Full frame, crop sensor, DSLR, mirrorless, Canon, Sony, Nikon. There has never been a time where so many camera options were available to consumers. Not only are there an abundance of brands, features, and options, there is also the blistering pace at which camera manufacturers refresh their camera line-ups. This adds to the dizzying decisions photographers face when deciding whether or not to purchase a new camera.
It’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of a recently refreshed version of our favorite camera setup. But in many cases, a solid reason to upgrade is absent outside of just wanting the “latest and greatest” version. I’ve personally fallen into this trap more times than I care to admit. I’ve learned that, before I rush out and make an impulsive decision, I must take my time and do my research in order to evaluate the true case for making a body change.
Identify the Problem You’re Trying to Solve
First, identify what you’re looking to accomplish with a particular upgrade. Stated differently, determine what problem you’re trying to solve. Are you looking for a higher resolution camera because you want to begin printing your images larger? Are you looking for a camera with in-body image stabilization for the ability to take more handheld shots in low light conditions?
Or maybe you’re looking for a body that has dual SD card slots because you’ve had a card fail and lost all your images from a recent trip. Whatever the reason, outlining the goal and the problem you’re trying to solve is a great way to determine if it’s time to purchase a new camera.
Consider the Supporting Equipment
Secondly, assessing your new camera’s support equipment is something you should consider. If you’re only purchasing a new camera body, are you planning on using your current lenses? Will your current lens line-up enable you to get the most out of your new camera body? Or will you need to upgrade to higher quality glass in order to maximize the ability of your new purchase?
Will you need to invest in lens adapters if you’re switching camera brands or moving from a DSLR system to a mirrorless setup? Or will you need to invest in a completely new set of lenses? Whatever the case, understanding the required supporting equipment and subsequent purchases is important, especially when identifying the overall budget to allocate towards a new camera purchase.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new camera and forget about how this could impact all other pieces of required equipment to work in conjunction with your new purchase.
Lastly, determining how a new camera impacts your workflow is an important yet often overlooked thought to consider. Will your new camera increase the efficiency of how you operate on-location? Or will there be a steep learning curve? This consideration is often related to camera button layout and menu operation along with overall ease of use. It’s especially important to consider if your contemplating switching to an entirely new camera brand.
We spend a great deal of time shooting with our cameras. They become an extension of us, where we don’t have to think much about adjusting our settings. Everything becomes second nature. The last thing you want is to get into a new camera that is cumbersome to operate and hinders you from working smoothly and confidently when you’re in the field. The best bet is to take your potential new purchase for the proverbial “test drive” to better understand the subtle nuances associated with operating it before you make your buying decision.
Purchasing a new camera is exciting. It can be a real motivational boost to get out and shoot more often. But let’s face it… photography is an expensive art form. Making large investments in equipment shouldn’t be taken lightly. The best advice I can give here is to take your time, do your research, and identify the problem you’re trying to solve before you rush out and purchase the latest cutting edge technology just because the entire industry’s abuzz about it.