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Archive 2013 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses
  
 
ryan00013
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p.1 #1 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


I was just doing some cost/benefit analysis of my recent purchases and realized the absurdity... to a certain extent. In the last month, I have purchased the following:
(forum prices)
Canon 5D mk III ($2750)
Tamron 24-70 VC ($1100)
Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II ($1800)
Canon 50L ($1150)
Canon 85L ($1600)

That comes out to a total of $8400. You might say I got a little carried away...


Whereas, take a look at the following "budget" kit:
Canon 5D mk II ($1200)
Canon 24-105 f/4 IS ($700)
Canon 70-200 f/4 IS ($800)
Sigma 50 1.4 ($350)
Sigma 85 1.4 ($700)

This kit only costs $3750 and is about 90% as good... Unless pixel peeping or being in the most demanding of shooting circumstances, I would probably end up with an identical photo with the "budget" kit. Don't even get me started on a real budget kit (5Dc, nifty fifty, etc.)

Yet for some reason I find myself spending more than TWICE as much, for a marginal upgrade. Do I regret it? Well... no. It's probably a placebo affect, but shooting with my setup just feels sexy and the images seem magical at times. However, I certainly recognize how ridiculous it is.

Anyone else find themselves in a similar situation?



Jan 12, 2013 at 08:25 PM
GC5
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p.1 #2 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses



I've certainly spent a ton on camera gear for which I have no real need. But, as I tell my wife, it's cheaper than motorcycles. Safer too!



Jan 12, 2013 at 08:32 PM
RogerC11
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p.1 #3 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


I use my camera gear to take photos of my motorcycle.


Jan 12, 2013 at 08:35 PM
leftcoastlefty
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p.1 #4 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


RogerC11 wrote:
I use my camera gear to take photos of my motorcycle.


I use my motorcycle to carry my camera gear. It is cheaper than buying a plane.



Jan 12, 2013 at 08:43 PM
robstein
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p.1 #5 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


There are people making better pictures then I will ever make with a rebel & plastic fantastic.... it's just not the hardware that counts in the end for the vast majority of us (don't get me wrong... it helps more or less depending on situation and at the extremes it's a requirement... I'm not delusional I can do late afternoon surfing or motor sport shots with a 50mm ).

I recently UPGRADED to very close to your budget setup and am scared of my credit card bills :-/, so it's all relative. I think we all should try to get as much value out of the level of hardware we can justify, which is why I love that the new siggy 35mm seems to be so good at a bargain compared to the canon version.

If you feel bad... send me that mk3 and I can shoot you back a mk2 or a classic to make you feel better



Jan 12, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Gunzorro
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p.1 #6 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


If you can't see a significant and satisfying improvement in your photos, then, yes, it is foolish to buy more expensive equipment.

But I venture to say that given the free choice between those two systems, 90% of the respondents would take the higher quality gear with no complaint.

I don't regret any of the significant upgrades in equipment I've made in the last few years, only a few attempts to "cheap-out" hoping less expensive gear would suffice. The only expensive gear I feel didn't live up to its hype was Zeiss ZE lenses, so I sold those -- they were very good, just not worth the price for my pictures.



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:01 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #7 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


I'm one to talk, since I own (and use) more than a few lenses, which range in cost from dirt cheap to expensive. However, shooting with my friend Michael Frye has occasionally reminded me forcefully of how much excellent work is done with minimal gear. Michael works with two lenses, the EF 17-40mm f/4 and the 70-200mm f/4.

It is complicated, isn't it?

Dan



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:11 PM
snapsy
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p.1 #8 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


I can't speak for others but I'd be a much better photographer without the distraction of GAS.


Jan 12, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Monito
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p.1 #9 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


ryan00013 wrote:
This kit only costs $3750 and is about 90% as good... Unless pixel peeping or being in the most demanding of shooting circumstances, I would probably end up with an identical photo with the "budget" kit. Don't even get me started on a real budget kit (5Dc, nifty fifty, etc.)


So true. In photography and performance sportscars and bicycles and audiophile equipment, the last 10 % of performance usually costs 50% of the price, and it is exponential (in the mathematical sense as well as the hyperbolic sense) beyond that.

Altogether too many people confuse "want" with "need". It is partly an ego thing; confirming their self-esteem that they are so good that they "need" that last 10% performance.



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Monito
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p.1 #10 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


GAS = Gear Acquisition Syndrome



Jan 12, 2013 at 09:24 PM
 

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uz2work
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p.1 #11 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


I spent the better part of a decade feeling compelled to buy new camera bodies and new lenses as fast as Canon could introduce them. While there is no question that there was something nice about using the "new and improved equipment", in the last few years, I have come to realize that all of those tens of thousands of dollars spent were not contributing much, if anything, to the improvement in the pictures I was taking. In reality, the new equipment was, in many ways, contributing to causing my skills as a photographer to become static because I was relying on the new equipment to produce better pictures, and I was ignoring the idea of putting effort into other things that could have had real positive impact on my photography. I came to realize that what I was doing was merely taking the same pictures that I had taken in previous years, but I was taking them with newer equipment.

Perhaps, the greatest free marketing tool that Canon, Nikon, and the others have is the existence of internet forums. When we go to those forums, we read posts from those who have just spent thousands of dollars on new equipment, and the level of cognitive dissonance that comes with having spent thousands of dollars on something leads them to post over-the-top praise for their new equipment. They are likely to describe their new camera or new lens with terms like "blows away" their previously owned equipment, or they say that they would never go back to that older equipment. The reality, however, is that, in most cases, the improvements are marginal, and so is, at best, the improvement in the quality of the images that they produce. Yet, when we see those posts from people who have bought the new equipment, we feel like we are missing something and that we also need to go out and buy that new equipment. (I'm sure that someone could do a fantastic Ph.D. thesis on how internet forums cause us to make irrational purchase decisions.)

A couple of years ago, I gained, for the first time, a better ability to evaluate new equipment and to determine whether the improvements in that new equipment were actually going do something that my shooting requires and that my present equipment doesn't do for me. When I read on the internet forums the praise that people give to their new 1DX or even their new 5D Mark III, I immediately have the urge to go out and buy one of each. Then, I go out and shoot with one of my 3 year old bodies and see what they are capable of doing, and I realize that, with regard to detail produced, AF ability, ISO capability, etc., there is nothing about those bodies that is holding back the quality of my images in any way and that, for my shooting, there are things about those bodies that would actually make it more difficult for me to get the pictures that I want to get. The result is that I have not bought a new camera body or a new lens in over 3 years. Yet, as I've focused on other things that can improve my photography, my skills as a photographer have moved off of a plateau for the first time in a good number of years.

I'm quite confident that there will be a time in the next few years when I will buy a new camera body, but I hope that I am able to resist the urge to do so until Canon produces a camera body which I can objectively evaluate with a conclusion that there is something about that camera body that will actually do something for my shooting that the equipment I'm using now cannot do.

Les



Jan 12, 2013 at 10:29 PM
Ernie Aubert
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p.1 #12 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


Gunzorro wrote:
If you can't see a significant and satisfying improvement in your photos, then, yes, it is foolish to buy more expensive equipment...


There's another perspective on this: Equipment purchases aren't necessarily only about how they'll affect one's photography "right now"; they could be made - indeed, I'd posit that they most often are - with an eye toward benefiting from the gear for many years to come, as one's knowledge and skills progress.



Jan 12, 2013 at 10:30 PM
skibum5
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p.1 #13 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


ryan00013 wrote:
I was just doing some cost/benefit analysis of my recent purchases and realized the absurdity... to a certain extent. In the last month, I have purchased the following:
(forum prices)
Canon 5D mk III ($2750)
Tamron 24-70 VC ($1100)
Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II ($1800)
Canon 50L ($1150)
Canon 85L ($1600)

That comes out to a total of $8400. You might say I got a little carried away...

Whereas, take a look at the following "budget" kit:
Canon 5D mk II ($1200)
Canon 24-105 f/4 IS ($700)
Canon 70-200 f/4 IS ($800)
Sigma 50 1.4 ($350)
Sigma 85 1.4 ($700)

This kit only costs $3750 and is about 90% as good... Unless pixel peeping
...Show more

There is some truth to that. Although for some things the 5D3 can be a lot better. Video doesn't have the nasty moire/aliasing that was prone to ruining natural world shots at times (not like you can change the shirt on a lake or some branches). The higher fps can get you more key moments. AF has less misses for sports, you'll blow a lot less shots shooting soccer with it than shooting soccer with a 10D. etc.

For slow landscape work though yeah it doesn't bring much, some UI improvements are nice but that is a hefty price difference there.

IMO 24-105 isn't 90% as good as 24-70 II or wide primes.

I have a feeling that the 50 1.4 might be 90%, if not 110% , as good as the 50 1.2L in many cases though.

The sigma 1.4 and canon 85 1.8 aren't bad either, not quite the magic of the 85L, but pretty good lenses though.

70-200 f/4 IS is probably a good 90% as good as the 70-200 2.8 IS II at least, but it depends, sometimes f/2.8 makes a big difference for what you are doing and the 2.8 might be 300% better (indoors sports with no strobes, less than pro lit fields at night, if you try to get 400mm out of it, etc.), if never need more than f/4, than yeah I'd say it's a big bulky something of a waste.

Of course $5000 might be pay for a trip to go shoot some pretty amazing sights.




Edited on Jan 12, 2013 at 10:50 PM · View previous versions



Jan 12, 2013 at 10:45 PM
gfiksel
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p.1 #14 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


OP,
You bought a great set of gears for very reasonable price. Except for the camera, the lens price will remain the same, maybe even increase. So it's not like you lost these money, if need arises you can always sell it. The enjoyment of owning it and using it, however, is priceless.



Jan 12, 2013 at 10:46 PM
robbymack
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p.1 #15 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


ryan00013 wrote:
I was just doing some cost/benefit analysis of my recent purchases and realized the absurdity... to a certain extent. In the last month, I have purchased the following:
(forum prices)
Canon 5D mk III ($2750)
Tamron 24-70 VC ($1100)
Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II ($1800)
Canon 50L ($1150)
Canon 85L ($1600)

That comes out to a total of $8400. You might say I got a little carried away...

Whereas, take a look at the following "budget" kit:
Canon 5D mk II ($1200)
Canon 24-105 f/4 IS ($700)
Canon 70-200 f/4 IS ($800)
Sigma 50 1.4 ($350)
Sigma 85 1.4 ($700)

This kit only costs $3750 and is about 90% as good... Unless pixel peeping
...Show more

Well you did buy the tamron and not the canon so obviously you were slightly budget conscious.



Jan 12, 2013 at 11:22 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #16 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


uz2work wrote:
I spent the better part of a decade feeling compelled to buy new camera bodies and new lenses as fast as Canon could introduce them. While there is no question that there was something nice about using the "new and improved equipment", in the last few years, I have come to realize that all of those tens of thousands of dollars spent were not contributing much, if anything, to the improvement in the pictures I was taking. In reality, the new equipment was, in many ways, contributing to causing my skills as a photographer to become static because I was
...Show more

Hear, hear! Right on! Plus 1! Enthusiastic applause!

There have been several threads here this week about equipment that threaten to encourage people to adopt a more rational view of the role of equipment in their photography. How refreshing! :-)

Dan



Jan 12, 2013 at 11:26 PM
chez
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p.1 #17 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


Bottom line, most people here take photos for enjoyment. If buying some new equipment adds to your enjoyment of photography, then I see nothing wrong with this. Improving ones photographdiodes not need to be the only goal with new equipment. Sometimes just the joy of photography needs to be taken into account.

Don't we all buy other toys just for enjoyment. Could we not get by with a 30" TV rather than a 60"? Do we really need that SUV just to drive around town to work and back or would a Honda Fit be more economical.

We should not preach to loudly about the new gear not having any affect on the final result. Sometimes just using new tech and new gear is reward enough.



Jan 13, 2013 at 12:01 AM
ebrandon
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p.1 #18 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


I've found that getting new gear is very motivating to go out and use it. So I do a lot more photography, more enthusiastically, in the days and weeks after getting a new toy.

In the past couple of months I've gotten the most use & pleasure from a $200 fisheye, and equal use & pleasure from a $2000 tilt-shift. It's not the money or even the quality, it's having something new to play with.

So knowing that about myself, I try to scratch the new-toy itch with something cheap as often as possible. If you look around you'll find cheap-ish things (a hoodman, an eye-fi card, a Gary Wong flash diffuser, etc.) that can satisfy GAS as well as a new $2000 zoom would.



Jan 13, 2013 at 12:08 AM
PetKal
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p.1 #19 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


There are some people around here that must have the latest and the greatest right away, come hell or high water.






Jan 13, 2013 at 12:16 AM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #20 · Keeping up with the Jonses vs BEING the Jonses


ryan, (or anyone else), use your gear as best you can. Make it work for you in paid gigs, or more importantly, recording your family and friends, preserving quality imagery for future generations.

Don't sell your gear unless you absolutely have to; the loss is too great. See how long you can keep and use your kit, with a future goal of passing it on to younger relatives.

To address your question about feeling the same, I do, at times. I can feel the burden/loss of money spent. So, I make sure to use my gear daily; recording life, the growth of my son, and posting images online for my family and friends; important emotional visual communication. And I use my gear and skill to record community and work related events providing every day people with a visual archive of a quality they'd otherwise never have.

Make your gear pay for itself however you can. Enjoy it, and have fun using it to contribute to the culture around you.



Jan 13, 2013 at 12:25 AM
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