Last week Canon announced the EOS-1 D X Mark II to its DSLR lineup. Boasting a full-frame 35mm CMOS sensor and dual DIGIC 6+ image processors, the EOS-1 D X Mark II is more than capable of shooting gorgeous 20.2 megapixel images. Additionally, Canon has seen fit to bring its DSLR lineup into the 4K video realm with the EOS-1 D X. It can shoot in 4K at 60P and full HD in 120P, making this camera a solid performer that should fit well into the workflow of photographers and filmmakers alike. At the same time, SONY appears to be fully embracing (and crushing) the existing camera landscape with its solid lineup of A7 mirrorless cameras. The photography world is clearly bifurcating.
Which begs the question; should I upgrade? I often get this question from my students. Usually it's followed by, “What is the best camera?” To which I answer, "It depends."
When I began shooting years ago, I fell into the trap of believing that owning the latest gear was the determining factor that separated the amateurs from the professionals. As my skills improved and I became more confident in my ability as a shooter I came to understand that equipment is only helpful if you can fully take advantage of the potential it offers. A camera is merely a tool. A garage full of shiny and expensive tools in the hands of a lousy carpenter won’t make him any better. Skill has a much more profound impact on your ability to produce powerful images than the tool you use to capture the images to begin with.
With that in mind I pose the following question; what are you doing with the tools you have right now? Have you pushed them to the limits of their capabilities? If not, then are you really just fixated on a new toy because new toys are exciting? Until you can answer that question honestly, there isn’t much of a reason to consider adding another expense to an already expensive profession that offers few opportunities to recoup investments in gear that is destined to be considered ‘old’ within a 24 or 36 month product cycle.
So when SHOULD I upgrade my camera?
In my view there are only two instances in which it makes sense to consider investing in new equipment:
- You should upgrade your camera when doing so would offer you technological capabilities that will allow you to create work as an artist you want to do but presently can’t or...
- ...when doing so would give you capabilities that would make your business more efficient and profitable.
If you want to improve as a photographer first upgrade yourself, then upgrade your gear. Take a workshop (ICP offers many outstanding workshops) and get your hands dirty. Break out of your comfort zone. Cameras come and go but skills will stay with you forever and as such they are the most effective investment you can make. When your skills exceed your tools, then invest in better tools.