Statistics for camera owners

OK. I’ve had enough. And this is what sparked my despair, anger, frustration and a myriad of other negative emotions.

This is really what it boils down to:

This equation calculates the correlation coefficient for two samples.  A correlation coefficient of zero means the two are not correlated at all. A figure of one means they are perfectly correlated and minus one means they are perfectly inversely correlated. In my case the two samples are value of camera gear and length of ownership.

I have no idea what the symbols mean. I did my finals in, inter alia, Early Nineteenth Century Viennese Drama and gave up maths in 1973. Ask me about Raimund & Nestroy. Don’t ask me about engineering or quantitative analysis. Bummer really. I would probably have earned a lot more as a quant. I did start to learn a lot more about statistics late in life as models became the plaything of the financial markets but all you really need to know is that they are pretty much meaningless at the extreme. I thought Fat Tails were something completely different until I discovered Smirnoff. And of course, the regulators love them. Show us your models, they would say. Let’s have a look at your stress tests. Do a stress to destruction. Well most banks had already done that in real-time so it was a bit late but I digress, as so often.

Why has the esteemed Steve Huff hacked me off today? Well it is just camera porn now, isn’t it. Every week there is some super-duper new camera  that renders everything else I have in my cupboard or dehumidifier cabinet obsolete. Better AF. Bigger sensor. Smaller. Lighter. Now in glorious glow-in-the-dark PINK. Electronic viewfinders. No viewfinders. HD video capability. Image stabilization. Vibration reduction. It’s a ****** camera for heaven’s sake. Shutter opens. Lights hits film or sensor (depending on your antiquity) and voila!! An image is produced. We then spend hours post-processing trying to make a thoroughly decent digital image look like it was taken in 1930 or 1960 or a film image gets scanned to digital……….. You can recreate Tri X digitally, you can replicate Holga or pinhole images! Back to the future indeed.

And why today especially has this sparked my ire? Well I want to offload some of my camera gear. I honestly do not know how many cameras or camera bodies I own. Well into double figures. And the biggest white elephant is my 1D mk III. A very fine camera indeed. It got loads of bad press about its autofocus but not all warranted and how many people really bought it specifically to photograph flying birds against a background of trees, mountains or rocks. Well I did, I guess. On the whole though it was a great piece of kit. Read this for a totally independent opinion:

And now I want to sell it. It cost me HK$32,000 in May 2007. I have a mk IV and a 7D so I don’t need it as a back-up any more. When I mentioned a possible sale to someone the other day they asked around and came back with a message. The message was that frankly something as old as a mk III was really of no interest to anyone. Everyone wants the absolutely latest model. Not one of the students was interested in a 30D, 40D or 1D mk III. Neither were any of my old lenses of interest. I have a lovely Canon 200mm F2.8 L prime. I can’t give it away. It is so……… well, old. It is of course a cracking good lens but who cares. The disposable society doesn’t want my F2.8 70-200mm lens. It has no IS, you see. And it is so much heavier than the new lenses. True. But it is still a magnificent lens.

Last year the Fuji X100 was the must have camera and I, like an idiot, bought one. I have a Leica X1, a Canon G9, a Lumix LX5 and they are all excellent cameras. So why did I buy the X100? MARKETING. And now the ever reliable and highly esteemed Mr. Huff, whose website I like very much, tells me that it is all over now, baby Blue, and the X Pro 1 is what I probably need. My entire and extensive collection of camera gear is clearly totally and utterly beyond hope.

You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last
But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast

So sang Dylan. But none of it lasts and apparently I should not wish to keep any of it. My M9 will be out of date when the Leica 3 year refresh comes along later this year. Thank heavens the lenses will still fit the new must-have body that sadly I won’t have. Because my somewhat belated new year’s resolution is to stop buying gear and take more photos. Or maybe less photos even but better ones. I would love to buy the new 600mm F4 Canon prime but to fund it I would have to sell my 800mm F5.6. But let’s face it, who wants a USED lens? I hope this may be a Hong Kong specific issue. Here you either have wealth or you don’t. If you have it, you buy new. No questions asked. But let’s not get political. If the industry didn’t throw this stuff at us we wouldn’t buy it. We should celebrate the innovation and technological advances that allow the new Nikon D4 to be sold offering 204,800 ISO. Holy smoke, Batman, I have never been beyond 3,200. What would I want to use 204,800 for? Shooting in pitch darkness?

So what is the correlation coefficient for value of camera gear versus length of ownership? I have no idea. Not a clue. All I know is that I can no longer rationalize to myself or indeed to Mrs. H why I would spend thousands of dollars each year for tiny incremental benefits. My car is over 7 years old. Hey, it still goes from A to B. Damned clever the Japanese, building cars that don’t break down. Shame the Brits never thought of that. Bring back Red Robbo, say I.  My Macbook  is over 2 years old. Works perfectly…..most of the time. I had my last phone almost 2 years and only bought a new one because it belonged to the firm and I retired. Otherwise it did all I require. I could actually make phone calls with it, send text messages and check how much money I had lost on the stock market during the day. Oh and it had a camera built-in that actually took pictures!

So there we are. I am on a buyer’s strike. How long it will last I don’t know. My willpower has the breaking strain of a kit-kat. But for today my resolve is firm. Write out 100 times after class “I shall not buy a new camera in 2012”. And if anyone wants a 1D mk III going cheap (or even click), let me know. Buyer collects 🙂

11 thoughts on “Statistics for camera owners

  1. An excellent ‘piece’ Andrew. I hope you feel partially purged of your anger having written it! Seriously though, I absolutely concur with the opinions you express here. I’m afraid, that this is the world we live in, and the one we have collectively created, where the market reigns supreme. We are bombarded with messages, overt and subliminal, that we ‘need’, ‘must have’, ‘can’t live without’ the latest this that or the other. Money is the God of our times. Goods and chattels are sadly what define us as winners (or losers). We are conned into believing that what we have, is what we are. That it’s what we have that will make us happy. It’s probably impossible to set oneself apart from it – we are in it up to our necks one and all – but I guess not buying new camera equipment in 2012 is a start. I applaud your stand!

      • Is your resolve weakening already?!!!

        Shame you are on the other side of the planet – I could have relieved you of some of your ‘antique’ gear and freed up some cupboard space for you.


    • It seems I must be psychic…….. nice link, John 🙂

      BTW, we are fully stocked with soup. Tomato, mushroom, lentil, chicken……. All Heinz of course.

  2. “Because my somewhat belated new year’s resolution is to stop buying gear and take more photos. Or maybe less photos even but better ones.”
    Both excellent resolutions! Love the art not the tools:) Here’s to seeing some great images from you in 2012!

    • How much for the Canon? I have a couple primes and no Canon body so I may be interested. Of course I would pay for shipping to Canada.

  3. Barry, following my posting it is ‘under offer’ and I’ve given right of first refusal to someone. If it doesn’t go ahead I’ll let you know.

I'd be delighted to hear what you think

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