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Wednesday, 30 November 2016


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Cicero didn't just die. He was murdered--humane version of the assasination rendered beautifully in HBO's "Rome"--and both his head and hands (which he had apparently used with great effect while speaking) were displayed on a wall for all to see. So much for making sense in a time of turmoil.

I think demotion is a wonderful thing. My mint condition XE1 purchased 9 months ago cost me $199. 2 months ago I purchased a scratched up X100 for $375 (a nice 35mm equivalent F2 lens with near free camera body) and last week my local camera store had a 15% off used sale. In the showcase was a superb condition Olympus EP5 with VF4 included. The selling price was $399-15%. The viewfinder alone sells new for $267.

Digital camera like new cars are not investments. Add up the total cost of those items and what they sold for new new? Wow.

What's with the Mazda fetish, Mike? I get your hankerin' for a Miata, but a CX-5 won't be a year-round Miata, even in red. Fun on dry roads doesn't like snow, and vice-versa.

Anyhow, I bought a Panasonic FZ-300 (via B&H through your site, of course) and figured I'd have 14 days to try it out (gently) before I decided that the sensor was too small, the body too big, and the zoom from 24-600mm was not all that special. 15 days later, I was still on the fence about it, but by then... I'd bought it.

Now it's 45 days later and I use it all the time, not because I have to justify keeping it, but because I have a pile of other cameras that aren't as snappy or long-reaching, or just so simple to use. Sometimes you do warm to it...

Hey Mike, Just a heads up on the Mazda: Be sure you find the seats comfortable. I owned a 2012 Mazda 3 for several years and would get a pain on my hip where the side bolster pressed on it. I considered upgrading to a 2015 CX-5, but found the same problem with the seats in this model. I now own a Subaru Forester, not as sexy a body as the Mazdas, but it drives extremely well, maybe even better than a Mazda.

Really enjoy your blog. It's the first thing I read each morning after The NY Times. Thanks for all your work.


Getting new stuff has a cost in time and effort as well as money.

If I get a new computer I'd have to set it up, configure it, learn all small new things about it. I'd have to spend even more time figuring out what to do with my existing computer. Resell it? Scrap it? How to dispose of the drive safely? I don't have time for that.

Same with a new car, or going on a long vacation, or getting another camera. never mind the money, they all take time and effort to buy, and they'd all need attention once I bought them. I don't have all that much time and attention to spend.

I save about half my net income each month. Not for a future retirement - though it certainly helps - but because there's nothing in particular I'd want to do with it. Anything I can think of, the hassle outweighs the benefits.

Well, luckily for me, all of my cameras are out of date - Most of them for a long time. Canon F-1 and FTb, Pentax MX, Mamiya 645 Pro, Bronica SQ-A (that one is largely because of an article written by you Mike!), Walker Titan SF 4x5, Crown Graphic 4x5, ARCA Swiss Discovery 4x5, and Improved Seneca Whole Plate camera (really, really, out of date). Even my Olympus E-M1 is out of date. The only one that I want to replace? The E-M1! I already have a plan to make it happen. Eventually. It's the least out of date of the bunch. Go figure.

Mazda does make nice crossover's. Nice vehicle for these Finger Lakes, but I'm just saying...

I'm driving an '02 Yukon that I bought in 2003. It had about 15K on the odometer when I bought it. It has 205,000 now. Yeah, it has issues, but it's been paid off since before my kid went off to college, and she's 26 now. Also, too, I hate buying cars.

I play a beat up 20+ year old Guild acoustic, wear clothing that I've owned for a decade (I have photographic proof!), and my 2009 27 inch iMac is still sort of chugging along. I did just replace my nine year old Epson 3800 with a new P800, but that was out of necessity.

So I like old stuff, I guess. Or I'm set in my ways, or just too cheap and/or lazy to get new stuff. But with digital cameras, I tend to keep up a little more. I have a couple of XT2 and X Pro 2 bodies and most of the recent Fuji lenses -- use them all for work, so it makes more sense. But I also still shoot with my X Pro 1 because I like it. :)

That said, keep the XT1, it's a fine camera. I didn't trade mine -- I kept them for when I need a camera that I can afford to lose. Kayaking, backpacking, international travel, that sort of thing.

Maybe you can tell me what car to buy when I finally get to that point?

[I'd be happy to try. --Mike]

It's funny you used Warren Buffett as an example, as I don't think he is that materialistic.

If you can't be with the [car/camera/computer] you love, love the one you're with, eh?

Back in the days before the Internet, my main source of information about cameras and lenses was the national photography magazines. Eventually, I quit subscribing to all of them due to the "Demotion Effect" as the cameras and lenses that were great one year were no longer very good the following year, or when the succeeding model was introduced. I suspected that was encouraged at least, if not required, by the advertising and financial sides of the publishing companies. The other reason was I came to realize that I only saw reviews that were glowing about everything they chose to review. Everything was good. Nothing fell short. Go figure! Logic would dictate that everything couldn't possibly be good so my level of trust in their assessments fell dramatically.

Cicero died? I did not even know he was sick. I had not heard from him for a while. I was starting to worry...

I'm with MJFerron on this one. I'm still using my Olympus E-410 that came out in 2007 and I bought in 2009 new but deeply discounted. My next digital purchase will be a OMD EM5 body, a Chinese adapter for my Pen F film lenses and I'm good for another 5~6 years at least.

That said, I'm not you or in your position. Only you can decide how to spend your money in a way that brings you satisfaction. If all else fails, rationalize darn it, rationalize. It is what we all do to a certain extent.

Are you spying on me? You just wrote my life :-)

Funny that we are both parting with iMacs and living with MacBooks that are being taxed "slightly" beyond the ideal. But as you said, they work.

I have 2 monitors besides the laptop screen: the NEC 27 and an old 19. When working with Photoshop the 19 handles the menus and the images go to the 27. The laptop has the internet and email going. It can get very warm so I have it atop a fan base that can be switches on as is necessary. All cables are plugged into an OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock. I'm happy...

My X-Pro 1 is still my baby and it works when I work!

I almost forgot to mention, "I SHOOT", not photograph. That last word is too long for me to say as much as I say "SHOOT". I shoot people and animals, politicians and lawyers, trees and boxes, and even the UPS man. Yup, I am a shooter for sure. Nothing fancy about me (although I have been accused of being a little prissy), I'm just the "lay your cards on the table" type gal. I shoot.

Bought Canon 5D in 2006, still use it and no desire to change

Disposing of hard drives safely (Janne)? I have a small pickaxe and make sure the disks inside are thoroughly smashed, once the data has been saved in its new home. Our local council recycles electronic gear and take care of driveless PCs.

Can't speak for Macs, but transferring old files onto a new PC is easy enough. I've never found new versions of Windows much of a problem either, not even W8.0.

If I had checked the form, thought about what I actually wanted, or needed, or if I had unlimited funds...

I would not have chosen the car that I have had for the last three years.

I needed an automatic car for a regular and particularly tedious journey through suburban London. I didn't have the budget for anything much.

I set a number £2000, added the fact that I must have an auto transmission and preferably leather interior. Then I did a search in an online car sales forum...

The same car kept appearing, so I went and looked at it... I traded my old manual car and £800 for a Mitsubishi Outlander.

I didn't even know there was such a car... I have now been driving and loving this car for three years, I have installed a set of Saab 9000 Recaro electric leather seats....

Until bits begin to literally drop off, I will continue to be very happy with it...

Anyone wants to open their door onto mine in the supermarket... They can... I don't care.

I suspect that the reason for my happiness is that I bought a vehicle that had already been demoted several times and it probably couldn't be demoted any more, I am blissfully unaware of the current models...

...They are probably full of newfangled green garbage anyway.

I love cars but I never had the need to change them often. When I left my country, selling my beloved car was one of the hardest thing to do. I had it for 10 and a half years and I loved it. It was a Chevrolet ( Opel in Europe ) Astra. All German, built in Belgium. It burned 5.5 liters of fuel in the trip from home in Cuernavaca to Mexico City airport, about 90 km drive and much less coming back. The original brakes lasted for 115,000 km before I decided to change them and when I sold it, the buyer couldn't belive I was the only person who ever drove it. I wouldn't let valet parking guys or anybody else touch it. Now I drive a Mercedes that is not even close in so many aspects to my Astra. Camera wise, I also love my old Leicas and Pentax gear, but switching to Fuji feels like a huge leap forward.

Although I occasionally think about replacing my present pair of cameras, this week I decided to double-down with them and replaced all six of their batteries instead. Several of the old ones don't hold a charge well and act wonky, so out with the lot of them!

Fortunately, when I eventually change my mind, the likely replacement camera also uses the same batteries, so the transition from one to the other should be both seamless and slightly more cost effective ... we'll see how long I'm able to hold out.


Before you get all "het up" about optimizing, consider what a friend (president of a highly successful tech company) said: "You know about pioneers, don't you -- they're the ones that take the arrows."

Beware of leading edge technology. Me? I'm very comfortable with trailing edge tech; it's cheaper and had the bugs thrashed out of it.

I still have and use a Nikon D800, bought new in 2012. Yep, is has mirror slap vibration issues and has the left focus sensor problem. Though it was me who had to learn to work with it, it now feels like an old friend with quirks, reliable and righteous.

So... just about the time you finally start getting comfortable with the controls on a new camera, you ditch it? That's not for me. I don't want to have to think about the camera when I'm taking pictures.

I think digital obsolescence in cameras and computers has driven me in the opposite direction - to look for older technology available cheaply. It works OK for cameras (I now use a screw-mount Leica) and cars, but I can't yet accept the idea of an abacus and carrier pigeons!

I think that most of us like novelty and shiny new (or at least different--used can work) toys, a trait that is probably more dominant for vocations/avocations that involve the use of technology and/or "gear". I am so afflicted. How we handle it is dependent upon how much money we have and our priorities and "values". I think that many folks out there will view this as a very first world problem.

[Never been too sure about that saying. We all LIVE in the first world, don't we? None of us are subsistence farmers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or getting along on a dollar a day in the Bhalswa slum in Delhi or hunkered down in the Dollo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia living on aid. Just sayin'. --Mike]

You're talking about (or imagining) an XT-3.

Do you think there will be an XE-3 (yes, E, not T) ?

Isn't what your friend with the camera he doesn't like experiencing "buyer's remorse"? Or is that an acute syndrome and not applicable to things that you have owned for a while?

I do miss my Zone VI, but I kept the Hasselblad clone from Kiev.
Chinese proverb: "he who thinks he has enough is already rich"

Quotes from the gilded age are eerily appropriate given we are rapidly heading into another one.

'First world problem' means, essentially, that when it comes down to it, either it isn't really a problem, or it wouldn't be seen as a problem by those who would be glad to have it as their biggest issue. It is a reminder to the one with the issue that their issue is ultimately not one. Just Saying.

[I don't understand why you're lecturing me. I said in the post "optimizing is a luxury" and "Maybe the moral is just to be happy with what you have, and count your blessings." Does that not cover your objection? --Mike]

"No one is so old that he does not think he could live another year."

He knew what he was talking about. He was over 60 at the time of the execution and was considered a very old man. The average life span of a Roman patrician was around 30.

My eight year old car, like eight year old camera, have long since been demoted. I've not bought a car or camera since 2008, and this Epicurean needs them to live longer than cicero did


Typically it takes me quite a while to feel like I owned what I buy. New camera? Usually I need to shoot it on a regular basis for a year or two before I know if I actually like it. By then I will be past its inevitable idiosyncrasies. Using new gear is more of a hassle than a joy for me, I much prefer if the camera makes itself transparent, and this takes time. I am following camera marketing (it's hard to follow real innovation unless you have access to engineering specs and are able to interpret them), but can't be bothered to buy anything new just yet.

I am currently stuck with a Honda S2000 but it's not my fault; nobody's made a 2 seat convertible that I want to replace it with. The new Miata is nice, but it would be a sideways move. A Boxster would be nice and in many ways a step up, but additional performance on the track does not always mean more fun on the street. And I eschew conspicuous status symbols. Oh well, I guess I'll have to suffer another winter with snow tires, drifting at will through intersections and chasing redlines and apexes in the spring...

You should throw some snows on your current ride and spend the winter hunting down an old Miata for the Spring.

A maxim I subscribe to is, "Think how happy you'd be if you lost everything you own..........and then got it back".

My wife tells me that the Mazda CX-5 is a "chick car", which is curious as we were considering one for the family (although she would have been the one driving it most of the time). She never mentioned it at the time. I think you need to know in case you might feel your masculinity would be diminished. Perish the thought.

Waited till 2015 to buy my thoroughly researched, first digital camera- my all around, go to, analog replacement camera (same as yours). Quite good, but not what I expected, sold it. Next year, bought a GR on a lark (ie- can't refuse price)- we're best buds. GR is my everyday, analogs my serious special event addition.

If I get a few bucks down the line, I just might get another "adequate" XT-1 now that it's no longer all that (ie- considerably cheaper)- or see what the 3 or 4 brings...

Amazing how limited funds can cure GAS.

I enjoyed reading this post, as always, Mike.

And it put a smile on my face, as right now, I am in a "mourning" period regarding cars: After 15 years of loyal services, my Fiat Multipla (the ugliest yet most hooking car in the world) got down on his knees due to issue with the gearshift. The fixing was too expensive for a car of this age. So we decided to part ways with it, although I had to take a last picture of the car before leaving. My family (of 6) is indebted to the many fine trips this car gave us, and I will honestly miss it very much.

And now I have a different problem than you: currently, in Europe, there is no equivalent car with room enough for 6 people AND all their luggage. So we got stuck and have to buy a van, which will be too big for our needs and far less maneuverable than the Multipla (especially if you live in the old part of an old city as Cordoba, in the South of Spain).

I wonder why car manufacturers don't realize there are families of 6 people who need to travel with a good lot of luggage. At this time, the market is empty for us.

End of rant (and sorry for diggressing in a photography blog).

I find it helps to go back and read some excited reviews from when your trusty camera was the latest thing. In my case Carl Weese's gushing responses to the GX7, all of them, are a good antidote.

I think cameras (and cars and computers) reached a point of adequacy a while ago. There simply is little joy or benefit in something new unless the old has become crotchety and unreliable.

It took cameras a while to get there, but they are there now. I don't need more than 24MP or an APSC sensor. I know this because I had more and got bored with it.

Same with my car. 8 years and counting. Still running fine and doing all I ask of it. I have had faster and sexier cars, but pride of ownership was always tainted by owner anxieties, like car park dings and potential theft.

I am not sure how much longer my computer will last, but until it does, I have it working reliably and well and it does the job.

My phone battery also died a while ago, so I bought an out-of-date model from 2014 that works fine and cost me £100. I'm actually rather pleased with it. Does everything an Android phone should.

It is surprisingly uncommon to own 'stuff' that does not cause some level of stress or annoyance. Having achieved a stress-free situation, I seem generally unmotivated to do much about it until I absolutely have to.

When I get bored with the same thing and want something new,
I walk a new street to get to the bar, store, or restaurant. Works
every time.

In the 11 years I've owned my Honda automobile I've also owned four DSLRs, four mirrorless cameras and a bag of lenses.

I have my eyes on a fifth DSLR and a fifth mirrorless but I'm pretty well set on lenses and the Honda still starts every morning and takes me where I want to go as fast as the law allows.

Well, no money, no vices. Anyway, about Cicero, I highly recommend the historic novels about his rise and fall, written by Robert Harris. I think there are 4 of them.

I don't think I have ever suffered to any degree from the "Demotion Effect." When I was a kid, were there any such thing around, I would not have cared much 'cause I'd have been lucky to have even had an older out-of-date model. Of course, back then things definitely did not change as quickly.

But I guess the idea of being satisfied with what I have has more of less continued. I still use a 2009 iMac except with the HD replaced with an SSD (after the HD failed), used to keep cars and pickups for years, and still hesitate to buy new things without a definite need.

The exception may have been in digital cameras. I kept my main film SLR for 25 years and was quite satisfied. The digital era changed that. I went from a Nikon D70 to D300 for good reason as there was a real to me advantage to the D300. I bought an Olympus EP3 for a real reason: I wanted a smaller high quality camera.

To be satisfied with those older cameras was a lesson hard learned though as I got tempted by the Effect and bought a Fuji 100x (2013), a Panasonic GX7 (2014), and a Fuji XE1 (new-in-box 2016) and was disappointed with each one of them which left me with a very sour taste in my mouth. Lesson learned once again. Until I actually need to replace something for a real, valid reason for me I'll stick with the one I have.

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