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Life Cycle Cost of Systems

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Narnian, Sep 22, 2014.

  1. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    I cannot get out of the back of my mind the potential life cycle costs of all of these new systems, especially lenses.

    It is a given that to get better ISO performance you will have to upgrade the body every few years - the sensor has replaced film as a consumable.

    How long will these tiny motors last in the lenses? How long and how much will it take to repair them when they do? How much will technological advances make current lenses obsolescent of not obsolete? As someone approaching retirement with limited funds in the future I clearly need to run out of GAS. :tongue:
  2. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 4, 2014
    I wouldn't be upgrading bodies for improved ISO or quality at this point, but features may sway me (like 4K video).

    As for lenses, I would consider kit, cheaper zoom/primes as throw-away after presumably working fine for 10-15 years. For my more expensive lenses, the quality of the glass is so good that I am sure it makes sense to fix them if they do break.

    My two concerns in regards to lenses would be:
    -How long can you get motors to fix a particular lens (15 years? 25 years? Probably not like building Legacy glass that can work well for an incredibly long time if stored well and treated nicely)
    -How long will the format (any) be around? I'm hoping m43 will be around for a long time to come due to multiple companies supporting it, and it would seem there is always room for more compact switchable lens systems. Never know though.
  3. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Spend what you can honestly afford to make yourself happy in your hobby. None of this stuff hold much value, even good glass, in the long run. Good luck finding lithium batteries for a 10+ year old camera or any other piece of "disposable" technology. Some are available, but little of this stuff will be collectible AND usable in the future as most use proprietary batteries, and they are not really designed to last forever.

  4. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I believe even the entry-level bodies of just a few years ago provides more than enough for anyone to continue to enjoy photography for a lifetime. We simply obsess over the newest and greatest just like every other consumer electronic out there (computers, tablets, smartphones etc...). No one is forcing anyone into the high cost of buying at the bleeding edge of technology.... certainly anyone who is on a budget. I'm a firm believer that photography is as expensive (or as cheap) as you wish it.

    We like to talk about the expensive and short life cycle of photography equipment, but we must also remind ourselves that there is another side of the equation; Steep depreciation. These things drop in price like bricks after the next newer model is released. This is why I generally buy used. The Olympus E-PL1 for example. When I bought one brand new back in 2010, it was listed at $600USD. I just bought 2 more recently; both at around $80USD. Certainly, $80USD is reasonable even for the modest budget. Most of my photos posted here are from the E-PL1 not from the OMD EM5. Let's take something a little close to bleeding edge; Sony A7R. It was announced in October 2013 for $2300USD. I just bought a used one less than a year later for $1600USD via a retail store. That's about a 30% drop in price in 11 months. I'm sure in a year that body will be way south of $1000USD. I don't even want to talk about the depreciation of my Leica M8 announced back in 2006.

    Lenses on the other hand, tend to hold their value a little better. Hopefully by the time I reach retirement age, I would have come to my senses. These generally will last a very long time (in my experience). I still have early AF examples in my collection that are still operating; Pentax ME-F with its 35-70 f/2.8 and a couple AF lenses from a Minolta 7000. I still shoot a lot with manual lenses and most of them still work properly if they were stored properly. Some are dating back to the 1950s.


    When a new version of Lightroom comes out, the current one installed on your computer doesn't stop working. (I'm still on LR3)
    When a new version of a camera comes out, the current one in hand shoots exactly the same as it did when it was the latest (I'm still shooting with an EPL1)
    When a newer computer is released, the current one still works fine (My main one is a Mac from 2010)
    When a newer faster version of the lens comes out, the current one still resolves just like it did before (I still shoot with vintage lenses decades in age).
    • Like Like x 3
  5. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    Its now quite cheep to get a decent m43 set up with G3's costing less than £100 G5's a bit more and the original kit zoom 14-45 goes for less than £100 so a good set up costs less than £200. We are now at the point of changing bodies when either it dies or a new one has a useful feature, upgrading I would skip a generation or two if no stand out new feature comes along, though if you suddenly have a bit of spare cash and fancy a new camera why not.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    The depreciation is a bonus if you don't mind buying used, I actually worry about getting new due to mass depreciation, I did a project last year using cheep digital cameras I got of Ebay none cost more than £10 including postage, no one as questioned the quality of the work.
  7. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Increases in sensor performance reached the point of diminishing returns several years ago. If you base your buying decisions on what you can see, rather than DxO scores, your basic assumptions go down the drain.

    The whole concept of Life Cycle Costs has more application for weapons systems than retirement toys.
  8. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Late 90s I put my Nikon lenses in storage. In early 2011 I pulled them back out of storage and would still be using all of them today except a few were stolen - but the others I still use and they are very nearly as good as the latest lenses.

    I would hope my m4/3s gear last near that long - but I'm not holding my breath. I do know that Olympus will only support repairs for gear no longer than 36 months after they quit producing it.
  9. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    My 4/3 gear dates back to 2004 and it still works (I can even get batteries for my E-1) and all of it has had a fairly hard life. My E-P1 still works fine. Excluding accidents, there is no reason why the equipment shouldn't last a very long time. Australian consumer laws also require manufacturers to ensure that products have a reasonable expected lifespan (there is no minimum period, despite what manufacturers may state, and this is based on the overall cost and type of product) and repairs and support services are provided similarly. A $1500 camera or a $8000 lens is not considered a throwaway item.

    Software support, by way of firmware updates, is another thing altogether.
  10. PMCC

    PMCC Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 18, 2013
    Forever is a long time. The question is, how long a digital camera should reasonably be expected to last?

    I have Sony DC that is now 10 years old. The shutter button is not responsive. However I still use it, mainly for IR. I skipped about 6 generations and only got the G3 last year. Sounds like a reasonable depreciation cycle.
  11. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    I still have my original Digital Rebel from 2003 and batteries are still widely available. I have had a number of cameras and lenses die from use, but they were well used.
  12. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    I have an late 80s Canon 28-80 USM. It was the "kit" lens with the Canon A2 or A2e. It works fine, but it's got a slight incompatibility that causes it to freeze up on modern EOS digital cameras occasionally. Canon offered to update the firmware on it, but they wanted $150 for the update... I think I paid $75 for the lens used so I didn't bother.

    I still have my Canon 20d sitting around - it still works and it's battery still holds a charge. The button battery for the internal clock is still good and is the original supplied with the camera. I also know the guy who bought my D100 in 2003 is STILL using it. He's using it with an original Nikkor screw-drive 80-200 push-pull zoom AF lens (the one with the sand-paper surface).

    All of this stuff still takes great photos!

    So yeah, people who say these things don't last are out of their tree...
  13. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    This I would strongly disagree with - I have worked in several industries on both the military and civilian side and life-cycle costs are applicable everywhere. I spend a lot of time budgeting and 5 years is just the start ;)  Too many people buy things without asking what is the real price - look at our "subsidized" phone market where people get a new iPhone for "only" $200 where the real cost may approach $1,000 over the life of their plan.

    Even consumables have a life-cycle cost - food bought at the grocery store has to be purchased, stored and disposed of. Time, transportation (gas, depreciation, maintenance, etc.), part of the house to store it, electricity to keep it cool plus part of the cost of the fridge (and its life-cycle costs), it goes on for quite a while. ;) 

    If you consider the life-cycle cost of any purchase the more expensive one may actually be cheaper.

    Retirement toys will actually, relatively speaking, become more expensive to me on a fixed (and lower) income and thinking and planning for that now should make it easier for me to keep on shooting. Currently I make a good salary and can but whatever I want but do not have a pension and will have to live off of my own savings and Social Security.

    I do not buy new often, allowing someone else to enjoy the depreciation. Most of my computer gear (and some of my camera gear) is refurbished. When I do but new cameras and computers I get the previous generation when the new one comes out.

    I disagree as well - ISO performance is still getting better, about one-half stop per release and it has shown no sign of stopping. I base this on personal experience and the reports of others actually using the equipment as I pay little attention to DxO scores. I like to shoot available light and ISO 3200 on my GX1 is comparable to ISO 800 on my GF1.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. snkenai

    snkenai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 5, 2010
    In any equipment based business/hobby, the cost of worn out, broken, outdated, is just that, "the cost of doing business".
    I decided many years ago, that photography was my one extravagance, that I was not going to try to justify, as long as, it did not get in the way of the rest of my family's needs. There have been times when I invested quite heavily. But, recently I cut my investment to the basics. G1, Oly 14-42 ii, Fl 36 flash and a couple old MF lenses that almost never get used. I still get done what I want to, and I am retired, on very fixed income. I do look forward to replacing the G1 some day. But, if not, just keep using it. (Oh, it has a cracked rear screen, from a bump off the dinning table).
  15. broody

    broody Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 8, 2013
    I don't feel compelled to buy a new body these days. But I'll keep investing in lenses.

    Even my old GF3 doesn't stop giving me lovely images, after the GM1 'replaced it'. It's exactly as usable as the shiny new body, and base ISO pictures with the 12mp sensor have a special something that I don't want to give up.
  16. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I kinda read that comment differently. I didn't read it as a statement that ISO performance has remained stagnant. I read it as the cost-to-benefit of buying into the latest and greatest sensor technology for the purpose of high ISO performance is deminishing. Meaning that even sensors of several years ago will give you enough high ISO head room for most photography.... including those with a limited budget buying cameras several years ago.
  17. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    A lot of this depends on whether you are printing or not. If the images are only on computer monitors then there is less benefit to better ISO performance. But I am printing up to 16x20 where you need everything to work at maximum performance in m43.
  18. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Its like no one ever printed large on film and older sensors in the past... Sorry but I don't buy it. I have printed large quite a lot too with even less much less.

    How much you are willing to spend on a small increment of improvement that translates to an even smaller increment in the end result is the real question here. Every person has their own answer to that question. Every person have the freedom to make photography as cheap or as expensive as they want. 99% of the time, people are simply justifying their interest in spending on the next hot item. When I worked retail an professionals with demanding clients are often less equipped than. The amateurs that cross the counter. GAS vs business decision/investment can be translated to what part is making the decision.

    Going back to the original topic.... I see no reason to stretch retirement budget for camera equipment when money is best spent enjoying and traveling through life in search of things to photograph. Especially now that digital for the most part has matured (mpixel rat race waned and surpassed what film delivers in high iso)
  19. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Ahh... but that's EXACTLY it. How much of the general population of snap-shooters ever printed larger than 5x7 in the film days?
    4x6 ruled the world in the 80s and 90s halcyon days of machine-development. If you wanted to splurge you got 5x7! Some people really did get 8x10 - but very few. Then, it didn't matter if you had a Nikon Touch, an F-series, a Canon A or AE, or a Minolta Maxxum 5000 or 7000, your 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 minilab prints all looked the same - so there wasn't much thought put into upgrading for the general public. Nobody compared lines per millimetre unless you were on usenet or internet photography forums. The only thing that seemed to make a difference was the film stock you bought and maybe the meter/automation in your camera.

    Now, suddenly, everyone is a fine-art printer. People believe that "not yet available" camera will get them better and better quality. So they keep buying and the perceived life-cycle of their cameras is very short. At the same time, there are lots of people out there who believe that as soon as a new camera comes out, their old camera ceases to function. Weird!

    It made more sense in the early days of digital cameras - when memory cards and connection cables were in transition and you truly could end up with a camera that, 3 years later, was incompatible with whatever computer you had on hand. My parents have a Mavica that doesn't connect to anything. They have a dozen "cards" (i.e.: analog mag-discs) and I found one of those Mavica thermal printers for them - so they managed to print them off and I digitized the images by running them into a video digitizer.

    People cried and cried about how difficult it would be in "ten years" to read digital images and I remember that was 2004. We're in 2014 now and all of my images from 2004 (actually going back to about 2002) are perfectly readable. It's all the dodgy stuff pre-2001 that's really hard to pull into a modern workflow.
  20. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Professionals and serious photographers managed large prints on MF and even small formats just fine. This thread wasn't discussing the "general population". This thread was discussing the OPs concerns about the cost of continued enjoyment of photography while in retirement of a fixed income. Let's not delude ourselves and group-think ourselves into a decision that digital cameras within the last 5 years are incapable of producing great results and enjoyment and that buying the latest technology is imperative to ones photography. If your photography is driven by the equipment in your possession, then you are doing something seriously wrong... People have been producing large prints, small prints, medium prints, digital images, landscapes, portraits, journlistic etc. photographs for decades... its not like it all just matured the past few years in the digital realm.

    We just had a thread of how many people are still enjoying the 1st generation MFT sensor cameras... quite a few responded and there are still quite a few images posted here with them. Mine posted here are from an EPL1 purchased back in 2010 with two more purchased recently for $80USD.

    I still stand by what I said:

    This hobby isn't prohibitively expensive.... Its only expensive because we make it so.
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