Some might say Frugal is one of my middle names, and whilst I’ve bought two or three used cameras at around £150, and my only new camera, a Nikon Coolpix P300, was around £300 back in 2011, most of my purchases have required a small fraction of this outlay.
The danger though with such a tightly budgeted approach, is that if you keep buying cameras (and/or lenses), however cheap they are, it soon adds up.
Laying out £15 here, and £20 there, can soon mount to hundreds.
That’s not what this thread is about though.
A further potential problem I’ve found is that if something costs too little, you’re not emotionally invested in it so much.
It becomes a disposable purchase almost, something so negligible it can be written off and forgotten with next to no consequence, financially or otherwise.
I think this is a key factor in why the digital compacts I’ve had the longest, and enjoy the most, haven’t been true pocket money machines.
Take the three cameras that keep rising to the top of my favourites.
My Ricoh GRD III was around £150, the Pentax Q £120, and my Lumix LX3 in the region of £75.
To me, none of these figures are low enough to be considered throwaway.
If any of these cameras had broken within the first month or two of me acquiring them, I’d have not only been disappointed, but felt I’d wasted a significant amount of money.
Your own personal income and concept of money and value will be different of course.
I often come across threads in forums where someone posts something like – “I’m looking for a second camera, and I’m on a very strict budget – nothing over £1000.”
If that’s a strict budget camera, how much do they spend on their main camera?
So wherever it falls for you personally, there needs to be a point that is considered a large enough value that you care about what you do with the camera after you’ve bought it.
For me, anything under about £30 can easily fall into the “disposable and forgettable” category.
Even if the camera gets put in a shoe box under a bed and forgotten, it was little enough outlay that it makes no impression on me.
The camera I bought most recently (a couple of months back) was a Panasonic Lumix FZ38.
After a bit of looking around, I landed one for £35.
Not the cheapest – I could have probably paid less if I’d have followed a dozen eBay listings over a couple of months and been patient and lucky – but something I was happy to outlay on a camera unknown to me, but that looked promising on paper.
And it turns out that price was very much within my spending sweet spot.
It was enough that I didn’t want to forget about the camera – I wanted to use it right from the outset, and start to see what I guess you would call some return on my investment.
But it wasn’t so expensive that I would have been distraught if I’d dropped it and cracked the lens on the first outing.
I have no plans for any other camera purchases in the foreseeable future, and feel there’s a huge amount yet to explore with the FZ38.
It’s perhaps unfortunate that it took me so long to reach this point of understanding of my spending sweet spot.
Instead of buying literally dozens of cameras in recent years for £10 and less and using them very little, or often not at all, because I had no urgency to, nothing invested in the venture to compel me to see some return.
I remember some years ago when I trained to be a coach, studying various marketing sources about the pros and cons of offering free sessions when you were starting out.
The consensus was, that if you gave someone a free session or two, they would be far less committed to it and emotionally invested in that if they’d paid for it. Even of that payment was only say a negligible £10 a session.
So neither of you benefit, because the client won’t be fully committed to the venture.
Many other sources of marketing advice will say the sooner you can encourage someone to buy something of yours, even if very cheap, it sets them off on a path, it breaks the ice, it starts a pattern.
It’s like you’re the owner of a castle surrounded by beautiful gardens, all within a three metre high wall.
There are many people on the outside, waiting at the gate, trying to peer in.
But once they pay you the entrance fee to simply open the gate and let them step inside, it sets them on their journey.
They become hugely more likely to pay a little more to get into the inner gardens, and then the castle itself, because they’ve already set in motion that pattern of paying to see something they want to see.
My spending sweet spot for cameras then begins about £35, and maxes out at perhaps £150, the limit I’ve paid for any used camera.
Any less and I don’t have the emotional investment as we’ve talked about.
Any more and I’d be too nervous about the camera getting broken or being dropped, to be able to use it freely and enjoy it.
How about you? Do you have a spending sweet spot? You don’t have to tell us what it is, it would just be interesting to know if you consciously have a figure in mind when you buy a camera.
As always, please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
Thanks for looking.
Share this post with someone you think will enjoy it using the buttons below.
See what I’m up to About Now.