Major camera shows bring a plethora of new product introductions, and the accompanying ‘greatest thing since sliced bread’ commentary on many photography sites. All of this stokes gear acquisition syndrome in us, as it is always tempting to buy new equipment. This article discusses why keeping your existing camera gear can make sense.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
Often times we can become complacent about photography and it can take some effort to pick up a camera and actually go out to capture some images. It’s easy to blame the age of our gear for our loss of photographic enthusiasm. We think if we had new gear, it would provide us with new capabilities and thus motivate us.
From that perspective our existing gear becomes a cop-out for our lack of motivation and creativity. In the short term having new gear can certainly increase our photographic enthusiasm as we play around with our new stuff. Unfortunately our enthusiasm is often short-lived after we discover that our new gear isn’t a magic cure for our ebbing interests.
After a while our new equipment purchase may simply get added to the rest of our collection of gear. Resting at-the-ready in a camera bag stashed away in a closet somewhere.
Even if we do end up using our new camera equipment, it takes a while to become familiar with it. There is often much to learn about new menus, auto-focusing systems, and other camera attributes. This is especially true if we buy into a new brand. The time we spend learning about new gear, is creative experimentation time we’ve lost.
New gear can also prompt us to purchase new software for post processing. That opens up an even bigger can of worms as we spend many hours learning our way around a new software platform. Again… time lost that could have been used to hone our composition skills.
In many cases new cameras only provide incremental improvements from one model to another. Most folks don’t change out their camera bodies with every model change, but how often do we really need that nice, new camera body?
At one point I owned a Nikon D7000 which was, and still is, an excellent camera. The sensor in the D7000 scored 80 in DxOMark testing. 23.5-bits of colour depth, 13.9 EV of dynamic range, and a low light score of ISO-1167. The body has a 16 MP APS-C sensor, along with some nice features including dual card slots. The D7000 was introduced in September 2010. (Note to readers: errors with D7000 scores in the original article have been corrected)
If we fast forward 3 model updates with the D7XXX series, we have the D7500, which was introduced in April 2017. The D7500’s 20.9 MP sensor scores 86 in DxOMark testing. 24.3-bits of colour depth, 14 EV of dynamic range, and a low light score of ISO-1483. These were improvements over the D7000 scores, but according to DxO guidelines, these improvements at best, would likely only be marginally noticeable by most people. So, after 7 years there was only a very modest difference in sensor performance. No doubt the D7500 had advancements in many other areas.
The fundamental question is whether investing in a new camera body will provide significant advantages for the type of shooting a specific photographer does, or not. Rather than spend money on new gear, another option is to use those funds to finance a photography tour that you’ve always wanted to do. That trip may fire up your photographic motivation a lot more than new camera equipment might.
Few of us really use the capability of our current camera gear to its fullest. Nor have we squeezed everything we can out of our current software. Both of these factors mean that for most of us there is a lot of untapped potential in our current gear. In essence, our plate may still be quite full.
Keeping existing camera gear can make sense if we decide to use that money to help us focus our efforts on developing our skill level, explore our creativity, and rekindle our photographic passions. And yeah… in the past I changed my camera gear a lot more frequently than I needed too!
All photographs in this article were captured hand-held using camera gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.
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