Monday, October 24, 2011

Do you need a new camera??

My main camera is a Nikon D80 DSLR. I love my camera. It has been a good friend for me. Well as much of a friend as a bit of technology can be. Since I use a Nikon camera I constantly keep up on the news for Nikon equipment. The current buzz is what might come out in the next week or two for new camera models for Nikon. Are they going to release a replacement for the now aging D300? Rumor has it that there is a D400 waiting in the wings. Or are they going to update the D700 with a new entry level full frame body called the D800? The rumors are flying fast, and people are talking about which new camera they "just must have" this Christmas season.

I need to admit at this point that I have been drooling over getting a D7000 body ever since I tried one out at our local camera store. I have totally fallen in love with the high ISO capabilities of the camera. There are a number of times I want to shoot natural light but need way more ISO to get the shutter speed I am looking for. So now I annoy my wife on a regular basis about the camera that I "just must have".

Well with all this talk about the D7000 that I so "need", or the possible new cameras due out soon, you would think that you need the biggest and best camera to be able to function as a decent photographer. All the talk about the hardware would make you think that the hardware is the most important thing in the world for a good photograph. But if this is so, how could we have great photos from digital cameras even a couple years ago?

My first relatively serious digital camera was actually NOT a DSLR. It was a lowly Fujifilm S5200 bridge or superzoom camera. For those that are not familiar with the terms bridge or superzoom camera, these are cameras that look like DSLR cameras, but the lens does not come off. My current favorite bridge camera is the Fujifilm HS20. That camera lens can go from 24mm all the way to 720mm focal length. It will do macro, has a hot shoe for flash, and all the different modes like a DSLR. The S5200 was a somewhat more limited version of that. I shot for a long time with that camera.

One night I went to the local hockey game. I was in the second to the top row of seats at the arena. I had my humble S5200. This was going to be a real test of the camera. I had a monopod with me to help hold the camera a little steady. Then I started to shoot away. It is amazing what I got. Granted, I think I could have done a little better at times with framing. Trying to capture the right shot with sports is so hard. Things are always moving so fast. The nice thing with digital though is that you can take a larger number of photos to try to capture the action.

Now I will admit that if I had my coveted D7000 camera I might have gotten even more good shots, and maybe even more phenomenal shots. I would have been able to capture more images faster with the camera. I could have used higher ISO and gotten better shutter speed. But I will have to say that I think my lowly camera did a pretty fair job of the task at hand.

So does a person need expensive equipment, or the latest thing out? Well I will grant you that better equipment will let you do things that the less expensive equipment won't do. But when it comes down to it, does the better equipment do enough better to justify the expense? Also, are you missing great photos because of an equipment limitation, or is it a limitation of your skills as a photographer?

When I hear a person ask if they should buy thus and such a camera the first thing I will usually ask is if there is something that their current camera just is not doing for them. Do they know that they have run into a limitation of their equipment? Or are they just getting equipment envy because some friend or relative has more expensive gear? If you are really feeling limited by your equipment then go ahead and upgrade. Maybe you do need to shoot 6 frames per second instead of just 3. But know what you want to gain. Then try out the new camera. This is where renting equipment comes in really handy. You can give it a real workout for like a week and see if it really will make a difference.

Oh, and if you decide you don't really want that D7000, well feel free to get my snail mail address and send it to me. I am sure I can put it to good use.

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