Martin Burke in "Fully Committed" at Zachary Scott Theatre.
I shot the image above with a Panasonic GH2 and an old Olympus Pen lens, the 60mm 1.5. Last year the GH2 was a stand out camera. It had arguably the best video/movie mode and video controls of any camera on the market and it's resolution is still top of the class for m4:3rd cameras but now prices of used ones are dropping like rocks. Along with the recently obsoleted models from Canon, Olympus, Sony and Nikon. (That's because of the rapidly solidifying rumors of an imminent, new model, the GH3). It's part of the natural process of the market, there will always be people who want or need the very latest stuff and are willing to take a loss on recently purchased equipment in order to have what they would consider to be the best available in the moment.
I just came back from my favorite camera store, Precision Camera. They take trade-ins on popular cameras and, for special customers, they will accept consignments. They are literally awash in recent model used cameras. The very cameras we salivated over last year and a few years ago. In some cases just a few months ago.
I found a shelf filled with Canon 5D mk2 cameras. They've been rendered useless by the Mark 3. ( sarcasm alert for the differently configured: Kirk is being facetious. The cameras are still very, very good performers ). Likewise, the arrival of the Nikon D800 has led to a deluge of D300s, D700, D3 and even D3x cameras. And if you are willing to go down market or down years the range of cameras on offer is incredible. All at bargain prices. Many used only by amateurs and sitting there in mint condition with fewer actuations on the shutters than you might believe.
The "on again/off again" rumors of the Olympus 4:3 E system's demise means that there are ample recent e cameras and lenses at fire sale prices as well.
Everywhere I look the Olympus OMD EM5 camera has radically displaced the EP2. You can buy new EP2's for around $275 and only 18 months ago they were scratching $1,000. Will it take long for the EP3's to follow?
What does this really mean to you? Say you are a young photographer who is just starting out in this business. You have the opportunity, during this almost unprecedented surge cycle to put together a really decent system for less cash. If you can do without 36 megapixels and you want to shoot Nikon it's time to snap up something like a used D700 or a D7000 and some of the lenses that have been cast out by the newer G series versions. The new lenses might have some small advantages over the previous models but remember that the old models were capable of making images for professionals that sold and sold well just a few months ago. We may crave the new but your clients won't see the difference. And you probably won't either.
If you shoot Canon you can walk into bigger stores and look through a sea of bodies and lenses. The 1DX is pushing used prices of the 1Dmk4 down and the prices on 1DS2's has never been lower.
Can you imagine if the car market was like the camera market? We'd be changing cars every eighteen months! The average length of ownership, in the United States, of new cars is now 71 months. Just a month shy of six years. Thing is that the cars last that long and deliver good service, for the most part, during that time frame. But then so do cameras.
I would venture to say that you could go out for most jobs equipped with the original Canon 5D or the Nikon D2X and a few older generation lenses and do most of the jobs that fall to photojournalists (are there any left?) and most local commercial photographers. Especially if the images are heading to the world wide web.
If you separate the business side of photography from the pleasure side of photography there's not a lot more we can do with the latest raft of cameras and lenses that we could not have done with the previous generation of same for most of our work. Especially if the new stuff is seeing most of its action handheld and bumpy.
Just a suggestion, if there was a camera or lens that you really liked but which has been discontinued you might find that it's still a really good shooting camera and it's probably available on the used market at a great savings. Check out the good, local camera stores and see what you can find. And if the price seems to be a bit high don't be afraid to offer less. Most of the cameras that come in on trade have a pretty healthy margin and a shelf life like milk. Shoot a little bolder and older and keep some money in your pockets for the adventure.
Silly me. I'm still buying up $125 Nikon F2's and $500 Hasselblads. Do you know what these cost new???