What is your old camera worth? If it is a brand spanking new DSLR, it could be worth a few thousand. If it is a family heirloom that has been handed down from generation to generation, it could actually be priceless to you.
I've had several customers ask me about the value of used cameras lately and I'll have to say that generally they aren't worth much. Whether you have an old SLR film camera or a few year old digital, the answer is the same. It's a real shame because someone spent a ton of money on the camera initially.
Airplanes and Harleys hold their value for a long time, but cameras not so much. You might get a few bucks on Ebay or the classifieds, but it's almost more trouble than it's worth. I've actually had several people give me old cameras just because they don't have the heart to put something they spent so much money on into the garbage can. Someday I might make a nice display of old cameras to decorate my shop.
Now that you're all bummed out about your old camera, you might be wondering how much is that new camera purchase going to set you back. The answer is "it depends." It depends on how fancy you want to get.
I get bunches of people who think they need a new DSLR with all the toys, but I've found the more junk, uh, equipment you purchase the less likely you are to carry it around with you. Today less is more when it comes to cameras. For most people who simply want to take nice photographs, you really don't have to spend more than $500 on the high end and that will get you a lot of camera. For a camera in that price range you will get excellent zoom and close-up capability as well as HD Video. These high end digital cameras are mostly for people who are really into photography and want all the bells and whistles.
On the low end, you can get a nice basic camera for around $100. The basic models are great for folks who have the bad habit of misplacing their camera, using it in rough conditions such as a work camera or maybe fishing or hiking. My advice would be to pick a price range you can afford and not get too crazy because you can bet in a few years you are going to want the next big thing and it's going to cost you again. Sorry I don't have better news but that's my opinion for what it's worth.
(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a Master Photographer, Certified Professional Photographer and past president of the Professional Photographers of West Virginia.)