Friday, January 3, 2014

Bloody Hell, look at the prices!

As I said in my previous entry, my retail position had just come to an end. While I was there, people used to chat with me. One of the comments made was by a policeman whose hobby had been shooting. His comment was that he knew shooting was an expensive hobby but photography was even more expensive. And so it is.

I will put together some camera setups aimed at the kind of photography that interests me. It's going to be quite arbitrary and based solely upon what I like and of course will be done solely from online shopping catalogs. I am going to cover five camera systems. They will be:

  • Fuji X system, micro four thirds
  • Nikon 1 system
  • Canon EOS M system
  • Nikon SLR -  1:1.5
  • Canon SLR - 1:1.6
The areas covered for all five systems are 
long lenses up to around 400mm - 500mm
macro lenses
lenses from wide to telephoto. (in 35mm format about 28mm to about 300mm)

I will not be covering tripods or flashes nor filters nor camera bags. The cheapest decent quality tripod will start somewhere around $150. A decent head will start at around $50. Filters if they're any good will be between $30 and $100 per lens. Camera bags are so much personal choice that I just won't mention them.

Before we have spoken about a camera we are already into $230 - $300 and we haven't added any lenses nor anything else. There are also the hidden costs such as the computer, the storage, the backup storage, the software, the memory cards etc.

I'm going to look specifically at the entry-level cameras in each category because there's nothing really to choose between them and the more expensive cameras for most users. The real differences are very small and not really worth bothering about. When I did professional photography, I had a Canon XT and then went and made an ass of myself by buying a 30D when two the same would have been helpful from an operational point of view and when the XT would have cost half as much as the 30D. Aside from small differences in buffering and a slight difference in the control locations, there's no noticeable difference between them.

Fuji X system
The camera chosen is Fuji X-A1 with 16-50mm lens for $599
The longer lens is the Fuji 50 - 230 for $399
The macro lens is the Fuji 60mm at $649
Total system cost $1,647

Nikon 1 system
The camera chosen is the Nikon J1 with 10-30mm lens.
This is an oddball camera because it's $219 with a silver or white color and $299 for other colors.
The longer lens is the Nikon 30 - 100 for $246
For the macro lens - out of luck as there isn't one on sale.
Total system cost incalculable as elements are missing.

Canon EOS M system
The camera chosen is the Canon EOS M with 18-55 lens for $350
For the longer length - out of luck as there isn't one on sale.
For the macro lens - out of luck as there isn't one on sale.
Total system cost incalculable as many elements are missing.

Nikon SLR system
The camera chosen is the D3100 with 18-55 lens kit for $445
The longer lens is the Nikon 55-200 IS lens for $246
The macro lens is the Nikon 40mm for $277
Total system cost is $968

Canon SLR system
The camera chosen is the T3 with 18-55 lens kit for $449
The longer lens is the Canon 55 - 250 for $299
The macro lens is the Sigma 50mm for $369 (Canon's 50mm macro doesn't do true macro)
Total system cost (with one oddball lens) $1,117

So, it would seem that the "cheaper" smaller cameras just don't have the same lens selection. It's interesting to note that Nikon's 1 system is the most likely of all the systems to disappear in the same manner as Nikon's Pronea system did in the 1990s given that no other manufacturer makes lenses for it and given that my cellphone takes better photos.

Fuji's X system is half as expensive again as a Nikon setup. Canon's EOS M lacks an important lens and seems to have been an afterthought to Canon along the lines of. "we see other people making smaller cameras and charging more. We should have one too. Let's develop one but we won't spend any money doing it because it's a flash in the pan. Maybe we can kludge along by putting a converter mount in so users can buy regular Canon lenses".

Now you can see just how much camera systems cost. In comparison, an all-in-one zoom compact that does everything those cameras can do in a smaller size albeit with image quality on a par with the Nikon 1 start at about $170. I have been a digital SLR user for a number of years and the quality achievable from compacts has rocketed almost to the stage where it's just not worth doing anything with digital SLRs any more. I could get pretty much all I need quality wise from a really good superzoom compact.
This is not meant to be a stunning photo by any means. It's just here as an example of what a humble cell phone can achieve. The Nikon 1 J1 can't even beat this when it comes to noise in the darker areas. I was a fan of the form factor of the Nikon 1 system. I still am. The image quality just blows me away with its awfulness.

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