Nope, You Don't Need That Fancy New Camera That Is Only a Touch Better Than Your Current One

Nope, You Don't Need That Fancy New Camera That Is Only a Touch Better Than Your Current One

Here we are, another year has gone by and we have just enjoyed the release of yet another camera that is "certainly" the most amazing thing since sliced bread. This new camera comes with promises of wondrous grandeur that are only cemented by the inevitable implication from its maker that it is the camera that will help you create truly better images than you did before. This is, of course, nothing more than marketing hype designed to get you to spend your money. 

If your camera bag currently houses a one or even two generation old version of a specific camera body and is still in perfectly good working order, you have very little to gain from upgrading to the latest tech. I know the new camera that just came out promises revolutionary change that will transform the way you shoot but that is never actually the case. Yes, the sensor is probably a little better with a smidgen more dynamic range and perhaps a few more pixels, but will either of those things really show up in your final delivered images? Probably not, unless you are already pushing your existing camera to its absolute limit. (Reality check: you probably aren't!) 

The difference between 24, 36, or even 46 megapixel images when printed for a photo album or shrunk for social media is virtually invisible. Even when printed large it is rare that anyone will be actually be viewing the photo from close enough to notice the better detail of the higher resolution image. The same is true of virtually every other new feature. Take, for example, shutter speed and frame rate. Cameras over the last decade have vastly improved in both regards but if you really think about it, have you noticed any change in the overall quality of action sports images printed in newspapers or magazines compared to half a decade ago? 

Upgrading a camera can certainly lead to benefits if you have a definable weakness in your current set up that is limiting you in a way that you cannot solve without superior equipment. To think that blindly upgrading to the latest tech for no other reason than because it overshadows your current camera on some arbitrary specs sheet is a madness that only benefits camera makers. Before you dump out your piggy bank, think long and hard about whether upgrading to the latest camera will actually have any impact on your work or if it is merely an expensive vanity purchase designed to feed your lust for new fancy gear. Invest in your imagination and technique instead, that is where you will find the transformative improvement you crave. 

Log in or register to post comments

56 Comments

Frank Withers's picture

Was this published as a counter to the past 10 articles about how we need the new D810 lol

Fritz John Asuro's picture

I don't know with you, but I need it's successor D850!

Maybe, but ... I'm worthy😀

Michael Dougherty's picture

Im entitled.

Joel Cleare's picture

Every time I read a comment trashing any high end camera I think of this video.

Reginald Walton's picture

But who buys stuff they need? LOL

Well personally I really like what Nikon has come out with like the D5,D500 and now the D850
Altho I still use a D3,D700 and D300,12 MP seems just fine to me
The main feature I think that tempts me to upgrade is the the focus ability of the newer cameras
I generally like older cameras and have been exploring Canon as well

Of course we don't "NEED" a "fancy new camera"... but we WANT it...
But I also WANT to learn wet plate processes... so what does that say about me?

Chris Ward's picture

Shhhhhhh...ignore this article!!!!
Buy the latest and greatest so I can happily snatch up your slightly used D810 for half of what you paid for it!

It's always a balance between what you WANT, what you NEED, and what you can AFFORD.

Adrian Pocea's picture

Personally i am intrigued about the overlooking of the downsides that come with such a huge resolution. When Canon 5ds cane out, everybody was screaming, oh, 50 mpx is an overkill, huge file size, you need a stable hand , otherwise your pictures will be blurry, the mirrir vibration is gonna blur your pictures, even on a tripod you need to be really sturdy. Why isn't anybody talking about this now?

Because people hashed that out with the D800, which was replaced with the 810, and now 850. The people this camera targets are those who bought the 800/800E or the 810 - they're over it.

Nicolas KIEFFER's picture

Even funnier : many are disappointed that the D850 only have 45Mpx...
For these guys, NIKON should have released at least 100Mpx D8xx, as there is a rumor of a 5Ds MkII with 120Mpx.

And imagine, what you could do if D850 would have been a mirrorless 100Mpx body ? Why did not Nikon release such a revolutionnary device ? Ahem...

The 100MP mirrorless could still come. The year, Nikon's 100th year, is still going.

Nicolas KIEFFER's picture

You should be ashamed. I spilled my morning coffee on my keyboard !
I stay amazed Nikon nor Canon still haven't released their 200Mpx 960fps sport camera. This D850 is a total failure in this regards.

Ryan Cooper's picture

I think Sandisk is going to have to invent some faster/bigger cards! ;)

Anonymous's picture

I also don't need another article telling me what I need or don't need. :-/

"The difference between 24, 36, or even 46 megapixel images when printed for a photo album or shrunk for social media is virtually invisible. Even when printed large it is rare that anyone will be actually be viewing the photo from close enough to notice the better detail of the higher resolution image."

Many, if not most, photographers will go up close to large prints to check out the detail. Remember also that it's not just large prints but also heavy cropping and viewing large onscreen that such high resolution sensors are uniquely capable of. To this day, even though I rarely use them, I marvel at the detail I see from my Sigma DP Merrill cameras when viewed on my non-retina iMac at 1:1. That's at 109 ppi. That's the equivalent of a 43" photograph. The detail is absolutely incredible. 109 ppi!

The highest resolution 35mm cameras can match and even surpass that incredible detail and look once their files are reduced in size. A camera that has 24 megapixels can't. The 30 megapixel Canon 5D IV can't. Only the highest resolution 35mm cameras are able to do that.

For photographers that appreciate the ultimate image quality and like to go in deep, the latest camera may be worth it to them. It isn't hard to see the better image quality if one cares to.

Ryan Cooper's picture

If you have to specifically go up close and pixel peep to tell the difference then there really isn't one to 99% of viewers. This is why billboards makers don't bother printing at 300 dpi. Sure you can go up close and see that it isn't perfectly upsized but no normal viewer ever does so they save money and print them at 40 dpi.

Viewing an image at 1:1 is not pixel peeping. I can't see individual pixels at 1:1.

I wasn't referring to 99% of viewers. If that's your market or standard then a decent smartphone would suffice.

Many people go up close to a large high resolution image and sniff the details because they can and because they enjoy doing so.

Comparing a large print that a person would hang in a gallery or at home to a billboard is not reasonable. It is not possible to get up close to most billboards.

My point is that you are going too far in dismissing the benefits of such high resolution cameras and the real improvements that can easily be seen under not so unusual and extreme circumstances.

Bob, the point Ryan is making here is that the quality of photography on a subjective level doesn't improve with every new, higher spec camera. He clearly states photography wasn't half as good in the years cameras had 12mp compared to devices with twice as much today. He's on point. It's true. Why take pictures on a 24mp device today if you know in two years you'll be taking them on a 40mp device? will the images you make today be half as good? practicing good technique will give you good images. I was once a scanner operator for a leading image bureau in london and we scanned 5x4 transparencies 240dpi for 8x10 and 300 for 11x14. The naked eye wont see the difference in resolution between 240 and 300 at 8x10. This was twenty years ago when images were inherently better quality technically and had an assured higher final destination. I'd take a guess that 90% of images created nowadays end up being viewed on a screen. Go on Flickr and see how many images created on 5D's through a 70-200, then mulched in Lightroom and spat out online there are. It's these folk Ryan is talking to.

"the quality of photography on a subjective level doesn't improve with every new, higher spec camera."

Inherently such a statement is flawed since something subjective would depend on the person doing the judging. Also, it depends on what camera you are graduating from. To go from a 24 MP camera to a 50 MP is not a trivial thing. His comments are too general in nature, that's all.

"The naked eye wont see the difference in resolution between 240 and 300 at 8x10"

Well, that is not my experience. Yes, I like to scritinize detail. Besides, I print much bigger than that and many photographers also crop.

"This was twenty years ago when images were inherently better quality technically and had an assured higher final destination."

If you are referring to film, 20 years ago image quality was, and still is, significantly worse. A tiny Sony RX100 delivers better image quality than 35mm.

"Go on Flickr and see how many images created on 5D's through a 70-200, then mulched in Lightroom and spat out online there are. It's these folk Ryan is talking to."

Well, many of those people could be printing too, and many are also cropping. If Flickr is your only destination then you may as well just get one of those compact super zooms.

Like I said, I think his article is simply too general in nature.

Thanks Bob. The internet is at once both great and terrible at the same time. Great in that it democratises everything and and gives people a platform to voice their opinions, and terrible in that it gives people a platform to voice their opinions!

Camera websites are awash with technical specs, and even more forums with people firing broadsides at each other with their tech-spec knowledge. What Ryan is trying to get through is that this detail only makes sense in the tech-spec portion of the manual. What's truly important is getting out there and shooting.

My thoughts on this are that while we have these incredible devices and post production immediately available the skill required to simply use them isn't necessarily in abundance, as Flickr etc will prove. When you say a Sony is better image quality I deduce you mean viewed at full pixels on a screen, or backlit on a phone. I was talking about the craft and technical aptitude involved in making a great shot.

I don't characterize *the sharing of opinions* as also being "terrible." That's a dangerous way to think. It's what has led to so much censorship and fascistic and ridiculous things such as terms like hate speech and crimes, and of course the golden nugget of political correctness.

I already addressed Ryan's comments. My opinion hasn't changed.

A little Sony RX100 series camera produces a better quality image than 35mm film for the clean detail it captures and for the far superior low light capability. I've scanned a lot of film and while you can produce a dimensionally bigger scan from 35mm than that little Sony, the result is mostly noise, which ironically gives the impression of more detail. When comparing equal areas of capture, and even significantly less areas of capture, detail for film is poor in comparison to digital.

michael andrew's picture

Yes, its so funny, Nikon announces a D850 and breaks the internet with comments, which while great wont make but a 1-3% difference in the way I shoot.

Meanwhile Canon releases/announces Dual Pixel Auto focus for video which is absolutely remarkable and completely changes how i can shoot video as well as the new Perspective Control Lenses with Macro distance focus which are incredible game changers and every is like: whats the point?

Wow.

Anonymous's picture

More people want the D850's features than those of the 5DMkIV. :-/ Enjoy your uniqueness. :-)

zeissiez lee's picture

Agree with you here. The 5D4 could have been more perfect with an articulated LCD screen though, that will allow shooting in high or low angles with that speedy Dual Pixel AF. I would trade the increase in pixel count, better high ISO for Dual Pixel AF. More pixels = more time-consuming, for my case.

In my opinion there are some stellar reasons for upgrading to D850. Prime among those is its much improved AutoFocus system over 800/810 which will surely give higher percentage of well focused shots. Secondly it has a 1:1 crop mode and we film era guys have a real chance to shoot like a Rollei especially with its tilting screen!! Thirdly it has a spectacular viewfinder which has larger magnification and its super bright due to its coated lens elements, this will entail an exciting experience for the passionate dedicated photographers. Advancements are always incremental but this is how we progressed from Dagguriotypes to the current level of technical quality. Also joy of photography or any other art for that matter is about going through the process as much as the final result!

Joseph Anthony's picture

Sounds like someone is trying to talk themselves out of buying a new camera! :-)