Well it’s happened, the 5dMkIII and D800 have hit the stores and a couple of people (here in Perth) are running around with these new crop of cameras. There is more interest in the D800 but that’s another story. Anyway this got me thinking about the thoughts of amateur/enthusiast photographers and their obsession with gear. This obsession flows through to many pros however there is a different thinking process behind it.
Amateur/Hobbyist/Enthusiast believe (not all but some) that the new cameras will make them a better photographer, where as the rest of us, look at it with more of a practical approach. We either just want it because it’s new and we have a mild to strong case of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome), or we want it for better focusing, metering or low light capabilities etc… to make our job easier, but we very rarely say we need it. We survived the last three years with the D700 and 5dMkII. Again I am using these as examples there is no reason why you need these two cameras for your photography. As they say “They best camera is the one you have with you”.
You see I’m a member of a few photography groups not to mention the RAW Live group, which have a large contingent of hobbyist/amateur photographers, and there are a lot of you that read this blog that fall into that category. I go along to certain groups meetings, I get emails and comments on this blog and my various social networks and people ask me at workshops about the gear they should upgrade too. It seems that more people are interested in their next camera before they have truly worked out their current one. My answer to these sorts of questions usually go something like this “What is it your camera can’t do?”. The answers I get vary but usually there aren’t to many people that can give me a proper answer, or one that would truly warrant an upgrade.
You might be sitting there thinking, “well what the hell does it matter to him about how I spend my money”, and that is true, it’s none of my business. However think about it like this, if you can’t answer that question or if the answer you have given is one of the “I would like to shoot blah blah blah” and you have never actually shot “blah blah blah” yet, then why not hold on to your money. Go and shoot it a few times and then a few times more, work out what it is you really need from the camera. If you decide that you definitely need to get a new camera, you love shooting “Blah blah blah” and you know exactly what you need then that month or two extra you took may have seen a slight drop in prices. As the initial buzz of new camera wares off, camera shops online and physical need to start offering better deals again. If the prices haven’t dropped then you haven’t lost anything, it is extremely rare to see cameras go up in price.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
If you take crap photos with your camera now, They will be just a crap with a D800 or a MkIII
Sorry for the harshness but it’s truth. The new camera will not make your compositions any better, it will not make your lighting any better, and it won’t make your interpretation any better, that is all up to you. Take the time to perfect these key elements.
There is a great series on DigitalRev TV that gets some of the best photographers in the world including the very famous Chase Jarvis and gives them cheap cameras, from mobile phones to the infamous Lego Camera. What is interesting about this entire series is not one of the pro photographers really complains about the camera. True there is a bit of banter and laughs about some of the features and in most cases lack of manual controls but each one of them gets on with the job and does the fundamental process in photography. Taking the photo! The camera is just a tool, a means of freezing time and capturing the moment. It is the person that drives the camera that makes the final decisions about taking the photo.
My advice for all of those out there thinking that there photos would be better with a new camera is, think about it. Is it an actual camera function that you don’t have or is it that your photos just don’t look that good. If there are people out there reading this that want to know how to start taking better photos. It’s pretty easy, start getting off those scene and automatic modes and start shooting in manual. If you need help drop by the RAWLive facebook group there are tons of people in there that will help you or you can pick up this ebook I wrote on the subject.