There is a lot of talk lately about how camera sales for all cameras are down 29% in the last five years. Those statistic include DSLR, micro 4/3rd , and point and shoot cameras. The camera phone is cutting into the sales of other types of cameras, image quality is getting better and better and giving the camera companies a run for their money. Yet the camera companies and blog writers are pushing the benefits of the ( insert hot new camera name here ) Fuji X-Pro 1. The camera will put the fun back into your photography, has sharp detail, low light capabilities and is more light weight than a DSLR and therefore easier to carry around. It also cost only $1,200 as compared to the new $4,000 + DSLR’s.
I don’t know about you but $1,200 is still a lot of money to spend on a camera. If you have it and you want to spend it on a camera that is fine, it is your money but I can think of a lot of things that would be better to spend that money on, or not, simply save it and retire earlier. Are the camera companies pricing themselves out of the market? The average photographer with a family that is getting by will have a hard time justifying the expense of a new camera model that seems to be coming out every few months.
I believe that once you realize what your preferred style of photography is you need to find the type of equipment that is best suited for your style. If you are shooting casual street or documentary photography, do you need a Fuji X Pro-1 or can you get by with your old Nikon D40? If you are shooting nightscapes is the D40 up to the task or would you be better off with a model more suited for low light? Do your research and once you have determined the best body match for your style buy the best you can afford at the time.
There is nothing wrong with having a lot of gear. However it becomes a problem when having too much gear makes you second guess which lens you should have on your camera as you approach a particular scene or how to change the ISO or white balance on whichever camera body you have in your hands at the time. Having gear can make it easier to capture the type of image you want, but won’t make you a better photographer.
Andreas Feininger (French, b. 1905 - d. 1999), said "Photographers — idiots, of which there are so many — say, “Oh, if only I had a Nikon or a Leica, I could make great photographs.” That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard in my life. It’s nothing but a matter of seeing, thinking, and interest. That’s what makes a good photograph.
You also need to consider the type of lens best suited for your style; will the kit lens do? How will an additional lens fit your budget? When determining which lens is best for your style the three things you need to consider; Focal Length, Prime vs Zoom lenses, and Aperture. A good quality lens that is properly handled will last longer than the camera body and make a good investment. A low quality lens on a high end camera will result in average image quality, but a good lens on an entry level D-SLR can still produce good results.
Once you find gear that you are comfortable with, quit focusing on gear. Learn your cameras controls so that you can make quick setting adjustments without having to think about where the controls are located. Making fast camera adjustments is important because often you will not have a lot of time to capture the decisive moment and sitting around looking at your buttons or on-screen menu’s will allow the moment/memory to pass you by.
Rather than reading reviews on the next great piece of equipment that the manufactures want you to think will take your photography to photographic nirvana spend your time looking at images made by other photographers of the same style that interest you. See how they composed the image; what is the main point of interest? Did they freeze the moment or use blur? What about this image made you stop and spend time looking at it as opposed to just clicking next?
Read books that explain techniques so that you can add to your photographic knowledge base. Read magazine articles or blog posts from famous photographers to inspire you to move forward. Take a class or workshop. Always be hungry to learn more or try something new. Will all your attempts be successful, no! But you can’t be afraid to fail or you will never grow.
The majority of us will not be getting exhibits in grand museums or inducted into Magnum. And let’s face it most likely we will not be discovered and become the next Vivian Maier. Maybe some of our images will be kept around by family members for a while but eventually we will slip away into photographic oblivion.
I think that eventually we realize that there is no photographic nirvana. It doesn’t matter if we shoot with a Leica, Fuji X-Pro-1, Nikon or a Canon. When was the last time you saw a picture of Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Doisneau or Robert Capa with a camera backpack strapped to their back full of every photo gadget known to mankind?
If you enjoy street / documentary photography or landscapes and can only afford a point and shoot camera then by all means go out and shoot with what you have. Learn to use its settings and strive to take the best images you can and welcome honest critique. The Critic pushes us, sometimes harder than we want to be pushed.
There are many people out there who have tons of gear but aren’t very good at taking photos, and those who wish to become a better photographer by buying new gear. And then there are those who are content with what they have and use it well while enjoying the photographic journey.
Thanks ! Ken
The views and opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership and management of FotoCommunity.