The Priority Report

How much should we invest into our passion? If we wish to achieve a goal what level of sacrifice or disregard should we stake? Should priorities be rearranged to accomodate short term goals that play to the bigger picture? More simply put, can I, with so many other responsibilities and obligations right now, justify redirecting finaces toward a new camera system for my photography. The catch here is that while I will need a dSLR, I don't necessarily need the one that I want, but can benefit from the advantages in use and future savings . I have researched photography and photographic technology and well understand the difference between what I get out of the "affordable" dSLR and the latest and greatest (more expensive) one. I have also felt the frustrations of investing too soon in a camera that was affordable at the time versus saving for one that I could put to better use.

How my brain has wrapped itself around this:
Being able to make the most out of every photo opportunity is probably the most important thing to me. I think this is true for most all photographers. It is absurd, that photography is a very expensive, very equipment driven career and hobby, but it makes sense. We all want to capture the world we see as best we can. But for each of us, the amalgamation of components necessary to produce the best photograph is different. Some of us lean heavy on lens selection, others it may be dynamic composition, or lighting or subject matter or color accuracy or even just catching the perfect moment, but our needs drive the development of the tools available to us. I want the best for my craft within the limitations of what I can conviently maintain and afford. So even though film can produce higher quality photos, the convience of digital is a greater benefit, and while there are better "professional" digital SLR cameras out there, I can't afford them nor yet justify the expense. Sound like a contradiction? It is not. Even though the camera I have my sights set on isn't within my finacial reach now, it is obtainable in a much shorter length of time than a $5k rig. If I were to buy a lower end model (Nikon D50) now, but could afford a more robust and capable camera (Nikon D200) within a few months, I would be paying to upgrade much sooner. This is similar to what I am experiencing now with a current purchase, it is a quite capable camera, but photographically, doesn't meet my needs. This particular camera can still be resold at a reasonable price because it is still very new and a big achievement in its class of camera. Looking at the entry level dSLR end, such an emphasize is being placed on this market that resell values here will be minimal, especially in a years time, so I would most likely not see a return on that investment(D50).

The big problem here is that now that I am selling my current p&s camera, if I don't move into another camera soon, I miss all photo opportunities. The even bigger problem is that if I direct funds toward getting what I want, it will still be a ways off and other things have to be sacrificed in that time, and I still couldn't shoot. The biggest problem is that if I do get a camera, I will feel selfish to put my desires in front of others who are more important to me than photography and who will already be sacrificing along with me once school starts again and I have even less time with them.

With the camera purchase my hope is to start building a camera system
with a brand mainstay, so that all I invest goes toward fulfilling class requirements and a future career in photography.


Blogger Howard said...

I don't think you'll be disappointed with a D50. You can learn a lot about manual control of the camera, and start building up your lens collection. Leave the D200 until you start making some income from professional photography. Your return on investment is what you learn using the camera - Any resale value the D50 has in a year or two will be a bonus.

Sun Nov 27, 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Thanks Howard,
I appreciate your feedback. I have been using a Canon Rebel XT since August and purchased the Canon S2 IS to familiarize myself with manual control back in July. I know that we never stop learning but the XT was actually a more advanced camera than the D50 in terms of available options. I have apprenticed using the XT, shooting sports and portraits, and additional work assisting and from referals present a real income opportunity in the future. My dilema now is that I don't have the dSLR anymore and am looking for both a tool for class and a solid camera to use in the event of "work". These things considered, do you still see the D50 as a best choice?

Sun Nov 27, 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Howard said...

I'm an amateur not a pro. I have not used the Canon. I used to use an Olympus SLR for many years. I've had a number of digital point-and-shoots, and a kodak dx6490 which had some degree of manual control. I've only had my Nikon d50 for a couple of weeks, but it is the first digital camera that really comes close to what I was able to achieve with a film slr. I'm very happy with my choice (I bought it with the 18-70mm lens, and I have since found a 35mm f2 on ebay)
I read a lot on kenrockwell.com dcresource.com and flickr before making my choice.


Mon Nov 28, 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...

As photographers we can get wrapped up in the tools we are using pretty easily. In the end it the tools in your head and your eyes make the images. Look around on Flickr and you'll see great stuff made with point and shoots. Think back to Cartier Bresson (sp?), his cameras were less capable than most of today's digital point and shoot.

Your decision on what to purchase is a hard one and I too feel your pain. I settled on the D50 because I feel the lenses and the chips for the Nikon cameras are better. I built my film camera collection based on the same criteria. I bought a good camera (one that I could afford) and a good lens. I made mountains of images that I leard much from. I then moved from my affordable camera to a more expensive camera, and continued the upgrade process.

Buy the camera that you can afford NOW so that you can continue to shoot and learn. You are a photographer, not a collector of hardware. Make images!

Tue Nov 29, 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Thanks so much for the feedback guys and all points are duelly noted. Finacially things may fall in place for me after all and I know it is a rather large purchase and its an even larger committment. I had been teetering on both sides of the issue. "You are a photographer, not a collector of hardware" is well stated, so having said that, I should be fine to shoot with, lets say a diposable camera(which I picked up yesterday) and still be happy until I can afford the camera that most lends itself to professional use. If the artistic part of photography was the only appeal, I'd have no need for an SLR at all, but honestly I am enthralled with the technology just as much as the creativity it provides, I even choose a major in photographic technology as opposed to a fine arts degree. I am still teetering as the D50 is a fine machine, but the appeal of the d200 is great and the compatibility with older (cheaper) lens systems is a huge plus!

Tue Nov 29, 01:04:00 PM  

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