Camera GAS hazardous to health?
Hate to be a killjoy, but the cost of upgrades looks toxic. Some nice new cameras have appeared lately, but who can really afford or need them? If Canon and Nikon shares are falling, sales volumes of DSLRs and mirrorless are down by double-digits, might my view of gear cost / benefit be widely shared?
How much do people put aside as savings, compared to what they splurge on cameras or discretionary luxuries and entertainments? If the median US household income is somewhere around $45,000, how often can anyone spend $2,500 (the cost of a FF kit, a vacation at a budget resort, or non-VIP seating and travel to a championship sports event)?
I might be able to "afford" all kinds of gear, but buy little because
- one can pursue a hobby without need to spend much,
- most equipment depreciates fast or gets little use, and
- durable stuff like lenses can be a nuisance to lug around and be at risk of damage, loss, or theft.
Affordability is somewhat of a fiction until one has stowed away enough cash, securities, and equity in real property to survive hard times or old age. Not many people ever become "independently wealthy," either, but to spend and not save is not a good formula either.
Professional photographers have "skin" in their equipment for other reasons. But they have to consider a return on investment too, and is hard to imagine an economic need to own simultaneously a 1D, D800, OMD, RX1, GX7, upgrade all the time, or accumulate a wine cellar of lenses, plus a manor dungeon of other old gear? What is the "reasonable" ratio of money invested in gear to annual revenues? Is there anything more worthless as a nest egg than a 10 year-old camera body? Lenses may depreciate more slowly than VGA displays, but won't resale value of old lenses fall as the market migrates to smart phones?
What share of "enthusiasts" out there spends more each year on gear than what they set aside in their retirement accounts per annum? How much do people have invested in camera gear, as a percent of total liquid savings?
This here poor man's case:
- annual gear expenditures / annual retirement contributions: 2%.
- investments in camera gear vs liquid savings: 0.25%
- upgrade expdentitures in 2013: $1,500 (for a Toshiba "gaming" laptop to edit video),
- likely expenditures in cameras through 2014: $0,
- possible expenditures in 2015: perhaps $1,200 (for an RX10ii with 4k video?), but perhaps $0.
- debts: $0, other than circa $400 monthly credit card balances to pay off,
- total savings: not enough, honestly, but well over the grossly inadequate <$100k average US 401k balance.
Meanwhile, I see heaps of discounted gear begging for buyers, but can't deceive myself to think that I actually need any of it. People fond of smart phones are certainly an even harder sell. These are tough times for the camera business.