With new models of top notch camera equipment being released so often there is a constant temptation to buy the latest camera body, a new piece of technology that has just come out, or just another camera gadget that looks cool.
I also notice people changing back and forth from brand to brand from time to time, like going from Nikon to Canon or vice versa thinking they are going to get something better by switching.
Personally, I think many of the purchases people are making these days end up costing them extra money but the upgrades, changes on equipment, and new bits of added technology are often unnecessary. A lot of the new technology I see people buying they don’t end up utilizing and very often switching brands ends up just being a sideways move instead of actually gaining any truly added benefits.
Another thing that perhaps encourages people to switch brands is to take a step ahead on technology that the brand of camera equipment they are using seems to be lagging behind on. But changing brands can be very expensive if you are already heavily invested in a lot of lenses. Also, when you have two major brands competing for the same market, like Canon and Nikon, the advances one brand might make over the other is only temporary. So if you just wait a little while then the brand you are using now will catch up to their rival which may seem to have pulled ahead slightly on technology at the moment.
Some of what drives all of this desire to buy more and/or newer equipment is also the fact that people may believe an upgrade could inspire them to take more or better pictures or that a different brand of camera equipment will improve their skills as a photographer and thus, the overall quality of their work. Some of this may be true to a point if you are upgrading from a low grade consumer level camera body to a pro body or if you are using inferior quality lenses and want to upgrade to better quality glass. But most of our greatness in being a top notch photographer simply comes from within.
So what I see mainly are decisions being made that are often emotional without a lot of thought being put into the decision making process first before making the upgrade.
Following are some of the considerations I make myself before investing the money in a new piece of technology and/or upgrading a piece of older equipment:
1 – What added benefits will I get from upgrading my equipment?
2 – Does the cost of upgrading justify the gains I will receive in terms of newer or better technology?
3 – Will the new equipment really be better than my old equipment or will it just be newer?
4 – Will I be losing any features and functions that I really like on my existing equipment when I upgrade to a newer or different model or brand?
5 – Is the main reason I want to upgrade simply because I want a new toy, and do I really have a true need to upgrade the equipment that I have, or is the equipment I have really good enough already?
6 – Can I really afford this upgrade I am considering or will the cost set me back too far?
Another thing you should do right before you buy a DSLR camera body is first decide how long you plan to use this piece of equipment before possibly needing to upgrade again. The reason this is so important is that perhaps within 6 months or 1 year of buying a new DSLR it will again be replaced by a newer model offering more features and newer technology. When that happens the temptation will be there again to upgrade to the next, new model. So make a plan when you buy a camera and stick with it. If you already have a DSLR camera which was released within the last 1-2 years then it is most likely quite advanced in technology already. Therefore, I would suggest upgrading your camera body at most every 3-5 years from when you buy a new DSLR camera body, especially since new digital camera technology is not advancing as quickly as it was before and the pixel race seems to have nearly ended as well.
One last thing to consider is that working professional photographers can more easily justify the cost of camera equipment upgrades for business purposes. This includes not just upgrades, but perhaps buying more lenses and/or studio lighting equipment to add to their arsenal. Sometimes it is important for photographers in a competitive market to impress their clients by shooting with the latest camera equipment, plus their work may also require newer technology on an ongoing basis to keep up with advances. But if you are a hobbyist, an amateur enthusiast, or just a part time professional photographer you may want to give careful consideration to spending more money on equipment if you can’t justify the cost of it in your work. Meaning, if the new equipment isn’t going to make you more money from photography, or help you to take considerably better pictures, then perhaps there isn’t much need in buying any more new equipment.
So, before you run out and spend a bunch of money on some new equipment which may just end up sitting on your shelf and not being used, I think the best approach is to first consider the points I mentioned. You can even make a list of the pros and cons of replacing a piece of existing equipment before you make an upgrade to determine whether it is really worth the additional investment for you or not.
Great post. I also want to add that new DSLR buyers should think more before jumping into buying their first DSLR. One is not just buying the a camera but also buying a system, I mean the set of lens and accessories one needs to buy in the future. Jumping brands is not a very good idea as you will be buying two systems (i.e set of lenses) and will prove to be very expensive. Invest more in excellent lenses rather than camera bodies, bodies get upgraded more often but lenses could last forever.
Excellent advice Alex. I completely agree. Thank you for your input.