Why buying new cameras is not always the answer

Within the last couple of weeks we’ve had some major announcements from all the big camera makers releasing new camera models – Nikon, Canon, Fuji etc… 

They all promise us to be “game changers” and to bring our photography to the next level. And all of these new models are honestly quite impressive – faster, smaller, better high ISO sensitivity and many more improvements. 

But are they really going to change the photographs we take? Are they going to make our images better?

I always encourage the students attending my photography workshops in Brussels to avoid spending money on the latest and greatest, but to take steps to actually improve their skills and only spend money on gear when they hit the limit on their current cameras and lenses.

And don’t get me wrong – I can understand the appeal of acquiring new gear. It’s new and shiny 🙂 But is that what your photography really needs? Most likely no.

My last major photography gear accusation was roughly two years ago when I decided to switch to Fuji mirrorless cameras for my work and personal photos. I did that not because I was unhappy with my gear at the time (Canon 5D Mark III) or because I had hit the limit of what I can do with it. I switched because I wanted smaller, lighter and quieter cameras. It was a legitimate physical need that was not driven by the desire to get a new camera. Did my photography got better because of that switch? No, it was just easier handling lighter cameras all day long. 

Consider the possibility that the best way to improve your craft and your photographs might not be to upgrade your gear but to upgrade your photography skills.

Remember too that new gear costs more than what you see on the price tag. Most times it will mean more money for accessories, batteries, filters, lenses, time to study the new system and the menues etc… When we switch to new gear (new camera model), we often take a few steps backward in terms of the comfort we used to have, spending time instead time thinking about where that specific button got moved to or how to change a specific setting. 

I want to say one more time that I am not against buying new gear! I just think that the time to acquire new gear is when your current gear isn’t doing the job anymore – when it’s the gear that is the bottleneck in your photography and not you. 

Along this line of thought here are a few ways to invest in your photography skills

  1. Spend more time actually taking photos – this is the best way to progress. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to do that or for the next vacation. Interesting things are happening every day around us.
  2.  Consider buying some photography books for inspiration and learning the photography process. You can look here for some examples: Photo Book Inspiration.
  3. Attend a photography workshop. No camera ever invented will make great photographs on its own. Pointing the camera towards a great location and pressing the shutter is not enough to create an interesting and captivating photo. It is your decisions based on your skills, vision and expertise that will come into play in order to create an amazing and captivating photograph from a beautiful location.