Why you don’t need an expensive camera

The question is often asked, even more in the context of YLovePhoto and its information about expert photo cameras: “Do I need an expensive camera?” and the answer is most often that the expensive new features are mostly useless.

For example, ISO sensitivity is over-rated. Today’s performance levels are so high that, out of specialty photography, all Digital SLR photo cameras are more than able to satisfy 99% of our photography needs. They reach ISO levels often compatible with low-light situations with either a reasonable resolution or a small flash.

You may also be tempted by the high resolution sensors of expert cameras, but let’s be fair: Bigger pictures are not useful if you don’t print in large paper sizes (When did you print a poster last?). Worse, they eat memory card space, computer memory and disk storage at a tremendous pace.

If this was not enough, most people tend to forget that big sensors are inordinately sensitive to lens quality: You waste your money on a 20 MP Full-Frame sensor if you buy ordinary lenses. Be prepared for 1000€ primes and 2000€ zoom lenses. As a matter of fact, it is true for photographic hardware that your money is best spent on good-to-excellent lenses that you will keep for years while your photo camera will feel obsolete before three years. While it is often true that the more expensive expert photo camera is an objectively better photo device, you must ask yourself “Do I need it?”

If that was not enough, most of the expert photo cameras tend to expect expert users (They often lack the simpler task-oriented modes of entry-level cameras). So, you will have to invest significant more time before you master it (before you forget about the camera and start concentrating on shooting better pictures rather than on wish knob to turn).

Furthermore, I tend to consider that cheaper cameras are used more because we are not afraid of risking them more than cameras which cost nearly as much as a second-hand car (don’t even think of adding insurance for traveling with expensive gear) and because we keep them with ourselves more often than the heavier equipment (are you ready to keep 1 kg of hardware at the end of your arm for more than a short time?)

All that being said, the best advice is often “Buy a newer camera, but not a bigger one”. You’ll get most of technology improvements without the hurdles. It still is the photographer who frames and shoots, not the camera. Have a reliable camera you feel at ease with, shoot a lot, work on improving your eye and your technique, you’ll buy a bigger camera when you actually out-perform your current one.

[Followed with another post]