.s. I haven't actually owned a car since 1979.

[Want to buy a used Miata and store it in Upstate New York? I volunteer to keep it exercised and maintained for you. I'll even chauffeur you around when you come visit. :-) --Mike]

Cars: Part of me wants an Aston Martin convertible but will settle for a Jaguar XK8, two of the most beautiful cars around IMHO. But I'd buy used; it just makes no sense to buy something like that new, especially when I see Aston Martins in the area's luxury car dealer's ads with minimal miles on them.
The most expensive car (and the first new car) I've purchased in my 62 years is the current 2014 Mazda CX5--which I "discovered" here on TOP. For an SUV it's fun to drive, so the part of me that wants an Aston Martin would settle for a Miata, either red or BRG with a tan interior.
My most expensive camera was the Pentax K20D because I bought it with a 16-50 f/2.8 zoom. It was my first brand new camera in 34 years as I always bought film cameras used. Those days are gone for the most part; I'm waiting on a K-1 back ordered from B&H.
Dogs: I love dogs. We currently share our home with a rescued (last July) American Field Lab named Jinx who's around 10. Before her we had a Golden named Agatha Christie, the mellowest, sweetest girl around. I miss her still. My wife says no more dogs after Jinx but we'll see.

Sorry about the electric power steering, Mike. As a retired EPS design specialist (on the safety aspects, mainly), I'd prefer you to be an enthusiast!
Living in a city on the tight little island of Britain, I'm loving the BMW i3. No gears to shift, no petrol to buy, free fuel from the sky, and best of all, the blessed quietness. The interior is bright and spacious for four and the lightweight construction is a lesson to all the majors.
It was expensive, though.
Most I spent on camera was for a 6 month-old lightly used Canon 5D Mk1, about 9 months from its introduction. Went to Antarctica and N Zealand, and when sold the outfit paid for an Oly EM5 equivalent set-up, so much lighter. The Canon 80mm f/1.8 was a cracker, though.

Mike, comparing cars and cameras: a expensive car remains expensive with tag, insurance, maintenance, and garaging. If you lease the blasted thing, you are paying a rental fee perpetually for the privilege of driving the next great thing (a really dumb choice for most normal non-corporate drivers). But a camera: buy it once and other than lenses, the cost pretty much ends there. So what if it cost you $10,000? In the overall scheme of male first world boy toys (cars, SCUBA, skiing, hunting, house decorating, second home), the $10 grand camera is cheap. And, hopefully, it will do a bit to get the creative juices flowing.

What you spend for a camera today has about as much relation to image quality improvements as does reliability improvements the more you spend for a new vehicle.

Cars - I am on my fourth car: one 5 year old VW, sold to someone when my mother decided to buy a new car and I took over her Saab 99; the Saab, 19.5 years, sent to the Great Cube in the Sky when parts became hard to find (It was my only car); Subaru Impreza, 15 years, odometer stopped working somewhere around 150,000 miles and I drove it for years after that - I got sick of my family nagging me to get a new (modern tech) car; and the current Subaru, still an infant at 2 years old. Dare I say - my attitude towards cars is that they are tools to get you from point A to B. 4 cylinders will do that job just fine.

Doesn't somebody here spend more money on women than on cars+dogs+cameras? If so, please write about it. Would be a nice change . . .

I commute in an 07 CRV with 240,000 miles on it and it still pulls like a train. Hondas and regular oil changes, what can I say?
Last year Mrs Plews needed fresh wheels and we picked out a VW Passat with the 4cyl turbo.
From the outside it looks like another bland mid size transport appliance but after 25,000 miles I'm in love.
It's not a rocket but if you put the lash to it the car can take care of business and if you just leave it in D and go it delivers 36 MPG, not bad.
Apparently our sales guy needed some business pretty bad because he took it from a $33k sticker down to a little over $26K which made it hard to leave the dealership.
Lotta car for the dough.

Never owned a car.
Although I rent them when I need them. Just they disappeared from my purchase radar.

Cats, being goddesses, create a personal goal for the "owner": achieve perfection.

As for $$ and cameras: many many years ago a Nikon F3T (titanium body) had an MSRP of $2,400. Mine still works like new. Cheap, in my book. Today, if I wanted to replace one of my digital Nikons, I would spend upwards of $5,000. Still cheap.
Just my opinion, of course.

There's an ad playing on the radio in the Detroit area from a local Kia dealer. The pitch:

"If you are tired of paying $100,000 for a luxury sedan, you can get a Kia 900 for only half the price."

A Kia for $50,000? Are you kidding me? What's this world coming to?

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