I have been known to discourage my friends and relatives from buying new cameras. I always tell them that get the most out of their existing cameras first. Buying a new camera will not improve the skills. So, I discourage people from upgrading their cameras and instead always tell them to focus on their photography.
Am I right?
(Spider from my garden. Nikon Df with Zeiss 135mm lens, manual focus, f/11, 1/250 sec, Auto ISO)
Almost every few days, someone or the other asks me about a new camera. The attraction to hold a new camera in hands and then dream of capturing those wonderful images is hard to resist. I always tell the person, hold on. Click more from your existing camera. Master the things. Learn to express. Learn the nuances. Then a time comes when the shortcomings of the camera come forth on their own. That, my friend, is the right time to buy a camera. Buy a model that takes care of those earlier shortcomings.
Among the digital camera bodies, two of my longest-running camera bodies have been Nikon D200, which I purchased in 2006 and then the next one was Nikon Df, purchased in 2014. 8 years between two digital camera bodies! Some people say that I don’t keep up with the times but then I have my own reasons. The reason why I upgraded in 2014 to the next body was due to three things that I missed in D200. I needed a better high ISO performance. I needed LiveView. I fell in love with the retro look. Megapixels, autofocus points and speed, battery life, in-camera image processing… this all never came to my mind then. Yes, I have had various other camera bodies too during this period, but these two are still going strong. I still capture portraits with the D200.
Now, I am starting to miss a few things in my present camera, and maybe in the future, I will buy another such model that will keep me going for many more years. No, I am not going to list out the features that I am missing, lest you, my reader, should also start missing those features in your camera.
But, am I right in my approach when I advise others?
Let me tell you a story of a friend of mine. He was a Canon user and loved street photography. Many a time, we would just roam around the streets capturing various interesting photographs. He loved using a mid-range Canon body and a 50mm lens. After such street walks, we would invariably end up at one or the other of the eating joints and pack our cameras back. The food was always accompanied by discussions about cameras. He wanted to buy a top-of-the-line latest model camera but I always discouraged him. I used to tell him, buy a camera when you know what you want in your next camera. His answer used to be that he wants a new camera with all the new features, but he never specified which features he was particularly interested in.
He also frequently suggested that he would buy a new expensive camera and then we both could take turns and use it. I always laughed at this suggestion. Time passed by and I moved to another place. We kept photographing. Distance separated us, but we used to have long discussions on phone about photography (and various other topics like music, food, and literature).
He did not buy a new camera.
The year 2021, the second wave of the pandemic. One day, we discussed a new camera model that he was interested in. This time he wanted to buy a Leica rangefinder. It is a dream camera for me also. He was admitted in a hospital then and had caught the virus. He had called from the hospital. I told him to get well soon and buy the camera after getting discharged from the hospital. After a few days, he was no more. He left the world for good. His plans, his finances, his dreams – everything left behind.
Now, I know. Life is short. Life is unpredictable.
I stand corrected. If you are planning to buy a new camera. If it will make you happy. Please do go for it. Live your life, enjoy your photography. If you can afford it now, buy it!
Me? I will stick to my old thoughts. I will buy my next camera when I actually feel the need for it. Just because my camera model is outdated doesn’t mean that it is any less good than when it was released. However, I will try to keep this aspect to myself.
Remembering you, Kamal Nain Saxena, a friend, who did not buy the camera he wanted to.
Kamal, someday, I will buy a new Leica M series rangefinder and a 50mm Noctilux, and remember you always whenever I use that.
(The image above is from the camera and lens that he admired, but always advised that I should get something newer)