There are of course many answers to this question and the answers vary greatly from person to person and by need. But one way to answer this question is to look at how many DSLR cameras people actually have. It can be argued that, unless financially constrained, people have the number of cameras they need. Those under financial constraint of course need (or want) more, so the answers may, overall, may reflect the low side of ideal.
To gather these numbers, answers were collected from 12,668 visitors to this site. The specific question asked was: "How many DSLR cameras do you currently have?" Here are the results:
(Note that the above infographic may be freely republished in un-altered form. But sorry, copying of the other text on this page is not permitted.)
We have some interesting numbers here. Let's analyze the results (using my strong personal bias of course).
Zero: 5.30% (671 responses)
Fortunately, this is a small bucket. Those of you with zero DSLR cameras are definitely in a minority on this site, but it is my hope that you have seen the light and are furiously researching your first DSLR camera purchase. We are here to help with this process.
It is also possible that those of you falling into this category are between models in an upgrade process. This is an uneasy time period for budget-constrained photographers. Again, I hope that you are able to rectify this situation very quickly.
Severely budget-constrained voters may also fall into this category – I of course hope that you can very quickly get past this potentially large hurdle.
One: 40.96% (5,189 responses)
One is exactly the maximum number of cameras that you can easily shoot handheld at the same time and one is the most popular answer in our poll. Those with limited budgets and/or infrequent photography interests/needs (sorry, I don't relate very well to the latter group) are primary members of this category.
Few 1-DSLR camera owners are into photography for the money (professionally) as no backup camera is available (though renting is of course an option).
The key point to make is that one DSLR camera is much better than none.
Two: 33.55% (4,249 responses)
This inventory level picks up more serious photographers – both amateur and professional. While it is a blessing to have even one DSLR camera, having at least two of these tools has many benefits.
Perhaps most important is that you have a backup camera in case of loss or failure of the first. Being able to have two different lenses mounted and simultaneously ready to use can significantly increase your take-home.
Two is the number of cameras I am typically shooting with if I have a range of focal length needs. I travel with no less than two cameras.
Of those following the site's news page/feed, 40% have two DSLR cameras (the most popular response for news page/feed followers).
Three: 11.83% (1,498 responses)
I'm most comfortable with three DSLR cameras available to me. This gives me two primary cameras to shoot with and a third available as a backup. If I'm shooting with nearby vehicle access (I don't have to carry everything on my back), I often have three different lenses mounted on the same number of cameras. And, sometimes, I carry three with me.
Four or Five: 5.08% (643 responses)
You and I may be more alike than we knew. You probably have a DSLR camera size and model for every situation. You have a high end sports body for capturing perfect action shots. You have a high resolution full frame camera for amazing landscape photos. Maybe two of those. You have a small camera model to have with you always.
Six or More: 3.29% (418 responses)
Those having 6 or more DSLR cameras have special needs (slowly raising my hand). We either have special photography needs (perhaps you are shooting bullet time photos?) or special psychological needs (they say admitting the problem is the first step to recovery).
Those in the latter category have more cameras than they need and, to extend an offer of help, I am announcing the formation of the DSLR Camera Hoarders Anonymous support group – or "DCHA".
To begin this group's rehabilitation program, you need to critically look at your camera collection. Then pull out the models that you have not used in the last three months. Box those up (those prized empty boxes are also taking up room in your house) – and send them to me. I would be very happy to take care of them and keep their batteries charged – and I of course admit no psychological problems. :)
Perhaps a better idea would be to sell the extra bodies to finance new gear that would get more use.
Of course, having a camera for each of your lenses does help with the sensor dust problem. It is more challenging for those dust bunnies to get into the mirror box if the lens is never removed. Having a camera in each vehicle, in each room of the house and in the office means that you can ALWAYS get the shot. You can NEVER have too many DSLR cameras. My opinion of course.