The new gear treadmill

It seems that the secret to photo blogging success lies in gear reviews. A fast, never-ending stream of gear reviews, all gushing about how great the latest toy is while mirroring the same niggling criticisms that everyone else has already written about. Plenty of numbers, too; a proper gear review duplicates the vendor's entire spec sheet, plus the DxO test reports, your own home-brew semi-quantitative tests, and whatever else you can scrounge up that looks thorough. Peppered, of course, with affiliate marketing links.

I'm not going to turn this site into that. I don't have the time for it, for one thing, and so I could never hope to beat the guys who make a full-time job of writing that stuff.

The main thing, though, is that the new gear treadmill is quite contrary to my way of working.

As fun as it is to play with new toys, new and shiny is not what I want when I'm out shooting. I want the equipment to just get out of the way, so that I don't have to think about it. Time spent poking through menus, trying to figure out how to enable feature X, is time that is taken away from actually making an image.

I find the first few shoots with a new piece of gear to be a bit of a frustrating time. Few of the controls are where I expect them to be, and many of them don't give the results I expect. It takes time and experience to get used to the equipment, to figure out what it's going to do under which conditions, to know the gear well enough to make it do what I want without having to think about the controls.

I've been shooting with a Nikon D7000 for the last few years and will likely not replace that camera until it drops dead from wear and tear. Could I achieve some small, quantifiable improvement in some image quality metric by ditching it and switching to something newer? Probably. Would the switch cost money and slow down my work for a while? Yup. Would the new camera yield photos that are visibly better than what I'm getting from the current one? Unlikely.

There are occasions when switching systems is a good idea. I have one friend who is leaving his full-frame Canons in favour of the Olympus OM-D body and Micro 4/3 lenses; the Olympus handles wonderfully and yields images that are just as good, but is much easier to carry (and, therefore, more likely to come to interesting places).

Such changes can safely be an "every five years" thing, though. If you change equipment all the time, you'll likely never become familiar enough with it to use it to its full potential.

Today's header image has little to do with the subject of the post, other than being shot with the D7000. It just moves fast and looks cool.



Add new comment