Should I Upgrade My Gear?

So many times I get questions on whether or not a student should upgrade their gear. “Should I go buy the latest body or lens or upgrade my entire camera platform with a new brand?” If you are asking these questions then the answer is NO.

The T3i (now T5i) camera that students get through the Art Institute is an awesome camera and the 18-55mm lens that comes with it although one of Canon’s inexpensive lenses, takes awesome photos. When it comes to gear if you need a fast 70-200mm F/2.8 to shoot sports of your kids then you will buy it, providing you can afford it and the spouse doesn’t say “No!”

One of the greatest hangs up that photographers have is always wanting to upgrade their gear when it’s not necessary. They think they need to have the latest and greatest at all times but if you play that game you will be broke and spend less time taking photos and more time learning your new gear.

Now, if you are rich and want to always have the latest gear then by all means, go for it, there’s an old saying, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” But if you are asking me or anyone else if you need to upgrade your gear than you are just looking for an excuse to buy something that is not needed and trying to justify the expense with your significant other.

I personally shoot with older gear myself. Why, because I love to shoot full frame and they are the most expensive bodies. I currently use 2 Canon 5D Classics and a Canon EOS 6D. The 5D Classic came out in like 2005, but if you Google the 5D Classic, you will find that most professional photographers agree that it is still the best landscape camera that Canon has ever made. Now I did this year buy the Canon EOS 6D but that was mostly for my personal project, Forgotten Pieces of Georgia, where it came in handy have the built-in GPS to tag my images as I shot them. In addition to my full frame gear, I do have one crop body camera, the Sony NEX 6 with it’s kit 16-50mm lens, which is also really good for landscapes, video and is very small and easy to carry in a pocket. Until recently, I had a Canon 1D Mark II, 1Ds and a 50D, but I sold those off when I got all my full frame gear.


A lot of people have the newer 5D Mark IIs and Mark IIIs but they have more money to burn than I do. I make awesome money at my day job but, I figure, until my photography gets to the point where it pays for the newer gear, I will stick to what I have. The 5D classic, if you read up on it, in comparison, takes better landscapes than the Mark II or Mark III. The newer bodies have more bells and whistles and high megapixels, but if you know anything about photography, megapixels means nothing once you get past 6 anyways.

So, in conclusion, if you are asking “Should I upgrade?” the answer is No. Spend more time shooting, less time worrying about what the next photographer has or the hype of sales people and learn to use what you have. The quality of your images has less to do with your gear, and more to do with whether or not you know how to use it. Remember this quote by the great Ansel Adams, “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!”

Now, as my mentor and friend Professor Jill P Mott says, “get out there and make some great images”!