How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?

Started Feb 7, 2013 | Discussions
Alex Notpro
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How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
Feb 7, 2013

I'm just wondering if there's a rule of thumb (or just your own opinion), like they have for other items such as  engagement rings, to spent "two months' salary", or for housing, to spent "a third of your income" or whatever?

I will pick the best answer for my own purposes

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trekkeruss
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 7, 2013

I think it depends on if you are married or not.

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AnthonyL
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to trekkeruss, Feb 7, 2013

trekkeruss wrote:

I think it depends on if you are married or not.

I think what he means is, if you've got a spouse you can trade them in for some quality lenses, especially if it's a wife.

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iancrowe
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 7, 2013

A true enthusiast would probably run to a slightly grubby soul or a secondhand grandmother.

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tclune
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 7, 2013

Alex Notpro wrote:

I'm just wondering if there's a rule of thumb (or just your own opinion), like they have for other items such as engagement rings, to spent "two months' salary", or for housing, to spent "a third of your income" or whatever?

You do realize that the rules of thumb you cited were created by the people selling those items, don't you? The rule of thumb for GAS is, "Don't inhale!" If you are a true hobbyist, you will spend more than makes sense to spend on gear, much of which you will never use at all. If you can get to a point where you only buy equipment that you actually use enough to make it less costly than having rented, you will have achieved a level of self-control that few of us manage.

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apaflo
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to trekkeruss, Feb 7, 2013

trekkeruss wrote:

I think it depends on if you are married or not.

The basics are the same either way:  all of your disposable cash.

Of course if you're married that is defined as what she lets you have...

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OpticsEngineer
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 7, 2013

I think this fits in with comparisons to other hobbies.

I knew one engineer who would add up all the expenses for hobbies like skiing, taking family to theme parks (including travel, hotel, food, tickets, equipment, special clothing, etc.)    He would divide the cost by the hours of actual activity (start to finish).  He determined that most activities consumed $60-$100 an hour.  I think photography should be a lot better than that.

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BobSC
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 7, 2013

Photography is expensive, but cheap compared to sports cars, and more durable than single malt scotch.

lol

When I was single I used whatever didn't go into tires and scotch for lenses. Eventually sold all that after getting married. Not the scotch, but it's long gone too.

Now I can politically afford about one lens a year. But now that I have six or so of them I probably need to slow down. Maybe take this year off and go for one more next spring. I'm planning on buying a d600 in 8 to 10 years, when they're under $500. My wife just doesn't see the value in it, and it's not worth the effort (since I have some gear that works for me).

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bjake
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to BobSC, Feb 7, 2013

There is no blank answer for your question.

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Deleted1929
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Up to what you can afford as little or as much as you like (nt)
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 7, 2013
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StephenG

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donaldsc
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to trekkeruss, Feb 7, 2013

trekkeruss wrote:

I think it depends on if you are married or not.

Or if you want to stay married!

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Don

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Sapper987
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to donaldsc, Feb 7, 2013

If you are married, or share finances, as much as you can syphon out of the account without having to sleep on the couch.

If you are single, as much as you want!

I don't think there is a hard a fast rule. Spend as much as you want, it's a hobby so enjoy it. Chances are you'll end up buying and selling all of your stuff time and time again. I started with Sony. A700 then A900, then they went to EVF which I didn't like, so I swapped entire systems to Nikon (D800) plus a slew of lenses. Got the okay from the wife, so I did it all in one shot.

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jdshaw
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 7, 2013

How much is reasonable to spend on golf?

How much is reasonable to spend on vacations?

How much is reasonable to spend on restaurants?

Etc.....

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James Cafferty
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 7, 2013

I recommend buying cameras, lenses, and other misc. gear - until you run out of checks. Speed up the process if your mother-in-law is a PITA. And go into your highest gear if things haven't exactly worked out as planned and you would really like a quickee divorce.

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Jim
Is it the camera, the lens, or your lack of skill that is causing you to...

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Guidenet
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Impossible
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 7, 2013

Alex Notpro wrote:

I'm just wondering if there's a rule of thumb (or just your own opinion), like they have for other items such as engagement rings, to spent "two months' salary", or for housing, to spent "a third of your income" or whatever?

I will pick the best answer for my own purposes

You know that's an impossible answer. There is no rule of thumb. Too much depends on how much your spendable income is or how long you've been involved in photography. Some completely well to do amateurs demand the very best and won't put up with second best ever. Others make do with used gear or crop cameras and lenses.

I spend a lot on my gear. I use it for a living, but even if I didn't, I'd spend a lot. I always have. I don't have one piece of gear I'd not own if I were and amateur. Not one. I have four pro or semi pro camera bodies of which one is APS-C crop, a D300 and the other three of Full Frame or FX in the Nikon world, a D700 (around $2700 new), a D3S (around $5000 new) and a D800 ($3000 new). I've spent as much as $5500 on a single lens and will spend more than that this year, and I'm not anywhere close to the top spenders.. not close.

If you like me, enjoy taking photographs of birds, even a budget birding lens might cost close to $2000 and a good one could go for over $10000. It all depends one what you want to do and how deep your pockets are.

How much you spend also doesn't mean so much for taking compelling images either. Expensive stuff might just make it easier at times to get those great shots. A guy with a $13,000 Nikon 800 f/5.6 might be able to get a great shot of a Tree Sparrow where you and I might have to learn to sneak way closer with a cheaper less telephoto lens. Yet we both could come up with that same great shot. It was just harder for us. A point and shoot in a great photographer's hands might create significant images compared to a Canon 1DX in the hands of a bumbling fool.

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Leswick
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Re: Impossible
In reply to Guidenet, Feb 7, 2013

When it comes to being passionate....the "reasonable" part often does not apply.  Too much depends on cash availability (common sense) and the level of photo knowledge.  I've seen folk spring up for D3X and their results end up just as good or worse than 'togs that have D300.

Anyway, if you want to sleep on the couch with your new gear...more power to ya :>).

There is no logical way to determine this....too many variables...and once again, agree with Guidenet.

Leswick

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Robert Anderson
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Re: How much is reasonable for a hobbyist to spend on camera gear?
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 8, 2013

It really depends on your disposable income so there is no set number but here are my words of advice:

First of all, if you are not married but planning to be, keep separate bank accounts after you get married. You will have far less arguments about money.

Second, spend only what you will not miss. If your house and cars are paid for and you have no credit card debt then buy what you really want and don't look back. Otherwise, spend your found money on these things. If you get a bonus or sell something, then this money was not planned to pay bills, so enjoy it. Don't go in debt for gear unless you will make money from it.

Finally, always take lots of great pictures of the wife (and kids) with the new gear. This will help to show them the value of it.

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Guidenet
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Re: Impossible
In reply to Leswick, Feb 8, 2013

Leswick wrote:

When it comes to being passionate....the "reasonable" part often does not apply. Too much depends on cash availability (common sense) and the level of photo knowledge. I've seen folk spring up for D3X and their results end up just as good or worse than 'togs that have D300.

Anyway, if you want to sleep on the couch with your new gear...more power to ya :>).

There is no logical way to determine this....too many variables...and once again, agree with Guidenet.

Leswick

Hey pal, I was a single dad of four kids who are all now married and fairly successful. I say successful in that they don't live here and don't need support of any type. LOL. Now, I can spend nearly all I want on photography and fishing gear mixed in with travel. No sleeping on the couch for buying a new fishing rod or lens. Only my retirement funding and I have to worry about it and believe me, I'm worse than the funding. I worry and debate myself to death over a new purchase. I suppose the habit comes from rearing a family by yourself.

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GreenMountainGirl
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There is never a "reasonable" amount!
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 8, 2013

I think a lot of people enjoyed themselves answering your questions!  All kidding aside, I think it comes down to spending what you can afford.  My first digital camera was a point-and-shoot, not the cheapest or the most expensive, but the best I could afford.  Then I outgrew it and bought my first DSLR - Nikon D7000.  Steep learning curve, but I spent what I could afford to get the best possible for the money.  My lenses are nothing fancy - 18-105mm and 55-300mm.  But I have the basics for learning to take decent pictures, maybe even some good ones!

Of course, I have a "wish list", based on what I have found I would like to add to my gear.  The best I can afford.  The more you work at photography, the more you will figure out what you "need".  Take it at a pace that works for you and your budget.  Perhaps you will lose interest, but it is more likely you will become enthralled with this very engrossing pursuit.

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dad_of_four
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The solution
In reply to Alex Notpro, Feb 8, 2013

The solution to GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) is to get out and shoot, and shoot some more.

Be sure you review your images, print your keepers, and ask others their opinions.

A wedding can be shot with an iPhone, or $25,000 worth of gear.

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