Why New Mirrorless Digital Cameras Are So Expensive
Ihave only purchased one new camera in my life (all others have been purchased used). It was a highly rated entry-level model made by Nikon more than a decade ago. In filling out the warranty card, I found one of the questions on the form rather peculiar. It asked: How does the Nikon brand make you feel?
That’s strange, I thought. Shouldn’t they be more concerned about what I think of the physical product, i.e., its reliability, quality, etc? The truth is that modern marketers want your feelings to be held captive to a brand or logo. Your emotions can so often compel you to pay far more than you should for a product, much to the modern marketers’ delight.
High-Priced Mirrorless Camera Systems
What brings this to mind are the shockingly high prices for newly introduced consumer-oriented ‘mirrorless’ cameras and lenses by Nikon and Canon. The newly released Nikon Z6 & Z7 and Canon R mirrorless cameras retail for well over $3,000 with a basic kit lens!
The cost of specialized lenses for these new cameras is just as extreme. For example, a top-of-the-line 50mm F:1.2 DSLR lens currently marketed to professional photographers by Canon is priced at approx. $1,500.00. However, the 50mm F:1.2 lenses that will be part of the new Canon R mirrorless system marketed to consumers with generally less demanding needs will cost $2,300.00.
Will spending $3000.00 for a camera make you a better photographer?
In the days of film cameras, 50mm lenses were the lowest cost lenses made and practically given away as part of a kit with new camera purchases. You can find excellent manual focus 50mm F1.4 lenses easily on the used market for under $100.00. Is a $2,300.00 50mm F1.2 mirrorless lens that much better? For the average snapshooter, the difference in performance is negligible.
“Marketing attempts to manipulate you into spending on something that, if you considered all the relevant factors, you wouldn’t spend on.” –Marketing is Evil, Psychology Today.
Camera manufacturers are moving away from marketing new camera models as professional photography tools for consumers. Now, they want you to see your camera purchase as an aspirational lifestyle choice. If you drive an expensive BMW as a lifestyle choice, shouldn’t your camera also reflect your aspirations? The mere fact that it costs more than other cameras makes it feel more desirable to many consumers.
“When it comes to luxury, being unique is what counts, not any comparison with a competitor.” – Marketing To A High-End Consumer, Using The Luxury Strategy, Entrepreneur Magazine. If you feel that it is worth more than it is! Will it make you a better photographer? Will it take better photos than less expensive cameras? No. All that really matters is how you feel about your purchase. The more you pay, the better you feel.
Well, the flower and vintage car photos featured on this page were shot this month with a 16-year-old camera I purchased used for $49.00 (Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro) along with a used lens (a Nikon 75-300mm F4.5-5.6, made in 1989) purchased for $65.00. Surprised? As old as these photographic tools are, they remain very capable. I feel no need to upgrade anytime soon.
Would I buy any of the expensive mirrorless camera systems being introduced this year? It would be impossible for me to justify such a purchase. I am an active hobbyist, shooting about 75 photos per week on the average. If I shoot an occasional video, it is done with a smartphone. Just about any DSLR camera made in the past ten years will meet my needs. Chances are if you’re reading this article, that may be true of you as well.