Everything Old is New Again

Flat Tire

Let’s face it.  The economy is still not the powerhouse it was five years ago.  We’re all still reeling a little bit and saving money is at a premium, while spending excessively is a luxury only for those with deep pockets!  Count me in the former group too, so when someone asked me recently if it’s worth saving the coin to buy used I answered…“It depends”! I know, you thought I’d say yes, but it really does depend.  Here’s where and when it can be a good idea when upgrading your camera!

Buying used cameras versus new cameras

It’s no secret by now that the best place to invest the bulk of your money is in your lenses.  However, you still gotta have a camera, right?  So, should you opt for using last years model and risk having a client show up with better gear than you?  Or, should you just step up, spend the bigger dollars and always be on the leading edge?  If it’s a matter of economics, and there’s no gear limitations that stand in your way (slow shutter speed/clicks per second, etc), my answer is to always go used.  There are some of the perils and pitfalls of buying used gear though, so here’s a few tips to keep in mind when shopping around for used gear:

1. Shutter count – the shutter has an expected lifecycle of clicks it is built for. If you can get the shutter count (lots of software programs to do this) make sure you have at least 50% of them left.

2. Overall camera condition – check the camera for nicks scratches, scuff marks, and the like. If it’s all beat up, that cold be indicative of interior problems.

3. Sensor and other internals – Some problems aren’t as easily determined on a visual inspection, and it’s always best to take a few shots with the camera. Check to see if the sensor is scratched, nicked, has dust spots, etc. If it’s dust, that can be easily cleaned, but nicks and/or scratches can be a deal-breaker.

There’s obviously more to it than that, but those are the basics in looking at used camera bodies. In general, my rule of thumb when buying/selling used gear is to start at retail minus 10-15%. If the price is in that ballpark, it’s likely well cared for. I also look at seller ratings whenever possible. Fred Miranda is one of the better places to buy and sell, but Craigslist can be good since they are most often local and you can go do a visual inspection before throwing money out the window…

What experiences have others had with buying and selling new gear?  Any places that are preferred?  Places to avoid?  Sound off in the comments with your own thoughts and experiences!  In the meantime, remember, it’s really not about the gear – it’s who’s behind it, so keep on shooting!

One last thing to mention today – the April contest is live (I announced it over the weekend in the free newsletter blast), and the winner will get an 8×10 image of their choice printed and mounted in a pretty cool Backlitbox!  Very cool prize and thanks to the folks at Backlitbox for sponsoring the April giveaway!  I promise more details are forthcoming here soon in the form of a product review, but time’s a-wastin’, so be sure to get your entries in soon!  Congrats also to Evelyn for her win of the March giveaway!  She’s getting a very cool Tether Table from the folks over at Tether Tools – just drop me an email to claim your prize!  Here’s her winning image up in lights!

Flat Tire

A Dose of Inspiration

For those that are keeping up via feed reader, you may have noticed some Flickr additions over the weekend.  As the “What’s This?” arc came to completion, I thought it might be fun to compile all the images into their own dedicated set on Flickr for everyone to enjoy.  As it turned out, I had not been keeping up with cross-posting images there as much as I had thought, so it took several visits back and forth between the site files and Flickr to get everything together.  The Flickr images show up as their own feed posts, so there were a few extra feeds over the last few days.  It’s rather fun to see the collected images all in one place, and it also brings a project to completion.  See the complete 22 week collection here:  What’s This?  Flickr Gallery

Seeing projects come to completion can be a motivating force and can drive inspiration, so I’ve also brought myself current with the latest photography magazines.  Most especially relevant for today was the latest issue of Rangefinder magazine.  The web version can be found at www.rangefindermag.com and is enjoyable to be sure, but the print version really shows so much better.  Get your copy off newstands  – this issue is well worth it!  Artists such as Dixie Dixon and Jay Stock give a great dose of inspiration and demonstrate that anyone can be successful if you have the passion and inspiration, no matter if you are new to photography or have been around the block a few times.  Also in this issue is an excellent article on creating your own fine art photography books.  The price tag is high, but the end results seem pretty amazing!

From the blog front:

  • I also would like to take a moment to thank Crash Taylor again for his Thursday Thoughts interview last week.  Some great imagery in there also serve as excellent sources of inspiration, so be sure to stop over at his site and see the latest developments he has to offer.  Thanks Crash!
  • For those of you that have not downloaded the podcast yet, be sure to take some time to give it a listen – you can win the new Streetwalker backpack from Think Tank Photo!  I did my review on the show, and am giving the back to some lucky listener.  Find out how by listening to the show.  It’s a $140 value and you can have it for free!  How’s that for a dose of inspiration?

Feel free to share your images too – remember, at the end of the month, I will be doing a montage of all the images submitted to the “Flat” theme thread over at the Canon Blogger Flickr presence to feature here on the blog, so get in while you can to win fame and fortune!  (Well, maybe not, but it’s always fun to see your images online, right?)


To kick start the NYR for 2009, here’s my first idea for the theme “Flat”.  I’ve also posted it to the CB Flickr group, and more shots are likely coming, but I probably won’t post all of them here, so be sure to visit there and see not only the theme, but what shots are being tagged in there (anyone is welcome to add their themed pics to the thread or group pool).  As mentioned down one post, I’ll be taking an assorted set of the pics at the end of the month and posting a collage here at CB.

Flathead Screwdrivers