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FORUMS General Gear Talk Camera Vs. Camera 
Thread started 14 Jan 2020 (Tuesday) 18:12
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Thinking of Upgrading? Then consider this...

 
Tronhard
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Jan 14, 2020 18:12 |  #1

I see, with great regularity, posts from folks who want advice on what camera or lens to get. Very often they ask for this advice with minimal information, yet people often give advice (well meant) based on their experience, their needs and their resources, not yours. You have to find your own way. .

So I am setting up this thread to which I can point inquirers in that situation to consider questions they need to ask themselves, because very few people responding do.

So here are the questions I have evolved to ask when someone asks "What should I get?"

What is it SPECIFICALLY that your current camera does not do that you need to improve your images?
That is critical, as it identifies the benefits you need to seek from any new purchase.* (see below)

We all go through troughs when we want inspiration, and in those times it is tempting to think that some retail therapy will bring back our mojo again. From my own experience, and those of others, I can say with some certainty that after the initial spark of excitement has gone from the new purchase one ends back in much the same position again, but a little poorer. If you can't specify at least one benefit, then beware Gear Acquisition Syndrome.

What are you prepared to spend? IF you have a budget you need to stick to it, it's easy to get up-sold by friends and vendors.

What kind of photographer are you? By that I mean something between casual social use of a camera, through student, enthusiast, pro-sumer to professional. At each level there is a cost/benefit envelope to gear that increases according to the level of commitment. As one moves up the scale the expected investment is likely to increase, but then the cost of switching increases too as often lenses have to be swapped or adapted (always a compromise).

What kind of photographic subjects do you capture? To a major degree this defines the types of lenses you will use and that has implications for the quality of glass available for a system. However it also has implications for the sensor: A FF sensor (such as a Nikon D850 or Canon 5D) will give advantages in low light and for wide angle use (such as some landscapes), while a crop sensor (APS-C, Micro 4/3, 1" etc.) is disadvantaged there, but comes into its own for telephoto use, where the crop reduces the field of view but the pixel count can exceed that of an equivalent cropped FF image.

What are you going to create? To me this is one of the biggest issues that is often left unaddressed, yet it is all about what we are doing. To make large, high-resolution prints demands a much greater investment than producing for web viewing, which is often pared down in resolution and viewed on small screens such as phones or tablets. Even viewing on large monitors, the required gear does not have to approach that of the big print. There is growing trend not to produce hard copy prints: I have seen a plunge in such prints for competitions in Canada and NZ, while digital submissions have increased. This can have huge implications for the specs of gear you consider.

What are you prepared to Carry? As we age, have injuries, or have specific activities like travel and hiking the heavy gear we once had no difficulty toting can become a challenge. So moving to a smaller, lighter system may be seen as beneficial. Definitely, if I was looking at a gear change and was maturing (that's a nice way of saying getting older) then smaller, lighter systems such as mirrorless may be attractive.

What about the ergonomics and interface? If you have a preference it’s important to say so.
The performance specs of gear tell us many things, but not how it will feel to actually manipulate the camera's controls or use its menus - which can be a very personal thing. I have met people who have purchased gear on line, based on the technical capabilities they have read, then been completely thrown by the operation of their purchase.

Switching between bodies can also be a challenge. For example: Canon DSLRs FF units use the EF mount, APS-C units use EF and EF-S lenses. EOS M series use EF-M mounts and with an adapter (adding bulk and weight) use the EF lenses, but those lenses will likely be relatively bulky and heavy compared to the compact body, so the advantage of size and weight is lost. The EOS R series has similar issues - it can use adapters for EF, but not EF-M lenses. There are relatively few native lenses for the RF mount (good as they are) so if you are not able to afford the premium cost you are looking at adapters and your bulky lenses again. As a long-term Canon user I have looked at the R series but with over $50k of gear I am not rushing to change, but if I was starting out I would seriously consider the R series. Similar issues are likely with other makes.

I have been shooting since the early 1980's. Many of the photos I have submitted to this forum have been shot on the Canon EOS 60D (2011 vintage) and they have earned kudos based on the quality of the image, not the equipment. I still shoot on occasion with my 60D's (I have 3) and they still do an OK job, heck I shoot with a Canon D30 that is almost 20 years old! Over almost 40 years of photography, including a professional career, I have not felt constrained by the equipment I have used, rather my skill in using it and I have used Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and several medium format brands.

So I shall finish with a couple of other thoughts to consider if you are looking for inspiration:

  • Go on a course to work with others, gain skills and sharpen your focus.
  • If you have not done so, join a local camera club or photographic society
  • Consider investing the money on trips to inspire your photography

Only then, when you can honestly say that you need the upgrade...
Consider keeping your body but improving your glass.

In the end you may go for a new camera, a whole new system or whatever - and that's fine, but if you consider the questions I posed you may feel better about your decision.
---------------
* Value: Separating Features from Benefits:

A FEATURE is a characteristic of a device or service that is offered by the producer, but has no specific connection to any one purchaser. For example a camera may offer 4k Video capability with ear and microphone ports. A feature has no value to the consumer unless it benefits them. So, in my case a camera may offer 4k but as a stills photographer who does not do video, that feature has no benefit and thus no value to me.

A BENEFIT is a some need, specific to the consumer that either improves their performance or removes as constraint to their performance. So, for example, one may want to make detailed, large prints, but recognize that their current equipment is not capable of doing so. Consequently they will seek gear with features to support that need. Perhaps a FF sensor with good glass - appropriate to the kind of subjects they are capturing.

Only when you can map a feature to a benefit do you get value.

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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Tom ­ Reichner
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Jan 14, 2020 18:28 |  #2

.
I have come to realize that there are two categories of people who buy camera gear:

1: . Photographers, who care mostly about the the photos that they take

2: . Camera enthusiasts, who primarily buy gear because they like the gear itself

Yeah, that's right - I am convinced that there are people who are really into buying a new camera, but the reason is not so that they can take better photos. . That is EXACTLY like a plumber buying a new pair of pliers when his old pliers are still functioning perfectly, just because he likes the shiny new rubberized handgrip, or because he likes the "look" of the metal without any scratches, stains, or rust on it. . Of course, this would be preposterously foolish, but the people who buy cameras and stuff just because they like them are just as foolish as a plumber buying pliers when the old ones still work perfectly.

Cameras are tools - just tools. . They will never be anything more than a tool with a job to do. . Ultimately, it is always the job that matters, not the tool with which it is done.

It seems odd to me that there would even be a such thing as #2, but it seems that there are those who are cameragraphers instead of photographers. . In my opinion, they are irrational people with misplaced priorities and values, but ..... whatever

.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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Jan 14, 2020 18:58 |  #3

I’d agree with all of that in general.


Tom I don’t find #2 all that odd. As much as I enjoy nature and the challenge of getting “that” image...I also enjoy the equipment side of things, the technology.

People buy all kinds of things they don’t REALLY need..cars, guns, etc.


John
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dangermoney
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Jan 14, 2020 19:05 |  #4

Another (maybe obvious) part of the discussion is an individuals' level of discretionary spending.

Years ago I talked to a guy who had just ordered a Porsche 911 Turbo (well over $100K USD) and bought an Acura NSX to drive while waiting for the 911 to be built. The NSX at the time was an $88K USD car.

For some people a (insert camera cost here) is just play-money. It's never a need-thing, it's a want-thing.


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Tronhard
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Post edited over 1 year ago by Tronhard. (2 edits in all)
     
Jan 14, 2020 19:44 |  #5

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18992180 (external link)
.
I have come to realize that there are two categories of people who buy camera gear:

1: . Photographers, who care mostly about the the photos that they take

2: . Camera enthusiasts, who primarily buy gear because they like the gear itself

Yeah, that's right - I am convinced that there are people who are really into buying a new camera, but the reason is not so that they can take better photos. . That is EXACTLY like a plumber buying a new pair of pliers when his old pliers are still functioning perfectly, just because he likes the shiny new rubberized handgrip, or because he likes the "look" of the metal without any scratches, stains, or rust on it. . Of course, this would be preposterously foolish, but the people who buy cameras and stuff just because they like them are just as foolish as a plumber buying pliers when the old ones still work perfectly.

Cameras are tools - just tools. . They will never be anything more than a tool with a job to do. . Ultimately, it is always the job that matters, not the tool with which it is done.

It seems odd to me that there would even be a such thing as #2, but it seems that there are those who are cameragraphers instead of photographers. . In my opinion, they are irrational people with misplaced priorities and values, but ..... whatever

.

It's all about control... when people feel disempowered (for whatever reason) in our modern society that puts such a high value on material objects, finding solace in that burst of endorphins that comes with the power purchase is a strongdriver and, for a short time, comforter.

I love the tech - I come from an engineering background, and I have been fortunate enough to be able to accumulate gear as part of my work, but very few of us can do that. The vast majority of photographers will get no financial benefit from their gear. That is when one has to look at other metrics to define RoI: how it enriches our lives, gives us purpose outside work, and provides a social context for our creativity. I agree that for some people buying equipment is an easy thing - they can pay for a high-end system like we buy groceries. That's fine for them and it's good for the manufacturers. But it can become unhealthy when it impacts one's day-to-day economics, and effects relationships.

As I have grown older, especially now that I am retired, I actually get more of a kick out of getting decent images out of older gear - like the Canon D30 and D60. I like to be able to confirm my own skill and to make a point to those who say that for a decent photo it's all about the gear...


"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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Tronhard
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Jan 14, 2020 19:52 |  #6

The other thing that creates this thread for me is ignorance. New people are told by others who should know better they need better gear to be a better photographer - I heard exactly those words from someone in a camera club. I promptly produced a slide show using images i created with the oldest cheapest, lowest spec'd gear I could find.

Then there are the people who sincerely believe that their brand or quality of gear is the way to go, despite not knowing the things I asked in the original post. It's all about the process of seeing a situation from outside oneself and avoiding our own biases and preferences. And it's important for those of us who have experiences to clarify with lots of questions rather than leaping to make statements


"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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Tronhard
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Jan 14, 2020 19:56 |  #7

dangermoney wrote in post #18992197 (external link)
Another (maybe obvious) part of the discussion is an individuals' level of discretionary spending.

Years ago I talked to a guy who had just ordered a Porsche 911 Turbo (well over $100K USD) and bought an Acura NSX to drive while waiting for the 911 to be built. The NSX at the time was an $88K USD car.

For some people a (insert camera cost here) is just play-money. It's never a need-thing, it's a want-thing.

An acquaintance of mine was an airline pilot. He had a fortune in Sony gear and went on an expensive shooting expedition with another chap. He was disappointed with his results and he and his mate switched gear. The other guy's gear seemed to render much better results, so he forked out $48k US for the other brand, he did so without any emotion... Go figure


"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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Tom ­ Reichner
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Jan 14, 2020 19:59 |  #8

Tronhard wrote in post #18992226 (external link)
.
... I heard exactly those words from someone in a camera club ...
.

.
A - ha! . And that right there is a problem; the fact that they called it a camera club instead of a photography club.

I have always figured that people who join a photography club are mostly interested in photos, and that people who join a camera club are mostly interested in cameras.

I have been a member of several photography clubs in my lifetime, having attended two quite recently. . As for camera clubs - I avoid those like the plague!


.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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Jan 14, 2020 20:27 |  #9

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18992230 (external link)
.
A - ha! . And that right there is a problem; the fact that they called it a camera club instead of a photography club.

I have always figured that people who join a photography club are mostly interested in photos, and that people who join a camera club are mostly interested in cameras.

I have been a member of several photography clubs in my lifetime, having attended two quite recently. . As for camera clubs - I avoid those like the plague!

.

This place and is the world's largest camera.club. we just don't have weekly meetings.




  
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Jan 14, 2020 20:33 |  #10

Tronhard wrote in post #18992226 (external link)
The other thing that creates this thread for me is ignorance. New people are told by others who should know better they need better gear to be a better photographer - I heard exactly those words from someone in a camera club. I promptly produced a slide show using images i created with the oldest cheapest, lowest spec'd gear I could find.

Then there are the people who sincerely believe that their gear is the way to go, despite not knowing the things I asked in the original post. It's all about the process of seeing a situation from outside oneself and avoiding our own biases and preferences. And it's important for those of us who have experiences to clarify with lots of questions rather than leaping to make statements

^^^

Many years ago, an amateur lamented about how he needed to get a new camera because his photos were outclassed by others with dSLRs. I showed a mix of images, taken by P&S and by dSLR, and challenged him to identify which were which. He couldn't (Nor could anyone else reading the thread at the time). If you cannot tell the difference between P&S and dSLR, you're generally not gonna tell the difference between the 2010 dSLR and the 2020 dSLR (ignoring visible differences in low light shots with digital noise), when images of different resolution are viewed on a LOWLY 4K monitor!)

A 5 year old with a Stradavarius will make just as atrocious noise as a 5 year old with a practice violin (unless the 5 year old is a musical prodigy with the violin. Photography is analogous.


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Jan 14, 2020 20:36 |  #11
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I am a gear-head. I buy stuff just to play with the stuff. Shiny new toys genuinely make me happy, in and of themselves. In the last 20 years, I've gone from 35mm film gear, to bridge gear, to apsc gear, to full frame gear, to apsh gear, back to apsc gear, back to 35mm gear, and back to where I started on this journey more than 50 years ago, back to medium format film gear. I love cameras. I love making photographs. I don't need a reason to buy new gear. All I need is the cash, which, luckily for me has not been a major obstacle.

None of the questions in the original post are relevant to any gear purchase I've ever made. My frame of mind is: "I've never had XXX. I wonder what I could do with that. I think it is time to buy one and play with it." An example or two, if you please. I bought my first: fast prime, long tele, hot-shoe flash, lighting kit, UWA, apsc body, apsh body, full frame digital body, medium format folder, and medium format SLR all with no specific plan or purpose for them. I know enough about gear to know which gear is appropriate for various type of shooting. Having acquired the gear, I shot it in order to learn how to use it. I shot to experiment with its capabilities. I shot it learn new stuff, about the gear, about the results, about myself.

I am not about acquiring the latest, greatest doodad Canon, or anyone else puts out. I am about playing, chest deep, in a hobby that brings me a lot of joy. The OP refers to mapping features to benefits. Benefits? The benefit of a linked range-finder in my Mamiya folder IS my own personal satisfaction in knowing WHAT a linked range-finder is, and how to use it. Photographic benefit? Really? I could make the same photo with about 1.8 million other cameras. The benefit of a double exposure prevention mechanism on Voigtlander Perkeo II? Who cares? I can wind film and watch the number in the little red window. Benefit of video on my 80D? There is none, outside of one more modern camera feature to play with.

Mr. Reichner believes I am irrational. He may be correct, but that has nothing to do with my passion and enthusiasm for making photographs, and for photographic hardware. I find it quite rational spend a significant amount of my time and my money to pursue something I still find as magical as that first roll of film I got back from the drug store some 55 years ago. It is a hobby, plain and simple. I've got metric tools I use way less often than some of my camera gear. I didn't buy any of them with the thought, "Gee, I need a 12mm combination wrench because that is the proper tool to loosen a Toyota battery holder." Why do I need a reason to by photo gear, other than, "I want to."?


80D, bag of lenses, box of lights, other toys.

  
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Jan 14, 2020 23:39 |  #12

PentaxShooter wrote in post #18992241 (external link)
.
Mr. Reichner believes I am irrational. he may be correct.
.

.
Now that you explained the way you are in such detail, I believe I was incorrect to say you were irrational.

I spoke too harshly and too critically, without taking the time to really think through other people's experiences and where they find fulfillment. . I often do that, and then feel bad about it afterwards. . I apologize.

.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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Jan 15, 2020 00:16 |  #13

I'm going to be a bit contrarian here. Many of the posts asking about camera upgrades are met with advice from members that the OP suggests, although in a bit less preachy tone. I've personally suggested users spend more time learning how to use their gear rather than upgrade. I've also participated in threads where users have suggested reasonable, personalized upgrades that reflected he users needs and budgets in a responsible manner.

I also want to push back on the idea that upgrades should be limited to only those whose current cameras ar lacking. As a reasonably accomplished photographer I could have lived the rest of my life using my 5D II. I don't rely on photography for a living any longer and I could easily make do with the feature set on a 9 year old camera. Fortunately the only limitations placed on my ability to upgrade are fiscal responsibility and my own satisfaction derived from my craft. I probably don't deserve to have the quality of gear that I own but I've worked hard to obtain it and made minor sacrifices in other areas of my life to make the choices I did.




  
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Jan 15, 2020 00:40 |  #14

To put it succintly...

If you cannot identify something about your current gear that is insufficient to allow you to achieve a particular end goal, you may simply be experiencing GAS or simply falling victim to gear lust. Nothing wrong with GAS or LUST, but it is not something necessarily resolved by suggestions coming from just about anywhere but an understanding insufficient to allow you to achieve a particular end goal (or even what the end goal is).

That is like asking 'somebody suggest a vehicle for me to buy' and not providing any other guidelines for your need for a car, no statement of needs, desireable features or budget or if gas/electric/hybrid is acceptable or even a bicycle.

And that is where I think Tronhard is coming from, via the OP.


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Post edited over 1 year ago by Tronhard. (2 edits in all)
     
Jan 15, 2020 01:23 |  #15

First of all I would be very sad to think that my post, that is meant to encourage a reasoned approach to selecting gear, is "preachy" - mostly it asks questions with context to justify the purpose in doing so. I do so in the face of a huge number of posts on many websites - and I'm not focused on this one as I have little experience with it, but I have seen it here - where people have asked for advice with minimal information and got answers without further clarification.

People engage in a hobby like photography for many reasons as has been eloquently posed by Pentashooter. I have sympathy with his proposition as I have an engineering background and I love the tech for its own right, which is another reason I have not parted company with much of my stuff. In post #2 Tom identifies two groups and while I can see his point I would suggest they are not mutually exclusive. However, my original post was not intended for those who know what they are doing and why they are doing it, it is meant for those who lack that knowledge.

BTW I used the term "camera club' loosely, it was listed as a "photographic society", the culture of which was quite elitist, which was why I chose not to become a member. People take photos for many, many different reasons and I try not to judge their efforts unless I know the context of the shot.


"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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