If you’ve read just about anything I’ve written concerning photography gear, you will know that I’m very much in favor of being a sensible consumer.
What one person considers sensible may not be what another considers sensible, I’m quite aware of that. The point I’m often trying to make is that it’s not beneficial to one’s creative growth — or bank account — to get caught up in chasing every new camera and/or lens release.
This is particularly true for camera bodies. The incremental upgrades that accompany each release aren’t generally worth paying for. You’re better off keeping your current body and staying on top of firmware updates.
Lenses are a bit different because they retain their value far better than cameras, and manufacturers don’t tend to release slightly different versions of the same lens.
New cameras and lenses are incredibly enticing, but in most instances, yielding to bouts of gear acquisition syndrome (GAS) produces no tangible creative progression.
Notice, however, I said most.
Something New, Something Good
There are times when new gear can, indeed, jumpstart your creativity.
Mind you, “new” doesn’t necessarily mean new. It could be secondhand gear — it’s new to you.
This newness can be energizing. People get excited about new things and that excitement can spill over into how those things are used. Think about the last new piece of gear you picked up and how eager you were to put it to use.
There’s just something about that new item that inspires you to try new things with it. Trying new things, in turn, can have a profound impact on your photography. That, in and of itself, is a good thing.
Something Different, Something Good
Sometimes “new” can mean different.
Upgrading your 50mm f/1.8 lens to a 50mm f/1.4 might be exciting enough, but how about going from a 50mm lens to 24mm lens? Not only do you have the excitement of a new lens, it’s a lens that is drastically different from what you’re accustomed to, meaning you’ll be forced to try new things.
This is really just a matter of getting out of your comfort zone, which is a technique proven to foster creativity.
If a new piece of gear can do this for you, by all means, go for it.
I remain committed to the idea that cameras and lenses are just tools that help facilitate the execution of your creative vision. Any camera/lens in the right hands can be used to craft a great photo.
I’m not suggesting gear is entirely irrelevant, however. There are countless options out there and you should choose the tools that work best for you; tools that possess all the features you need to help you accomplish your goals.
There’s a lot to be said for spending a lot of time with the same gear. Knowing your gear intimately makes it that much easier to excel at your craft. Old gear really does become an extension of your creative self.
But if a new (even if it’s used) camera or lens is what it takes to propel you toward improving your photography, don’t let anyone stand in your way.
It’s all about the final image.