Economizing -- What it means to your photo equipment purchasing

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by sarah_fox, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. Hi all,

    I'm wondering whether/how our economic downturn is going to impact your purchasing decisions this holiday
    season. I am especially interested to hear from amateurs -- the expansive "middle class," if you will, of the camera

    Do you anticipate striking any pacts with your spouses or significant others this year that you will refrain from buying
    big ticket items like camera gear?

    Are any of you likely to pass up buying that new lens or camera you've been wanting, so that you'll have the extra
    money to buy your children the toys they want?

    What do you see around you? Are friends and neighbors less likely to be investing in more camera gear?

    Has the equipment in your collection become "good enough," because the cost of newer/better equipment can't be

    Finally, is our tightening economy causing you to shrug off the higher-dollar, big-name glass (e.g. Canon, Nikon), in
    favor of third party glass (e.g. Sigma, Tokina)? And if you are a brand-loyal Canon/Nikon photographer, are you
    buying consumer glass, when you would otherwise be buying pro glass?

    Thanks for your input!


    PS This is more than just idle curiosity. It affects how I structure my investments. ;-)


    I'll go first: I'm a pro photographer, but I run a somewhat sleepy business. There is some gear out there that is
    definitely on my wish list -- the Canon 100-400 f/4L and the 5DII, to name a couple. However, these aren't items
    I "need." My purchases now must pass through a stringent "need" filter. I don't buy if I don't "need." It's not that I
    can't raise the funds for the purchases, but rather I can't justify the expenses at a time in which both my savings and
    the purchasing power of the US dollar have declined so much. So I'm digging in and tightening my belt. My children
    are grown and away to college, but if they were still young, I'd probably make the decision to give them a good
    Christmas, even if it meant going without a few things I want. That would be one of the last "necessary" items to go.
    Now that they're adults, they and my step-kids will have to understand that these are meager times. There won't be
    a lot of gift giving this year.
  2. Like I said before my D300 is worth more than Lehman Bros.
    So it's hard times all the way round but the rich stay rich and those in the middle
    get pushed down. I was in my local camera strore Sat (In the UK) and I had to wait to be served they were so busy.
    It seem goods are selling but at reduced margins - which hits profits - which hits investors.
    There will be photographers who put off because they dont have the money and others will buy.
    I have just bought another Mercedes S Class. Am I rich. No I run a Chauffeur Drive company and business is good so hence the new car. It will earn it's keep. Will I buy a D700. No that will wait.
    It's a very clever person who can read the next year financially.
    Three things always sell however good or bad times are.
    Money. Sex. Food.
  3. My equipment is the same as it has been for sometime, and I would not replace it even if the economic outlook was not poor, but I have cut back on travel, which translates to less photographing. Were I in the market for something new, now would certainly not be the time I would choose to buy.

    - Randy
  4. My gear was purchased earlier this summer and will suit my needs for a couple of years. Any purchases for the next year or so will be small/low cost items, filters, reflectors, etc.
  5. Expecting the dollar to inflate even more, so it's better to hold onto glass and other durable goods, which keep their value than dollars which are inflating (assuming you can afford to feed yourself and pay your rent/mortgage). Chose to buy camera equipment this summer and am not regretting it, but it was with money that would otherwise have gone towards investments in stocks and bonds and things like that. Those are performing poorly, so glass is a better investment right now. Also planning to repair roof on my house, and put some money into maintaining my car etc. All of those things will be more expensive next year once the government cranks up the printing presses.

    Basically, for a "sleepy business" this may be a good time to invest available cash in equipment since inflation will eat your money if you don't, and if you can grow your sleepy business using the equipment then you will be making a good investment.

    That being said, buying equipment that your business doesn't really need is never a good investment. Think about how you can get into new markets, or do additional kinds of work, and what equipment would be required for those things. And of course good advertising is usually a good investment.
  6. From an amateur guy who buys gobs of old 'crapola' from every corner of the earth (a Mamiya RB & a M645, a Graflex, a Yashica GSN, a Canonet G-III, Minolta HiMatic 9, etc), but is truly ONLY in need of lusting after a Nikon D700, cuz it would of course take better photos than my D200 ... :) the answer is simple ... a weighing of priorities. 'Wife' or 'D700'. No contest. I'm calling B&H when I finish this post. No, wait ! ... if I buy the Mrs a D700, I'm a real neat gift giving hubby then and she gets the camera she didn't know she needed that I could borrow. Brilliant! OK Jim, enough!. We had a layoff at my facility that took 1/3 of the workforce cuz our main customers cut back. A lot of election hype is infiltrating us too, making everything seem more dire and nuts than it may/may not be. Each year I earn more and wind up paying a bigger tax, so it's swimming upstream almost. Here in NJ we're armpit deep in all sorts of govt and other regulation. Add the fuel costs and it's a double whammy. Tommy Jefferson I think said, "the best government is the least government'. I am tired (@57) of seeing bureacracies keep spontaneously generating more than roaches and eating more and more and more tax dollars. I never took out a mortgage bigger than I could easily handle, nor worked with a bank that would give me a wheelbarrow of money cuz I smiled pretty and told me not to worry, I'd be able to pay off the $2,500,000 loan without effort. Now I have to bail out morons who couldn't make a PB&J sandwich without instuctions? GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. I personally, in concordance with the woman I love, am making a concious effort to fritter away less money on 'toys'. We're doing OK, but common sense says to be a bit conservative in times which seem a bit tumultuous. Plus, I'm running out of shelf space :) All this BS = 'guarded optimism' with ''mindful fiscal control' in our lifestyle. Jim M. Rant over - resume thread.
  7. Jim
    You have it all wrong. You need to be a banker. Get big bonuses to buy lots of D700's.
    Then when you go bust the Government give you money that they havn't got which they then have to borrow
    from the banks so the bankers can go out and buy lots of nice glass for their D700's.
    That way you can always have whatever camera you want and live the high life as well.
  8. I've already splurged; now I'm paying for it. (Happily, I might add.)
  9. Goodies should get cheaper and when the economy picks up again we can sell them for more than we paid for them. If it would work for a government bail out it would work for us.
  10. SCL


    I own everything I ever want for photography, and over the last 9 months have been selling off the excess gear which I rarely use. I have zero plans to purchase anything else for a long time, although I keep my eyes open for bargains which I would use if owned. I'm finally down to 3 Leicas with more lenses than I actively use, a Nikon DSLR (finally got down to 3 lenses), and a Canon T90 with a compliment of L glass, about 100 rolls of film, solutions, paper, and an enlarger. I'll probably still sell one of the Leicas, just because I use the other two much more. So Sarah, if you use me in your sample to structure your financial portfolio, you'll find another category to invest in.
  11. I would suggest keeping what you have, selling what you don't use enough (to finance future needs) and renting what you
    might need only for occasional and specific photographic contracts (projects). Shopping around can get really good used
    equipment and some manufacturers (e.g., Cosina) make fairly inexpensive lenses for Leica (C-Voigtlander and C-Zeiss),
    Nikon, Canon, Pentax (C-Zeiss) that are of high quality.

    Pairing down photographic equipment that isn't being used enough is one way to make a little money to advance toward
    future purchases. I sometimes try to talk myself into a star lens, but then do a mental analysis of how little I might use
    it, or what else might do an excellent job without having to purchase another lens or camera body.

    Good luck
  12. I work in web/graphic design and photography as my personal business (which has been booming lately), i also contract as a geomatics consultant in a specialized field... which also happens to be booming right now, with 5 or 6 years worth of garunteed work in the unlikely event my personal business fails.

    So.... Economic downturn? What Economic downturn? I honestly couldn't care less about the stock market.... my money isn't in stocks or real estate, and the bank I deal with isn't linked to any sub-prime bullsh*t, and has done well so far through this 'crisis'. I don't care if mortgage rates go up because i'm locked in at a very low rate for the next couple years. Aside from my mortgage, and a bit left on my car, I have no debt and plenty of savings.

    So, i'll be buying the 5D mkII in november, among other things over the next year. Unless world economics truly go belly up (which shouldn't be entirely discounted, given the situation), I think i'll be fine until things turn around. I also don't live in the US, which has a lot to do with my relative indifference to the whole situation.
  13. Please remember this is a photo forum, not an economics forum! Try to stay on topic.

    I don't think the current situation will affect my purchases unless things get really, really, really bad. However I'm sure
    it will affect some who are already stretching to afford new gear or who have to borrow money to do so. It's certainly
    not going to encourage people to spend money on things they don't really need.

    Basically, if you don't need it, don't buy it if you can't afford it. Very few of us actually NEED more gear. Most of us
    don't make full use of what we have. We may WANT it, but we don't NEED it. If you can't create great images with a
    5D you certainly won't start doing so by buying a 5D MkII.
  14. I saw in the newspaper that Christmas sales this year are expected to be dismal. I have no interest in more camera gear myself. I have a bit more then I need actually. I think my dream gift would be for my kids all to come home. (same thing every year actually)
  15. I imagine pros and amateurs will make different value judgments on equipment purchases. My photography is an
    elective hobby and doesn't bring in a dime. My gear is amortized over years of usage measured by the pleasure it
    brings to my life, and I have more than enough obsolete gear to keep me happy for years. <br><br>
    I recall foaming at the mouth when the D200 came out - good thing I didn't bite or I'd have another brick in my
    cluttered room. There was once a time when a simple Nikon FM was considered durable goods, an investment to be
    cherished and kept for generations when a product's life cycle was at least 10 years. Now, we live in a
    disposable society where perfectly adequate and usable goods are rendered as junk in the name of progress and
    capitalism. <br><br>
    Maybe it's time to think about children in Africa playing with sticks and stones. <br><br>
    Nolan, I sincerely wish Santa brings you your dream gift this Christmas.
  16. Sarah, I think amateurs are more than "the expansive middle class." Amateurs drive the camera industry, just as
    your average car owners, and not Formula 1 drivers, do the car industry. As for my spending, I have not been, and
    don't expect to be, hit by the current downturn. However, I don't plan any major purchases anymore. I continue to
    spend on film, chemicals and paper. I am more concerned that the latter will dry up before my money does.
  17. I have some major projects that have to be postponed thanks to the shenanigans of the Wall Street crowd.
    Luckily, the price of 'film' has remained 'free' thanks to my D70s's use of memory cards.

    Bill P.
  18. If I get the promotion at work that I am hoping to get in the next few days, no real pull backs. My wife and I generally spend about $200 on each other for Christmas. If I don't get the promtion, I'll probably ask my wife not get me anything. She is stay at home with our son and probably won't be going back to work till our youngest is in all day pre-school (maybe 5yrs from now). At current if we buy nothing but the absolute necessites we can break even in a month. A mortgage on a single income hurts. Fortunately we have quite a bit of savings, but I don't want us burning through it over the next couple of years. With the promtion (15-16% raise) things would be rather comfortable, though that doesn't mean extravagent.
  19. Economizing to me means spending very wisely.

    That means buying what I NEED, not what I want. Upgrading a body is done only when I need some feature offered by the new one, not by the fact that it is just new. I don't upgrade often.

    Lenses are purchased only when I have run into a wall of some sort with what I own already, and I know I will hit that wall often in the future for some reason. Then I buy the best quality lens I can find for that purpose, with the idea that initial cost will be irrelevant after it is amortized over the years of use the lens will have.

    Other accessories get the same "need" scrutiny and the same long term economic evaluation.

    But, the truth is, that is the way I spend my money on everything we buy, and it matters not what the economy is doing. I have lots of "old stuff" that works very well.

    Actually, I AM old stuff, and I like to think I still work very well.
  20. I find the poor economy is a great time to pick up new equipment.

    People are in need of money and you can take advantage of some great second hand deals.

    I, myself, just got a 5D with 1500 shots on it with battery grip for $1500
  21. When I moved to digital last year, I sold off my Leica M kit and a lot of Nikon manual focus equipment. I've also sold off a lot of accessories that I no longer need. This more than covered the cost of my digital gear so I even have some money left over.

    Anyway, I have all of the equipment that I need and see no purchases in the immediate future. One thing is for sure, I wouldn't be shooting nearly as much if I were still paying for film and processing.
  22. No major spending here either. I hope to get a Nikon -> EOS adapter to take advantage of a friend's collection of
    old Nikon lenses, but that's about as much as I can spare right now. And if I can't spend that either then my 50
    mm is 'good enough' and I'll keep enjoying doing what I do.
  23. The sky is not falling.

    I went out to eat last night at a NICE restaurant. Wednesday night. It was PACKED.

    I am planning and budgeting for the 5D2, new PC, new photo printer (bigger than 13x19 inch prints), software upgrades, and more external disk storage. I have all the qualty glass required; need nothing there at least.

    All of this planned for between 4Q08 and 1Q09 -- I'll then be totally set for at least 3 years for my purely light semi pro and higher end amateur work.
  24. Thank you Michael. I browsed you images and they are stunning.

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