When Do Pro Photographers Upgrade Their Kit?

Buying a new camera when photography is your hobby is a pretty straightforward decision. If you want it and you can afford it, go and buy it. However, once it becomes your profession, it can be a tad more complicated. 

We are constantly bombarded by new tech as photographers. This also seems to be accelerating with the end of an era of the DSLR era and the new move toward mirrorless cameras by most manufacturers. It is rare that a day goes by online without a new video or article about the latest and greatest kit from each brand. 

The good news is that all cameras in 2021 are great. You really can't buy a bad one. Yes, some are better than others, but it really is a case of diminishing returns at this point. When I started out in photography around 2009, this certainly was not the case, and the changes between each upgrade were huge. Full frame digital was pretty new to the masses, and even digital medium format wasn't that much bigger in terms of sensor size, although the prices were astronomical. But today, you can buy a used full frame or medium format camera at a very affordable price and certainly for less than a new phone. So, how do pro photographers work out when to buy new gear?

In this video, I talk about how I go about looking for new cameras and what criteria they must meet in order for me to consider the financial implications of buying a new model or system. Add to this that as a pro, you need a minimum of two identical bodies and an overlap if not duplicates of lenses, it can quickly become a very expensive decision, so making sure you get a return on that investment is paramount. 

What are your criteria for upgrading cameras?

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5 Comments

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Agree on Canon. Totally abandoned commercial photographers, nothing expected from them either.

Glem Let's picture

A guy who shoots in a studio DOESNT need back up lenses…!!!
2bodies yep…

You can get through life without two of everything…!!!
Big job coming up…??? Prone to dropping kit…???
Rent that same macro you shoot 80% of your jobs on, don’t buy it.

Let’s use two models (just in case one is a bit off) and let’s use two locations… in case one is a bit … you know off…!!

As pro’s we are problem solvers, we fix things and carry the shoot forward…

Next you’ll be saying we need two memory card slots… because old film cameras had two film backs 🤦🏻🤦🏻🤦🏻🤦🏻

Jan Holler's picture

"As pro’s we are problem solvers, we fix things and carry the shoot forward… Next you’ll be saying we need two memory card slots…"
I guess, you did not really watch the video. The four reasons presented are all from a professional point of view. It is about why one might have a reason to replace the equipment, not about what properties are better for a particular task.

Albert Harris's picture

I upgrade if it makes my life easier as a professional. The R5 and R6 were those cameras due to the fact, Eye Autofocus was refined so I can focus on creating vs having to move focus points and recompose etc.

Mark Bucher's picture

I upgrade when I need to. Buying a new body because a new version just came out is crazy to me. I wait until whatever body I’m using starts having faults, then I buy a new body.