Buying a new camera is a lot of fun, but it’s not always necessary. Here are 6 reasons why you should skip getting a new camera… although if we can’t talk you out of it, at least make the right decision with your purchase by checking out our camera buying guide.
1. You already have a camera
Your current camera already takes great photos. A new camera might make it easier for you to get better shots (better autofocus, better low light performance, larger sensor, etc) – but you can still take great shots with the camera you have! The joy of a shiny new camera wears off pretty quickly and what you’re left with is a tool that will help you achieve your creative goals. And if you don’t already have a camera keep reading for more tips on how you can get by without getting a brand new camera.
2. New cameras are expensive
They don’t just give them away you know. I feel like there is an absurd premium built into the price of brand new cameras. New cameras actually lose their retail value quite quickly. We’ve had cameras lose half their resale value within a few years of purchasing them new. What this means is that it’s often cheaper to buy used cameras. By buying used you can either save a bunch of cash, or you can take the money you budgeted and get a better camera than you otherwise could vs. buying new. You can check out KEH.com or the used section of B&H Photo for great deals on excellent condition used camera gear.
One more money saving tip: New cameras get released every year. You can often find the older model (but still brand new) discounted compared to the newest model. Often the features of the newest model aren’t significantly better than the older model. Though technically this is still buying a new camera – so maybe I should just delete this tip?
3. You don’t need the latest features
The features in new cameras are often incremental. Faster autofocus, less high ISO noise, more frames per second, etc. There’s a good chance that you won’t even need/use all the features of the state of the art camera. It’s worth considering what the premium is for all those incremental updates.
Here’s another thing to consider: the features found in basic entry level cameras available today are vastly superior to the basic entry level cameras of 10 years ago. Compare that to 20, 40 or 60 years ago. Can you imagine what the great photographers of history could do today with a used camera that is just 5 years old. (For reference the Canon 6D was released 5 years ago).
4. A new lens (or other gear) might help more
If you want better images don’t forget the other essential piece of gear – a great lens! The kit lens that comes with many beginner cameras isn’t always the best quality lens (for sharpness, focal range, or depth of field). Often the kit lens is just a cheap lens that camera manufacturers bundle with the camera for the sake of selling a complete system to a customer – keep in mind that you don’t need to buy a camera with a lens. It’s often cheaper to buy a camera without a lens and get a better lens separately.
And besides lenses there is a ton of other gear that could help you get better photos (like a colour accurate monitor, a printer, a better computer, a tripod, lights or photography courses!). Think about whether a new camera will really help you take better photos.
5. You can always rent if necessary
If you absolutely need a camera with better image quality / more features, then you can always just rent one! Check out Borrowlenses.com or Lensrentals.com. It’s also a great idea to borrow or rent expensive gear before purchasing it. This way you’ll be able to test out the gear and find out whether it’s right for you.
6. Enjoy the creative constraints of an old camera!
Total freedom can stifle creativity. When you can do anything and everything, you might actually end up doing nothing!
If you have an older digital camera really try pushing it to see what it’s capable of. For example do you find the autofocus too slow? Shoot subjects that aren’t moving, or ask them to slow down. Really dig into your autofocus settings to see if you can get better results using a servo or continuous focus mode. Sometimes it’s just about fully learning about the settings on a camera and pushing the camera to it’s limits.
Is your camera not great at shooting in low light? Take some time to practice shooting with a lamp, where you can adjust a light and get more interesting and creative results.
The key is thinking about how to turn limitations into opportunities for experimentation and advantage.
Finally for the ultimate creative constraints try out an old film camera (see our list of the best 35mm film cameras). I always found the limited amount of shots per roll (24-36 frames) to be the ultimate creative constraint. It really helped me be more intentional with every shot I took – and also to more appreciate the variability and unpredictability of the results.
Of course sometimes you still need to upgrade or buy new gear. Just make sure it’s actually worth it for you :)
Are you considering buying a new camera? Can you think of any other reasons not listed above why you should stick with the camera you have right now?