Why New Photography Gear Isn’t Always the Best Gear for You

The Phoblographer surely has gear lust, but we’ll never tell you to make an irresponsible decision.

I’ve learned this lesson twice in the past decade. Actually, I’ve learned it three times. Sometimes the latest camera options aren’t the best products for the year–and this could be a significant reason why so many people buy vintage. But, this is why you should always carefully consider any purchase you make, or even consider renting from a company like Lensrentals. Photography and photography gear are incredibly personal from one person another. Paul and Brett both like bigger grips on cameras. On the other hand (no pun intended), I like rangefinders like a Leica or something like an X Pro 3. And at times, this means that you wait for a really long time without buying new gear. In fact, sometimes there’s no real reason to buy a new camera with how often refreshes are released. But there are much better reasons to buy augments like lenses. Let’s look at three examples I had in my career.

The Canon 5D Mk II

The Canon 5D Mk II is still a camera I’d gladly wax poetically about. In many ways, it was the absolute perfect DSLR. Canon, in my honest opinion, didn’t need to do very much to it. But with the Mk III, they turned it into an ergonomic nightmare. The Mk II’s elegance and simplicity suddenly turned into an ugly mess of new technology that got in the way of my creative process. So I never upgraded, and I told myself that I’d wait for the Mk IV. But when my Canon 5D Mk II broke, I went for the 6D, and that was good enough replacement. Unfortunately, the successor of that camera didn’t appeal much to me either, and I wouldn’t wind up back with Canon until the EOS R came out. And even then, I don’t think it’s perfect.

Olympus OMD EM5 Original

What you’ll probably notice here is that I like simple cameras. And if I really have to get more into the functionalities, I will. That’s what the original Olympus OMD EM5 was to me. I know a whole lot of folks liked the extra seriousness that they gave the Mk II. The Mk III brings things back down to a consumer affair, but I have the feeling of the original etched into my brain and hands. It felt a lot like an Olympus OM film SLR. It was beautiful. This was a camera I was glad to bring around everywhere when coupled with a Voigtlander lens. The feeling was unmistakable. Olympus hasn’t made anything like it in my eyes since. Everything that they have caters to a more severe photographer that loves action. The Pen F came close, but, even then, it still wasn’t perfect. But in my eyes, the Olympus OMD EM5 was the ideal camera for manual focus optics. The experience of shooting in an old school way is getting more and more lost.

“…they turned it into an ergonomic nightmare for me. The Mk II’s elegance and simplicity suddenly turned into an ugly mess of new technology that got in the way of my creative process.”


Sony a7 Original

Here’s where I’ll admit that the ergonomics got better with a camera system. I still use and like my Sony a7r III, but the Sony a7 had a few things that kept it simple, small, and elegant. Again, it was focused on straightforward shooting. There wasn’t an excessive number of buttons, and it just worked. The big problem here though, is the fact that Sony got rid of the PlayMemories apps. With that, they eliminated a whole ecosystem of possibilities. Some folks may say that they crippled the product. But I think it’s much worse: they robbed customers in some ways.