Is the Next New Camera Body Really Worth Switching For?

Nikon D850

All of the improved features of the Nikon D850 have prompted many photographers to sell their entire kit in order to completely switch camera brands. Do such modest advances in technology really merit a complete overhaul of your gear?

I couldn’t help but stumble across several blog posts from photographers who were so enthralled about the Nikon D850 features that they sold thousands and thousands of dollars worth of camera bodies, lenses, and other accessories in order to be able to shoot with the D850. After reading about the various ways one can rationalize the decision, I have to say, I don’t really get it. Sure, photographers are known for having bad G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) from time to time, but switching brands or selling all of your top-level glass in order to acquire the newest camera body seems a little extreme to me. This has nothing to do with Nikon versus Canon versus Sony versus Brand X, but everything to do with making smart decisions about investing in the tools we use to create our images.

New camera bodies may have improved features such as a more functional LCD screen, silent shutter capabilities, and focus stacking. Granted, they probably are marginally more fun to use. But the question we need to ask ourselves is will these features allow us to create significantly better images? Chances are, 99 percent of the images that we take with the next newest camera body won’t be that much different than those taken with its predecessor. We are highly skilled at justifying why we suddenly “need” a feature that we never really missed before. Sure, some features make cameras easier to use, and a small subset of photographers may really benefit from being able to shoot at an extra two frames per second. Personally, if the upgrade isn’t going to bring in more profits, I’d rather spend my hard-earned money elsewhere. Investing in the “boring” things like business education, studio management software, or a portable strobe might make a lot more sense than completely renewing your kit, and will likely leave a good chunk of change in your bank account when it’s all over.

New technology is always exciting, and we are in the business of selling our product based on the emotions our images invoke. But after wiping the drool off our keyboards while reading the specs on the next best piece of camera gear, it’s time to take a less emotional and more rational look at what we really need to do to become better photographers and better business owners.

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41 Comments

Fritz John Asuro's picture

I sold my D810 (and my Trinity set) to get the D850 (and set of primes). Why? Because I think I need what the D850 offers versus what the D810 has.

MP - Really doesn't matter. More is appreciated, but not necessarily what I need.

D5/D500 AF Module - Though D810's autofocus is good, I've always wanted to have the same AF System that the D5 has (especially after I got to try it out)

7/9 FPS - This is something I truly want! I had to use DX mode (With grip and EN-EL18a batteries) just to unlock the 7FPS of the D810. And now, coupled with the new AF, I can be confident that I'll get more in focus rapid fire shots.

4K and 1080p Slow motion - I've recently doing a lot of video work and the new video features are a big welcome to my workflow!

M-RAW - despite some reviews saying that the M-RAW is compressed, as far as what I've learned about it, it has a different (and usable) compression compared to D810's sRAW. I really hope it works like a down sampled 46MP

TLDR: I want it at the same time need it because of its new features.

Matthew Saville's picture

At this point I don't think either Canon or Nikon should worry about convincing people to switch TO them, they need to simply worry about not losing existing customers.

Then, after Canon and Nikon both deliver a full-frame mirrorless competitor, we can start talking about which system is the most jump-ship-worthy of them all.

For now, the D850 is simply the best DSLR ever made, ...FOR Nikon shooters who are actually looking to upgrade one more time before they consider a Nikon FX mirrorless option. Which is to say, a pretty darn small pool of the population...

I love my pentaprism, never want a mirrorless.

Matthew Saville's picture

Hey, I'm right there with you, for some uses. You'll have to pry my OVF from my cold dead hands. But for many special purposes, the EVF is indeed a great tool that I cannot deny the usefulness of.

The other thing I can't deny is that I'm in the minority of folks who still prefer to view the world with their own two eyes in general; the rest of this generation is content to see EVERYTHING through a digital display.

Exactly

Howard Decker's picture

Nice camera, but I'm going to hang onto my Nikon F for a lot longer.

Louis Amore's picture

I'll start by saying I ordered it but I'm a Nikon user, but I've become so angry when I've read some advice on forums given to people who clearly have a lower knowledge about photography when asking about the D850, what they are told is to invest in thousands of pounds worth of lenses for the camera, but nothing about can they use it or anything about what is thier level in photography, so many gear heads in the industry, hardly anyone knows that the best investment in photography is lighting, but nope that's too boring to buy.

I do understand people making the choice to switch, unless you are a professional and must try to have the best anyway, a great camera is just a consumer item, in a consumer world to most people. Nothing beats the thrill of opening that brand new box, taking it out for the first time, and the excitement of shooting images on that first outing - yet three months down the road, it is just a camera again, the seduction of that new 'thing' in your life begins to fade. Sure if you use it often, you will still marvel at the image quality, but ask yourself this, do you really make many large enlargements to warrant upgrading over say, a D810. I came at my own 'g.a.s.' issue recently by a different route. When I saw test images from the D810 a couple of years back, I decided there and then to upgrade to it from my DX camera. I saw an introductory video by Jim Brandenberg, a month with the D800, a year earlier which sold me on the line. So what did I do? Well, I waited. I saw the D810 at £3,300 body only, sitting there for months, The next time I looked, it had fallen, months later, to £2800. Over the next two years it had leveled out at £2400. Then, back in March, rumors of the impending arrival of a replacement began to circulate. The price continued to fall. It finally hit £1600 last month, brand new body only. That is a saving of £1700 on the launch price. Why did I wait? That much is obvious. I now had a D810, a 14-24mm f/2.8 and a 24-105 for less than I would have spent on the body only at the launch. So have I blown it by buying an old model? Absolutely not - the D810 is still a monster, the images it produces are incredible, and it is everything I expected it to be. A bonus is that the model is mature and any issues ironed out long ago, not that it had any - the D800 was a different story with green lcd and autofocus issues. Am I happy? Very much so. Will I upgrade to the D850? Absolutely, but, not for a few years - and only then if I find I need to. The switch from a DX was an easy decision - the law of diminishing returns will affect my decision on the D850 and it may never happen. That said, I am sure that towards the end of its life cycle, it will hit bargain prices, just as the D810 has right now. If you want a D850 but the price frightens you - take another look at a D810. It may not have all the bells and whistles, but, it is a great camera and will be more than most of us will ever need anyway. If I win the lottery, revise everything I just said, I'll order one the same day - but that aside, think before you blow thousands, and if you are already on a full frame DSLR you have to ask yourself some serious questions before getting that credit card out.

D50 -> D90 -> D610. It's time for an upgrade now. Hoping for the D850 next year.

Steven Houle's picture

I switched systems a few years ago and it was probably the best thing I could have ever done! I need all the dynamic range and clean high iso I can get and Canon just wasnt cutting it for me so I swittched to Nikon. Im a professional photo editor as well as Wedding photographer and I still have a few second shooters that use Canon and the image quality is night and day. Almost to the point where I dont want to allow Canon gear to be used by my shooters any more. Even with their new body the mk iv. Its still not close. You can read all the reviews you want but i deal with the real world situations and the ablity to push and pull the images is worlds better on Nikon thus allowing me to create much more dynamic images in post for my clients. If i had to choose today between a mk iv or a d850 it be nikon and it has nothing to do with being a fanboy. To me switching was not because I wanted new gear but because ill always go with the gear that allows me to create the best possible images. Im not brand loyal and wouldnt have an issue switching again to another brand in the future.

Nikon have bad service and get 1 out of ten for build quality I have three bodies and they quite literally fall to bits..they "fixed a lens" and ruined it. Nikon are history as far as I am concerned.

I bought a Leica M4 in 1970 with a 2.8 collapsible Elmar. It cost £180 including the lens, I sold the body for £500 a few years ago and kept the lens. The body still looked like new. I bought a Nikon D300 when they first came available about 2006 and it's worthless now, held together with rubber bands and blue tac. The Leica lens is perfect the Nikon is f#=÷× from the focus to the glass and was rebuilt by Nikon a couple of years ago then not used until last year when it was sent back with my comlaint. They wanted another £380 to fix it for the second time in as many years. Buy a Nikon ? Never Ever Again.

I bought some Leica binoculars 20 years ago. I sent them back last year and requested a service. I told them they had been well used in the Sahara for many years got them back cleaned, no new parts required so the cost was zero. They only charge for new parts. That is what I call excellent, unbeatable, quality and service. Not that I expect this from Nikon but I'm not being ripped off twice. Nikon think they got away with it. I suppose they did but it was a costly mistake, much more for them than me. I also have a Nikon compact I'm now loathe to use. The sooner they all fall to bits the better. Take note Nikon here's one customer who won't be sh#= by you again.