How to Give Your Old Camera New Life

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm 16-55mm f2.8 WR first impressions photos (1 of 25)ISO 4001-15 sec at f - 2.8

Let’s be honest here: no one is making a bad camera these days–and even further not everyone has a very good reason to need to upgrade their camera bodies. But everyone gets the itch to want a new camera–call it temptation. However, you don’t need one. We’re going to flat out say that it’s the photographer that creates the images, not the camera. But there are indeed things that you can do to make your images look better–at least technically.

Lens Selection

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Rokinon Sigma 85mm f1.4 three way comparison (2 of 3)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 3.5

One way to make an old camera’s imaging sensor output look better is to go for a new lens. In most situations, a new lens can also be cheaper than purchasing a new camera. So what does a new lens do? It takes the older sensor and makes its output sharper, more saturated, more contrasty and overall gives a new look to the images that you’ve been shooting. Lens technology is so good these days that it can make much older camera bodies deliver much more modern looking image results.

As an added benefit, lenses also last much longer than cameras do. We talked to manufacturers about this and the good news is that you don’t need to spend a fortune on new lenses.

Autofocus Performance Improvement

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer the basics of maintaining a lens (4 of 6)ISO 4001-200 sec at f - 3.5

You probably didn’t think about this one: over the years your camera’s autofocus starts to degrade. However, it can be fixed as long as you maintain it properly. To do this, you’ll need to clean the electronic contacts of your camera and the lens to ensure that they’re communicating with one another properly.

Think of it like this: you’ve got a pipe in your kitchen sink that goes to the sewers. Ideally, water goes down without an issue. But then you start to wash dishes, pour oil, coffee grounds, etc down there. As you continue to do this, you start to notice that the water goes down slower. So to fix that problem you usually get some sort of chemical and pour it down the drain to unclog the sink.

In the same fashion, when you detach lenses they build up dirt and grime on the contacts. So you need to clean them off.

We’ve got a more in-depth and step by step guide right here for you.

An Off-Camera Flash

Chris Gampat Julianne Margiotta's Edits (41 of 56)ISO 4001-80 sec at f - 2.8

Yes, a flash (whether your camera is old or new) can greatly improve the image quality from your camera but it needs to be done with the flash out of the hot shoe generally. This is because you not only have the most creative freedom this way, but you also can add modifiers to the light that boost its abilities.

A flash helps to deliver what are called specular highlights–these are extra details that come out when light is directed at them. It boosts the overall perceived sharpness in an image and can make the oldest of lenses look like they’re brand new.

No, really–we’re not kidding. This is why camera test studios have so much lighting involved when shooting charts. The truth is though that you’re not shooting charts most likely, but instead you’ll need to get a better and sharper image. The secret ingredient to that recipe is an off-camera a flash.

Adobe Lightroom or Capture One Pro

The latest versions of photo editing suites improve greatly on the previous versions. They let you manipulate colors better, nerf high ISO noise in a different way, and include new ways to deal with distortion and other problems that may occur. Of course, it just means that you’ll need to become better at using the software.


Sometimes there are things that you can’t do or that the photo editing suites can’t do as simply–and in that case there are special apps that can help like VSCO or Noiseless Pro that profile many different cameras to create better images in the post-production stage.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.