Lenses or camera?: Balancing photography passion with proper perspective and fiscal reality.

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Just shy of two years ago when I left point and shoots for an interchangeable lens camera the camera itself was the main price consideration. Based on that the Olympus E-PL5 was the camera for me. All was well at first, but over time I realized a few things:

  1. After swapping my way through 2 Olympus cameras, a Nikon, and a Samsung for various reasons I realized that near any modern camera system body would meet my photography needs.
  2. I wanted a full set of lenses rather than a few so the cost of a system of lenses was of more significance than I had first considered.
  3. After owning a Mu-43 camera and an APS-C camera my personal preference was APS-C. In a budget free world a full frame camera would be ideal, but even the most reasonable full frame options were prohibitively expensive for me lens wise.
  4. Personal preference again, but I have nothing against EVFs and I grew to really like the mirrorless Live View experience. Also built in robust WiFi/NFC wireless connectivity was a draw for me. Focus peaking is another mirrorless draw.

After realizing I wanted to explore many lens types I made a list of what I would have in my dream camera bag (any I have posted about before have hyperlinks below):

Since any lens mount system would meet my basic needs price would decide which way to go. Not an exciting basis for a decision to some I suppose, but I can think of little more exciting than actually filling my dream camera bag. I will give the price breakdowns below but, as should be no surprise given the picture above, Samsung was chosen as the most cost efficient overall. An added bonus was that the Samsung lenses on this list were all well reviewed. A good thing since there are few aftermarket options and the few that do exist do not provide AF. But since the factory units were priced so reasonably this proved not to be an issue. I included the prices of the Standard Zoom OIS (18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) and the Standard Prime (45mm f/1.8) to create a fair comparison even though these lenses came included as kit lenses with the NX30 and NX300. I also included the cost of the excellent Samsung NX 10mm fisheye lens even though that was an unsolicited surprise gift courtesy Samsung Camera US.

Sure $2,999.90 is a lot of money, but anyone bitten by the photography bug can tell you that a camera body sans lens can cost much more than all of these eight lenses combined. Especially considering that these lenses work across the Samsung NX range from the (relatively) early NX100/NX10 on up through the current NX3000 to the NX300 to the NX30 and on up to the NX1. Granted a few years hardly holds a candle to the decades old lens systems out there, but that is not a huge factor to a newbie like me. Plus an offset is that mirrorless cameras are great fun to use with any ancient legacy lens with a relatively cheap adapter. Others may be able to find a less expensive path to camera bag completion, but below are the lenses I would have chosen for each respective system.

Lenses Samsung

Olympus/Mu-43 was my interchangeable lens on ramp, but my dream camera bag would be $885.05 more dear.

Lenses Olympus

Nikon was my first APS-C camera, but I really grew to like mirrorless cameras and the Nikon mirrorless line is beyond my modest budget, has a smaller sensor than Mu-43 (CX – 2.7x Crop Factor) and the APS-C/CX lenses don’t share a mount requiring another set of lenses or an adapter.Plus even if I did stay on the Nikon DSLR side my dream camera bag would cost $1,421.85 more.

Lenses Nikon APS-C

I do not nor have I owned Canon, but I have a great respect for them and a friend is a Canon adherent so I was curious as to whether he had found a magical path to camera bag nirvana. Um, no. $2,568.10 more.

Lenses Canon APS-C

Fuji. Fantastic cameras and lenses, with amazing lens specs, but both are more dear than I can afford. Dream bag premium $1,575.90.

Lenses Fuji

*Sidebar. As most if not all who have been bitten by the photography bug I occasionally entertain the daft notion of cashing in my wares to purchase a full frame camera and at least one lens. If I ever do carry through with this I imagine the slippery slope will then point towards medium format. My most recent episode was when Sony dropped the A7 II. No. I was not considering the new A7 variant, but my interest was in the original A7 which remains on sale at a reduced price. But a quick analysis of the lens prices swiftly snapped me out of it. Even striking one lens from the list for lack of availability the difference was $3,588.10.

Lenses Sony FE

Sony APS-C and other viable system options (Pentax, etc.) were not considered for personal and utterly unscientific reasons. Let’s say they did not speak to me. Who knows what the future holds. Plus if you do not draw the line somewhere one would go bonkers and never settle on anything. Another personal limitation is giggle fits when I look at Leica prices. Fantastic gear I know. Not proud of that, but there it is.

This is an era with so many capable systems on the market. As noted earlier for some price may not be an exciting basis to decide what camera/lens system to buy, but I can think of little more exciting than actually filling my dream camera bag. And now I have been able to do so thanks to Samsung.

SAMSUNG CSC
A couple of years of trial, saving, and swapping and here we are.

-ELW

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