There’s nothing quite like growing out of your equipment. On the one hand it can be a measure of progress and development. On the other hand can be a source of frustration because you know you’ll now be up for thousands of dollars to upgrade. Digital – it’s amazing… amazing… but so frustraing. So you spend let’s say $5000 in 2006 buying a pretty darn good digital camera, a Canon 5D. You also spend about $1000 on an inferior, but OK it’ll do, zoom lens and about $600 on an 8GB memory card (that’ll give about 500 frames on RAW setting). Total investment in April 2006 – $6600.
So you think that’s going to hold, this kit. It does, but after shooting for a while and working with images for a while, you start to realise that there’s a point at which you just can’t get the richness in density you so desire. So you push your shooting to 800ISO with portraits, to make sure you get good density in the exposures. But the compromise of digital noise starts to sneak in. Meanwhile the lens quality just doesn’t cut it, sharpness is compromised, and the degree of image quality you want just isn’t there. You get by, you manage, till one day you have a mini implosion and just can’t take it any more.
So then the wallet gets opened up. Tough to do when you’ve been travelling way too much and clients aren’t exactly rolling through the front door. You sell the crappy lens now worth a measly $280 and a Canon L-Series 24-70mm lens is purchased for $2400. At least this will last a long while and won’t be superseded by a bigger better faster model anytime soon. We hope. It’s calibrated nicely to the 5D, things tick over for a while…and then that bloody low light problem starts to slip in. I just can’t get available light pictures well enough with this body even though my lens can go down to F2.8 – quite a nice open aperture though not working at the beautiful F1.4 – that’s another story.
Technical dramas that can only be solved with a new body – so I turf the old body that is now only worth $1000 – it’s lost $4000 of value in just 4 years. And it’s updated brother is purchased – the Mark 2, and I buy that for $3050. It’s ISO range goes to 6400 instead of 1600 and the relative quality at the lower ISO settings is much better than it’s older counterpart. I’d rather buy bigger again and spend more like double that sum and get an ISO range to 12,800. Not a chance. At least for now, I can breath a sigh of relief. Until I start thinking about that bloody F1.4 50mm scenario – that’s for another day on another budget of $2000. Let’s just hope and pray that people will invest in my photography because without that investment, I don’t eat.
The final piece to the puzzle is the purchase of a new flash unit to cope with an extremely low light wedding coming up shortly. I just can’t competently shoot the job without decent light. At least the new body will help with some of this, and the Canon Speedlite 50EXII will pick up the rest – let’s lay down another $550 for good measure. And a second memory card to cope with the shot load: let’s chuck in another hungy.
Total Equipment Spend Since 2006 = $12595
Minus Equipment Sales = $1280
Total Equipment Spend in the last 4 years: $11, 315
Oh my lord that’s a good enough start towards a house deposit. And that doesn’t count me as a gadget freak, these are basic essential items, and I don’t even have a back up kit. Let’s not bother talking about computer, monitor, back up drives, software – collectively worth thousands of dollars – let’s give it an even number shall we say $10,000? Then also there’s the cost of running a business…um…let’s see advertising, insurance, office materials, examples of work to show clients, website, accountant, car, recent exhibition, education, professional affiliation…I think I’ll leave it at that.
This is why photographers get frustrated when clients get frustrated at what photographers charge. I do think it’s our job to educate, and I hope this helps.