Thursday, December 01, 2005

December 2005, Gateway to 2006:Buying Gear

Yeah, that's the title: December 2005, The Gateway To 2006:Buying Gear.
Who could disagree with me that December 2005 represents the gateway to 2006? I know a few people who would disagree with almost any statement I make, and they are currently on web boards,busy dismissing the upcoming Nikon D200's skin tones and dynamic range as inferior. What a laugh.Me? I've gotten some e-mails asking what's coming up in 2006, and what new photo stuff I plan to buy in 2006. First off--the question is do I buy the now DEEPLY-discounted Fuji S3 Pro, or the imminent Nikon D200?. I wrote,publicly on Fuji SLR Talk many,many,many times that I would NOT PAY Fuji's introductory price of $2,499 for the S3. I shelled out $2,495 for my S2 the first two weeks the camera was available, and got a very,very,very low serial number model which has been a good performer and which was,in its day, a state of the art photographic instrument. I said when the S3 got to $1699, I might pick one up. Well, it's still priced at over $1699, with current retail w/USA warranty from reputable dealers at $1799,still a hundred bucks over the price of the D200.Hmm. Still, a tough call,really since the S3 does offer beautiful expanded dynamic range in the highlights--and I have the D2x for high-rez, and still think the 20D body I have is worth keeping. While I have no pressing need for an S3, I do appreciate its lovely JPEGs and its Fuji palette.
Doubtless, the D200 will sell in tremendous numbers,world-wide,while 2006 will be the year in which the few remaining Kodak D-SLR's in "New Stock" inventory will be sold off,and maybe there will even be a few good deals on those Sigma-bodied Kodak SLR/c cameras currently sitting on dealer shelves and in warehouses. The SLR/c is/was the Kodak-branded D-SLR that uses the Canon EF mount on a Sigma body fitted with a Kodak-engineered digital side. B&H still has some SLR/c units listed as Call for Price. But be call around,and see what kind of price you can get before writing the digits,since on discontinued products the situation is really a BUYER'S market--but some buyers don't try and negotiate and get nailed. So, don't be a sap--negotiate! Bargain,bargain,bargain! You're doing the retailer a favor.
In the many used-gear markets for Canon and Nikon equipment there are many deals available.WOW! Have you seen the sheer number of Nikon digital bodies in the used departments at major pro dealers around the USA? As well as the huge number of good,clean,used Nikkor lenses available on the used market? People are trading in F-mount lenses or selling them on consignment like crazy, in an effort to raise cash for the D200 they want to buy. Many of these lenses are clean,seldom-used,high-dollar lenses like 105 AF-D DC or 135 AF-D DC lenses, 85 PC Nikkors,as well as a goodly number of other highly useful lenses which bring "more money than normal lenses will bring". IOW, a lot of amateur and hobby photographers are parting with at least _one_ of their nice, high-dollar lenses; typically what these people are selling or trading in is something that has a little bit more value than say, a 50/1.8 or a 105 Micro. With this trade-in mania kept in mind, it's best to check on pro-house type retailers and mail-order dealers in secondary markets in the USA. Not those Big Huge Powerful Mega-Dealers, but the shops in places like Seattle,Portland,Los Angeles,Minneapolis-St. Paul,Charlotte,Phoenix,San Jose,Houston,Dallas,Boston,and New York State. Buy a copy of Shutterbug magazine...spend a few nights looking through it,and you will discover the stores and dealers who are NOT holding out for the very highest dollar. Stores which are not huge,huge names often have the best deals,and the highest concentration of clean,amateur-owned gear. Good,professional-grade Nikkor lenses are plenty durable, and the BEST deals are not going to be found by bopping by the Big Three or the Big Four and their broad and deep web sites. Nope.Look around at the pro shops and dealers in _secondary_ markets.New York state is not New York City! LA,while a huge city, is somewhat of a secondary market in terms of camera shops compared with the giant camera retailers in NYC.
SO, what do I plan to buy in 2006? Gosh, I think I might pick up a fire-sale SLR/n Kodak, discontinued or not. And I might pick up one of the $1299 Fuji S3 Pro bodies on closeout.And of course, I want a Nikon D200. I'm also interested in the 85 P.C. Nikkor lens and the 200mm f/2 AF-S VR Nikkor for sports shooting, but honestly, the 120-300mm 2.8 Sigma EX lens strikes me as a smarter,more versatile lens for sports assignments. I plan to order a Nikon-to-EOS adapter to finally see how well Nikon glass will perform on my Canon 20D...I have great fondness for the Nikon 400mm 3/5 ED-IF as a sports lens,since it is perhaps THE BEST-handling manual focusing big glass lens I've ever is easier to handle than a 300/2.8 and since it's superb wide open and at f/4, it doesn't matter if it's on a Canon body or a Nikon body...I mean, it's a manual focusing lens!
The Lensbaby 2.0 is on my to-buy list for 2006. I think also the 17-55 DX is on my list. And that's about it. Unless I happen to see some good,clean,lightly-used and amateur-owned equipment I like. Used gear can be a true bargain if 1) the seller is motivated and 2)the condition indicates low use or light use and 3)the price is fair and outweighs "anticipated" repair costs the gear might incur within its 1 to 5 years of use. For AF-S motor replacement is a big cost. Think $500. In 2006 there will be a lot of used 300 2.8 AF-S and AF-S Mark II lenses sold as some update to the new VR-eqipped 300/2.8 or as some sell off 300mm 2.8 models to finance the 200-400 VR or 200/2 VR lenses.These people,all across the USA, trade in OR consign this big glass at smaller shops,and not just at Samy's, B&H,or KEH.With the web and a copy of Shutterbug magazine, you can locate good deals in the hinterlands. When the D100 came out, MF AiS Nikkors were,at walk-in retail pro shops, a dime a dozen so to speak. A 'landmark' camera can spur huge trade-in mania or massive consignment selling of many lenses and or bodies.The new EOS 5D means....a zillion 10D's and 20D's available. EOS 10D's are plentiful,and available for VERY little now.

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