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Lens or body first?
Old 08-22-2016   #1
sara
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Lens or body first?

Has there been a thread on this?

Anyways! I was having a discussion with a friend who said I should invest in lenses before a camera body...like it would be a good investment.

Would this be true with you?

I can see what he meant as if you changed the body, you would still be able to use the lens (for life I suppose). It's just that I'm eyeing this lens (on sale at a good price haha), and I'm thinking, "ok it's a lot of money but you know what, I'm going to use it forever."
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Last edited by sara : 08-22-2016 at 04:02. Reason: Added a sentence
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Old 08-22-2016   #2
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Mechanical or electronic? The first it doesn't matter, but I'm a body man, the second rapidly depreciates to nothing.
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Old 08-22-2016   #3
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A good lens will last a lifetime and will not need updating (perhaps the exception being modern electronic digital lenses?). Few film bodies need updating if you buy quality to start with; but digital camera bodies are usually updated every 2-4 years, depending on manufacturer. That isn't to say older digital bodies aren't still capable of good results within their limitations (usually high ISO, and focus performance).

Lenses are my priority, but they're not an investment, they're a tool, so it makes sense to acquire quality tools that deliver the results I like.
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Old 08-22-2016   #4
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A saying I picked up years ago on another forum was, "Cameras come and go, lenses are forever."

I would go for quality glass first. That quality glass can be slapped on pretty much anything and make a good image. But a crap lens will always be a crap lens, even on the best body out there.
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Old 08-22-2016   #5
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I have a Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 AF-S lens that Nikon can't fix due to lack of new focus motors. At least it works manually.
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Old 08-22-2016   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sara View Post
Has there been a thread on this?

Anyways! I was having a discussion with a friend who said I should invest in lenses before a camera body...like it would be a good investment.

Would this be true with you?

I can see what he meant as if you changed the body, you would still be able to use the lens (for life I suppose). It's just that I'm eyeing this lens (on sale at a good price haha), and I'm thinking, "ok it's a lot of money but you know what, I'm going to use it forever."
I tend to agree, broadly, but to an extent it probably depends on the sorts of cameras and lenses you're referring to. For instance I use some M42 SLRs. If anyone with a crystal ball had told me six to eight years ago that the prices of certain M42 lenses was going to go into orbit with the arrival of adapters for some makes of DSLR, not to mention the mirrorless options now available, I would have bought some of them when they were still really cheap. Fact is, a lot of vintage lenses continue to rise in price, even in mounts that not so long ago were considered "orphan" types. Prices ebb and flow, of course, but generally, there's no sign this is going to change any time soon, with a finite supply of certain desirable lenses if anything it may get worse. So yes, I'd say kit up the the glass you have your heart set on today, if you can afford it, because (depending on what you're into, to some extent) tomorrow...that may not be the case.
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Old 08-22-2016   #7
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Everything wears out eventually but lenses are a better "investment" than digital film bodies, that's for sure. The post manual era screw drive auto focus Nikkor primes are tremendous value for that system. But continuing Lynn's theme, the best investment is time spent making pictures.
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Old 08-22-2016   #8
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Winogrand was OK for years with Leica cameras and non-Leica, not expensive lenses. He did it so well, I went to see his own prints and it was lovely.

From Leica 2.8 big Elmarit boy perspective I could tell what it is important to find the lens which is great for quick handling and kinda important to have lens which also feels great and build to lasts. It isn't as easy to find as with cameras, where all Leicas are just great.
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Old 08-22-2016   #9
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Hi,

I wouldn't use the word "invest" if I was you, especially as you are thinking of buying and using.

And are we talking digital or film? AF or manual or what?

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Old 08-22-2016   #10
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I'd go camera first for film.

In many cases you can start with a less-than-perfect lens and move up.

No experience with removable lens AF or digital (yet).

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Old 08-22-2016   #11
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The most important must have lens that people should be using is whichever one I am currently selling.

I don't understand how you should invest in lenses before a camera body. You need both to take pictures with.
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Old 08-22-2016   #12
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I'd rather use a 1000$ body with a 50$ lens than the other way around.

That being said, I have plenty of both. I suggest to forget the "investment" part.
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Old 08-22-2016   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sara View Post
I was having a discussion with a friend who said I should invest in lenses before a camera body...like it would be a good investment.

Would this be true with you?
Yes, it is true with me. I have subscribed to that philosophy for decades. One of the main reasons I "invested" in the Nikon system was because Nikon had a history of not leaving you stranded with an obsolete lens collection. Today, I am still using two of the first three Nikon lens I purchased (85mm f/1.8 and 180mm f/2.8). The only reason I am not using the third lens (35mm f/2) is that I replaced it with a newer and faster lens (35mm f/1.4).


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Old 08-22-2016   #14
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Hi Sara,
do you want to take photos with your equipment or is it supposed to be an "investment" to store the money?
If you want to actually take photos, then apparently it's very easy:
You will need both at the same time
Obviously you need to do some research into which camera body suits your needs and abilities best and then you need to figure out which lenses are available for this camera mount.
film / digital
manual focus / auto focus
fully manual metering and setting aperture / some kind of auto settings by body and lens
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Old 08-22-2016   #15
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As a whole, I think that, normally, top of the line lenses keep their value better than same tier cameras, so if we are talking about investment, as in buy and sell for the same amount of money or a little more, lens is the way to go. That being said, I would buy the camera I like first with a non so ideal lens. Lens will come as a second upgrade to me, mostly because I could look for the perfect lens at a reasonable price and with no hurry.


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Old 08-22-2016   #16
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For Me it's the Body first ....
after it 'feels' Good to the Eye & Hand
then comes the Glass obsession
One long slipoery slope

Ahhh, falling under the Seduction of Glass:
Whether the rendering is soft, sharp, cresmy, busy, on and on

It's never an Investment, Always a Love, yay to Film !

Digi I might consider an Investment since I rarely use it
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Old 08-22-2016   #17
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I can only tell you where my wife is at the moment. She's thinking of going back to film. Settled on a mount (Leica M/M39) and is now buying lenses. No body yet. For both of us, the body is simply a means of mounting a lens. I don't view these purchases as an investment. However, there's little downside risk of recouping her money at any given point in time.
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Old 08-22-2016   #18
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Hi all

Haha the word "investment" was suggested by my friend as in I would buy it now and use it forever, so as of a good value for money over time.

And of course not, I would not be buying lenses and not using them!

It's more of buy this lens now because of a good price and you might regret it - that sort of thing. If you get what I mean!

Personally, I never thought about lens or body first. I think with Leica, I went with the body first...then the lenses...!
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Old 08-22-2016   #19
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First, there is no such thing as a "good investment" in photography anymore, unless you are talking about collectors editions or rare cameras from 30 years ago or more, and maybe not even then. Prices are down considerably on any number of cameras and lenses that were supposed to "hold their value" or even go up in value over time.

With that said, the answer to your question, IMO, is that it depends on whether you are talking about film or digital. The things that matter the most are the lens and the recording medium. Hence, with film, pick the lens first, since the recording medium isn't intrinsic to the camera. With digital, you have to pick them in tandem, since the recording medium is intrinsic to the camera. If anything, with digital, pick the body first, as digital cameras tend to be a bit more varied in their methods of operation than film cameras.
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Old 08-22-2016   #20
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If we're talking about Leica lenses, they will all go up in price, and thereby value, over time.
Leica digital bodies depreciate like any other digital body, but not as quickly.
Leica film bodies are slower to appreciate, but don't depreciate much, if at all.
As with anything there are exceptions, but this is a reasonable guide.
For me, lenses first.


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Old 08-22-2016   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sara View Post

It's more of buy this lens now because of a good price and you might regret it - that sort of thing. If you get what I mean!
That's usually what gets me.
Finding a good deal on a lens makes it hard to resist, and I usually buy it.
The thought being if I don't like it I could always sell it and come out even or ahead.

I've always bought the body and lens that I wanted, not one or the other first, just what comes along at a great price.
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Old 08-22-2016   #22
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It's how I bought my Nikon S2 rangefinder, Sara. I kept getting these box lots that would have odds and ends from the Nikon rangefinder system, and just decided to hang on to them, that one day I would be able to purchase a body. What really got my appetite going was when a lot showed up, and there was a 2.0/8.5cm in the box.

Right now, I have two Nikkor DX format lenses that I'm hoping to finally settle on what camera to get for them. And of course, I can also use my D lenses on higher end models, though in reality I bought those for current film cameras. Still, if I decide to sell off the film stuff and go digital, I'll have a raft of lenses I "invested" in.

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Old 08-22-2016   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider View Post
I'd rather use a 1000$ body with a 50$ lens than the other way around.

That being said, I have plenty of both. I suggest to forget the "investment" part.
Agreed. The body is the bit you hold and interact with.

If I don't gel with the body, the lens mounted to it is a moot point, because I'm not even going to use it.
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Old 08-22-2016   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mute-on View Post
If we're talking about Leica lenses, they will all go up in price, and thereby value, over time.
Not so much if you take inflation into account. They more just hold steady.

(of course there are always exceptions but speculating which ones will skyrocket is gambling rather than photography)
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Old 08-22-2016   #25
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For film: the lenses make the images, the body just holds the film. It's different for digital because of the rapid advances in sensor technologies. But we've reached a state where all sensors produce outstanding images.

I've had a collection of Nikon AI-S lenses that survived many generations of film and digital bodies, and when I sold them many years later, I even made a little profit. So I've basically used these outstanding lenses for some 10 odd years for free
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Old 08-22-2016   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sara View Post
Has there been a thread on this?

Anyways! I was having a discussion with a friend who said I should invest in lenses before a camera body...like it would be a good investment.

Would this be true with you?

I can see what he meant as if you changed the body, you would still be able to use the lens (for life I suppose). It's just that I'm eyeing this lens (on sale at a good price haha), and I'm thinking, "ok it's a lot of money but you know what, I'm going to use it forever."
other than buying what you can afford and use it makes no difference.

over time, your choices in lenses and bodies will most likely change.

today's dream lens will be replaced by tomorrow's dream lens.
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Old 08-22-2016   #27
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When I get a new system I always start with body and lens. Later I add more lenses or another body with the same mount.
Sometimes it is cheeper to buy a lens with body than the lens alone.
Right now I focus on 5 systems. Nikon F, Olympus OM, M39 with Russian cameras, Contax/Kiev and M42.

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Old 08-23-2016   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mute-on View Post
If we're talking about Leica lenses, they will all go up in price, and thereby value, over time.
Leica digital bodies depreciate like any other digital body, but not as quickly.
Leica film bodies are slower to appreciate, but don't depreciate much, if at all.
As with anything there are exceptions, but this is a reasonable guide.
For me, lenses first.


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This is difficult to agree with...

Lenses last until they are dropped, or the fungus gets them or the elements separate. Then the repair will cost a small fortune, if you are unlucky... On two occasions I've been quoted more than twice what I paid for the lens to repair it and on several occasions I've been told I was lucky and it wouldn't cost much and there would be no postage to pay as it was with the camera. Add in that some charge for telling you that and returning the camera.

Then you must add in something like the cost of the correct case, rear lens cap and front lens cap and correct lens hood to make a lens an "investment" and some of those little bits and pieces can really wreck your budget but, otoh, you might be lucky and realise it.

As for the bodies, I don't know your experience of cameras and don't know how fixed your views on bodies may be; luckily most of them have the lens more or less in the middle and the shutter button on the right... The problems, if that is the word, really arise when you've got used to one camera and another turns up with (well known example) something important turning or going the other way.

BTW, some lenses match their body and won't match the next camera because it has more pixels and shows up the lenses limitations; or character as some say...

BTW (2), what was the lens or body that started this diversion?

Regards, David
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Old 08-23-2016   #29
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Rent a quality lens and use it what you have. That should tell you.

Then buy the quality lens
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Old 08-23-2016   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sara View Post
Hi all

Haha the word "investment" was suggested by my friend as in I would buy it now and use it forever, so as of a good value for money over time.

And of course not, I would not be buying lenses and not using them!

It's more of buy this lens now because of a good price and you might regret it - that sort of thing. If you get what I mean!

Personally, I never thought about lens or body first. I think with Leica, I went with the body first...then the lenses...!

Cut to the chase. What lens/lenses are you talking about and how much so we can see if it is a good 'investment'..


The only time I've seen good 'investments' is if you buy a perfect condition used lens. The original owner has taken the depreciation, and you can flip it with no loss if you decide to move on to something else.
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Old 08-23-2016   #31
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I'm a body first then lens second type. Everything can be so easily sold these days that I don't care about "for life" purchases. Investments? ... rarely do common photographic items go up in value.
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Old 08-23-2016   #32
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when people say they are going to invest in photographic equipment, they're usually talking about spending a significant amount of money to support their creativity. it's about whether something expensive is worth buying, or if they could do just as well by spending less on something else.

the decision depends a lot on the creative activity you're going to be doing, which is as volatile as stock markets can be. you'll just have to weigh the risks and do some research to make the best decision you can.
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Old 08-23-2016   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unixrevolution View Post
A saying I picked up years ago on another forum was, "Cameras come and go, lenses are forever."

I would go for quality glass first. That quality glass can be slapped on pretty much anything and make a good image. But a crap lens will always be a crap lens, even on the best body out there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Baby of Macon View Post
Everything wears out eventually but lenses are a better "investment" than digital film bodies, that's for sure. The post manual era screw drive auto focus Nikkor primes are tremendous value for that system. But continuing Lynn's theme, the best investment is time spent making pictures.


These two.

Maybe we are nitpicking your choice of words, but the best investment is in yourself. In terms of tools, I'd say glass over body as stated above.
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Old 08-26-2016   #34
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you need at least one lens and body to start so the question is a bit redundant
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Old 08-26-2016   #35
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Quote:
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you need at least one lens and body to start so the question is a bit redundant
Not really.
You could be deciding between Canon and Nikon. Do you pick the body you like, or the lenses you like? That choice happens before any $ has been laid down and can be a big choice to make.
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Old 08-26-2016   #36
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Not really.
You could be deciding between Canon and Nikon. Do you pick the body you like, or the lenses you like? That choice happens before any $ has been laid down and can be a big choice to make.
Really and truly, your life won't change because you choose one system over another.
You are overthinking the problem.
But to get back to the original question, one cannot take photos without at least one of each, body and lens.
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Old 08-26-2016   #37
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Think of it as a marriage... would you pick a bride or the groom first? It simply doesn't work this way either with a camera and lens; they must work together as a perfect union.

An amazing lens and a great camera doesn't necessarily mean they will "work" together. They need to feel right, balance accordingly to YOU, etc. There's a lot more to the craft than MTF charts and specs.

One such combo that didn't work together as a unit was the Nikon F6 and Zeiss Otus 55mm. What a joke!
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Old 08-26-2016   #38
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So, you guys can never see a scenario where someone likes a body so much, that the lens is chosen second or vise-versa?
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Old 08-26-2016   #39
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A saying I picked up years ago on another forum was, "Cameras come and go, lenses are forever."

I would go for quality glass first. That quality glass can be slapped on pretty much anything and make a good image. But a crap lens will always be a crap lens, even on the best body out there.
Interesting. The saying I heard was they you date your cameras but marry your lenses. None of any of this is true in practice necessarily. Unless, like me, you never sell any lenses. It's all about the glass they say. Depends. I have lots of lenses, new, old, expensive and cheap. To me it's the camera that's most important, the ergonomics and the simplicity and familiarity. A good shot with an average lens is still a god shot. Really sharp or perfectly straight might sometimes be important. Very few lenses are special like the Zeiss C Sonnar.
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Old 08-26-2016   #40
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Historical accident. I started with a Leica IIIa and 50/3,5 (neither being much use without the other). Then I bought an M2 and used it (via adapters) with my old Leica screw-mount lenses. Then I bought M-mount lenses. Then I bought newer bodies. Currently using lenses 5-75 years old on Ms from M2 to M9.

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