Archive for April 24th, 2008

A Mountain (McKinley) of Camera Costs

April 24, 2008

Mt. McKinley photo by Bill Brophy

Interchangeable lenses are the strongest selling point for buying a DSLR camera. The wide availability of situation-specific lenses allows you to cover all your bases and deliver the best shots no matter what conditions you’re shooting in.

But this freedom comes with a price. “How much?” you ask. Well, Thom Hogan has worked out the higher costs of ownership in McKinleys (that’s the five hundred dollar bill, to you and me) in this article entitled “Tip of the Iceberg”. It’s a good primer if you’re considering moving up to a digital SLR camera and want a “worse case scenario” of the associated hidden costs of ownership.

I don’t think Thom intended this to read as a shopping list, though it might in fact be exactly what he’s spent so far on equipment — or what he’d like to spend. Instead, I read it as a plausible warning on how someone, who may be conscientious when it comes to budgeting, can quickly incur a lot of debt if they’re not extremely careful when entering the exciting world of digital SLR photography.

You see, in addition to lenses, there are other accessories which in total will also end up costing a lot more than your initial outlay: tripod, camera plates, memory cards, and so forth. It all adds up.

Thom wisely advises his readers to keep their receipts, any calculations, and his article out of the sight of your spouse.

We would also like to advise our readers, should you insist on making such extravagant purchases, to at least buy with a credit card that offers cash-back rewards or other incentives or protections instead of paying outright with McKinleys or other large cash denominations.


At Close Range

April 24, 2008

If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to be a photographer for National Geographic, meet Joel Sartore, a devoted husband and father of three, who feels he just might have the best job in the world — or the worst.

Joel is the subject of a fascinating spot-on documentary entitled “At Close Range with National Geographic”, which offers an engrossing look into both the personal and professional life of one internationally-acclaimed wildlife photographer.

I happened to catch the program on PBS last week while channel surfing. In it, a documentary crew follows Joel into the field where he spends eight to twelve weeks at a time, subject to bad weather and local maladies, while in search of the perfect shot. Joel’s anecdotes about close encounters with Brazilian anacondas and a pack of wild wolves, both of whom of course considered him prey, will stay with you long after you’ve seen this film, as will the touching scenes with his wife and young kids as he strives to find a meaningful work/life balance in this most untraditional of careers.

You can watch a free video preview of the documentary here. Check your local PBS affiliate to find out when it’ll be on next in your neck of the woods or purchase the program at I highly recommend it!