Taking Photos With A Balance Sheet

Taking Photos With A Balance Sheet

Today I am off to the WAMED ( Western Australian Middle Eastern Dance ) Grand Bazaar show at Victoria Hall in Fremantle. I’ve been asked to take pictures of the stage show for this last day of their big dance weekend.

The hall is a great old Victorian theatre with a big balcony at the rear – it’s hardly used for this sort of market and show so I can perch up there with a tripod and one of the Fujifilms ( also with a sandwich and a bottle of beer ) and record the acts pretty well undisturbed. This benefits the audience as well – I don’t have to do my regular trick of balancing on a big Pelican case halfway down the aisle of the hall and get in everyone’s line of sight.

This year I did some comparison tests between the output of the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and the X-T2 and have decided that the optical viewfinder of the former makes it a better dance camera than the EVF of the latter. You can see the peak action of a fast dance and capture it precisely with open sights or reflex mirrors – EVF’s always lag just enough to deny this moment. Unless you are covering the chicane at the snail races, you are always missing the gold shot.

When I packed the bag I mentally totted up the costs of the equipment that will do this job – and you might like to do the same the next time you head out your door. I’m not sure if it will make your pictures better, but it might bring you back to the reality of what is either a very costly hobby or a very good business investment. Keep in mind none of the numbers are adjusted for inflation, depreciation, or moral turpitude:

a. Camera – X-Pro-1                   $ 700

b. Lens – 18-135 Fujinon           $ 600

c. Tripod – Cullmann                 $   65

d. Bag – Cullmann                      $   45

e. Card – Sandisk                        $   90

f. Batteries – Fujifilm                $   140

g. Lens – 300mm Sun               $ Free

h. Sandwich – egg salad           $ 4.50

i. Bottle of beer                          $ 5.50


That’s $ 1650 capital cost. I could expect to get about 40% back on the camera and zoom lens and a few dollars for the accessories. The Sun lens, if sold, would fetch another $ 50. The sandwich and bottle beer have little resale value once consumed.

But in the years since the camera, lens, and accessories were purchased – separately, I need to add – they have returned their capital cost several times over in fees earned at weddings and shows. Tomorrow I am essentially walking in for the cost of a cut lunch.

I write this for several reasons; to brag about getting to go to a free dance show and sit down while working for a change – to remind myself that it is now fun rather than hard work – and to suggest that you look at your own balance sheet and see if there is a chance to even it up for yourself.

Do you have gear you no longer use…and will never use? Perhaps ( this may be a difficult admission to make… ) it is gear that has never been fired. Perhaps it was bought in anticipation and you’ve never encountered a situation where it could be used. Now is the time to think whether it could be traded in for something you really can shoot with. CE has a secondhand section, and this last year have put some remarkable things into it. The photo-markets have been closed this last year due to Covid 19, so the supply of S/H gear has been fitful.

If you have got what you need, are you going out there and using it? Some may decry my 2012 X-Pro1 but it won’t be the dancing girls who get gorgeous coloured photos from it, nor me who gets to use it for free.

And can you be frugal and still kind to yourself? I can – the egg salad sandwich will be home-made.




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