The Cost of Photographic Equipment

The Cost of Photographic Equipment
There are usually two kinds of discussion about the cost of photographic equipment on internet photography forums.

The first is how the manufacturers are exploitative, profiteering pirates who manufacture their products for a pittance and then add on a huge profit margin to rip off the poor photographer. They then sit back laughing in their luxurious boardrooms lighting cigars with £50 ($100, ¥10000) notes and think up new schemes to rid the consumer of their hard earned, and scarce cash.

Example - Panasonic and the "exorbitant" "overpriced" "ridiculous" "scandalous" etc. etc. cost of their micro four thirds cameras and lenses. 

The offended photographer, who can obviously barely afford anything other than a second hand Samsung P1000, is outraged by the fact that they cant buy the new, highly specified camera of their dreams for less than a bag of sprouts. They then inform the rest of the world that they won't be parting with their limited funds, obviously earned by getting up at 3AM and spending the next 16 hours digging up potatoes with a toothpick for 3p an hour. 

This is sometimes linked to the second kind of discussion, which is that anyone who owns a camera that costs more than theirs is obviously, "braindead" "has more money than sense" "has no idea how to take a photograph" "has bought it to impress their friends" "doesn't know how to use it" "is brainwashed by the hype" "doesn't need anything that good" The implication being that these people must have earned the money to buy this equipment as a result of being drug dealers, internet pornographers or are the beneficiary of large trust funds. 

Example - Anyone who owns a Leica.

In this case the offended photographer delivers a tirade of abuse towards these privileged, independently wealthy airheads who are the hapless and unknowing victims of the scams perpetrated by the evil manufacturers. It is also pointed out that the offended photographer can take better pictures than them with their second hand Samsung P1000. This is usually backed up by 10 pictures of a sleeping cat/child with face covered in peanut butter/rusty bicycle. 

Speaking as an independently wealthy airhead shopaholic whose family made billions from selling drugs on internet pornography sites (Yes I own a Leica) I've got a few words of advice for these feckless, lazy, neanderthals who obviously have neither the brains or ambition to do anything other than sell their children to buy second hand Samsung P1000's, and then produce more in order to photograph them with their faces covered in peanut butter.

Get a job, Get a second job, Work harder, Work Longer, Don't Eat so Much, Don't Drink, Don't Smoke, Stay In on Saturday Nights, Buy Cheaper Clothes, Leave your Car at Home and Ride A Bike.


I'm not independently wealthy with a trust fund. (If Only!) Though I was once described as a "Trustafarian" (I had to Google it!)

I have however done all the things on the advice list. 

I am reminded of the story of the teenager who worked in a supermarket who wanted to own a Ferrari. Instead of dismissing the idea as impossible (or turning to drug dealing or internet pornography) he decided to make it happen. By denying himself many of the "pleasures" and "indulgences" of life he was able to save enough to buy himself a second hand Italian dream machine. It took him 16 years and he still apparently works at the supermarket. However he now turns up for work in something red, shiny and very very fast.

Yet another list! (I like lists)

1. In my experience the old cliche "You get what you pay for" Is true more often than its not.
2. If manufacturers are so evil and exploitative, how come so many of them make so many mistakes or even go out of business?
3. Some people value quality, others don't.
4. Some people are prepared to pay for that, others aren't.
5. Sometimes patience, as well as being a virtue, is a necessity.
6. Unless you are independently wealthy, you have to make a choice about what you value.
7. If you can't afford everything you desire, work towards getting what you really want.
8. Its not a crime to work towards improving your standard of living or quality of life.
9. The world doesn't tend to give us everything we want, at a price we want to pay.
10. We sometimes have make an effort to get what we want.
11. Just because we can't afford something, doesn't mean that its either not worth it or morally irresponsible to own it.
12. The higher you go up the quality chain, the higher the cost of seemingly small improvements. Its unfortunate but often true.
13. Assembled by hand is usually more expensive than production line.
14. Its my money, my choice, my life.
15. What's it got to do with anyone else anyway!

This article was inspired by the writings of a well-known and long-established photographic commentator who wears a monocle and owns a Leica and by a talented and committed photographer who is a constant source of good sense and insight.

It is dedicated to all those forum posters who cannot see beyond the internet bubble that they inhabit and who think that their lives and experiences are the benchmarks upon which the rest of us should base our decisions.

Now I'm off to photograph my cat on a rusty bicycle.