I like gadgets. I am a modern day consumer wrestling with the brainwashing and herd mentality product marketers use in their attempt to make me believe the next version is better. That it will make me feel better, have more fun and be more productive.
It doesn’t matter if I haven’t used the current version to its fullest potential. The next one will surely make me better at the chosen activity requiring said gear.
Cameras and camera equipment seem to agitate my wallet. Never mind that the photos and my workflow are perfectly fine with the Canon t4i. Even video comes out great. No, I have to assume that since I can’t achieve 4k then I must be lacking in my ability to tell the story. That only having an 18 megapixel sensor I will without doubt not be able to take crisp, lifelike photos.
New cameras come out seemingly every week. Every year I think should I upgrade my (bought used BTW to replace a t1i) t4i to a seemingly dizzyingly array of upgrade options.
I like camera technology. I just have a difficult time parting with money for something that makes such a small incremental difference in my hobbiest experience.
By the way, I’m only looking at medium budget enthusiast cameras. Under $1,500. I will never spend for a camera what I could realistically buy a freaking used car for. I’m not a pro. Nobody will ever pay me to take a photo and I’m not likely to grind my way to a position where that would be a possibility.
I subscribe to a number of photography YouTube channels. The gear chatter is nonstop. “Should I buy a 70D or 80D? Should I buy an a-6300 or G7? Should I…” I don’t know. Does it even really matter?
As a potential replacement for my current DSLR, in the last week (Sept 2016) I have circled around the new Canon M5, new Panasonic G85, considered the 70D, 80D as well as the G7…I have watched videos that suggest 4K and dual AF and zebras and megapixels and wireless, etc. ad nauseum is important. Maybe. Maybe for some. But nothing in these offerings is likely going to make me a better photographer. Would I like wireless? Yep. Do I need 4K? No. My TV is not 4K and will likely not be 4K until they can consistently stream shows across satellite in 4K.
Then I have to consider existing equipment. Do I stick with Canon for simplicity or do I part ways and go for Panasonic and all the costs that will incur?
I can’t imagine being these pro guys quitting thousands of dollars of Canon or Nikon to try out Sony. It’s crazy. Even the top likes new tech.
Sometimes when I think I need a new camera body I typically conclude the money could be better spent with faster glass. There is always some truth to that. Would I be better served disposing of that cool grand with a fast 70-200mm or 24-70mm? These are lens I would use and keep for years if not the remainder of my decades. As it is I keep using slow zoom consumer glass along with a used f/4 50mm I picked up that takes fabulous photos inside or out. I’m not unhappy, just feeling greedy when the upgrade bug bites.
I’m sure people in the know can pick out chromatic aberration and softness and flare and whatever metrics are gleaned from their labs. I just know my photos look fine when I show them to average people. Madison Avenue and 500px might have issues but that ain’t my audience.
Despite having a decent DSLR I find myself using a Panasonic LX7 far more when out and about, traveling and such. I always have my iPhone with me but I just can’t get into iPhoneography as much as I wish I could. I’ve taken few photos with the iPhone that I like but I’ve taken a whole bunch with the LX7 that I really like. I do better with iPhone video but I still prefer the LX7 even for video. So naturally I find myself looking at the upcoming LX10 with interest. Of course they released the LX100 as an upgrade of sorts to the LX7 a year or so ago so I’m not quite understanding their model number gymnastics. Do I need that upgrade? Doubtful, but I’m interested.
I bought a GoPro Session last year. I love that camera. It takes amazing video and photos. I use it all the time for timelapses , mountain biking and just to create fun little movies easily and quickly.
A few months ago someone gifted me a GoPro Hero 3 Black. Just didn’t want it anymore. 3-4 years separate the cameras. Seemingly a long time for tech, right? Now, I’m sure the tech in the Session is far advanced than this older Hero model. But honestly once I run a timelapse through Photoshop I can’t tell the difference in either one.
Now I’m sure pixel peepers and video snobs could point out every detail of how these two differed. Whatever, I’m saying that the average viewer on YouTube couldn’t care less or would notice the difference.
So now the Hero 5 comes out with a touchscreen and more pixels and RAW images and this and that. I feel that consumerist tug to reserve myself one. I mean, it really looks cool. And congrats to GoPro’s marketing department! The GoPro launch videos look so cool. But so does the Hero 4 videos. Even the Hero 3+ promo videos still look great.
By the way, are we getting to a point with action photography where participants subvert living for that moment for living for the moment of a great shot? And exactly how much footage is one likely to go back and watch? If you’ve seen one point of view down a slope or mountain bike trail you’ve pretty much seen them all. And you know, I really don’t care about your POV but maybe one day I’d like to watch mine again. I don’t know. I never do.
So what’s the point of an upgrade? Will stabilization really make a difference to anyone looking at my video on YouTube? Probably not. It’s not like my personal videos are likely to be million view wonders.
Then there is the Karma drone. I’d like a bundle of GoPro goodness for $1,000. The drone, gimble and camera all look like a lot of fun. Will the gimble really make a difference to my videography? Maybe. Will my videos be $1,000 better with a new camera on a fancy stick or will my old Session screwed on a $15 selfie stick suffice?
I have no idea about drone regulations. Seemingly neither do local authorities. The Karma videos look great but they always show them along the beach or somewhere in the mountains or plains. I live in freaking middle Tennessee. There are very little public lands anywhere within a 3 hour drive. I guess I can zip it up and down my backyard or load it into the car and drive a few hours for a 20 minute flight.
In the meantime the people that I care about seeing and watching the videos I create, family and friends, really have no idea, or care, that the video I created was done on a GoPro or LX7 or my iPhone 6S Plus with iMovie or t4i and not a Panasonic GH4 which I’d love to make movies with. They’ll watch it once, maybe twice and that will be that.
The best piece of tech I have for photos is Lightroom and Photoshop. I take RAW images with my t4i or LX7 and just have a time editing them. Now I can do the same with my iPhone 6S Plus and the LR mobile app. Will any piece of hard technology likely make that much difference in my photos? Not at my skill level they won’t. I sincerely doubt a photo I took with a $5,000 Mark D whatever would look that much better than one I took with my t4i. I mean, if I used the same workflow and sharing tools nobody would care or be able to tell a difference. I’m not a discerning pro or pixel peeper. And the people that would be interested in my content aren’t either.
Better equipment won’t help me create a better story. Or said another way, I’m really not constrained with my current equipment to do what I want to do. When that day comes then I suppose it will be time to unfold my wallet. I just try not to succumb to the inherent consumerism pull of constantly buying the latest and greatest.
I’m not immune. I might have to pull the trigger on a GoPro Karma bundle. And goodness knows how much I love my LX7. Will I find greater love with the LX10? Maybe I’d be better served using that money to actually go someplace and use what I have. Story always trumps gear.