Tuesday, September 29, 2015

5 Practical Questions To Ask BEFORE You Upgrade

We’ve all been faced with it.  All of a sudden, we get presented with this awesome deal on some older generation photo gear, but we hesitate, saying to yourself - “But, it’s not the latest…..”.  Never mind the fact that your current camera doesn’t have the features it offers, or that you don’t own a lens that has that specific focal length or aperture range.  All you can think of is - It’s not the latest.  Or, worse yet, “it’s still one, or gasp! two generations behind what that guy in the photo club has".

You are either becoming, or have already succumbed, to that dreaded disease called gear lust.  Admit it.  Better yet, face it!  The sooner you do, the sooner you can leave all that behind.  You can then start acquiring gear that actually works better for you.  You'll be happier with your hobby, and you can begin to honestly focus (pun intended) on the single most important thing that can dramatically improve your photography, and that is - YOUR SKILLS!
Today’s photographic marketplace is more about marketing than it is about useful features.

Of course, if you’re independently wealthy, it doesn't really matter does it?  More power to you.  Or, if you’re a gear head at heart (and you know who you are) it doesn’t really matter either.  All you’re concerned with is having the latest and greatest, for whatever reason you may have, and that’s OK too.  Just don’t try to fool yourselves (or your peers) into thinking it’s all about better image quality, because it isn't.

Today’s photographic marketplace is more about marketing than it is about useful features.  Fact is, a “generation behind” model will likely give you the same overall “perceived” performance as a current model (with some exceptions of course).
The absolutely best tip for saving you money in photography is simply - Don’t buy it!.  It’s the only promotion that never expires, and is guaranteed to save you 100% on your purchase.
But if you’re just like most of the advanced photography enthusiasts out there, or even a seasoned professional photographer, don’t let yourself fall into this.  Make every effort to look at any purchase or update objectively.

Consider these five questions;
  1. Does it solve an immediate need?Here’s where the gear lust mostly manifests itself.  Many of us convince ourselves that a deal is just “too good to pass up”.  Sometimes it’s a friend who offers you something at an incredibly good price and then that thought comes into your head.  The reason that begins to form is that if you don’t buy it now, you might not get a second chance at such a good deal.  I frequently fell into that trap.  In retrospect, a lot of the gear I bought that way  usually sat in the closet un-used, dropping in value along the way.  I was not only out the money I paid for it, but I also lost in depreciation of the gear itself.  This is perhaps the most dangerous part of gear lust - the double financial hit you take.

  2. Will the upgrade fulfill a feature set lacking in your current gear?If you like to shoot sports, and your camera is only capable of shooting at 3 frames per second, maybe an upgrade to one that does 8 frames per second is a justifiable upgrade.  But what about one that does 5 frames per sec?  Are those two extra frames gonna make that big if a difference?  Perhaps they will.  The point I'm trying to make is that only YOU can make that determination.  But you need to be brutally honest with yourself with this point, because if you're not, you'll find that you may be convincing yourself inti something you don't truly need.  This is a tricky one.

  3. Will there be a dramatic improvement in image quality?Image quality can be a very subjective thing.  Photography after all, is art.  What type of photographic art you like may not be another photographer's cup of tea.  Nearly all cameras available today can nail proper exposure and focus, the two most important elements in an image.  The difference lies in how they go about it.  Some are faster, or perhaps have features that assist you, but the bottom line is that generally, and if you know what you're doing, you can capture a very decent image with practically any camera out there today.Now, it wouldn't be fair not to mention differences in lenses.  Even more so than a camera, the lens is the single most important element in capturing a great image.  There are vast differences in quality between low end lenses, and the mid to high end.  However, if you're looking at version levels between the same lens models, chances are you will hardly notice any difference between the two models.  Yes, you will see all sorts of lens reviews, espousing the virtues of the latest version of a lens, but I've come to realize that most of these reviews are written by other gear heads, worrying about things such as MTF charts, and other esoteric terms that make absolutely no difference to the general photo enthusiast.  And I venture to say that even some pros don't care, because a pro is the type of photographer who looks at his finished work, and if it satisfies the level of quality he desires, it's done.  A pro really doesn't care about anything other than his finished work.  Yes, that's a loaded statement, and one that will likely inflame a lot of people, but hey, it's only my opinion.  Take it or leave it.

  4. Can the purchase wait a bit of time?This is perhaps the hardest of all to answer honestly.  If you already have G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome), then you are incapable of honestly answering this one.  But if not, give yourself at least 24hrs to make any purchase decision.  Take the time to ponder these other questions.  You might be surprised how this small amount of time can increase your objectivity in any purchase decision.

  5. Is the money you’re going to spend better used elsewhere?Well, this one is self explanatory, and only you can honestly answer this one.  In fact, only YOU should answer this one.  Don't depend on your spouse, who may very well give you the "go ahead" just because he/she knows how much the purchase might mean to you.  Think it through for yourself.  Just remember, though photography may only be a hobby to you, you shouldn't discount a purchase because it's jut a hobby.  Be honest with your reasoning on this one.

After you've given the above questions some serious consideration, and despite whatever conclusion you may come to, at the very least you'll realize that your decision was a proper and correct one, for your case, and your case only.  The ultimate benefit will be that you will be able to enjoy your new gear (or perhaps your current gear) to the fullest extent possible, knowing you made the RIGHT decision!

So how about it?  Have you been faced with any of the above?  Have you considered these or other questions before?  Drop a comment and let's discuss it.