So, you’ve been looking on the web and they have brought out an update of your camera, or there’s a brand new 1000 megapixel camera that you’ve just got to have. You look at your equipment and it suddenly look so old- that’s what’s holding you back- you need to spend thousands of dollars on new gear and then you’ll be great!
We’ve all been there- gear envy. I have to discipline myself not to look at camera websites specifically because I’m a sucker for shiny and new. But if, like me, you don’t have buckets of money to throw around, what’s the best bang for buck when it comes to camera equipment.
I read an article recently by a professional photographer who shoots for magazines. His images are viewed all over the world. He’s a Canon shooter and uses a crop sensor basic camera. Why isn’t he using a 1DX?! His answer was pure logic. He shoots for magazines, so his images are relatively small. There’s simply no reason for all those pixels and associated slowdown in post processing. Secondly, he’s not so worried about knocking around a basic camera. When he used a 1DX he was always worried about damaging it and about what weather it was exposed to. With a basic digital camera he’s more focussed on the image and less on the equipment. There’s a big lesson in there for all of us. Modern DSLR cameras are damn good. Sure top flight cameras might do better in extreme lighting conditions, but you can take truly stunning photos with quite basic cameras.
But what if you do find yourself with a few bucks in your pocket.
My advice is to walk past the camera display case and take a long hard look at the lens display. A great lens can make a lot of difference, and more importantly, when you do go on to upgrade your camera, those great lenses that you’ve bought over time will still be going strong. With long lenses have a look at image stabilzation or vibration reduction technology. With short lenses this is less of an issue. With Canon lenses look for the magical red stripe, but also go to reputable review sites like dpreview.com- they’ll give you honest appraisals of camera equipment. Don’t turn your nose up at names like Sigma- they are making great lenses these days. Also take a second or third look at prime lenses (these are the non zoom lenses). They are lighter, generally sharper and have better light control (they’re brighter and often don’t suffer as much from issues in the corners). An 85mm or 100mm f1.4 lens would be a great investment if you’re a portrait photographer. a 50mm f1.4 or even the f1.2 is a magical lens, or go even wider if you’re a landscape photographer. These lenses you buy will be with you for many years to come, and potentially be used on several camera bodies.
Spend wisely, and remember- great equipment does not make a great photographer.