expensive hobbies

Today I spent about 600 dollars on my hobbies. I spent a little over $200 to repair a camera lens that I had dropped about a month ago. And then I spent almost $400 to overhaul my single speed bike to get it ready for bike commuting. The funny thing is I originally got into these hobbies because I thought they were going to be cheap. Well, obviously the up front costs are big for both biking and photography, since they’re both reliant on expensive equipment. But after the initial outlay, I thought they would basically be free. But over the past few years I’ve spent thousands of dollars on both hobbies, so they ended up being far from cheap.

I first got into photography when I was pretty young. I think I was in the third grade. My aunt bought me a cheap point and shoot camera for Christmas. I remember my family went to Yellowstone for a vacation not long after that, and with my little red point and shoot camera I shot over a dozen rolls of film, filling up several photo albums when I got home. To be honest most of those pictures were crappy, but they instilled in me a love for nature photography that continues to this day.

When I started working I bought my first digital SLR, thinking it would be a good investment since I wouldn’t have to spend money developing film anymore. Instead it became an endless money pit. Good lenses are quite expensive. I initially bought a Pentax SLR because my dad told me he had a 50mm f/1.2 lens. Even though it was almost 30 years old, it would still be worth a decent amount of money because of the quality of the glass. When he later dug his old camera out of storage, it turned out that it was actually a manual 50mm f/1.4 lens, which is worth a lot less, maybe one fourth the value of the lens my dad said he had. But by the time I knew that I had already bought my camera and a few lenses. The first lens I purchased was a cheap telephoto lens, which at $150 I still thought was expensive. But from there the prices of the lenses I bought grew almost exponentially. Since I like to go to museums and art galleries I bought a fast prime lens which cost me around $300. Before my trip to the Grand Canyon a few years ago I bought a wide angle lens which cost me about $450. I started to become unhappy with the kit lens that came with my camera so I spent $700 to buy Pentax’s 16-50mm f/2.8, the lens that I dropped last month that is now costing me $200 to repair.

From here on out it gets even more expensive. In January I’m going to two weddings. Before then I’m thinking about getting a fast telephoto lens, which would easily cost me close to a thousand. I’m still debating whether to buy it, because for me it seems like too much money for something I wouldn’t use all that often. Pentax recently released a new body, the K-5, which fixes all the gripes that I have with my current camera. On top of that, according to DXOMark.com’s scientific testing, it has the best dynamic range out of all the current DSLR’s, making it really tempting to me, since I shoot in a lot of areas like canyons that require high dynamic range to look good. But the camera currently costs $1500, far too expensive for me to justify buying at this point.

I got into biking after a mission trip to Mexico about five years back. On our trip we had a registered nurse with us, who did health checkups for the adults at the church we visited in Mexico. During a bit of downtime he ended up doing blood pressure tests on the mission team as well. It was then that I found out that my blood pressure was on the high side. Not long after that I started looking for a road bike. I bought a pretty crappy bike which I used to bike to campus. A couple of years later, when I was working and started to have a little more disposable income I bought the celeste green colored Bianchi that I still own to this day. In the past couple of years I’ve added a couple of mountain bikes and a single speed commuter bike to my stable, but the vast majority of my mileage is still on my trusty Bianchi.

Recently I’ve been thinking about replacing the Bianchi. I’ve ridden close to 4,000 miles on it, so it’s due for a drivetrain overhaul, which will cost at least a couple of hundred dollars. That money is probably better spent on a replacement bike. The only problem is that the Bianchi is so well rounded that to get much improvement I would actually have to buy two bikes. For the overnight bike rides I do occasionally I would probably buy a touring bike, something that is stable loaded down with both front and back panniers. Since the Bianchi’s got a steel frame, it’s relatively sturdy and stable, the only problem is it doesn’t fit a front rack, which limits me to one or two night trips. I want to do a week long bike ride from Oregon to Davis next year, for that I’d definitely need a touring bike. But then a touring bike is not very good for the century rides that I occasionally do, it would be too big and heavy, which would make it too slow. So I’d probably have to buy a sexy carbon fiber road bike to get any improvement on the century rides. So to get much improvement over my current bike in both touring and organized rides, I’d be looking at $1500 for a decent road bike, and probably at least $700 for a touring bike, all to replace a bike that cost $500. So for now I just continue to chug along on my trusty puke green colored bike.

The $400 I spent today was to overhaul my single speed commuter to hopefully extend the lifespan of my Bianchi by another year. At the end of summer I crashed my single speed pretty hard and bent both of the wheels. I went to the shop today to see if they could repair the wheels, but they said I would have to replace them. So I ended up spending $200 for replacement wheels. Since I figured I’d be putting a lot of mileage on the bike, I spent $100 for good tires, $30 for a new seat, $20 for a frame pump, and almost $20 on tubes and rim tape. To recoup that cost in gas money I’d have to bike to work almost 100 times in 2011, which comes to about twice a week. Let’s see if I can sustain that. At least the bike looks cool now, with the new black wheels it has an all black stealth look to it.

So anyways, this post came about because I was complaining about how much I spent to keep my hobbies going. But then I guess you can’t really put a price tag on the joy that hobbies bring. I really should bring my SLR around more, but even just taking pictures when I’m traveling makes it worthwhile. I seriously believe that biking is saving  my life, keeping my blood pressure in check– and you can’t really put a price tag on good health. So I guess in the end it’s all worth it. Which is good, because it looks like a lot more money will be spent in the future…

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