Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Camera gear is not an investment

Years ago, I could buy a film camera and assuming I did not kick it around like a football, I could be reasonably certain of getting back pretty much what I paid for it. The same went with lenses too. They were in fact a fairly decent investment option. Cameras and lenses did not change much year on year. The Nikon F3 for example had a production run of around 20 years. Values remained consistent because there was no oversupply in the market.

Compare the situation of those years with the situation of today where a camera has a production run of 12 months, is on sale for 18 months and gradually reduces in price until the newer model comes out. The economics of today underscore the importance of never having very much camera gear. In years gone by, a huge bag of camera gear would be worth a lot of money. These days it's only worth a lot of money when it's new. As an example, I had a photography business. There's nobody out there wanting to buy photography as I rapidly discovered. Urged on to equip for every eventuality I did and blew a ton of money that I'm really not going to get much back on. The moral there has to be don't spend money on camera gear - it doesn't matter if it's lenses or cameras - because the value unlike in years gone by goes only down.

I paid $1100 for a Canon 30D and I see the same camera knocking about secondhand on B&H for around 10% of what I paid. Similarly I paid a ton for lenses and they're all similarly knocking about on sale secondhand for less than 50% of what I paid. In the end I am not trying to get what I paid for the damn stuff but rather the most I can get for it. That's not going to be very much by the look of it.

I allowed myself to be convinced that there was money in photography despite my personal doubts and parental advice. All I really wanted at the beginning was simply a camera and a couple of lenses. I did not want anything more exotic. Now it's time to redress the balance. I'm continuing to sell off all the unwanted junk - for it is just junk - in order to concentrate on the kinds of things I personally want to do. As I always was, I am more interested in landscapes than in photos of people. My ideal photo looks similar to this.
I like to make ruins look interesting. I like my photos to tell a story. I just don't find photographs of people all that interesting. That's not to say I don't take photos of people - I do. I just don't seek people out to photograph them as a normal thing.

My interest is primarily landscapes and ruins. Anything desolate. I think that must come from living on a crowded island like Britain where it's just impossible to get away from people. I remember standing in the very middle of a forest and trying to listen to the sounds of nature but hearing also the sound of traffic on the motorway/interstate quite distinctly. It's so hard to get away from people and so I prefer to concentrate on ruins and paint people out of my landscapes.

My aim at the moment is to cut back on the camera junk that I don't use, don't see any chance of using and have no personal interest in using. The studio stuff I sold quite a while back. I'm selling the flashes now. After that I have to take stock and decide whether to sell everything and go for a different system entirely or whether to keep the now vastly depreciated cameras and sell the lenses to fund lenses more appropriate to what I want to do. I must admit that I am extremely tempted to sell the whole lot and go for a much smaller setup. I'm still very drawn by the Nikon 1 system. Mostly I like the size of the Nikon 1 cameras and lenses. I have doubts about some parts of the system though. I've seen some blue halos around areas of high contrast which leads me to suspect a lens issue such as insufficient depth of field.

I'm not aiming to buy new if I get into a new system or get different lenses. There's just too much to lose. When I was using film, I bought everything secondhand and it worked well. Going digital I got everything new and that was my downfall. I broke the number one rule of never buy anything new if it can possibly be avoided.

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