The last time I got involved in trying to help someone get a new camera was in 1986. A friend/co-worker asked me to help her get some new camera gear because she was not satisfied with her 35mm p&s and wanted to move up to a much better camera. I sat down with her and tried to find out what she wanted. We met 3-4 times over a period of a week or more fine tuning things. Here are the non-negotiable things she "had to have":
- must be an SLR (since those were for "serious photographers")
- must have interchangeable lenses
- must have a general purpose zoom lens
- must have a flash
- maximum budget (I don't recall the exact number of dollars, but not very high for what she said she had to have)
I tried at first to get her to consider some of the newer p&s cameras that I thought might be fine for her, but she insisted she wanted an SLR. In 1986 almost all SLRs were manual focus except the new Minolta Maxxum/Dynax/Alpha 9000, 7000, 5000. I suggested some manual focus SLRs and showed her my Minolta X-700 so she could see what they were like (she had never touched an SLR before). She was surprised that it was manual focus and hated it. She then added another must-have: the SLR must be AF. Well, that simplified things. The only SLRs that were AF were the new Minolta models.
The Minolta 7000 was out of her budget so that left the 5000. I searched and found one of the few lenses and flash for her that would work with it and meet her requirements. The total price was barely in her budget. Her maximum was really too low for what she wanted though. I sat with her as she ordered it all from B&H. By the time she was ready to order I was already wishing I had never agreed to help her. I was starting to get the impression she had unrealistic expectations. I tried to get her to lower them a bit. I also discovered that she didn't seem to have any interest in learning all that "technical stuff" such as apertures, shutter speeds, exposure, dof, etc.
A week or so later she got the new gear and we got together so I could get it all unpacked, lens attached, battery and film put in. We played with it together for awhile. I was quite interested also since I had never seen or used an AF SLR at that time.
I bet you can guess what happened next. Over the next couple of weeks she would call me or come by my office to tell me of problems she was having. She was more and more disappointed in her camera gear. Then she started getting upset about the whole thing. She said her husband also was angry that I had "talked her into buying" all this expensive gear. The damn thing wouldn't AF on their little running around daughter or dog in their family room at night with almost no light. The photos were crappy. And to top it off her friend had bought a new p&s for much, much less that "worked great" and made "fantastic photos." I tried to gently remind her of all the things she had insisted she must have and that I had tried to get her to just get a new p&s. I showed her the paper that had her list we had made together and the notes that we had written on it. That didn't mean a thing to her. She accused me of convincing her to spend a bunch of money on something she didn't want. Fortunately, she worked in a different building on a different job. I was glad to never see her again. What an ungrateful cretin. I sure learned my lesson though.