I wish I could be more like my wife, she isn’t particularly materialistic. In a world where we are told we ‘need’ X, Y and Z regardless of the detriment to the environment (i.e. replacing something that wasn’t even broken), it is refreshing. Photographer’s are particularly prone to this, a lust for the latest and greatest. Social media and club chatter is awash with the latest gear talk. I jokingly tweeted about the new Canon 1DX MKIII and how at £6,499 it WILL make ALL of your images better. The reality is there is probably nothing wrong with your current camera, but I understand companies have a product to sell and technological improvements are important. And that doesn’t mean that the latest camera isn’t right for someone.
So how do you know when it is the right time to upgrade? Obviously if something is broken and beyond repair then a replacement maybe necessary, and if money is no object then there might not be a discussion to be had. However I’m increasingly having the mindset that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. We all have a responsibility to now consider the environment, and the impact buying these new products has.
I could (if funds were available) upgrade tomorrow. I’m a sucker for technology but ultimately my wallet dictates and as I get older I seem to put less emphasis on gear, probably for the aforementioned reasons. But that doesn’t mean occasionally gear comes into the equation, but now I believe I have found a formula that works for me, and I think it could work for others…
So often I see photographer’s upgrading for no other reason than some more focus points or more mega-pixels. They are drawn to the new and shiny. My approach now is to use my gear until I hit a regular limitation, and I have a few examples… I invested in a 15-30 f2.8 lens because my previous setup gave me disappointing astrophotography results. I invested in my current camera because (also linked to the Astro work) the high ISO performance was poor. And my investment into my 150-600mm lens last year was the direct result of regularly walking Carn Marth and seeing wildlife I wanted to capture, but couldn’t on my previous long lens. It’s that frustration in not being able to capture shots in my mind that drives me to invest in new ‘tools’. And that’s what they are rather than tech.
It’s also worth considering the second hand market. With all those people lunging for the latest and greatest, left behind them is a trail of great gear. And some reputable retailers even offer a decent warranty on these second hand items, giving you some piece of mind.
So next time you feel the urge to hit the buy button, consider your current gear. Have you hit a frustrating limitation or just a lust for the latest and greatest?