Don't Wait!
Presented by Glenn Springer, TIF, RHCC

If you wait for the next generation of cameras,
It'll probably be the next generation before you get one!

This fall shot was taken with a $100 point-and-shoot camera. It was used as the full-sized cover photo for a coffee table book

  

Have you ever heard of Moore’s Law? Google it if you must, but it basically says that computing power will double every 18-24 months. That’s why your 3 year old computer is really 140 years old in dog years! I won’t say it’s exactly the same for cameras but the rate of innovation is astounding.


This photo was taken in Newfoundland in 2007 with a Nikon D70, antiquated by today's standards. But the image still stands up!

I used a little point-and-shoot to take this image, while sitting in the car waiting for Rosa to come out of the flower shop. A little creative post-processing, and voilà!

What does that mean for you? First, that the price of a camera will drop as soon as the manufacturer comes out with a new model, second, that the price of a used camera will go down accordingly, whether you’re buying or selling, and third that a camera that you buy today will likely be obsolete not long after you get it out of the box! The first two are good news (if you’re buying, not selling).

This is “sort of” true. Other people have realized that even older models have more features than most of us can possibly use, so the better ones hold their value. Lower end cameras (like Point-and-Shoots) are most strongly affected: the same camera you would have paid $200 for two years ago can be bought today under $100 if you know where to look.

This was shot in a raging storm in Port Dover on Lake Erie. I took out my DSLR, put it on a tripod, covered it with a rain shield, but the instant I took it off to take a picture, the front of the lens was totally covered in rain. I pulled out my point-and-shoot, and took this one quick snap! Similar editing process to the flower picture at left, the "oil paint filter" in Photoshop!

 

Where to look, where to look...

If you're really cost conscious, you can find pre-owned point-and-shoot cameras everywhere in the $100 range. Or higher end cameras at a bargain. But the words, "caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware) come to mind.

Try eBay, Kijiji, Craig's list... or if you're not into online shopping, those fancy stores that we used to call "pawn shops" that are springing up everywhere. Cheap, but you don't know what you're going to get.

I have three slightly different suggestions:

  • Nikon in Mississauga often has some FACTORY REFURBISHED cameras, close to half price. Complete with full warranty!
  • Most large camera stores have a used section or even a whole clearance store like Henry's. Prices aren't that sharp, but hey, they have to make a living too.
  • Camera clubs are populated by people who love to buy and sell equipment and they usually care for their stuff. Find your local club and start asking questions!

If you’re an “early adopter”, that is, you have to have the latest thing, there’s good news and bad news for you. The good news is the range of options open to you today is incredible. The bad news is you have to take your chances when you’re one of the first ones to buy a new product. A case in point is the Nikon D600, which I bought the first week it came out. It had some unresolvable technical issues (space does not permit) but Nikon has done the right thing and paid me back my full purchase price. Software is like that too: even Lightroom version 4, which ran like molasses in a Haliburton winter on my computer, and which took Adobe months to sort out. Let’s not even think about Windows 8 or MAC Mavericks!

Caveat emptor” and all that good stuff said, there are some astonishing things coming out today. You can buy a smartphone with a 41 megapixel camera in it (understand that megapixels alone do not a quality camera make: a 10- or 12Mp DSLR such as a 3-year-old Nikon or Canon produce pictures an order of magnitude better); new mirrorless cameras from Sony or Fujifilm or Olympus as well as the two giants will blow you away. The $1,000 Olympus has been compared with the $11,000 Leica M.

The second part of this topic is about buying used equipment. Yes, you’ll save a few dollars. But do you know where the camera has been? Seriously, can you tell if a camera or lens has been dropped? And I won’t go into the risks associated with buying on eBay or Kijiji: either you accept them or you don’t. But I want you to go back up to the paragraph where I said, that Nikon bought my camera back for full price. It wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t buy it from a Nikon dealer.

It depends how risk-averse you are. I like to shop around. I’ve bought used and sometimes factory refurbished equipment with mixed results, I saved a lot buying a high end Nikon lens in New York, although it did cost me to get it serviced here, I still came out ahead, so it’s really up to you.

Here are some images shot with a camera that really wouldn't measure up to today's crop of machines.

 

     

These were all shot with a D70 on a trip to Newfoundland back in '07. Well the last shot wasn't in Newfoundland, it was at Percé in the Gaspé, but on the same trip.

Same camera, but better lens. I ran into a group of professional bird shooters and convinced one of them to let me attach my D70 to her fancy 500- or 600mm Nikon lens for a few minutes! This is an Atlantic Puffin and he was a couple of hundred yards away across a channel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The message here is, “don’t wait”. If you wait for the next generation of camera, it’ll be the next generation before you get one, think of all the pictures and learning experience you will miss. Whatever you get, learn how to use it (take a course or attend a workshop!). You can do just about anything you can imagine with today’s models of cameras or even the ones from last year. Don’t wait.

PS: my workshop schedule is wide open for the fall/winter. I do small groups, so you choose the date! An inexpensive way to learn how to make better pictures! Check out the workshops here.


Links to FACzen Photography:
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