Are Expensive Cameras Worth the Investment?

by Ashley Eneriz · 8 comments

When researching expensive baby buys during pregnancy, it’s usually the mother-to-be who makes her requests known. However, with our first baby, it was my husband that spent hours researching costly cameras and asking if we could buy one.

The price tag was $1,600 for a Canon DSLR, which he assured, would be worth the investment as our child grows up. That is quite the cost for a so-called “baby item”.

In fact, I don’t think I spent that much the entire first year of raising our baby (thanks to used items and cloth diapers). After purchasing our new Canon camera though, I admit that my husband was right.

It was a good investment for us and has saved us hundreds of dollars on photography costs over the years.

But is buying a new camera a good investment in general? Especially with smartphone cameras and other alternatives that are a lot cheaper?

Should You Buy an Expensive Camera?

The answer really depends on your situation and what you plan on using the camera for. If you’re even slightly interested in photography for freelance work, or if you have a family, then I say yes.

In my husband’s case he was interested in learning how to take the best pictures possible, so he actually gets amazing shots and the worth out of the camera. Here are just a few other reasons why we think investing in a camera is a good option:

  • Replaceable lens allow for more adaptability over what kind of shots you get. Many point and shoot cameras or phones offer zoom options, but don’t even come close to what a DSLR camera can do.
  • Hold their value longer. Many point and shoot cameras may cost less up-front, but their resell value goes for half if you’re lucky. For DSLR bodies, the value may go down when new technology is released (upgrades do not happen often, usually every 6-10 years), but DSLR lenses don’t go down in value very much. When my husband first bought our camera, we started off with a lower-end lens. When we were ready to get an upgrade, we were then able to sell the old lens for only $5 less than we bought it for, even though it was already 2-3 years old.
  • Are built to last longer. The higher-end models are made of metal and weather sealed, which means they’re quite durable. The lenses are also interchangeable within the brand, so even if you buy a different camera body, all of your lenses are still useful.

Are Smartphone Cameras a Better Choice?

There’s no doubt you can capture good shots with your smartphones and cameras that cost under $200. There are tons of apps available that allow you to capture great memories of your loved ones, however, the quality won’t be quite as high as with a DSLR camera.

Smartphone cameras can be a decent option for anyone not interested in learning too much about cameras. For our family though, we wanted to capture those memories and make sure they wouldn’t be too blurry, out of focus, or have bad lighting. Even as a novice camera user, I’m able to capture about 80% better shots than I would have gotten if I had a lower model camera.

I do think our DSLR camera has saved us hundreds of dollars in the long run. We’ve taken our own Christmas card photo for years, as well as photographs for our newborn announcements, pregnancy announcements, and so on. Having access to higher quality images has also allowed us to print huge prints for DIY canvas home décor and even for my mom’s funeral earlier this year.

Buying an expensive camera can be a little intimidating, and I’m by no means a professional, nor do I ever desire to be one. However, I’m thankful we did invest in our high-quality camera, because it’s already proven valuable to us.

We enjoy having thousands of high-quality pictures stored on our computer, so we can choose the best shots to print and use. I can always increase my knowledge of taking photographs, but will probably be using the same camera for a decade or more.

That’s money well-spent and a smart investment!

Do you have an expensive camera? Has it been worth the price? Or do you prefer to use a less expensive option for taking shots?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Bert says:

    The versatility of a good camera system, with say, 3 lenses and a moderate zoom, is beyond compare to any other device whose primary function is not to take photos.

  • DealForALiving says:

    I haven’t used a standalone camera in years since smartphone cameras closed the gap. I would say that especially given the newest smartphone cameras like on the new iPhone and Sony phones, who goes out and buys a camera these days?

    On the topic of the iPhone, I’ve seen tons of little attachments you can get for increased zoom capabilities or better flash. The standalone camera is going to go the way of the dodo.

  • P Hallowell says:

    Because all of the cell phone cameras and all the digital products being offered to the public it makes it hard for me, the pro to offer something ”different.” Lots of people don’t see the value in hiring a pro. What they get with their cameras are ”good enough” even though someone has a tree growing out of their head. We are a dying breed. The kids born in the last 10 years will not inherit a shoebox of family photos to remember their childhood.”

    Good article. Although ”interchange” should have been used instead of ”replaceable.” Replaceable almost sound disposable, which today’s gear is pretty much that. Our camera bodies will not last 20+ years like out film cameras. It’s really a disposable society now.

  • Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom says:

    We got an SLR as a wedding present and we’ve been able to take some great shots with it over the years. Lately I’ve been lazy and have been using my phone, but since it’s the holidays again I’ve charged the battery and have started using it more.

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

    We take all of our own photos and have been debating buying a good camera. We end up using our iPhones a lot and the primary benefit is that we always have them with us, but the photos are only OK. I would have to get into the habit of carrying a camera around with me if we did get one!

    • Ashley says:

      We definitely use our camera a lot, but I am also a pregnant mama of a toddler, so most of the time it is iPhone photos too haha (and sadly most of the time it is blurry photos since two year olds don’t sit still for long). I think now is a great time to make the investment because I know Canon just released a newer model, making their older (but still high quality) models a lot cheaper. Oh, and the holidays always bring deals 🙂

  • dojo says:

    Smartphones ARE not cameras and just using a decent DSLR and a phone will show you the difference. I have ‘invested in a Nikon D5100 3 years ago, when it got out. Was expensive, about 1,400 with the zoom lens. I have taken tens of thousands of pics from our travels and it also helps us take pics with our baby. As you said, saves us money since we don’t pay a photographer, not to mention that I actually used the pics from my travels on my web sites and earned money (advertising revenue).

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