Does this bother anyone else?

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Jock Elliott, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    I love my digital cameras, I really do, because they allow my to shoot lots, guilt-free.

    But two things bother me about digitals. The first is that I seem to belong to the camera of the month club. No sooner do you buy a camera, but the next new "improved" version of it comes out . . . and you don't know if it will actually be improved . . . there may be some tweaks or changes that are regress instead of progress.

    Second, what do you suppose the lifetime of digital camera actually is? My Olympus D-550 is still taking pictures after nearly 10 years, but what if I sunk a couple of kilobucks into a high-end system . . . would I be able to get it fixed five years down the road or ten years out?

    My 40-year-old Pentaxes are still repairable and usable, although I wouild hate to go back to film.

    What do you think? Are our digital cameras basically disposable items?
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    The bodies sort of are, for now, because things are advancing so quickly. And there have been a lot of very REAL advances - there's marketing but its far from mostly marketing! I think we're getting to a point where things are getting SOOOOOO good that it will soon be a question of diminishing returns. I already feel that way with my OMD and X-Pro and I think we're only a year or two away from having compacts nearly that good. Not that I'll never upgrade them but I can't think of what I'd really want either of them to do better than what they do currently, and until April of this year (when I bought both of them), I never felt that way - I always had a list of things I wished would be improved. Well, they have been...

    But even if the camera bodies are somewhat disposable and will be for a while longer yet, the lenses are still longer term keepers. As long as m43 exists as a system, all of my current lenses will probably still be in my bag or on my shelf. So I look at lenses as relative investments whereas I look at bodies as the next great marvel and recognize it might not be around all that long.

    Things were different in the old fim days, but that's because the sensors were always being tweaked as film science advanced. But the sensors were modular - you could, in fact you had no choice but to, change the sensor every 24 or 36 shots. You could stay with the same one, but you could always change it out. And the combination of bodies AND constant sensor replacement was probably about as expensive in constant dollars or pounds as frequent upgrades to camera bodies today...

    • Like Like x 1
  3. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    I have the same issue. In mirrorless, its still a rapidly developing segment, so there are still lots of technical breakthroughs. The thing that bothered me most about m43 was the cameras are not super cheap, there is still lots of headroom for growth, there are new camera coming out, so the EP3 (as an example) which was I think $799 at launch a year ago is now worth maybe $300. It's also the reason I got an EPM1 last fall instead of the EP3. The initial price was $399 with lens that sold for $90 at the time. There wasn't that mch value to lose.

    So, I'm shooting a 5D and Nex 5n, both bodies are depreciated and there's little pressure to "sell it before it drops in value."
  4. hannahntilly

    hannahntilly SC Regular

    Apr 13, 2012
    Surrey, UK
    As a person of limited means, I can't afford to buy the latest. Therefore, the fact that models are replaced on a 1 to 2 year timescale is marvellous. While the early-adopters are paying heavily for the privilege, I can pick up the old (less fashionable) stock for very low prices indeed. It depends how importantly you rate ultimate quality/performance. Why pay double for an infinitesimal improvement?

    The example I have mentioned often is my Panasonic GF3 with 14mm pancake for £200. That was an amazing price . You can now pick up the GX1 for £250 after cashback in the UK. If you're really hard up, the Samsung NX100 with kit lens and flashgun is available for £150 here too. Remember, that's a very respectable APS-C camera for the price of a compact.
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  5. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Lexington, Virginia
    Of course, if you buy fixed lens compacts, the whole thing gets tossed. The real trick (not that I've mastered it) is to realize that as long as your SC continues to work and you're satisfied with the IQ and performance, then you're good. Of course, you could take my approach, and always buy the "about to be discontinued" greatest model. (Can you say XZ-1?)
  6. Adam Quek

    Adam Quek SC Regular

    Oct 5, 2012
    There's usually not a lot of improvement from one version to another. Product needs time to research, design and manufacture. A new model that comes out within the year of the last product would usually be a small tweak of the first system, with marginal improvement that only those with keen discerning eyes could pick apart. Not critical to most end-users though.

    But yes, who can resist the temptation of the owning the newest shiny body and start stroking one's ego with some of the first reviews of how terrific the purchase is, only to do it again the next month...

    I'm still using 10 year old DSLR systems and I think they could easily last for another 5 years. Granted I use them at a rate I would usually burn films on my old SLR systems (i.e. not more than 50 shots per session.

    On the other hand, I'd damaged so many film rangefinders and SLR in my lifetime that they are like disposable to me. Yes, they are replaceable, but given the price of these camera nowadays, they are more like the disposable camera than any older well-maintained digital camera ever would.
  7. jhowell39

    jhowell39 SC Veteran

    Jun 23, 2011
    I'd have to agree with Ray in that good glass can be seen as somewhat of an investment, but the bodies are pretty much like calculators of yesterday and computers of today -- disposable. I'm not sure thats all bad, though. Sensor and rendering technology are changing quickly and as long as one can can avoid early-adopter gas, replacing a body every 3 - 5 years doesn't seem so bad. I do remember having a pin-holed shutter repaired in a Pentax ME Super back in the day and the price tag from Pentax was 60% the cost of a new body. For those of us on a budget, which includes me, making informed, used buys makes a lot of sense -- a little patience and the buy/sell section of these boards will keep one decently stocked!

    BTW -- for you folks wanting to mess about with film, a functional ME Super is a great little SLR.
  8. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Kyle Krug
    I am also getting annoyed with the constant camera releases (mostly because I have no willpower!)

    I was thinking recently that digital camera technology kind of seems to follow Intel's tick-tock model, where a "tock" represents a new processor based on a major architecture change, followed by a new release "tick" with an incremental upgrade to that architecture.

    The camera market actually moves as fast, but the major changes (i.e. sensors) seem to happen less frequently. We have one tock and then 2-3 ticks. Like with m4/3, you have 3 iterations of Olympus PENs that were using the same sensor, or with the Sony APS-C 12mpx and 16mpx sensors that have been used in many different cameras versions.

    I am going to do better about ignoring the ticks and hold out for the major upgrades (2-3 years?) and spend that churn money on lenses instead.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Xuereb

    Xuereb SC Veteran

    Nov 5, 2010
    W. Australia
    Jock: yes they are disposable. However, I agree with all posts which advocate patience, not changing at every new model and buying at the end of a camera's life cycle rather than at its start. If one only buys cameras that are classics one can continue to use them for longer.

    My heart won't allow me to get rid of my GF1. The body isn't worth much but the cost of anything slightly better is high. Nothing wrong with its image quality. I love the way it handles, accurate WB & colours in RAW and the 20mm lens is sharp. A DP2 Merrill will soon arrive but for long battery use, ability to change focal lengths the GF1 happily fills the gap.
  10. adanac

    adanac SC Veteran

    Sep 30, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    What do people think about the higher end of the current market - I'm talking about state of the art APS-C or full frame sensor cameras?

    When I look at what a 24MP full frame RX1 or D600 or Alpha 99 or a 36MP D800, or a 24MP NEX-7 and other current generation sensor/cameas can produce, I can see using any of those cameras for quite a few years.

    When I look at the detail most of these cameras with good optics can capture I see very little difference between those images and scanned images from the best of my medium format film images. Aside from the difference in depth of field between medium format film and smaller digital sensors, about the only other thing I miss is the particular signature film provides but we have all digital solutions for that too.

    Most of the time the all digital workflow looks as good or better to me... with a major bonus: far less dust to contend with. Ok, was partly kidding there as there are many aspects of digital that I love over film, but I *do* hate dust and film, dust and sensors too, but with film it's just.... worse.

    Am I kidding myself? Has the state of the art progressed to the point where I won't feel compelled to hop on the upgrade train every year | every other year | every three years?

    I've said it before but I'm a relatively late convert to digital. I was still buying film cameras in the 2000's, even for the family, although when one particularly nice Nikon lens got trashed accidentally by my wife I decided to push her over to digital then... and really hated it myself. Her purse friendly film compact produced far better images, but that has changed over the past few years.

    It seems to me that some of the current best of breed cameras are not nearly as disposable as they were over the past decade and a half. Once a camera produces sufficiently good IQ, with very good base ISO performance and exceptional (when you think about it) performance in terms of noise and sensitivity as the ISO is cranked up, and has good handling and good shot to shot time and is mated with a good lens... well what more do I / we really need?

    Aren't we "there" yet?
  11. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    No. I just sold my Olympus E-M5 and so now I'm down to just the Ricoh GRD4 and Ricoh GXR system (with the APS units). None are new, the GXR units are for the most part several years old. Although I'm anxious to hear that Ricoh is still breathing I'm perfectly content with my current cameras.

    Maybe I'm just getting older, or I'm tiring of things always being new, but I'm off the upgrade paths in much of my life.

    We are in control of what we do. We can choose to stick with what we have and use it until it wears out.
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  12. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Thanks to all. I think there is probably some wisdom in buying good glass for a known mounting system. I also think that as advances in sensors continue, the old gear will be left behind and we may not be able to get parts if we need them after 5 years or so.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. I think each person's "there" is going to be different and affected by factors other than whats available to buy.

    Like Kyle, I am annoyed by so many new (and apparently wonderful) camera releases, but for me, its not lack of willpower, but lack of money... so I cannot experience them beyond going into the local camera store and handling them. My last major purchase was an XZ-1 and that was a year ago. I've bought three lenses for the K-5 in that time, but two only cost ~$50 and the other though somewhat more, was something I had been wanting a long time. However I have resisted the temptation to keep buying new cameras because really... how many can you use at once?

    My photography has most definitely NOT improved with the purchase of new cameras. Mine give great image quality and anything else is down to the photographer. I've just had to stop, and take stock of what I am actually doing, photographically, and lately that hasn't been a lot. Buying new cameras isn't going to change that, beyond the first flush of excitement over new gear. I've learned that one the hard way.

    The technology is going to improve in leaps and bounds, without doubt... but the sheer cost of continually "upgrading" has become insane (it should go without saying I will not be upgrading my K-5). Hannahntilly said she (hope I'm right there) was a person of little means... so am I... and that makes a huge difference. My digitals are no longer disposable, because I don't have a disposable income.
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  14. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I'm on a downgrade path. My most recent purchase was a 1954 film camera with a f/4.5 lens and a fastest shutter speed of 1/200s. My photographs aren't any better when I use my E-P2 (another obsolete camera) or DP2s (just about to be obsolete). they wouldn't be any better with a Leica ME or an XPRO-3

    Lens mounts come and go, and electronically coupled ones are nearly as likely to go obsolete as the bodies for which they are designed, I reckon.

    Cameras aren't "cameras" as they used to be thought of. They're electronic image capture devices, and they are items to acquire and dispose of like any other consumer good. Some people have to have the latest cars, buy magazines about the latest cars, look at pictures of the latest cars, talk about the latest cars ... or for "cars", read "hifi", "laptop", "smartphone" ... or anything manufactured by The Great Satan (Apple Corp. of course) ...

    Also, the policemen are getting younger, teenagers are running riot and have no manners, and they should bring back National Service.

    Is it time for my medication now?
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  15. adanac

    adanac SC Veteran

    Sep 30, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    Your warm milk, tea biscuits, and slippers are waiting by the comfy chair, sire.

    Shall I bring up the new-fangled Daguerreotype machine too?
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  16. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
  17. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    Technologically speaking, yes. I don't believe digital will be around nearly as long as film before evolution occurs again. [*See Lytro, for example] There is too much that can be improved on like in-camera software, sensor tech, media storage, ergonomics etc. All one needs to do is look at computers, tech related to storage [floppy disks, zip drives, cd's, USB drives..] to software [eternally upgraded OS in Windows, Mac, Linux etc.. and hey look at Photoshop!] and of course the components themselves which are faster [processor, ram, video cards, network cards.. ]'s the natural progression of things.

    Full out point and shoot cameras or cellphones with cameras, totally disposable. In fact it's expected you upgrade in x amount of time and here in the US they try to entice you with new gear discounts to sign up for a couple more years of contract service. As for system cameras, Ray is right the "bodies sort of are". Lenses can go through several generations of bodies provided the manufacturer doesn't change mounts [and sometimes even when they do] so in that instance there is less waste. And as a few of you have said, if you can resist early adoption, you can still upgrade every so often and reasonably. The wise know that the next best [generally full of bugs on unveiling] isn't going to make you a better photographer. If you need a particular tool though that the newer tech can provide.. it can help.

    I would not call film photography a downgrade.. I would call it a lateral move within the field of photography. You found what you like to do, for right now anyway [as people do change their minds], and you are pursuing it and in doing so you're still evolving. That's not lesser at all Paul. Although I do believe, and you know I am a film buff too, that in time film will be eradicated so while it isn't a waste of time, it won't have longevity. All the more reason to strike while there is time.
  18. Landshark

    Landshark PhotoDog

    Jul 15, 2010
    No, bothers me not a bit, technologically is getting better and cheaper all the time, unlike many other things in life. Whats to dislike, if one does not wish to upgrade, keep what you have until it stops
  19. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    Ecological impact?
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  20. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Lytro is digital, though. We will see a neat convergence of analog and digital if/when organic transistors and crossover tech becomes available, though.