Are cameras too expensive?

Started Mar 20, 2018 | Discussions
Ralph McKenzie Senior Member • Posts: 2,116
Are cameras too expensive?
1

I've been mulling over this question for some time. To aid in the discussion and for brevity here I would point you to an article I just wrote in relation to the question above and outlined some of my reasoning. Hopefully the mods wont dispatch me to the sideline for doing this : This is the article I refer too

I may be wrong in my conclusions but to me at least it seems like something has gotten well out of whack with the price of equipment these days.

Whats your thought on this?

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Raymond Cho Senior Member • Posts: 2,433
Re: Are cameras too expensive?
1

In the context I don't think so. Look at iPhones and Samsung Galaxies. Look at also how much stuff were in the film days like that modern AF film SLR.

For me I just buy second hand now, cos there are always deals to be had, here not the USA maybe smaller population, I can get stuff for 40-50% cheaper and they are still the current latest models. All my newer lenses are all second hand. People probably spend more money going out and eating out and travelling than camera stuff. It's funny when people say you have expensive camera equipment, you have nice gear your photo's must look nice.

Here where I am I can get a used FF dSLR for $700US or that mirrorless. Then $700US for that 24-70 F2.8 and that 70-200mm F4 or maybe the previous F2.8 version. So $2k USD. Here, one can only go from New Zealand to the USA for $1,500US and but then you only got $500US for accom and expenses.

I'll say that, Nikon lenses have slowly crepped up. I would think they should be more efficient these days right ... but I think in the context it's about right when you look at other stuff.  if the question is are all modern things a bit more expensive than the olden days then I think maybe yes.  There is the Ricoh GR digital camera for $600-700US wasn't back in the film days it was just $250US or something.  A Nikon F100 was $999 in the years of 2005 ish.  The Nikon F5 prob $2,000 right?

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tex Veteran Member • Posts: 8,658
No. They are cheaper today
8

The Konica example you used in your article was a very basic camera.  You can get much more camera today, giving you far, far better results, for a comparable price.

The fact that a number of new cameras today are higher priced just shows a natural shift in the market, away from cheap and basic for a consumer group that has largely found that phones more than meet their needs, to things photo enthusiasts would be more interested in.  Naturally, those cameras are better still.  And cost more to buy but also to make.  Fewer units, but higher profit margins.

"Too expensive"?  They'll be too expensive at the point that sales dry up.  Then they'll get cheaper again.

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OP Ralph McKenzie Senior Member • Posts: 2,116
Re: Are cameras too expensive?

Raymond Cho wrote:

In the context I don't think so. Look at iPhones and Samsung Galaxies. Look at also how much stuff were in the film days like that modern AF film SLR.

For me I just buy second hand now, cos there are always deals to be had, here not the USA maybe smaller population, I can get stuff for 40-50% cheaper and they are still the current latest models. All my newer lenses are all second hand. People probably spend more money going out and eating out and travelling than camera stuff. It's funny when people say you have expensive camera equipment, you have nice gear your photo's must look nice.

Here where I am I can get a used FF dSLR for $700US or that mirrorless. Then $700US for that 24-70 F2.8 and that 70-200mm F4 or maybe the previous F2.8 version. So $2k USD. Here, one can only go from New Zealand to the USA for $1,500US and but then you only got $500US for accom and expenses.

I'll say that, Nikon lenses have slowly crepped up. I would think they should be more efficient these days right ... but I think in the context it's about right when you look at other stuff.

When you look at the pricing of new gear as opposed to second hand I've started seeing a disparity there too. Although larger markets such as the US and Europe probably dont show this a much even the price of pre owned equipment is trending towards the ridiculous.

Recently on our largest trading auction site here in NZ I've seen prices of equipment thats 10 years old the in excess of $200 above the current new model price.  There seems to be this assumption that as the price of new gear goes up so does the worth of pre owned. Fortunately most of us ( buyers ) are well aware of current market trend and valuations but it doesn't seem to stop the hopeful from trying.

Buying pre owned is something I've advocated on my blog for some time now, but there can and are frustrations with buying older equipment that can be very annoying as well.

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Ron Poelman
Ron Poelman Veteran Member • Posts: 7,954
Wildly.
3

Just look at what you can get for $300 in a phone or a computer.
Cameras are increasingly seen as cash cows and that's the way they'll stay
until sales drop off so much it won't be worth the R&D for the next model.
(No Canon jokes, please.)

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OP Ralph McKenzie Senior Member • Posts: 2,116
Re: No. They are cheaper today

tex wrote:

The Konica example you used in your article was a very basic camera. You can get much more camera today, giving you far, far better results, for a comparable price.

Would you consider the new Canon 3000/4000d to be a similar entry point?

The fact that a number of new cameras today are higher priced just shows a natural shift in the market, away from cheap and basic for a consumer group that has largely found that phones more than meet their needs, to things photo enthusiasts would be more interested in. Naturally, those cameras are better still. And cost more to buy but also to make. Fewer units, but higher profit margins.

I'm not sure I would necessarily agree with this in totality. Regardless of the type there has always been the for want of a better term  "The Instamatic User". Today thats the phone user. The differential between that &  SLR production numbers is in all likelihood similar to today's trends.

Whats changed is the dramatic shift in income Vs expenditure for the average consumer. In real terms I have less expendable cash than I had 30 years ago, mostly brought about by obscene cost of living expenditure.

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OP Ralph McKenzie Senior Member • Posts: 2,116
Re: Wildly.
1

Ron Poelman wrote:

Just look at what you can get for $300 in a phone or a computer.
Cameras are increasingly seen as cash cows and that's the way they'll stay
until sales drop off so much it won't be worth the R&D for the next model.
(No Canon jokes, please.)

Aw hell and I had a Canon joke too

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justmeMN Forum Pro • Posts: 10,289
Re: Are cameras too expensive?

"Remember what the SLR cost me in the 1970’s with an additional lens."

In the Film Era, the big cost was film and developing. At least with digital cameras, if you take a photo that you don't like, you can just delete it - cost free.

GeraldW Veteran Member • Posts: 8,845
Re: Are cameras too expensive?

We all suffer from "sticker shock".  However, I just bought a used G9 on a bit of a lark.  When new in 2007 it was $500.  My G7X II is somewhat similar, improved in several areas, and a little smaller and lighter.  Last year, I paid $685 for the G7X II.  So there was a 37% increase in cost over 10 years.  That's a significant percentage, given that that period was a very low inflation era.  Still, I don't see it as gouging as the newer model has a lot more going for it.  I have a lot more trouble with the pricing of the Sony RX100 and RX10 series cameras; which do strike me as gouging.

By the way, I paid $117 for the G9 in very nice condition with the original neck strap, USB cable, battery and charger.

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BrownieVet Veteran Member • Posts: 3,831
Re: Are cameras too expensive?

IMHO, cost is relative.
1 _ based on our income
2 _ based on our disposable income
3 _ based on our priorities
4 _ based on relationship to other "hobbies"
5 _ for Pro Photographer, based on ROI

I am retired. Debt free and no vice at all.
Photography is strictly a hobby for me and my only hobby.
I don't buy the latest and the greatest
I buy used gears and only after careful deliberation.

That said, items 4 & 5 does not apply to me.
For me,  cameras are not too expensive.

Michael Firstlight Veteran Member • Posts: 4,330
Yes, but...

Yes, they are in equivalent dollar terms.  In 1982, a Hassy C/M 500 body only was around $1000 USD.  In buying terms, $1.00 then had the buying power of about $2.50 today.  I'd equate a Hassy body to a fairly high-end Nikon or Canon body today (say, a D850).  Thus, if we were speaking in only inflationary terms, the D850 should cost approx $2500 vs the $3400 for which currently sells - which makes it a bit high, but.........it is always WHAT THE MARKET WILL BEAR rule, and it will bear $3400, for the moment anyway - end of story and logic.

MFL

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Mr Garibaldi Contributing Member • Posts: 799
Re: Are cameras too expensive?
1

Cameras have a very short best before date, so manufacturers need to recover development costs quickly while ramping up for the soon to be released replacement. We demand this from them, even though it costs us.

Lenses have to be darned near perfect because of pixel peepers who are willing to write blogs trashing anything that is less than ideal. This level of perfection is expensive, but it's what us consumers have said we want.

In light of this, I don't think cameras and related gear is to expensive, I just accept that it is what it is.

sybersitizen Forum Pro • Posts: 21,360
Re: Are cameras too expensive?
15

Everything is too expensive.

Having gotten that out of the way, there is a camera for every budget. So no, cameras as a group are not too expensive. Lusting after something outside one's budget is the problem.

Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 18,642
The bottom end is gone
12

In the article you reference, you talk about Instamatics. As I recall, the output of an Instamatic was somewhat inferior to what you get out of a phone today. And everyone already has a phone. So there's hardly any reason to get a low-end digital point and shoot. I have a Sony RX100 which costs about $800 and it's only marginally better than a phone.

What this means is that the only cameras that make sense are those that do a lot better than phones. It's hard to get something better than a phone for less than $500. But the cameras in the $1000-$2000 range are fantastic. You can shoot incredibly detailed pictures in poor light or stop very fast action with them.

So I would say that cameras are not terribly expensive today. It's just that there aren't any bottom-level ones because phones have eliminated that market segment.

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Mike_PEAT Forum Pro • Posts: 13,344
Compared to years ago, NO!
5

In my collection I have a Kodak DCS400 that originally sold for $15,000...only worth about $15 today!

In 2002 I bought a 2mp bridge camera with a tiny sensor (5.9 multiplication factor) for $1000...a few years later you could buy an upgraded 4mp version of that camera for $600!

FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 15,986
Re: Are cameras too expensive?
1

Just to pick on one of your examples :

For example the circa 1976-1978, Konica TC-RZ SLR at $214.95 was affordable even if it was the bottom of the entry level Konica cameras.

$215 in 1976 is equivalent to about $985 now.

In fact you added : my average take home pay was approx $44.00 nett.

So it was about 4.5 weeks wage. How much is that now ?

For that , you can buy one of these :

(costs nothing to run, auto everything, built in flash and motor drive, instant playback...)

BrownieVet Veteran Member • Posts: 3,831
Re: Are cameras too expensive?

The 4 year old $99 Kodak M232 pocket digital camera takes excellent photos comparable to the $300 SLR with 50mm f/1.8 lens I purchased in 19721.

FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 15,986
Re: The bottom end is gone

Leonard Migliore wrote:

In the article you reference, you talk about Instamatics. As I recall, the output of an Instamatic was somewhat inferior to what you get out of a phone today.

I am pretty sure that there isn't a single phone today as bad as the typical $30-50 instamatic then.

Of course , $50 in 1980 is like $170 now.

Again I am pretty sure you can do better now.

This is one from a 126 version

It would have been a good shot at the time...

richj20 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,893
All hobbies are more expensive

Ralph McKenzie wrote:

I may be wrong in my conclusions but to me at least it seems like something has gotten well out of whack with the price of equipment these days.

Whats your thought on this?

I have friends who bike, do off-road driving, rafting, kayaking. Their equipment costs have skyrocketed over the years.

Photography is no exception, it seems.

- Richard

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FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 15,986
Re: Are cameras too expensive?

BTW, every month or so someone else discovers that cameras are too expensive now.

Problem is that once the price is inflation adjusted you come to realise that they have never been as affordable.

here is an example from 1986 :

Pentax zoom 70. (2x zoom 35-70) The first compact AF camera with a motorised AF zoom. 50-1600 ISO , 15sec to 1/250 .

In Australia that was $599,  it was advertised on TV, we sold a lot of those.

For $100 less than that you can buy , here , one of these now :

20-1200 mm zoom, 4K video, 9 fps, 80-6400 ISO, 4 sec to 1/2000 .

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