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Open Post: A Cheapskates Thread (ongoing thread)

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by WT21, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Having spent about the last five years churning and chasing gear, reading lots of forum sites, testing lots of equipment, I've come to a realization I likely already knew: I'm cheap.

    Sure, I love to play with new toys, but I am learning to be honest with myself. I don't love new toys as much as a I love a bargain.

    Don't get me wrong! I don't shoot pictures so I can trade gear (yet, anyway). I got into trading gear because I shoot pictures. But, I have to come clean -- finding a bargain is just as much (or maybe even a little more enjoyable) than getting the shot.

    I know this is anathema to many, or at least some, but it is what it is.

    So, I thought I'd start this thread, and see if there's anyone else like me. I am hoping it would be OK to talk about all photo gear, and not just m43, but avoid topics of "this is better than that." I marked this as an "open" post -- open to both other posters and any gear (as long as the mods are OK with that).

    I figured I'd start this ongoing thread to encourage three types of posts:

    1. Gear Deals, both good and bad. For fun, maybe we can post great gear deals we've made recently, but also the ones we think we might have missed entirely on. A bargain could be just a real cheap piece of kit, or it could be an expensive piece of kit that you got a great price on.
    2. Pictures taken with said bargain gear. I think it would be more fun to post pics from recently acquired gear, and not just pics from old gear you no longer have, taken 3 years ago. For instance, I no longer have an EP1, so I won't post any pics here from that camera, but if you got a steal on one now, post away!
    3. Confessionals of how cheap you are, what price levels you are willing to spend, what triggers a buy (or a sell) for you, etc.

    I hope this kind of thread is OK with the mods in the "Open" section, but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. I'm going to post samples for #s 1 and 3 above, and hope to get some pictures up here later.
     
    • Like Like x 9
  2. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Gear Deal: Canon 5D and EPM1

    I had an OMD, but I just struggled to make peace with it.

    Was it the IQ? No, the IQ was top notch (though it seemed to show pf more than my other m43 cameras). How about the ergonomics? They were great. Controls, too. Was it the size? Maybe. It was starting to get a little big for me. I think in the end, it was the price, and how much I thought it would drop in value over the next year. Because I'm cheap!

    So, I sold it (am currently without an m43 body) and I found a Canon 5D for $550! Full frame for $550. I added to that my favorite cheapskate Canon 70-210 3.5-4.5 USM lens for only $140. An 85/1.8 prime for $280 and a 35/2 for $225. That's $1,195 funded by selling my OMD for $860 (which I had bought used anyway) and the grip for $250. So, sold the OMD+Grip for $1,110 and picked up the 5D and 3 lenses for $1,195.

    But what to do about m43 body? The new EPL5? The new EPM2? Maybe, but not yet. I'm buying back a Cameta refurb EPM1 for $169 (body only).

    I'm much happier, and in some ways have a better setup for my needs, as I do a lot of shooting around the house, where the 5D suites me just fine (and holidy pics are coming up, which I think are great via FF).
     
  3. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Confessional: Camera Body pricing

    One thing I've noticed -- it doesn't matter the camera format (FF, crop, 43, pns), I'm most comfortable on the high side of camera bodies in the $300-500 range. If I go over $500, I start getting uncomfortable. If I can get a body under $200, and there's something I value in that camera, then I'm very likely to give it a go.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I recently sold an NEX-C3 for $179.99 used after buying it for $450 used not so long ago. A lot of people think MFT stuff drops uniquely fast in price, but I think that applies to the whole mirrorless category for now. The new models come out often, and you pay a lot to be on the bleeding edge of technology.

    Any time you see a new MFT camera that looks appealing, plan to pay X amount to adopt early, about 85-90% of X to get a used or factory refurb very early in the life cycle, but massive savings a year later, especially if you are willing to pay used. I know you know all of that, Bill, but I post it in case some others don't.

    I enjoy all ways. I don't mind paying the occasional premium to be one of the first to get a new camera, but I also enjoy getting the bargains a year out, where you really get your money's worth.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  5. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    There's nothing like the occasional purchase to get the creative juices flowing again. I have a $100 / month photography budget. That makes it easy to make small impulse purchases when I find a bargain, but more difficult to save up for big ticket items.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    So, do you skip some months and save up? If so, how long can you go before you "have" to buy something?
     
  7. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    You should have been able to get more than $179.99 for it. I recently sold off another NEX 3 for $300. I would have bought it for $179.99 and thought it was a steal.
     
  8. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Ehud
    That why I think that it is preferable to invest in glass and not in body.
    You can get very good old body for cheap while getting cheap glass is hard. I got my G2 with P20 and Lightroom 3 spare battery and memory card for 540 USD in May, this put a price tag of 20 USD for the camera body. This body is still great compared to the G3/5 (I am a controls freak). I will probably replace it when it break or there will be significant progress in sensors/bodies. But when the time will arrive I will probably replace it with last year model that is half the price.
     
  9. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I don't like to spend a lot of time selling something, revising, lowering prices, bargaining, etc. I started with a higher asking price (listed on Ebay, here, and DPReview) and dropped the price every 12 hours until it sold. I would have gotten more for it by being patient, bumping occasionally, etc, but time = money. Most used C3s are selling on Ebay for only a little more than mine fetched.
     
  10. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    702
    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I've made $100 just buying and reselling the P20 locally.

    That lens really is in demand (still).
     
  11. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    You can really find some bargains out there right now. Like the 5D that WT21 mentions for <$600, or the Canon 40D for <$400, or the Nikon D7000 for $750 or Pentax K5 for even a bit less. And, or course, the m4/3s format really provides some opportunities, as does NEX.

    On the point and shoot side we see previous gen "high end" models selling for very modest prices now. Great opportunity to pick up a pretty good glove compartment camera.

    While I like bargains, I must admit that I get tired of chasing some lower number all the time. As Amin points out, time = money. I already waste too much on line; I just can't see spending more trying to save that last 5%.

    What I've done is try to buy and sell on the used market with some patience, to allow myself to try a multitude of gear without spending much money. I've stopped short of buying just to flip for a profit. I think if too much of that happens we will see fewer enthusiasts offering nice deals with the idea that they are helping grow the hobby.
     
  12. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    I don't know how many folks are familiar with Larry Becker, who has a slot on DTown, but he may be the 'king of cheap'. Some of his ideas are simply wacky, but some are really effective. He prowls such places as Home Depot and figures out how to 'repurpose' PVC and cheap lighting clamps into serviceable light holders, WalMart to find pool floats that can be used as camera bag padding, shower curtains to use as diffusers, etc.

    Edit: His blog, as many others do, also includes personal opinions, reviews of gear, etc. etc.; however if you browse down the 'menu' system on the right side of the home page you can find some links to cheap stuff.


    His "mission statement" is (somewhat edited):

    "...this blog grew out of the popularity of a regular segment on the popular photography web-based TV show DTownTV. (It)... is all about making your dollar go further in the (usually) expensive photography industry. It covers DIY projects and inexpensive solutions to various photographic needs."

    Larry's Cheap Shots « Photography Tips and Tricks from Larry Becker Larry's Cheap Shots

    *Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in DTown or in "Cheap Shots".

    My own contribution here -

    Years ago I purchased an inexpensive, lightweight aluminum tripod with an integrated head. It was surpassed in the intervening years as I learned more about tripods, but I kept the old $20 unit in the back of a closet. A couple of years ago I agreed to do some portrait work for a non-profit organization.

    Needing additional lighting I was able to use the old tripod as a light stand for a Nikon SB600 flash - the screw on the tripod head matched perfectly with the mount on the SB600. Raising the center column to maximum height gave me the positioning I needed. Although my Nikon gear was sold off when I moved to :43: I kept the tripod; ya never know when you'll need a light stand :thumbup:.

    This thread should be interesting if it garners enough response.

    Regards,

    Jim
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Jim, thanks for the CheapShots link. It looks like a fun read.
     
  14. flipmack

    flipmack Mu-43 Veteran

    252
    Mar 23, 2012
    irvine, CA
    I am very cheap when it comes to my photo gear - since it's just a hobby, I get the cheapest available and I constantly scour the boards for potential trades. I do a lot of "sidegrading" - not necessarily an upgrade, but also not a downgrade.

    When I was heavily into 4/3's, my sidegrade activity was horrible. I'd get a new-to-me lens or body every few months just to "try it out". Things I did learn:

    - The ZD 50/2.0, which is lauded as the greatest lens in 4/3, was not for me. Traded it after a few months for the ZD 11-22/2.8-3.5, which, also was not for me.
    - I kept coming back to the E-1...this meant that megapixels/sharpness meant nothing - it was all about the experience and the 'feel'. I still have an E-1 now.
    - FredMiranda is a great resource for Olympus cheapskates simply because Canikon users will get an itch and try out 4/3 or m4/3, only to be disappointed and sell at a loss. Scored a lot of gear through FredMiranda.
    - eBay and bid sniping is good if you can find an item that was misspelled or if you find an item that was *just posted* at a very cheap buy-it-now price.


    Unfortunately for me, I traded/sold a lot of my photo gear and I used a lot of the profit towards my single-speed road bike (averaging 16.5 MPH for a 22.22 mile ride with about 500ft elevation gain - gotta love Irvine's endless bike trails). From this point forward, every photo gear transaction will probably be a loss for me, so I'm done. Seriously done.

    Regrets? Of course. I probably could have stopped when I had an Olympus E-620, ZD 25/2.8 pancake, ZD 11-22/2.8-3.5, and ZD 35/3.5 macro. That was a very powerful kit...except it was still too big to take everywhere. Size is what drove me to m4/3.
     
  15. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    You're most welcome!

    The organization of the site could be a bit better, you kinda have to wade through opinions and such to get to the 'cheap' items...I'd like it if Larry would put up an index that pointed to the (for me) good stuff :wink:.

    Regards,

    Jim
     
  16. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    I picked up a 20mm f/1.7 for $150 because of a tiny scratch on the front element. It doesn't affect the images though, so its a functionally a non-issue.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Me, too. And proud of it!

    I have two G1 bodies right now, each of which cost me around $100. In both cases I bought the G1 with a 14-45mm on eBay and sold the lens. The kits cost in the $250-300 range and the lenses sold close to $200.

    Last fall in preparation for a trip to Africa I did the same thing plus bought a 100-300mm (here at MU-43 IIRC) at a good price. After that trip I sold that G1 and the lens at a net cost for the whole transaction, buy and sell, of $30.

    My best tip is to look for packages that include the item you want. Carefully research the values of the items, then buy the package at a bargain price and flog the unwanted stuff. This will almost always result in a significantly lower net price than you could buy the item individually for. Packages almost never elicit bids equal to the total value of the components.

    Avoid selling on eBay. Use forums and Craigslist to the maximum extent possible. eBay fees are a ripoff and they are arrogant [insert pejorative noun here] as well.

    Never buy new. Early adopters are fickle and impatient. Their new toys will be for sale soon enough. Wait.

    Cameras and lenses are tools for producing pictures. Junk tools are never a bargain, no matter how cheap.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    Massachusetts
    Herbert
    Your post about your gear isn't helping the cause, Bill. :smile:

    For some time now I've been really curious about what all the hoopla is about full frame. I still have a couple of EOS lenses lying about. Now put one and one together ...

    Anyways, count me in as one of the tribe. I've only ever tried pre-ordering once - a G3 - and I've learned my lesson well. I buy bodies used or refurb. For lenses, I initially thought I should buy those at least as new. Well, not anymore. I've found Amazon's used deals very good, and couple that with their installment plans and my wallet is a happy camper.

    I now have a refurb PL3, P14 (which I got trading a used O17), P20 and P45. Via trading in this forum I got a nex c3 and a Canon 50. Plus a refurb Rokinon 85. Im thinking of selling the O45 to fund the FF because I enjoy the manual focusing too much with the Nex. :smile:
     
  19. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Richard Elliott
    I am the type to buy last years car when the new models come out. The same on cameras - I buy the previous model when the new version comes out. I will likely get the current OMD in a year or so when the next one rolls around to replace my G1.

    Back in the "olden days" you could improve the IQ on any camera by simply buying better film. Today you have to buy a newer body and that can be much more expensive. Especially over time. Technology improvement is both a blessing and a curse.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  20. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    OK. Here's a recent miss.

    I decided to try (again -- I never learn) NEX. So, I got a Nex 5n on FredMiranda.com (aka FM) about 3 weeks ago for $375, which I thought was a good price. Three days later the camera arrived (body only -- no lens) and that very same day, Sony announced the NEX sale where the 5n body dropped to $398. Argh. I think that promotions over, though, so I think I will be OK reselling in the future without too much of a loss.