When is the Right Time to Upgrade Camera Gear?

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Knowing when to upgrade camera gear can be a little tricky. Picking the right time to upgrade is about knowing who you are as a photographer, and who you want to become.

When is the Right Time to Upgrade Your Camera Gear?

What makes upgrading tricky is the pace at which technology advances. New form factors, features, and capabilities will continue to be innovated over the years to come. It’s certainly possible that new trends could make traditional photography obsolete. For example, 360 degree photography is one new trend that has garnered a lot of interest.

If that wasn’t enough, the amount of money that companies spend on marketing their innovations is continuing to increase. This means that there are more deals, more packages, and more attempts to convince you that it is the right time to upgrade your gear.

So how do you know when you are actually ready to upgrade your photography gear?

Five Signs you’re ready to upgrade your camera gear

Your needs and wants will be different from mine and from that of your neighbor’s so it’s difficult to offer a blanket “This is when you should upgrade” statement. But, there are at least five key things to consider when upgrading your gear.

When is the Right Time to Upgrade Your Camera Gear?

1. Your current gear is struggling to keep up with your creative needs

It’s a good sign that you are ready to upgrade your gear when your current gear fails to give you the results you are looking for.

When this might be the case is if you are trying to take portraits of people with sharp focus in the foreground and creamy bokeh in the background. If you’re still using the kit lens that came with your camera, odds are the results you’re getting aren’t meeting your needs. In a case like this, buying a new lens might be worth considering.

2. If you’ve decided to go to a more professional level of work

When you decide to make the move from hobbyist to being a professional photographer, upgrading could become a viable option. Higher quality gear tends to be more durable and offers more flexibility, both of which are important in a professional setting.

As an added bonus once you start working professionally you will be able to deduct the costs of your gear from your taxes making the cost of upgrading more bearable.

3. Your gear is showing its age

While tomorrow’s technology will always make today’s look old, and upgrading to stay current is not usually the right choice – there will come a time when you gear does get so dated, that upgrading is actually your best option.

You may even be able to save some money by upgrading to generation body or lens that is a year or two old. This will still allow you to make a leap in terms of the technology that you are using, at a fraction of the cost of jumping to the current generation technologies.

When is the Right Time to Upgrade Your Camera Gear?

4. The manufacturer has dropped support

Sometimes you’ll find out that the manufacturer has dropped support for the product you own. In cases like this, it might be time to consider upgrading. (Note: this means you ignored point #3 above and kept using your aging gear until it effectively died).

5. Your current gear is “hacked” together to meet a need

Finally, let’s say that your current gear does what it needs to do to achieve the photographs that you want, but it does so in a way that requires a cumbersome process or a jerry-rigged system. If there’s a solution available that would simplify your current process in a way that saves you time and frustration it’s certainly worth considering an upgrade.

Two good reasons you are not ready to upgrade

When is the Right Time to Upgrade Your Camera Gear?

1. Upgrading when a new model is released

New model releases are always going to tempt you into upgrading. Marketing teams do a fantastic job at showcasing the new improvements, and how they will enhance your photography. However, rarely will these improvements have a substantial impact on your overall photography. It’s not about whether the new features are better than the ones that you currently have, but will they actually impact the results that you can not achieve with your current camera.

More concisely – does the new model help justify one or more of the reasons listed above? If not, then it’s probably not worth upgrading at this point in time.

2. Keeping up with your friends

As if you need another reason to upgrade – your best photography buddy just did – so now you have to as well. If the reason you’re buying something is because you’re trying to outdo, or one-up someone you know – it’s the wrong reason to upgrade your gear.

What are other valid reasons to upgrade?

Read more here:

When have you felt the need to upgrade your camera gear? Let us know in the comments below.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

John Davenport

is the creator of PhoGro – Gro’ Your Photography a community that aims to help you grow your photography through engagement with other photographers.

John also offers a free email course 6 Weeks to Better Photos that covers the most important elements for getting started with photography.

  • Mark

    The big indication it was time for me to upgrade was when my DSLR spent it’s life on the desk due to it being too large and heavy to cart around unless I was on a dedicated photo walk/shoot. The other marker was the lacklustre focus accuracy – the 5D MKII has a pretty low hit-rate against anything that isn’t stationary (and even then…).
    I moved to the A6300 after having a RX100M3 for a year alongside the DSLR – it’s what prompted it getting left behind so much…finally a compact that was good enough most of the time. The only downside with the A6300 is the lack of lens choices. Yes, you can put on an adaptor and use the entire Canon range but that kind of defeats the size advantage. Sony don’t seem to be putting in the effort with the APS-C glass so hopefully Sigma can bring something to the party for e-mount. Overall it has been out and about far more regularly than the old DSLR.

  • Ive been contemplating not neccessarily upgrading but more a second camera body just to handle some of the type of shooting Im getting into and also to make it easier to keep multiple lenses ready to shoot at all times. Starting to become really annoying having to keep changing lenses back and forth through an assignment. Now the debate is do I upgrade this one or stay with something similar

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