The web, television and even the letterbox is filled with images and advertising material promoting the latest technology, and photography gear is no different. But is bigger and newer really better? This is more than likely a bit of a debatable topic but here is my opinion.
Firstly, I’m a firm believer that it is not the equipment but the user who has the capacity to produce a good photograph. Having a good working knowledge of photography concepts, light and your camera is the most important aspect of a good photo. A professional, top of the range camera is not going to help you if you do not master the theory. Your camera is for expanding on this theory and putting into practice what you have learned. With practice you will learn to understand your camera and its limits and capabilities. My point is, I don’t believe in upgrading to a new camera until I know what I can and can’t do with my current one. If I don’t understand the one I have now, how is a new one going to benefit me?
Secondly, I’m not a professional photographer and I am not using my gear every day. I have a full time job and taking photos is done when I can schedule it into my free time. For me, this means that I am more than likely not going to need a top of the range camera if I am simply using it for my current purposes. As I said above, I want to learn this one before I move onto anything else. I am also aware of professional photographers who produce beautiful images using very old, tried and trusted gear. But don’t get me wrong, I am a tech lover at heart and I know I will upgrade one day when I feel my money will be invested in the best camera for me moving forward. But firstly, I need to understand what that is.
Thirdly, I love to use whatever is at hand and portable. I would rather skimp on the ‘technical’ aspect if it means I’m going to miss an opportunity when it arises. I would have missed this serene, calm reflection on my morning walk, a random holiday snap of the beach or a beautiful early winter sunrise if I had not grabbed my iPhone for the shot.
Are they top quality, ready for sale prints? No, but they capture the moment that I would have missed if I had the mentality that I must use my best camera for everything. Not every shot needs to be gallery perfect. Photography, to me, is about trying to capture through the camera what I see or feel when taking the photo so that when I see it, I can recall the sights, smells, sounds etc when I was there. I do that, not my gear. I find using my iPhone is a great lesson in composition etc as I often like to use a square format to upload to Instagram. This allows me to try different angles and viewpoints to squeeze it all in.
Lastly, some of my most favourite photos have been taken with my point and shoot camera whilst travelling. The photo of this statue was taken years ago on a trip to China and is currently on my fridge because I love it and feel so peaceful and happy whenever I look at his face. There are no filters and except for some cropping, no post adjustments.
It is not always practical to take a large camera setup travelling and I would normally really think about it before packing my heavy DSLR and extra lenses, especially as I would need to carry it around all day. For example, I would not always take my DSLR on an overseas holiday but would definitely take it if we go camping or holidaying where we are not constantly on the move and I have the time to work with my camera and adjust setting etc. I am also normally travelling with others who may not want to hang around while I take forever setting up a shot so this always plays a factor in my decision before I go away. But, whether it is my DSLR, point and shoot or iPhone, I am constantly challenged to find the best way to make the shot work. It’s all about being able to enjoy my holiday, capturing the moment, and crossing my fingers that I have a few good ones to work on when I get back.
So is bigger and newer really better? Yes it can be, if you understand your current camera and know the upgrade is going to give you something you don’t already have. If you simply believe a newer camera is going to give you better photographs just because it’s new, has more pixels, bigger sensor etc, then maybe you need to save yourself some money and instead invest your time in getting acquainted with what you already have. You never know, it just may surprise you.