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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Help me convince my company it's time to buy new equipment
Travis Haughton, Photographer
Crystal Lake | IL | USA | Posted: 10:12 PM on 01.23.10
->> The company-issued 1D Mark IIs are slowly dying. We last purchased cameras in 2004 when they were released.

Much of the staff has been supplementing the work gear with their own. I know that's not a good idea, but we all want to make the best pictures possible. It's a difficult balance. Right now we're sharing cameras, because we have 3 working bodies for a staff of 6.

The Mark IIs are failing at a rate of about one camera per month. The company has been paying for repairs, which now regularly exceed the cameras value.

We have good long glass, and 16-35s and 70-200s (not the IS though) for everyone. My editor tells me the company will be purchasing two 5D Mark IIs during the second quarter. Those are nice cameras, but we shoot a lot of sports.

How do I convince the company that they have to buy new gear, and that two 5D Mark IIs is hardly a step in the right direction? I'm thinking the Mark IVs, at least for our three primary sports photographers. Perhaps the 5D Mark IIs might work for the three shooters that do mostly video and non-sports.

I don't mean to sound like a whiner, but I really think we're under-equipped to do our job well, if not at all. Ideally, we'd have two cameras each, but that's even less realistic.

Thanks for reading all this, any advice?
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 10:42 PM on 01.23.10
->> Travis -
A few thoughts.

First, stop using your own gear. It either "broke" and you can't afford the repair tab, or your accountant told you not to, or some other legitimate reason to force the issue. Writers and editors don't use their own computers or pencils, do they?
Second, work up a repair vs value estimation that the front office can chew on, i.e., average repair is $X and used gear is currently selling for $X. Let them work depreciation into the equation and they'll probably come up with the answer you're looking for. Go Get a New One.
Third, be proactive - get the costs involved in replacing in writing so the number crunchers can do their voodoo. Ask if alternate financing could be a practical consideration - companies lease capital equipment all the time. Your folks might consider running the numbers to see of it's a possibility for you as there might be tax breaks involved.

Time for folks who really now what they're talking about to fill in the blanks...
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Randy Sartin, Photographer
Knoxville | TN | USA | Posted: 11:02 PM on 01.23.10
->> Dave,
Outstanding advice! Presenting a solution (with information to back it up) along with the problem is becoming a lost art.
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Nathan Papes, Photographer
Sheldon | IA | United States | Posted: 11:58 PM on 01.23.10
->> Ask these guys

http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/pictures/gearhead/2010/01/new-lenses-for-e.../

I'm jealous
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David Welker, Photographer, Student/Intern
Springfield | MO | USA | Posted: 12:52 AM on 01.24.10
->> Nathan,

Wow.. That is insane that the post just got all of that. Crazy. I guess another reason why working for them in this day and age is nice.
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Michael Durisseau, Photographer, Assistant
Santa Fe/Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 11:41 AM on 01.24.10
->> Hey, Dave,

That was very good advice. It's what I would do...make the appeal in terms that the ones that need the presentation and make the decision understand. Have some real reason for the request.
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Shelley Cryan, Photographer
New England | CT | USA | Posted: 2:43 PM on 01.24.10
->> Travis,

To "fill in the blanks" of Dave's excellent suggestions, I'd put in writing the reasons it makes sense to upgrade to the bodies you need, in a format the business office understands. It's not as complex as it looks, really. Specifically:

1. Purchase costs less than repair for current fiscal year and beyond. Work up a spreadsheet:

Row 1: Purchase Costs -- get actual quotes from reputable merchants.
Row 2: Repair Estimated Costs
Row 3: Difference between Row1 and Row2

Column 1: Fiscal Year 1 estimate (FY1EST) (this year) -- For repair section, use last year's actual costs (including shipping, taxes, etc.) plus, say, 5% for parts price increases plus another 10% for estimated increased problems due to advanced age of equipment (you can do a "sanity check" on these percentages by looking at the repair expenses trend over the last 3 years, and adjust as makes sense). For Purchase column, put the total of the actual quotes you got.
Column 2: Fiscal Year 2 (next year). For repair section, use FY1Est plus 15%. For Purchase Costs, put $0
Column 3: Fiscal Year 3 (the year after). Add 15% to FY2EST repair costs. $0 for purchase.

Row 3 shows the cost savings in each of the three years: Total that row to get a total cost savings over three years, and underline that twice, as that is the key figure in the analysis.

Note on the spreadsheet that these cost estimates are conservative -- that is, the purchase savings could be much greater -- since it is possible that the cameras will become irreparable and you'll have to purchase in haste at that point, or the cameras may break at a higher rate than estimated.

Also clearly note on the spreadsheet all the assumptions you've made (based on actual, plus the % yearly increase rationale), and include supporting documentation (quotes, last year's repair costs, etc.) to show the basis for your analysis. You want the analysis to speak for itself, as decision-makers will be reading it out of your presence. Make sure you provide complete information so they have everything they need to make an informed decision.

If your figures in the spreadsheet above are compelling enough, that is, if there is a savings of purchase vs. repair, you may not need to present the following less-quantifiable reasons:

2. An upgrade in bodies will increase the value of the current investment in lenses, as the lenses will perform better on better bodies.

3. An upgrade in bodies may reduce costs associated with staff turnover and training, since skilled, experienced photographers will be more likely to have improved retention with proper equipment.

4. As for 5D Mark IIs vs Mark IV, make a notation that the estimated useful life of the Mark IV is longer than the lesser camera, as it is newer technology, so it will lengthen the time before you need to purchase new bodies.

Good luck....

Shelley
www.shelleycryan.com
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Dennis Wierzbicki, Photographer
Plainfield | IL | USA | Posted: 2:48 PM on 01.24.10
->> Travis - the tipping point for me has been the quality of the images being produced by the MkIV (and to some extent the MkIII) that is often superior to my stable of MkIIn's in low light situations. In daylight or well-lit arenas, I can easily hold my own, but having seen some of the recent results from MkIV's taken at the same dimly-lit games I covered with my MkIIn's it's clear I'm going to have to upgrade soon or I'm going to struggle to be competitive in some situations.

With whom does your company compete for sports photos?
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Andrew Craft, Photographer
Fayetteville | NC | USA | Posted: 5:50 PM on 01.24.10
->> At my paper I asked the managing editor if I could sell all our old camera gear on ebay to fund buying new gear. They said yes and to date we have made $10,000 on ebay and bought 3 new camera bodies, 1 lens and a few odds and ends. I was actually shocked how much some things sold for. There is no point in keeping old gear that isn't being used.

I don't know if you have any old gear sitting around but that is an option.
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Willie J. Allen Jr., Photographer
St. Petersburg | FL | USA | Posted: 9:39 PM on 01.24.10
->> Travis the distressing piece is we're all feeling the same pressure to contribute great images with vintage software. The cameras are in and out of the repair shop. The reality is there are legions of amateurs shooting with more contemporary software and bodies than the professionals. This makes it hard to keep up, let alone compete.

I work with two Mark IIN bodies. All the sports shooters were asked to send their bodies and or lens to Canon to be cleaned and refurbished if there were any issues before football season. One of my two bodies stopped working midseason and the other is still limping along.

Now our editors are preparing a to pitch a plan to pitch to purchase new bodies. I plan to show them a few of the ideas posted on this page. Many of them seem logical so wish us luck!

willie

http://williejallenjr.com/c/williejallenjr
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 11:00 AM on 01.25.10
->> Travis,

If the company doesn't respond to the math suggested in the above posts, I would be concerned that they have other plans to reduce photo costs that do not include paying for equipment at all.

Every staff photographer -- particularly those working for corporate-owned papers -- should be very concerned about their jobs.

--Mark
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 6:22 PM on 01.26.10
->> Travis,

Please let us know how this plays out.

--Mark
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Nik Habicht, Photographer
Levittown | PA | USA | Posted: 8:12 PM on 01.26.10
->> Mark Loundy wrote: "Every staff photographer -- particularly those working for corporate-owned papers -- should be very concerned about their jobs."

I'll add that every staffer should be implementing a Plan B -- whether that's starting a freelance business (Acquiring personally owned gear, establishing a web presence, finding clients, networking) or pursuing an education in a different field.

When The Times offered us buyouts in early 2006, one of my colleagues was very happy, as he was finishing up a teaching degree, and was a couple of months away from resigning from the paper. That's the position all staffers want to be in at buyout time --- to know that they'll be fine because their Plan B will support them and their families....
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 11:53 PM on 01.26.10
->> I just read this thread for the first time. I meant to earlier but something always came up.

Shelley, great job suggesting the format the presentation to the bean counters needs to be in. Simple, easy to follow. Travis, all those repair receipts just became your best friend. Talk to the beancounters in the language they best understand. It makes it look like you're one of "them". "It is cheaper to buy new than to keep repairing the old stuff..".

Having said that, Mr. Loundy is spot on. At this point in the economic downturn, if a no go is made when common sense says it should be, be on guard. A friend of mine couldn't understand why they wouldn't let him book a trip to a big trade show. Then they said they did make reservations... and then fired him 3 days later.
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Thread Title: Help me convince my company it's time to buy new equipment
Thread Started By: Travis Haughton
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