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I don’t like upgrading my camera; I’m rather content with the old one I have. I’m not one to worry so much now about the changes in technology. These days it seems there’s nothing really new under the sun. My trusty Nikon D800 is like a close friend, we have a good relationship.
The advancements in camera technology have now slowed down and we already have more than enough megapixels to overflow our hard drives. So in my opinion, being content with a (slightly) older camera can help improve your photography more than if you are continually hankering for an upgrade.
Recently we had a customer on one of our photography workshops tell us they’d bought a few new lenses and were happy with them and next they wanted to upgrade their camera. I pointed out the camera they already have is way more advanced and can produce higher resolution photographs than most of the cameras I have ever used, (over the last 35 years I have used quite a few).
Having a close relationship with my camera is important to me. We need to know each other. The feeling I have for my camera enables me to obtain more interesting, dynamic, and relational photographs than I could make if I was using a brand new camera, (especially if was a brand of equipment with which I am not familiar). Having such a close and good relationship with your camera will make you a better photographer.
If you can get to know your camera so well that you don’t have to consciously think every time you want to change a setting, you will have more energy to focus on your subject and the creative aspects of picture making. Being able to enjoy photography without your camera being the main focus of your attention is far more conducive to making great photos than having a brand new camera that you are unfamiliar with.
The keys to any good relationship are:
Working with a camera you are just not comfortable with will not result in a good relationship. If you have small hands and your camera is large, you will struggle to operate it easily and it will be uncomfortable for you to hold. Likewise, if you have large hands and a small camera you will not find the experience of making photos as pleasurable as when you have a camera that suits you better.
If you find the controls awkward to manage, the image resolution disappointing, etc., you might want to consider a camera that’s more compatible. However, most cameras these days are well designed and crammed full of technology that produces incredible quality images. So you are probably better off committing more time to getting to know your current camera better.
Frequent connection with your camera, as with your friends, will produce a richer relationship, especially when it’s a meaningful connection. Finding a subject, a location, or style of photography you really enjoy will ensure you want to spend more time with your camera in your hands.
This can take time, and can change over time, but when you have a passion for something or someone you naturally want to dedicate more of your time to that relationship.
When you are so familiar with your camera that your attention is more focused on your subject, the timing, composition, and lighting, you will find a far greater enjoyment in photography. You will also likely see a big improvement in the photos you are producing.
In our modern consumer societies you are constantly reminded by advertisers there’s something else you must buy. I believe if you constantly upgrade you are potentially missing out on the depth of artistry that can be achieved by being intimate with your camera and your craft.
A while ago I had a wonderful experience photographing two men putting finishing touches to some beautiful artworks. I was in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul looking for the copper workers quarter which I had read about. I spent quite some time searching for it and literally walked around in circles and ended up back at the same place more than once. But I was determined to find this place as I really love making photos of craftspeople working.
Eventually, I heard a “tink tink tink” sound and followed my ears down an ancient arched alleyway. I went up a staircase, and into a courtyard surrounded by two-story buildings with hundreds of pots, pans, lamps and other items all crafted in copper.
I continued farther to the source of the sound and was welcomed into a small workshop. With no common language, I gestured to my camera and received a thumbs up for me to take photographs there. The two men working on the art pieces were being watched by an older man, (I learned he was the father of one and uncle of the other.)
Another man arrived after a while and some discussion took place. That man was a customer coming to buy their art and he spoke some English. I asked him to help me because I had a question. How long, how many generations, had this family been working with copper and creating such art?
My question was translated and a long discussion ensued. Then all three family members looked at me and shrugged. They did not know. Their families have been copper craftsmen for so long and been passing on the skills of this lifestyle so long that nobody knew the answer to my question.
I was not surprised. Looking at what they were producing and at the pride on the older man’s face, it was evident they were not novices. They know their craft and their tools so well they made it look like what they were doing was somewhat effortless. But this is the result of a generations-long relationship with their materials and tools, (some of which may be generations old) frequent use of them, and an obvious passion for what they do.
For more on loving your camera, watch the video below:
As you are pushed to spend money, rather than time, on your creative photographic expression, I believe you are in danger of losing touch with the depth and meaning that can be obtained by a more conscious connection with the camera you already own.
So if you are tempted to upgrade your camera let me encourage you to consider holding on to the one you already have for a while. Learn to love it and you will see the results in an improvement in your picture making.