Questions to ask yourself if looking to update your professional camera

Professional photographers

From parents who want to savour photos of their little ones to London film premiere photographers and press on the red carpet, a good camera is so important!

Technology advances rapidly these days, and PR firms do a great job telling why we need to go and buy the latest and greatest cameras, but do you really need to replace your current camera, or is it just G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome) that has a hold on you?

As mentioned in the opening statement, camera manufacturers pay big bucks to PR firms to make their cameras look and sound amazing. The PR firms, and the wizards they hire, do everything they can to make you believe that you need it right now!! However, chances are, the camera you currently own is more than good enough for now and for many years to come.

Still, there are some legitimate reasons to buy a new camera as well, and we will go over those reasons below. However, before you splash your cash and then get buyer’s remorse like Kasey from Camera Conspiracies did after he ‘upgraded’ from the Fujifilm X-T4 to the Fujifilm X-H2S, ask yourself the following five questions.

1. Do I really need a new camera?

Why do I need a new camera? This is the number one question you need to ask yourself. Has your shooting style changed? Are you working within different genres? Have you outgrown the feature set of your current camera? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might need a new camera to fit your changing needs. After all, gear does matter to a point.

However, if nothing has changed regarding how you shoot, and you’re just in new camera spec sheet awe, you probably don’t need to drop the cash. If you aren’t using all the features of your current camera, or if you’re not exploring new avenues, your existing camera, whether it be DSLR, mirrorless, Micro Four Thirds, APS-C or full-frame, especially if you purchased it within the last three to five years, is still more than good enough.

So, don’t fall for the marketing hype. If you’re not maxing out your current camera’s capabilities, upgrading will do nothing for you. You’ll be better off saving your money until you genuinely need a new camera.

2. Do I really need a high-megapixel camera?

This is the big one. Camera manufacturers live and die by the megapixel counts in their cameras. We live in a world where more is seen as better. However, this is not always the case. One piece of advice I can give is never to buy a camera based on megapixels. Megapixels are not the be-all and end-all. The truth is that most, not all, but most photographers out there rarely need more than 24 megapixels.

As an event and portrait photographer, I can tell you that 24 megapixels are more than enough. The current crop of cameras with roughly 24-megapixel sensors (and some with less) offer more than enough resolution and dynamic range for all but those who need to capture extreme levels of detail or blow up and print massive images.

I rarely have clients asking me for prints over 20-by-30 inches. A 24MP camera can handle that easily with plenty of room to spare. You also need to factor in RAW file sizes and if you have enough storage space. You also need a powerful computer to edit the files smoothly.

If you’re a product photographer, a fine art photographer, a fashion photographer or a landscape photographer and capturing immense amounts of detail is paramount, buy a high megapixel camera. If you don’t own lenses that let you get closer to the action and you need to crop heavily, it might be worth buying one. Otherwise, I promise you, 24 megapixels are more than enough.

Low light performance

Don’t think that higher megapixel sensors are magic; they’re not. Cameras with more megapixels perform worse in low-light situations because they have smaller photosites.

Take the Sony a7S III, for example. This camera is the king of low light because it uses a 12-megapixel full-frame sensor. The Sony a7R IV, on the other hand, has the same size full-frame sensor, but it has 61 megapixels crammed into the same amount of space. As a result, the photosites in the a7R IV are smaller, so they gather less light than those found on the a7S III sensor. As a result, the a7R IV performs worse in low light situations. So, consider this as well before buying a new camera with more megapixels.

3. What can the new camera do that my old one can’t?

As mentioned above, more features in a new camera will be lost on you if you don’t already maximize the features of your current equipment. So, before you splurge, make a list of the features of your current camera and a list of features of the body you’re considering. Is there anything you absolutely can’t live without? Will a new camera help you do something your current gear stops you from doing?

If the answer is yes, check out one of our many roundups. They’re designed to help you find your next camera, lens or accessory. If the answer is no, stick with the camera you have and save your money. At the end of the day, it’s easy to forget about needs vs. wants.

Do you need a camera that has thousands of autofocus points? No. Does it sound good and make you want them? More than likely. Do you need to be able to rattle off 20 frames per second? Unless you’re a wildlife or sports photographer, probably not. Weigh up your needs versus your wants and make a sound decision. Doing this leg work could save you thousands.

4. Will my money be better off spent elsewhere?

For most people, if purchased within the last three to five years (and possibly longer), your current body is likely more than good enough. If you think you need a new camera to create better images, I have some news for you. A new body will not make that happen. Instead, invest your money in new lenses or training programs to improve your skills.

Higher quality lenses are far more important than new cameras. I cannot stress this enough. Quality lenses are everything. High-end lenses with superior optics will breathe new life into a camera that you think is too old. If you have high-quality lenses and a decent body and your images still don’t make your jaw drop, the issue is not the gear. Invest in yourself and buy some photography training books instead.

I hope this has helped you understand whether or not you need or want a new camera. If you want to buy a camera just for the hell of it, that’s fine, enjoy! Still, don’t think that doing so will make you a better photographer or that it will improve your images, so invest wisely.

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Joanna Fletcher
Live Events Reviewer

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