Last Year’s Models – Deals Can Be Had!

Every once in a while, a deal pops up.  On last year’s models of “something”.  Back up a bit…  My wife and I like to shop  We typically don’t buy things at regular price if we can help it.  When it comes to photo gear, gear lust – whatever you want to call it, I’m actually pretty well the same.  As much as I like getting the latest and greatest, there’s also an end to the means so to speak.  I intend to keep stuff for a while, and if I have to pay full price, it ain’t going away anytime soon. 

Anyway… back to photo.  When it comes to photo gear, I’ve always been a fan of mobility .  Up to a point :-)  When it comes to having a camera on my daily commute, it’s all about mobility.  It’s gotta fit in my daypack.  Period.  I actually take a couple of cameras with me.  My usual carry is a Fuji XF1 and a Nikon S9400.  I’ll actually carry other cameras the odd time as well.  As much as I like being mobile, when it comes to event shoots of some sort, the rules change a bit.  I need more “horsepower”, so to speak.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve been asked by my wife to shoot some of her volunteer events.  These tend to be very formal and very big.  Fashion shows, wine tastings, etc.  I’ve course I don’t get paid for these, but it gives me a long term “in”, should I decide to take a run at the pro circles.  Each time I do one, I analyze (I’m a Business Analyst) what I’ve got vs what I’ve done and look to see if I can improve for the next time.  Not unlike taking photos in general :-)  Each time we go out, try something different based on lessons learned.  In the world of  Business Analysis, this is loosely called Fit/Gap Analysis.  For all intents and purposes – “What have we got, what do we need.”  That difference is called the gap.  The solution is the “fit”.  Simple concept, not so hard to fulfil.

In the world of photography, as one learns the craft, there is always this urge to get more equipment.  I think the fundamental premise around this for many, is that by getting better gear, you will get better photos.  To me, that’s not necessarily true :-)  You can get higher quality photos, granted.  Better photos?  Well…. no :-)  More gear though, can allow one to get those photos more efficiently.  Hence the argument of new vs last year’s, or even used for that matter.

I’m really not a fan of used gear, but then again, I don’t have a lot of experience in the photo area.  Reno tools, yes – I’ve gotten some fantastic bargains.  With photo gear – no experience at all per se, though some friends of mine have gotten some good buys. So…. about getting gear in last years model…..

The other day, I happened by a camera dept and stopped to take a quick peek and say a Nikon D5100 on clearout for $399!!!  I had been contemplating a second body to my D3200 for a while now, and initially had been looking at a D7100 w/18-140, but I needed to save for it and I wouldn’t have it by the time I needed it.  I have an upcoming event for my wife….  I didn’t buy it right away – I went home and thought it through.  I ended up getting it the next day.  It was too good of a deal to pass up.  So…. the reasoning…..

Two (2)

My decision was based on a reading a lot of reviews on the D5100.  It had a smaller sensor than my D3200 – 16 megapixel vs 24 megapixel. HOWEVER – it did a couple of things from a functional standpoint that would come in handy (read – more efficient), than say a 7100.  The rear LCD for starters – it flips out for low level or high level shots, for my plant photos, which is something I do a lot of, bonus.  The other one, and this is big for me – the ability to get out past ISO6400!!  For some of my low light work, a bonus.  I’ve done a lot of low light work, and tend to be hand held, so the boost was worth it.  At $400, these two features alone were worth it :-)  It also has some extra features like advanced scene modes, bracketing, etc. that will come in handy on future shoots.

Image quality – man, I’m not a pixel peeper, but when I get to this level, I’m a little more critical than usual.  Not that I’m obsessed with it, but when I’m shooting with either my Compact System Cameras or my DSLR’s, it’s all about image quality.  The one thing that I did find out in looking at comparisons – There wasn’t enough difference between the D3200 and D5100 to worry about.  If anything, it was the color rendering of the processor – under certain conditions, the D5100 would render a little better.  Seen it already with some photos I took of my wife’s flowers.  Slightly deeper and richer.  Am I seeing the difference between 24 and 16 megapixel?  That was the first thing that I compared, and yes when I get past 100% crop, it’s very noticeable.  The real question – will I notice it for what I do?  NO.  My initial tests between the two are not noticeable to me.

Functionality wise – For me, having two bodies provides a huge level of functionality in a couple of respects.  Depending on what I”m doing at the time, I’m either using my 18-55mm zoom or my Micro Nikkor 40mm f2.8 and constantly swapping out.  With the addition of the D5100, I won’t need to do that.  For the events, I can now have the small zoom on one body and the 55-200 on the other.  Best of both worlds:-)  Menu systems are close enough that I didn’t need to learn more than the extra functions.  I was up and running.  Still a bit to learn on certain features, but that will come with time.  I guess one of the big questions for me was whether I really really needed something like the D7100.  As nice as it would have nice to have the extra functionality, the bottom line was that it wasn’t worth the extra grand I would have to kick out.  That lens would have been a nice addition, but you know, at this point in time, it’s not essential either. 

Completeness – you know, at this point, I feel I’m pretty functional for just about anything that comes up.  Even paid gigs if the come my way.  If I had the bucks, full frame would have been nice, but at this stage of the game, not an issue.  I’ll deal with that hurdle when I get to it.  Am I done?  Not by a long shot :-)  But again – when  get there.  I’d like a set of studio lights, but a better light box is next on the list.  No… I won’t be buying it – I’m going to fabricate m own, thank you very much:-)  I’ve done a lot in the light box space and have tried several designs, but I still want to design something that allows me to use bottom lights.   I have a design – just got to get around to building a prototype and test it :-)  This is for a very specific use but at the same time, can give me some added skills and versatility. 


About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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