How Much Are Cameras – Truly An Expensive Hobby, Even In 2022?

by Jonathan
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How Much Are Cameras

No matter whether you’re just starting out in this hobby or have already been a veteran photographer for many years, the question of how much cameras are worth today concerns everyone.

It’s an inescapable truth: like so many good things in life, photography costs money. Sometimes a lot of it.

The tools that we take pictures with don’t just change in value all the time – they do so very unpredictably.

New technology can suddenly make older equipment obsolete. Consumer demand can suddenly shift based on little more than hearsay. And that is not to mention the sometimes religious following, and accordingly insane prices, that certain camera brands or models have.

To unwrap all this and turn it into something that can be useful for any photographer today, we have created this guide. In the following, we are going to take a look at everything you need to know about how much cameras are worth today, in 2022.

How Much Do Cameras Cost in 2022?

Let’s start with a really basic look at our question. If you’re wondering what the values in new cameras are like these days, the answer is that cameras can range in price anywhere from $50 (older entry-level models from minor brands, used) up to $10,000 and beyond for medium and large-format gear.

That range is way too vast for anyone to find their right place in it intuitively.

That counts double if you are still inexperienced in this field.

So, let’s try to narrow things down a bit, shall we?

How Much Are Entry-Level Cameras in 2022?

First, let’s address what is probably the most crucial question covered in this guide: as a complete beginner, how much do you really have to spend to get a photography setup that will last you and allow you to fully express yourself?

Of course, there is no one answer to this question, and there never can be.

However, you can make a few generalizations to get closer to an objective benchmark in terms of price.

For example, it’s true that over the past 10 years, a bare-bones system camera from any of the major brands has only gone down in price, both in absolute terms as well as adjusted for inflation. However, very recently, prices have shot up to an extent that has almost never been seen before.

To illustrate: you would have had to pay just over $600 in 2012 for a brand-new Canon EOS Rebel T3 (or EOS 1100D in some countries) with its 18-55mm kit lens.

Compare that to the situation we have in 2022, where a Nikon D3500 body starts at $650, and when equipped with an 18-55mm kit lens routinely goes for over $800, even approaching four digits.

That is if you’re lucky enough to find one for sale.

Not too long ago, the reverse was the case. When the D3500 was first announced in 2018, its MSRP was only $500 for a kit.

At the time, these kinds of low prices were unheard-of for an amateur DSLR, and it seems that that record is here to stay.

Why Are Entry-Level Cameras So Expensive in 2022?

The reasons for this turnaround are twofold.

First, we are currently in a transitional stage within the digital camera industry. Every major manufacturer is in the process of abandoning DSLRs for good in favor of mirrorless cameras.

Some have already done so.

While this means budding photographers in the future will have plenty of cheap mirrorless hardware to chose from, for us today it poses a unique challenge. That being that mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (MILCs) remain too expensive for most enthusiasts, and even some professionals.

But at the same time, the supply of DSLRs is sharply decreasing as models left and right are being discontinued.

To make matters worse, there is a second cause to the current climate. As will not be surprising to hear, the global supply chain crisis caused by the pandemic has also hit the camera industry.

When the complex electronics needed to make cameras are suddenly hard to come by, prices rise for everyone.

How Much Are Mirrorless Cameras Worth in 2022?

Since the industry is concentrating all its efforts on the development of mirrorless cameras currently, it’s worth looking into their values. In doing so, you can get a good look at what might end up becoming the pricing landscape for the rest of the 2020s.

The Entry Level: How Much Do You Have to Pay for Mirrorless?

A MILC from Sony, Olympus, Canon, or Nikon will currently set you back at least $1,000, if not much, much more. For example, the most affordable member of Nikon’s Z line, the Z 50, retails for $850 body-only.

If you want to go full-frame, you need at least a Z 5. That means an over 50% price increase to $1,400.

At just $700, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is probably the most cost-effective MILC system currently available. But even with a price like that for the body, it will not be possible to assemble a whole Olympus outfit for less than $1,000.

In short, there is currently no real way to buy a fully-featured interchangeable lens mirrorless camera at a price comparable to that of last-gen DSLR hardware.

Affordable Mirrorless Camera Options in 2022

Of course, there are certain exceptions. To name one example, Sony still sells the a5100, a compact released back in 2014.

While the company’s single-digit alpha series MILCs are severely overpriced for amateurs, Sony’s a5100 is different.

Based on the old NEX series, it takes the same Sony E lenses as the brand’s other cameras. It has a fine APS-C sensor clocking in at 24 megapixels. It’s very compact, and yet the body is well-made and solid.

And like most mirrorless cameras, its quick autofocusing and moviemaking tricks put DSLRs to shame.

On paper, it’s everything an entry-level MILC should be, and it retails for only $500. Add a little more on top for a kit lens.

However, there is a catch. The a5100 completely lacks a dedicated viewfinder. Instead, you will have to use the rear screen in live view to compose.

For some, this might be a deal-breaker. But for the rest, this is currently one of the only ways to assemble a high-quality mirrorless setup with a body and some lenses for under $1,000.

Other affordable options exist, like the digital Olympus PEN series. But here, too, you will need to make compromises, such as forgoing a built-in viewfinder.

However, it’s worth pointing out that the PENs at least have a hot shoe for mounting an external viewfinder.

Mid-Range MILC Values in 2022 – The Big Four Compared Head-to-Head

Let’s assume you have the budget and the will to invest in a more solid MILC setup.

What numbers should you expect?

Well, let’s take a look at an example from each of the big brands to find out.


Starting with Nikon, their mid-level entry is the Z 6II. Slotted in between the more pared-down Z 5 and the pro-grade Z 7II and Z 9, it boasts a full-frame sensor, eye-detect autofocus, in-body vibration reduction, and many more goodies.

As for the price, Nikon is currently asking for a cool $1,997. With a lens, you can up that to $2,500. If you want to save a bit, you can shave a few hundred off both of these numbers by going for the older Z 6 model. The prime difference between them is that the Z 6II uses a much-upgraded autofocus system.


How Much Are Cameras

At Canon, things look somewhat different. Compared to Nikon, Canon and especially Sony have had more of a head start when it comes to mirrorless tech.

Hence, there are a few more affordable options.

The EOS R, which is spec-wise very similar to the Z 6 and Z 6II, is currently listed at $1,800. However, as this model will soon be discontinued, you might be able to score a lucky deal.


Speaking of Sony, their all-rounder MILC system is the A7 IV. The original A7 was released way back in 2014, making it a pioneer of the current generation in mirrorless cameras. The current model goes for $2,500, which is quite a sum.

However, some of the older A7s can still be had for about half as much.


Olympus might be of particular interest to budget-conscious photogs. However, you should take into account that all the above Sony, Canon, and Nikon MILCs are full-frame, whereas Olympus is still dedicated to their proprietary Micro 4/3 format.

The OM-D E-M5 Mark III, a beefed-up version of the more beginner-friendly E-M10, goes for $1,200, and the pro-grade E-M1 Mark III sells for $1,800. Both of these feature excellent sensors, weather sealing, face and eye-detect AF with focus peaking, and more. Older models still in stock come with substantial discounts as you would expect.

All in all, you get more for your dollars at Olympus in terms of build quality and features, but you trade that in for a much smaller sensor size.

The debate about photographic formats has raged on since the days of film and will probably never end, but suffice it to say this is a subjective matter. You will have to decide for yourself.

What About Fujifilm?

How Much Are Cameras

You might have noticed (and some reading this might have done so in great horror) that we left Fujifilm out of the head-to-head comparison above. The reason for this is simple.

Despite a terrific lineup of products, Fujifilm is not a big player in terms of overall sales today.

However, we know that there are a lot of dedicated Fuji system photographers out there, so let’s include them in this guide as well.

Fuji’s lineup is fairly straightforward. You have the XPro series, which is a rangefinder-style MILC with the brand’s patented optical/electronic hybrid viewfinder. The current iteration, the XPro3, retails for $2,000 body-only, befitting its name.

Then there’s the X-E series. Basically, an XPro stripped of the complicated viewfinder arrangement. Instead, you get a pretty ordinary electronic viewfinder similar to that of other contemporary MILCs.

However, you still benefit from the same features, the same lenses, and the same sensor. The current X-E4 has an MSRP of $749 as a body, and $999 as a kit, making it much more budget-friendly.

In between and around these two price-wise, there are a few other options, such as the X-T30 which goes for $800 body-only.

However, with Fujifilm, there’s a big catch, and just as with Olympus, it’s got to do with sensor size. All of the above cameras use APS-C sensors, not full-frame.

If you want to move up in size with a Fujifilm system, you can. There’s a huge asterisk though.

You would need to switch over to their GFX line of medium-format gear. Here, you can say goodbye forever to three-digit price tags, even for lenses.

The cheapest GFX camera body currently sells for $4,000.

What About DSLRs?

We have focused extensively on prices for mirrorless prices above, and it is easy to see why. MILCs are the future in consumer photography, particularly at the professional level but also for beginners.

Even if so, there are a few DSLRs still available from Canon, Nikon, and Pentax.

So, let’s take a look at them and see how they can fit into your budget.

Is a Nikon DSLR Worth it in 2022?

First, let’s consider Nikon. The Japanese camera maker dominated the DSLR market for most of the 2000s and 2010s and has been a bit slow in the transition to mirrorless.

This means that, even though most of their DSLRs are bound to be discontinued, there are still some options.

Nikon Flagship DSLRs in 2022

At the top end, the flagship D6 is still hanging around alongside the older D5. Made principally with sports and action photographers in mind, these cameras’ spec sheets are all about high speed.

You get 14 FPS of burst shooting, and some of the best autofocus ever put into a DSLR.

Unfortunately, MILCs are intrinsically superior in this regard, particularly when it comes to autofocus. Thus, we can’t expect the D-series to last for too much longer.

Both the D6 and its older brother carry a price tag of $6,500. It appears that Nikon is not planning on pitching their pro-grade DSLR gear as a lower-cost alternative to their Z series MILCs.

Instead, they are opting to leave these cameras in their lineup for a little while longer as an option for professionals who prefer the handling of an SLR with an optical viewfinder.

Mid-Range and High-End Nikon DSLRs

A little bit down the pricing ladder, familiar faces greet us at Nikon.

The D780, D850, Df, D750, and D610 have all been with us for at least 5 years, some of them for over a decade at this point. Clearly, Nikon is still offering these models as holdouts while they complete their mirrorless transition.

Just like the flagships, these cameras also retain their original MSRPs. The cheapest, the mid-range D610, starts at $1,600. It was originally released in 2013.

Nikon’s APS-C DSLRs

The DX series, Nikon’s term for their crop-sensor cameras, also lives on. For now, at least.

Both current-generation and older examples of the D3000, D5000, and D7000 series are still available, some of them discounted as supplies run out.

None of these cameras cost more than $1,000 individually, and the D3400 starts at a sweet $499. While there are still some of them left, that is.

How Much Are Canon DSLR Cameras in 2022?

Canon has been culling their DSLRs more aggressively. As you might already know, the brand has already ceased manufacturing further lenses and accessories for its EOS DSLRs.

However, you can still nab a few of their remaining DSLRs nonetheless.

At the top end, the EOS-1D X Mark III is to Canon what the D6 is to Nikon. It’s a highly-advanced flagship DSLR selling for upwards of $6,000, aimed at pros not ready to switch to MILCs yet.

Besides that, you have the option of the mid-range EOS 6D Mark II. Its sticker price of $1,400 pits it against the Nikon D610. However, the Canon is four years the Nikon’s junior, with a newer sensor and some more advanced features.

The EOS 5D also lives on in Mark IV form. At $2,700, it competes against Nikon’s high-end FX cameras like the D780 and D810.

The beloved Rebel series is there, too. During the past 15 years or so, a Canon Rebel has often been the default choice for a budding photographer on a limited budget.

Now, the times have changed. Just like Nikon’s D3500, supply issues and the mirrorless revolution mean that the remaining Rebels aren’t so incredibly affordable anymore.

The current model, the T8i, costs $900 as a kit.

Should You Buy a Pentax DSLR in 2022?

Pentax has been the odd one out in the digital photography business ever since the turn of the millennium. Despite offering unique and distinctive equipment, they have never managed to carve out a big niche for themselves pitted against the big boys.

Today, Pentax is one of the last camera makers dedicated to DSLRs, with not a mirrorless camera in sight in their lineup. And it’s a simple lineup, too!

There’s the entry-level K-70, which goes for $550 as a body. It has been in continuous production since 2016.

The K-3 III, which shares the same form factor and APS-C sensor size, is a professional body rivaling Nikon’s D500. Appropriately, it goes for over $2,000 with a lens.

If you want to go full-frame, there is only one option, and that’s the K-1 Mark II. Called the most advanced enthusiast DSLR ever made by some, it is loaded with every feature you could ever ask for. From a tough, weather-sealed body with IBIS to Pentax’s unique Pixel Shift system and an articulating LCD, this is really a flagship body in every sense.

Its $2,000 price point curiously matches that of the K-3 very closely, indicating that Pentax also sees the choice between crop sensors and full-frame as a personal preference.

There is one more pro-grade system still available from Pentax, and it is the one most likely to survive further into the decade. It is the 645 Z, their mainstay medium format camera.

At $7,000, it stays competitive with similar offerings from Fujifilm and the like, but for most, it will obviously remain unobtainable.

Buying a Used Camera in 2022 – A Good Idea?

How Much Are Cameras

If you are in the market for some photography gear and feel discouraged by the prices you saw above, buying used might just be up your alley. As with any kind of product, buying a used camera can lead to big savings, but there are some risks.

Can’t make up your mind? Let’s take a look at everything speaking for or against buying new or used in the camera world today.

How Much Are Used Cameras in 2022?

Before we get into the precautions you’ll have to take when shopping used, let’s see how much money you can save this way. In 2022, buying a used camera means you’re looking back at two decades of digital camera history.

If you’re considering film gear, you can up that to over a century’s worth of cameras, lenses, and more!

Let’s take an easy example of the kinds of values you should expect.

The Nikon D3000, the first member of Nikon’s current line of entry-level DSLRs, came out in 2009. Currently, you can get one with a lens in used or refurbished condition for less than $100. That’s over 85% off the original list price – more if you account for inflation!

For top-of-the-line equipment, it’s actually no different. In fact, your savings could be even greater! The Canon EOS-1D Mark III was one of the first DSLRs with a Live View rear LCD and was released as a flagship model in 2007 for $6,500. That’s over $8,600 in 2022 dollars!

And today? EOS-1D Mark IIIs routinely pop up on eBay for less than $250.

What to Watch Out for When Shopping Used Cameras

Of course, there is no way these amazing deals don’t come at some sort of cost.

With used cameras today, this is twofold. First, there are general risks to consider with buying any used photo gear. The older the product, the more you need to be careful.

The second catch is that, with digital cameras at least, older models just often aren’t as capable as newer ones. You will have to decide for yourself what features you’re willing to sacrifice.

The Risks and Rewards in Buying Used Cameras in 2022

First off, let’s talk about the risks.

When buying a camera used, you need to be aware of the possible pitfalls that go hand in hand with these older products.

Old Shutters and Reliability Issues

First, note the shutter count of the camera in question. Of course, cameras that have been around for longer have been shot more often. Especially if you’re looking at a body that’s been used professionally, the mechanism might be pretty worn at this point.

Thankfully, almost no digital camera comes without an automated shutter counter built-in.

If the seller won’t tell you the precise number of exposures taken, that is already a red flag! Look up what count the shutter of the camera was rated for. If it’s getting close, the shutter might need replacing soon, and you should research how easily that is possible with the model you are looking at.

Beyond shutters, of course, there are other issues stemming from old age and tired internals that you will need to consider. Especially cameras older than 10 years will not be without flaws, and you will need to decide what you can accept.

False Advertising

This is just one of the dangers and pitfalls in buying used, especially from private sellers. You might get a perfectly fine camera, but not the one you ordered!

Or maybe it is the right make and model, but the condition doesn’t match what was described or shown in the pictures.

Whatever the case might be, you can try and avoid these unwanted surprises by mainly shopping at professional sellers. For example, sells used and professionally refurbished gear at attractive prices, and you can count on their trustworthiness.

Of course, you will not find crazy deals here like it is sometimes possible on eBay, but the chances of getting ripped off are much, much lower too.

If you do decide to go with an online auction site like eBay, the least you could do is filter for sellers that have a long history of high ratings. That way, you can avoid the most likely scams.

Incompatibility Issues

As cameras were available in countless configurations over the years, you need to be absolutely sure of what it is you’re buying.

Some brands like Canon have made use of very confusing naming schemes, and often a camera that sounds like one thing turns out to be something else entirely.

To make matters worse, certain private sellers might not be well-versed in photography gear. It’s not unheard of for an ad on eBay advertising a camera under a false name or featuring a body-lens combination that doesn’t actually fit.

Of course, buying from such a seller can lead to huge savings if you know what you’re buying, but they don’t. You just need to do some research accordingly.

Buying Used in 2022 – How Much Camera Do You Really Need?

Next, you need to answer the following question for yourself: what features or capabilities does your camera need to have? This is really important. Older camera models are, of course, more primitive in terms of technology, but the extent of this might not be clear to you just yet.

To put things in a nutshell, digital camera tech advanced at an alarming rate between the 1990s and the 2010s, taking great leaps year after year.

Around 2012, this breakneck pace of development began to plateau. By 2016, it had almost entirely flatlined, and since then two cameras from consecutive years have become harder and harder to distinguish between except in fine details.

This means that broadly speaking, shopping for cameras made before 2015 gets you the greatest savings. At the same time, the further back you go, the more you will have to sacrifice things you might take for granted if you are used to the way cameras are made today.

Older Camera Sensors and ISO

One obvious concession you will have to consider is in terms of sensor size, resolution, ISO, and some other parameters.

Before 2011, almost all digital cameras used CCD sensors. These are based on a different technology than the now-omnipresent CMOS, and they deliver images that have their own unique aesthetic properties.

Some like them, others don’t, but one serious problem to consider is that CCDs almost always offer lower resolutions and lower maximum ISOs compared to current-generation CMOS sensors.

On cameras from the early 2000s, the limited ISO could be such a severe issue that shooting in some environments might be entirely impossible for you.

Of course, later models quickly patched out these flaws, and by the time of the industry-wide switch to CMOS, limited sensitivity became a non-issue.

Megapixels, Then and Now

The megapixel race was another big feature of the early digital camera scene, and it too revolved around a number. A number that, even today, we still like to debate about.

In any case, the first professional DSLR that achieved wide market adoption, the Nikon D1, came out in 1999 and sported a 2.7-megapixel sensor. Today, that’s puny, especially considering it was only available in APS-C format (the first full-frame DSLR was the Canon EOS-1Ds released in 2002).

Ten years later, in 2009, you could buy a D700, which was many times lighter and smaller but packed a full-frame sensor with 12 megapixels. Only three years later in 2012, the D800 came out wowing everyone with its record-setting 36 megapixels.

Now, do you really need these crazy numbers, even today? Most likely, the answer is no. Unless your shoot billboard-size prints, that is.

But in that case, you are probably in the market for medium-format gear anyway.

Simply put, megapixels are a vague measurement of camera performance that is more personal preference than anything. You need to make up your mind how low you are willing to go.

Live View, Electronic Viewfinders, and Lag

With regards to mirrorless cameras, in particular, it is worth noting that used models from earlier generations often suffer from significant lag when using the electronic viewfinder.

This is not a defect developed through years of use and abuse. Instead, it’s a design flaw and one that prevented MILCs from being seriously considered as an alternative to DSLRs for many years.


In the end, it’s all up to you. Cameras exist in every shape and size, from tiny compact digicams that go for spare change at yard sales up to five and six-digit flagship monsters for the privileged few.

Finding something you can afford is not actually the challenge anymore. It’s combining an attractive price with the features you really need. And for that, the best thing you can do right away is some soul-searching.

A little bit of research about camera technology and its history also can’t hurt.