Is it Time to Upgrade Your Camera Equipment?
As photographers and videographers, we often start to grow emotional attachments to our camera gear. After all, your trusty camera with your favorite lens has been with you through thick and thin, capturing moments and creating monuments to the world around you.
However, over time these warm fuzzy feelings may fade. As new technologies are released and camera gear gets more impressive each year, you may find yourself thinking about giving your kit an update. How do you know if you should hold off for now, or if it's the right time to upgrade?
Thankfully, we've got a lot of experience with this subject. Here are a few good reasons to give your gear an update, and a few bad reasons that you should probably reconsider.
Reasons to Upgrade
You've outgrown your gear
Every creator is on a lifelong journey of self-improvement and discovery. Experimenting with new techniques and developing one's personal style happens naturally over time when you stick with something like photography for long enough.
Because of this natural growth, there may come a time when you start to outgrow your tools. If your camera gear is struggling to keep pace with you creatively, then it's time to move up to a tool that won't hold you back any longer. This could be a lens with a larger aperture for night photography or shallower depth of field. It could also manifest in a newer camera body that's smaller or easier to keep on you at all times. It could even be dropping the digital format and moving toward something more organic like 35mm analog film, depending on your path.
Manufacturer support is ending
This may be the most tragic of all the reasons to update. Time and technology march onward and, yes, certain innovations will be abandoned over the years.
This isn't always a bad thing. Some of our favorite camera systems of all time are now discontinued in production and support. However, it can be hard to feel great about your kit if the manufacturer has announced that they won't be releasing new firmware updates for the camera. It can sting even more if they announce the end of a specific lens mount, putting an end to the upgrade path of your current setup. Sony A-mount users can still feel this one.
Going somewhat hand-in-hand with the above reason, it can be maddening when the workflow of a specific kit becomes particularly arduous. Being on the cutting edge of the newest technology can be exciting, but occasionally frustrating when using new software or media.
The opposite can be even more frustrating, though. Analog shooters can certainly feel the frustration of trying to find a reliable darkroom when there used to be several in each town. (For reference, we really dig The Darkroom for mail-in development.) In turn, certain film formats and media cards are discontinued over time, making them impossible to replenish. Sure, it's frustrating to buy brand-new high-speed SD cards, but when was the last time you saw a Memory Stick or a SmartMedia card?
A lack of inspiration
Your trusty camera kit is trusty for a reason. You know how it works inside and out, and there aren't many–if any– surprises left for you to discover. This could be a boon for your creative process or it could be a bane to it.
Inspiration and discovery aren't something that can be bought, but getting rid of your old gear and going for something completely new could absolutely shake the dust off of a tired creative muscle. Learning the ins and outs of a new-to-you camera system is exciting, and could be exactly what you need to get you excited to go out and shoot again.
The years have been hard on your equipment
Yes, even your favorite gear will eventually start to wear out. Every surface-level scuff and scrape will start to blend together into a mosaic of imperfection. Your trusty gear might have earned its characteristic gruff look through years of use, but there may come a day when a client starts to question your professionalism if your camera surface looks more like scratched metal and plastic than black paint.
Many photographers worry about a camera's shutter wearing out over time. While it's true that a lot of elements inside a camera can be repaired or touched up to bring it up to working speed, it may be worth it to you to give your equipment an overall update. The peace of mind you get from no longer worrying about your gear failing is incredibly valuable.
Reasons NOT to Upgrade
There's a new version
Look, I get it. Camera gear is exciting. It can be easy to be sucked into making a purchase just because the new version is shinier and has a different roman numeral at the end.
Don't update your kit just because the newest thing has come out and you can't stand to be shooting on the previous generation. Easier said than done, I know. Then again, if you can afford to have all of the newest gear and it's what you love, then go for it. For the rest of us, it can be beneficial to remember that another, newer version will be released in another year or two that puts the currently-new one to shame. Newer isn't always better, and older is consistently more affordable.
[Famous Instagrammer] uses one
Once again, we all fall prey to some of the more common photographic guilty pleasures–one of which happens to be the curse of my personal bank account.
The what's-in-your-camera-bag article.
It can be interesting to see what a certain internet personality or pro photographer uses to create their images. It can even be beneficial simply to discover some new pieces of gear that you didn't even know existed. That being said, don't think that your work will suddenly look exactly like someone else's work just because you want to use the same equipment.
You might use this impressive feature someday
Aspirational thinking is always encouraged. This echoes back to the first item on the list, actually. Never stop expanding your horizons and trying new things with your images. New camera gear comes packed with special features that you probably didn't even know you needed.
–which brings me to my final piece. Don't update your camera kit simply because the new stuff has a feature that you might want to try someday. Frankly, there's every chance that you may not ever use that feature. I'm not pointing fingers at anybody in particular, but 8K video probably isn't necessary for your everyday fine art photographer. 61-megapixel images are breathtaking and have the capacity to blow your mind, but you may not need all that resolution if you only show your images on social media.
Like I said earlier, we've got a lot of experience with camera equipment. When it's time to update your camera gear, we're something of an expert at that, too. Sell your old gear to us and we'll give you extra bonus value when you apply your payment to a new purchase or a KEH Gift Card. Give us a call at 1-800-DIALKEH or visit our Trade page for more info.