Personally I found this decision-making process to be a bit stressful. I want to share some of my thoughts to help others navigate though their camera purchasing experience.
I was shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II for about six years and was content for the first couple of years because I was learning. It was a great tool with which to develop my creative vision. There were a few deciding factors that helped push me to upgrade. Last month I took the plunge and got a new Canon 5D Mark IV. The photographs in this article were all shot using my new camera and I’m very happy with my decision.
How Do You Know It’s Time to Upgrade?
About three years into using my 5DII, I started to get frustrated with my camera. I was disappointed with the results in regards to dynamic range and noise and was feeling limited by my tools. I borrowed my partner’s Nikon D800 when I accidentally broke some of my gear on a trip to Maui. After I saw the files the Nikon produced compared to my Canon 5DII, I knew it was time to upgrade. I had camera envy. When you begin to feel frustrated or limited by what you can produce with your tools, then its time.
When Things Fall Apart
Frankly, I abuse my gear. I live in a very salty environment that is not forgiving to anything I own. Most items, electronic or not, have a short life span. My camera was starting to die. Small things stopped working. The “live view” button fused. The camera hot shoe rusted out. When the camera finally lost the ability to turn off because the button broke, I knew it was time. I also knew it was not worth mailing to Canon to get fixed because of my insurance deductible. Since I considered my camera to be obsolete technology, what was the point of putting more money into it? I chose to keep it as a back-up camera.
How to Pick the Right Camera?
I posted a thread on Facebook on deciding which machine to buy; I received over 100 responses from fellow photographers. Do I stay with Canon? Do I switch to Nikon? Sony? The mass amounts of responses actually made my decision harder to make. Everyone has an opinion on what is best and all those opinions are different. The purchasing decision was giving me a migraine.
The most important thing is to pick a tool that fits YOUR needs and YOUR budget. So I made a list of the things that were important to me:
- Dynamic Range
- Noise and ISO
- Keeping my Canon lenses
- Wanting to learn to shoot video
So I automatically eliminated Nikon. I just didn’t want to go through the process of selling and buying new lenses. It is also extremely heavy. Then I eliminated Sony. While it fit my needs regarding weight and dynamic range, I was really concerned with durability. Canon 5DIV still seemed to fit my overall needs.
What to Look For in a New Camera?
Well, that depends on your needs. Here are a few things to consider:
- Budget – Figure out the most you can spend. This can eliminate a lot of options and quickly narrow down your choices. Don’t put yourself in massive debt purchasing something you don’t really need. The most expensive isn’t always the best.
- Dynamic Range – Yes, its important to have a camera with amazing DR for landscape photography. Is it the MOST important thing to you or is something else? For me it was durability.
- Weight – Are you going to be backpacking? Are you just taking short day hikes? Do you have a bad back where carrying around a heavy pack is an issue?
- Subject – Are you photographing just landscapes? Are you photographing animals/birds at high speeds? Are you dabbling in portrait photography or weddings? Sports events? Are you shooting 4K video? Some cameras are better than others at each of these items. What is your primary need? Where do you see yourself expanding and wanting to learn in the future?
I would suggest making a list of your priorities and intended use of the new camera. Do your own research and ask for advice. Find a friend to let you borrow and test out cameras or rent them. If you are going around in circles trying to decide between two cameras, go test each one out. Something will pop up that will make the decision obvious for you. Most importantly, don’t stress. Buying new toys is supposed to be fun and exciting!