why do people spend so much on the DSLR Body?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by DoNoHarm, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. DoNoHarm macrumors 65816

    DoNoHarm

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    #1
    Since a majority of DSLR users will only use the kit lens, why do people spend so much on the DSLR body? I'm about to take the plunge, and doing the math, if I have 1,000 to 1,500 to spend on my DSLR + lenses, it appears that I'm better off spending that money on an entry level body and a really nice lens instead of a mid level body with a kit lens.

    If and when I choose to upgrade bodies, the resale value of the old body should be a few hundred dollars only.....

    I just can't seem to make the case for a mid level body, given my budget. Even if you say video, well you have cameras like the panasonic zs3 for ~220 these days that record fantastic 720p video.

    Am I missing something here?
     
  2. Schtumple macrumors 601

    Schtumple

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    #2
    Because anyone who's buying a DSLR probably knows a thing or 2 about photography, and therefore, won't use the kit lens/already has their own lenses. When I get my DSLR I'm doing the body only option and getting a nice zoom lens sperate.
     
  3. andiwm2003 macrumors 601

    andiwm2003

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    #3
    well, i guess most people spend between 400 and 800 for the body. the majority is probably the average consumer. i think only a minority spends more than 1000 bucks and that are mostly pros and serious hobbyists and there the money is certainly well spent.
    at the same time i think it's a good time to buy overstock/end of life dslr bodies (D90, A700, some canons of course) right now. 12MP APS-C with good features even weathersealed can be had for $500-600 right now. Add two lenses and you get a great kit for around 1300 bucks.
     
  4. Troglodyte macrumors member

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    #4
    A cursory glance at the tourists in London will show you're mistaken. A lot of DSLRs nearly all with the kit lenses on - most probably in 'Green Box' mode.

    I've even seen a few 5D Mk2's with junk glass hanging off the front.
     
  5. ntrigue macrumors 68040

    ntrigue

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    #5
    I would agree with Troglodyte. The lens is the critical component once you purchase a body with sufficient ISO and feature set that works.

    I think many times when you focus (excuse the pun) your hobby you find at least two lenses are necessary. The included lens is sufficient for people shots.
     
  6. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #6
    There are four main schools of thought:

    1. A more expensive body will take better pictures. Mostly false, but a big perception amongst camera owners. It's a side-school for "only the best will do!"

    2. I want/need/might use a particular feature- more resolution for cropping, more AF points, better AF module, dual CF slots, larger sensor, higher ISO, weather sealing or some combination of the aforementioned.

    3. I already have my glass, so I'll get a body that uses it to its best advantage.

    4. I need the competitive advantage or to be competitive.

    For me, it was 3 from #2 (Crop, sensor size and ergonomics,) a fair bit of #3 (Upgrading my primary lens would have cost as much or more without as much gain,) the perception of #4 (starting to create a body of work that can go into high-end galleries with ultra-large prints) and the fact that I didn't want to always have to lug two (cheaper) bodies around and worry about which lens was on which body.
     
  7. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #7
    I agree with Compuwar - I went for #3 and #2 on his list of reasons when I recently bought a Canon 5DII.

    While the 'always spend more on glass than on the body' rule is a sensible one, it really dates from the days of film - where you essentially got to use the same 'sensor' (film) whether you had the cheapest or most expensive body in a manufacturers range. The only way to overcome this was to buy a bigger camera and use much bigger pieces of film. I did this, and ended up taking shots on 6x7cm film - with 5x the surface area of 35mm.

    In the digital era, there is a difference in the quality of image you can capture between (for example) a Canon 500D and a 5DMkII. Sure, for birding and wildlife photography you'll get better results spending your $$ on the 500D and a great telephoto lens, rather than the 5DII and a consumer telephoto. For general photography though it would be difficult to beat the resolution of 5DII with Canon's extremely cheap 50mm f1.8 lens with any other Canon body/lens combination.

    So... with digital bodies, for certain types of subject you CAN get the best image per $ by buying a great body and some well chosen inexpensive (prime) lenses.

    For a more flexible kit with a range of wideangle, macro, tele capability - paying more for the lenses will produce better results.

    And to agree with the OP, MOST people with the mid to high end DSLRs probably don't have image quality as their number 1 priority... they'll partner a high end body with a cheap and bad lens because they enjoy the pride of ownership, they need something which strokes their egos, or they have more money than sense!
     
  8. DoNoHarm thread starter macrumors 65816

    DoNoHarm

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    #8
    Agreed. These are definitely categories of mid-level camera body buyers out there. That being said, would you agree that for a user that doesn't need the megapixels (ie, not taking stock photos to be sold to an agency), the bottleneck in terms of photo resolution is the kit lens and not the camera. Therefore, if you will be spending 1000 - 1500, the optimal allocatioin of resources goes to a really nice lens and an entry level body?

    to put it another way, will a Canon Rebel XS + a mid level lens take a better photo than a Canon tsi + kit lens?
     
  9. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #9
    I really don't think "bottleneck" is the correct term- kit lenses these days are quite good- certainly good enough for anyone who doesn't regularly produce large prints. While I've always been a fan of "Spend as little as you can on the body and as much as you can on the lens" I don't think than any modern DSLR since the 6MP barrier was crossed sucks enough to not be good enough for most people. I think that after Canon updated its kit lenses a few years ago, the only issue with kit lenses is aperture, not really resolution- sure you can pay more for better resolution, but are you really going to be able to appreciate that if you're just sharing photos on Flikr and Facebook? The gating issue is aperture, not resolution when it comes to kit lenses. I've always wondered why Nikon and Canon haven't put out a kit with an f/2.8 fixed aperture zoom or f/1.8 prime- they'd totally win the "little kid running around at home" segment if it was done well.
     
  10. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #10
    Sadly, it's probably cheaper and better from a marketing standpoint to implement something like IS/VR than to ship faster zooms. Of course, that doesn't help of you need a high shutter speed to freeze the "little kid" or give you low DOF for an artistic effect.
     
  11. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #11
    Yeah, but the "shoot your kids indoors without a flash" kit of a low-end body with good ISO and a 35mm f/1.8 APS-C lens would be worth a bit of a premium. Let's face it, that's a huge part of the new DSLR market. It might be difficult to get the price down on the lens, but then you're pretty-much guaranteed to get a later zoom sale out of those folks. I dunno- maybe I'm missing something.

    Paul
     
  12. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #12
    I shoot Nikon rather than Canon, so I don't know the Canon lenses very well - but unless you've gotten close enough to them to determine exactly which lens was on the camera AND had specific knowledge of that lens, you are likely guilty of making sweeping generalizations in at least a few of those cases. People can take pro-quality photos with a lens other than an 8-inch-long, 3-pound, $2000 hunk o' glass hanging off their camera.

    Take a look at some of Galen Rowell's favorite lenses sometimes. Take a look at some of Moose Petersen's. Mixed in among the "pro" glass are some decidedly "consumer" offerings. Heck, take a look at some of the photography that people like Darwin Wiggett have taken using the Canon G9 - not a dSLR at all! You can take high-quality, professional photographs using consumer lenses and/or bodies. You do need to understand your equipment's strengths and weaknesses, so you can avoid the latter (which you need to do even with pro glass); but as long as you do that the photos you shoot with them can stand up well against anything.
     
  13. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #13
    It's about developing a photographic eye... unless you just want to collect a load of expensive lenses...
     
  14. spice weasel macrumors 65816

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    #14
    I think this is the key here. I'm only a hobbyist, and know decidedly less than most of the others here, but for me it's always been a case of doing the best you can with the resources at your disposal. Obviously if you have the cash, get the best body and the best lenses you can. But many people don't, so they have to choose one or the other.

    I've always thought that you are better off spending more on lenses, simply because they make better, longer-term investments. dSLR bodies are constantly being improved. But you can always use older, high-quality lenses on newer bodies.

    It's like stereo equipment: you're better off putting your money into quality speakers and upgrading your amp/receiver when you can afford to. But if you can't afford to do that, then you are better off getting decent speakers and a decent receiver than nothing at all.

    In the end, unless you are a pro and do this for a living, it's all about having fun and being creative. I shoot with a cheap D60, a kit lens, a fixed prime, and a relatively inexpensive wide-angle lens, and I have a blast.
     
  15. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

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    #15
    I figure that there are those out there who, when looking for a camera, can afford to buy a mid to pro-level body and think buy it thinking it will give them better pictures. Depending on the kind of photography you will be doing, it could be a valid point. Though from my experience, doing the kinds of photography where one might think that they need the better camera, are the kind of situations where specialized lenses are best. For instance, shooting birds in flight or fast moving sports.

    Then there are people who are gear junkies. This is probably would classify myself to some extent. Honestly, I think a lot of people could fall into this category though. Those who like to have the best, just to have the best. Then those who have a bit of experience and want the best, but also may get more out of it.
     
  16. jlc1978 macrumors 68000

    jlc1978

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    #16
    I can think of two reasons:

    1) Cost - many kit buying decisions are made on cost and the cost of making such a lens would probably bump the price up to the point where sales would suffer.

    2)Cannibalization - if they did make good, inexpensive lens at that price they risk selling a bunch of those rather than the more expensive ones they currently sell; cutting revenue and possibly margins.
     
  17. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #17
    Add a third reason - marketing.

    Folks are impressed by zoom lenses and long zooms. It's taken years for the market to start to see the advantage of wider lenses on P&S cameras (at last we now have P&S cams with 28mm or even 24mm at the wide end, instead of the older 35mm standard).

    At the low end of the market it would be extremely difficult to get the message across that a fast prime is what a consumer wants.
     
  18. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #18
    I can think of two counter examples:

    1. The fact that Nikon and Canon both had extraordinary success with two-lens kits that pretty-much ended the 1.2-1.3 lenses/SLR era. That argues that an additional specialty kit wouldn't necessarily hurt, and might raise revenues.

    2. The biggest revenue lens for Nikon in the past few years has been the 18-200. A 35mm f/1.8 DX won't impact sales of that one iota. I think it would actually raise margins because i think you'd get from 1.8 lenses/SLR to somewhere near 2.0 if you did that and it was moderately successful. Better yet, registrations of those kits would be self-selected samples for marketing additional lenses- including kit lenses at retail rather than kit prices.
     
  19. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #19
    That's the best argument against it to date- but since you're not obligated to stop selling zoom kits, I don't know that it's still not a good potential money-maker for the DP-Reivew/MacRumors first post is "What camera should I get to take pix of my kids" crowd. I'm not saying I don't see why they don't replace the current kits with it- I'm saying I don't see why it's not a relatively cheap addition...
     
  20. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #20
    I WILL NEVER buy another new body again. Glass, on the other hand, I would buy new, as it holds its' value pretty well (70% maybe or more, depending on the lens).

    I bought an XSI last summer to get back into an SLR body. I have had an EOS-3, 30D, 20D, Elan 7N, EOS-650, etc over the past 7 years. I got a smoking deal on my XSi, but for someone who was buying something to hold them over, buying new was probably not the best idea if wanting to sell later. I would be hard pressed to get $450 for the body, not that I am going to sell right away. I actually really like the sensor on the XSi. I wouldn't mind picking up a 40D (5D, but none of my lenses would work), as the ease of use it a bit better..
     
  21. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #21
    Yeah I think it's all marketing. Consumers who are in the market for a low end body plus a cheap kit lens don't know what aperture is, and how it relates to exposure and DOF. But they do understand zoom. So when they're standing there at best buy looking at say a Nikon D3000 + 35 1.8, they compare it to the Canon (or even another Nikon) with kit lens next to it and go "man this Nikon sucks I can't even zoom in on anything! Even my old P&S could zoom what a piece of junk!"

    Ruahrc
     
  22. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

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    #22
    1. Because some people have enough money to spare
    2. Because it's like buying a car: one likes like a Ferrari, while another a Yugo
    3. Because an expensive body makes one feel good :D

    In reality, the average person does not realize the full potential of the camera body he or she buys, but a lot of other people do and look for certain features they need to facilitate their work.
     
  23. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #23
    As one moves up the price spectrum on bodies, the features definitely increase. One might argue that people don't need the extra features, but as AlaskaMoose just said some people definitely do. When I replaced my D70 body, I was at the point where I knew I liked to shoot landscapes and sometimes longer exposures - so mirror lockup was something I really wanted, and that's simply not available at the lower end. I also convinced myself I would benefit from a full-frame sensor (for other reasons) - so that added another layer of expense. On the other hand the advanced autofocus the D300 and D700 have is only of limited usefulness to me (but it's nice to have it on those rare occasions).

    One might argue with my choices, and certainly not everyone needs or wants these particular features (or the extra weight!!). However I think it's important to note that higher-priced cameras aren't differentiated simply according to added "fluff".
     
  24. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #24
    Surprizingly that's not really true. Most are sold to people who who could not even explain what "f-stop" means. Most SLRs are used as over sized point and shoots.

    Yo would think only those who know something would buy them but what's happened is tow things (1) the price of the low end cameras has fallen and (2) the level is automation is now such that a camera can be left on full auto.

    BTW, Always buy the kit lens. Both Nikon and Canon sell them nearly at cost and at least in the case of Nikon the kit lens are very god quality and very good values. Then after you shoot the first 1,000 frame buy a second lens. Beginners have no way to know what lens they will want. Almost all beginners thing they want some big 200mm f/5/6 zoom but only later find they leave that lens at home. The "kit" lens I got was the Nikon 18-70mm f/4.5 and it is about right for 60% of general photography. I already have a collection of lenses going way back to manual focus film bodies
     
  25. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

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    #25
    I moved up from a Canon Rebel (original) to a 40D for two reasons.

    1. General camera operation was vastly improved and faster. Everything happened right away. Also the large LCD was very nice for viewing images.

    2. Better high ISO performance. At almost every ISO rating the 40D has much less noise.


    I'll probably buy another body in three or four years. I'm expecting the same sort of improvement. The operation should be quicker, smoother and the high ISO performance will be even better.

    For the most part I don't use a lot of the nifty features on the camera. I tend to manually select both the shutter and aperture. One thing I've come to really like is the live view. I shoot a lot on the tripod and this lets me open the shutter, zoom in on a feature and get the focus tack sharp.
     

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