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When Should You Not Upgrade Your Camera Gear?

Modern camera gear evolves at a breakneck pace, and as such, it can be tempting to watch the news of the latest and greatest cameras and lenses and pull out your credit card. When should you actually drop the money to upgrade your gear, and when should you turn your attention elsewhere? This helpful video essay discusses the topic and might just help you save a lot of money and improve your images at the same time. 

Coming to you from Roman Fox, this excellent video essay discusses some reasons you should not upgrade your camera (and when you should). I have certainly fallen victim to some of these, particularly the boredom fallacy. Most of us have looked at the latest bokeh-licious lens and convinced ourselves that we would take better and more interesting photos with it and that we would get out to shoot much more with one. And it is true that there is often a honeymoon period with new gear, but rarely does that last, and after that, we typically fall back into old habits. Rather, we must ask ourselves what it is that is missing in our photographic experience and replenish or fix that, whether it's a lack of worthwhile subjects, a creative dearth, or something else. Often, you will be better served by investing that money in experiences or education. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Fox. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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When Should You Not Upgrade Your Camera Gear? When you no longer suffer from G.A.S.

Upgrading camera gear really depends if you are a pro or hobbyist meaning if one you are getting income from images and a new camera has more options vs just playing around but serious about new styles of images. Videos is maybe the also want a new thing but a lot of work in post. All things are now bundled into one box. If you have a lot of lenses for your camera you may need to stay with the same brand. One thing to think about is software, I have several older digital cameras a point and shoot with telephoto 15+ years old and a DSLR 10+ years old todays software can make images look better. The problem in the old days was software being expensive like PS and Lr both cost $800+ so you had to use a makers software. A reason I went to another was 1. It came with an expensive SW but only $30 2. With a $20 adapter I could use all my very old film lenses (all fast glass 1.4,1.8, many 2.8) as well as my DSLR lenses 3. On camera apps a digital filter, toy look, time lapse, lens correction and a lot more 5. It was the HDR era so one model backeted 5 @ +/- 3EV (many uses) 6. It had night vision also. Upgrade again same maker 3 years later IBIS no need for sticks and finding while using it would do 3 @ +/- 2EV with no sticks in a very high dynamic area Canyon while other in the group were on sticks doing long exposure while I was all over even on my belly clicking away.
One thing to always remember is the reviews are by pros holding out a carrot for a maker trying to get you to stop using your handy phone camera that also does video. Yes you can spend a few hours in post to edit but remember the camera also has an auto mode that you pay for too. Lenses are forever except when a maker goes from DSLR to Mirrorless that can make you able to go to another maker and sell your old lenses. 1. old film lenses (fast Glass from the past no lens correction needed) 2. Bracketing on day tour 3. Night tour laying on by back hand holding 4. The first time seeing the Milky Way with only a 16-35mm f/4 lens at 16mm
Lastly just a hobbyist that made a good decision 9 years ago.

Buying new gear to pull you out of a rut is definitely one of the most ill advised crutches I think so many of us fall into. New gear isn't going to make you a better photographer almost ever. At least not in today's world of amazing cameras than can basically do whatever you need them to do.

I fall into this folly with musical gear too. I LOVE new guitars and effects pedals and I always like to think a new instrument will inspire me in some way that was previously unobtainable. Unfortunately, most of the time I just find myself falling into the same predictable habits on a new guitar that I was already doing on a previous guitar.

A much better exercise is to actually stop and think about a photography project you want to start and build it up from the ground. Then go out and execute it and learn what makes it a strong project or why it might be lacking. This is incredibly difficult, much like setting aside all the musical knowledge you already have and learning a new set of scales in an unfamiliar location on your instrument, but if you can do this a few times a year, I guarantee you will exercise your creativity muscle in ways you couldn't previously imagine.