Bruce's Photo Blog
Bruce Foreman | February 2014

Taking some of the pain out of  being afflicted with GAS

Yes, GAS.  I am very frequently afflicted with GAS...

Gear Acquisition Syndrome.

What we come down with periodically as the manufacturers tempt us with new offerings every few months to a year or so.  Constantly coming out with new models bearing prices sure to cause spouse's heads to snap up.

I succumb sometimes too easily being one who often likes to be on the bleeding edge of  new stuff.  And it just happened again, a new telephoto zoom just before Christmas and tonight falling for an ultrawide rectilinear (no, not a medical term) zoom. But I am getting a little bit smarter.

If you buy when something first comes out, you pay the original manufacturer's suggested list price or close to it.  Like my paying $1298 for the Panasonic Lumix GH3 body only. Now it's $1059 new at B&H and lightly used I've seen it as low as $800. If you have the patience to wait it out six months to a year you just might come out ahead. When the Olympus OMD E-M5 was first coming out I had one on “pre-order” for $1299 with the 12-50mm (24-100 full frame equiv) “kit” lens, body only would have been $999, but cancelled that order when I found out the video implementation was limited to one framerate (decided to wait out the GH3 coming to market. I recently picked up a slightly used OMD E-M5 body (736 shutter clicks) for $650.  The one framerate happened to be the one I use most with other cameras but what I wanted was the 5 axis in body image stabilization in that model.

I've done the same thing with lenses, the 40-150mm f4 to f5.6 Olympus M.Zuiko telephoto zoom (80-300mm equiv.) was originally $299, Olympus allowed dealers to drop the price to $119 so I snapped one up at that price as Christmas rushed at us.  It's often described as “insanely sharp”.  Tonight I bought the Olympus M.Zuiko 9-18mm (18-36mm full frame equiv.) ultra wide angle zoom used for $480, still is $699 at B&H and amazon.

So what is coming out that may cause some current prices to drop? Well, Canon already has the 70D hitting the market with improved continuous autofocus performance using their STM line of lenses, so I'd look for 60D prices to begin to come down,  T3i and T4i prices should start sliding more. Olympus has the OMD E-M1 already on the market at $1399 body only, this has caused the price of the OMD E-M5 to slip to $799 body only and the rush for folks upgrading to the former is what caused the slightly used price of mine to come down to $650. They have just announced a budget model, the OMD E-M10, priced at $699 body only with some of the improvements found in the E-M1 but offering 3 axis IS instead of the 5 axis version found in the E-M5 and E-M1. So look for E-M5 prices to slide a bit lower before long.

So where do you find these used bargains I've been not able to resist?  Well you keep checking the buy/sell forums on some of the better moderated websites.  Some like dvxuser.com and mu-43.com have implemented a rating system where both the buyer and seller can rate how the transaction went.  Also do a search on the seller's username to see how his posting and participation on that site appears, I feel like I can tell much about likely integrity by how his postings might be worded.  So far I've had good luck with this.  Although dvxuser.com is primarily a video and motion picture production set of forums, their buy/sell section has a fair number of occasional Canon, Nikon, and micro four thirds DSLR form factor cameras listed.  Mu-43.com is primarily a micro four thirds set of forums but I see enough Canon, Nikon, and other camera's and lenses offered in their buy/sell forum.

On Amazon I also look at the used options if they have any for what I'm looking for.  Amazon lists a satisfaction percentage rate for those vendors and I tend to stick with 95% or higher although Amazon offers protection for purchasers on their site.  So I've also had good luck there, I've found some nice lens values among the used offerings on Amazon.

So what if you're looking for something newer but are either watching the budget or don't want to spend a bunch on lenses right away?  Well I almost always recommend the camera of your choice with one of the more inexpensive kit lenses offered, sometimes this lens only adds $50-$100 to the price.  Don't pay any attention to all the know it all folks who run down these kit lenses, saying they are not good quality.  This is not really true, yes they may have a plastic body but this is one way costs are kept down so us ordinary (non wealthy) folks can afford them.  And while they may not quite have the optical quality of lenses running much higher, they do offer more than adequate performance for most of our requirements.  The typical kit lens I recommend has a range from a very useful 28mm equiv wide angle to what I call portrait perspective 80-84mm equiv. Moderate telephoto. Maximum aperture range will usually be f3.5 to f5.6 and this will handle most of our usual photo requirements, with the flexibility of this lens increasing dramatically as the user's understanding of  basic photography expands.  And the quality of the kit lenses offered with micro four thirds cameras by Panasonic and Olympus is a lot better than most give credit for.

For a rundown on some of the new offerings go to www.dpreview.com and check out the announced new models by Olympus, Fuji, and others.  But beware of GAS! Also while you're there check out the Russian mom's photographs of her kids with animals, she has some excellent images there.