I'm pretty sure that a poorly made or worn-out SLR, or *any* type of camera for that matter, wouldn't get into anyone's hands who came into this board. What I mean is that you can use a cheap, manual SLR or one of the high-end professional models and still get good photos...but if you use cheap glass you're likely to not quite get the same results you'd get if you'd sprung for the more celebrated lens. In the end, the body *is* only a carriage for the film...the lens is only a way for the light to be better directed to the film. In order to take a good photograph you have to have the vision.
Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington
Also note that I've seen photographers take great photos with the crappiest equipment I've ever seen: small box cameras with no real lens to speak of, pinwhole cameras made out of Altoids tins, toy cameras with plastic lenses...
I use a Fed 5C. Cheapest interchangable lens rangefinders you can get. Crappy build quality, really, but it's light tight and has good glass. I can tell you, with confidence, that vibration hasn't been what caused unsharp photograhs...it's me not being able to hold the damn thing quite steady enough at 50mm, 1/4th of a second. If you have to take a shot where the mirror vibration would be a problem, why not use a rangefinder to eliminate that problem?
Now to bring this back on topic, I agree with you. A cheap, poorly made body can be detrimental to the photography experience. But it can also be a learning experience: you know what *not* to buy next time!