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Should You Upgrade Your Camera?

New camera models come out regularly. I'm sure you've noticed. But is upgrading your camera worth it?

First and foremost, it's the photographer that makes the image, not the camera. The camera is just a tool. If you aren't proficient at using one tool, there's a lot you can gain by mastering it before eying a different tool. If you're looking to upgrade to improve your photography, stop and think for a minute first. It can be easy to blame your camera when at least some of the problems with your photography stem directly from you. Are you really committed to your photography? Are you really using your current camera to the fullest?

But not all tools are created equal. Quite simply, some tools are harder to use than others. If that new camera you're considering has more automated features than the one you have now, it may be easier to use. In this case, it could be that you would have better results if things were made easier.

But if you're already overwhelmed by all the whiz-bang features your current camera has, is it wise trade up? Again, how much of the difficulty comes from your camera, and how much of it should you own personally?

New cameras aren't cheap either. While the cost of entry level models continues to go down over the years, the cost of truly good cameras doesn't really change that much. While you may be getting more now for your money than you once did, it's not like you'll pay dramatically less for a better new camera than you did for your last one. It may seem like you can buy your way to better photography by getting a new camera. But you may be able to save your money and still get better results by redoubling your efforts with your current camera.

Your old camera today doesn't do any less than it did when you first bought it, so you can't really say that it's obsolete. I've noticed people use this excuse a lot. But jpeg images are still jpeg images. Raw file formats change somewhat as new cameras are released, but whatever raw images your old camera used to produce are no worse now than before. In some cases, they're actually better since camera makers occasionally upgrade their firmware. Adobe Lightroom, Camera Raw and other software keeps getter better too, allowing you to extract better results from the same raw file.

No, your camera hasn't changed, but perhaps you have, and perhaps your expectations have. If you've been looking into what new cameras are capable of, you may be setting the bar higher now than you once did. Nothing wrong with that, if you're up to the challenge. Remember that a higher resolution camera will magnify both the detail in your images and the defects resulting from your technique.

Sometimes, a new camera may be nothing more than an excuse to reinvigorate your passion for photography. Perhaps the camera itself is irrelevant. Perhaps it just functions as a way for you to dig deeper and learn more about photography in general. It's entirely possible you could have done the same thing with your old camera, but you found yourself in a rut. Perhaps you could have improved without that new camera, you just didn't. A new camera may be a way to get out of that rut.

As I said at the outset, the bottom line is that a camera is just a tool. But if you're really thought about where you're at with your photography and honestly assessed your needs, a new camera may be just what you need. Only you really know. Just keep in mind that you may want yet another new one next year.

Date posted: June 15, 2014


Copyright © 2014 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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