Questions to Ask Before Upgrading Your Gear

Kevin Lee The Phoblographer Nikon D810 Product Images-5

Rumors about replacements for the Canon 7D, the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and others are popping about like hot oil from a skillet. With Photokina a few months away, there is a lot of interest in the new cameras and lenses that will be announced. This leaves many a shutterbug handling their credit cards in eager anticipation.

And while many photographers will upgrade simply because the can, the rest of us need to be a little more thoughtful about it. Though some of these cameras may boast an exciting new assortment of features, it may or may not be what we need. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you buy.

Is My Current Camera Limiting Me?

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7r and Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 lens samples (1 of 1)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 4.0

If you find that your current model is hampering your ability to create the kinds of images you aspire to, it may be time for a change. If for your example, you are increasingly shooting sports upgrading to a camera that has a burst rate of more than 5 frames per second and has faster autofocus may be a good idea.

Will Higher ISO Capability Make a Difference?

A higher ISO capability may not necessarily deliver a noticeable improvement in image quality when you are shooting with strobe or photographing landscapes. It may if you are a photojournalist or a wedding photographer where you may often face poor lighting conditions.

How Fast Does My Autofocus Need to Be?

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 product photos (7 of 7)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 3.5

Each generation of autofocus system promises faster and more accurate autofocus, but your camera may be more than adequate for most your needs. Poor camera handling technique and low light conditions are often the greater culprit with respect to focus problems, even with the latest cameras.

Will a Faster Lens Serve Me Better?

Rather than a new camera, a faster lens may be the next best investment. A lens with a fast maximum aperture like a 24-70mm f2.8 or an 85mm f1.4 may be the solution for problems experienced when shooting under low light.

How Am I Reproducing My Images?

If your images are destined only for Facebook, Flickr and other social media sites rather than being printed on paper, you may not need a higher resolution camera. A 16-megapixel sensor can easily produce a 24×32 inch print, possibly even larger. Purchasing a camera like the 36.3-megapixel Nikon D810 may be valuable if you aggressively crop your photographs or have clients that demand higher resolution files.

Why Do I Need a Full-Frame Camera?

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon 35mm f1.8 lead image (1 of 1)ISO 1001-40 sec at f - 4.0

The big advantage of the full cameras revolves better low-light performance and greater dynamic range due to the larger pixel size. However such differences in “quality” are not immediately obvious when looking at images from a normal viewing distance. The manner in which the images will be outputted is a critical consideration such as when you are producing very large prints.

Am I Buying Gear Simply for the Rush?

There is certainly a level of excitement experienced when acquiring a new piece of kit, but that doesn’t automatically result in an improvement in your photography. Think about your last major purchase and how many times you’ve used it since. Did the hundred or thousands of dollars you spent truly result in more and better photographic experiences?

Can the Money Be Better Spent Elsewhere?

Ask yourself whether that same amount of money could be spent on a photographic workshop or a vacation which would allow you to actually practice photography on a daily basis. Making the choice to spend your well-earned money on experiences rather than gear may have a better long-term effect on your photography than buying the hottest new toy.