You Take Photos With the Camera You Have, Not the One You Wish You Had
Tis the season for lusting after new camera gear. What with all the gift giving and holiday merriment, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement. But when you're about to press the shutter release, it's the camera you have that matters, not the one of your dreams.
Among Nikon shooters, there's an affliction known as NAS, or "Nikon Acquisition Syndrome." You likely won't find it in any medical journals, but many photographers suffer from it. Canon shooters aren't immune either. They just call it "Canon Acquisition Syndrome" instead. If you shoot another brand, there's always the more generic "Gear Acquisition Syndrome." Come to think of it, this last condition could apply to non-photographers as well, but I digress. For the sake of this article, I'll limit myself to camera gear lust since so many friends have at least a touch of it. And since we're all friends here, I have to admit that I do as well. They say that the first step is admitting you have a problem. Hello, my name is Bob, and I want more Nikon gear. I like Nikon gear.
But is this really a problem at all? I mean, if Nikon and Canon are so kind as to continue their trend of innovating new features and releasing new models, what's wrong with wanting to upgrade? The camera I shoot with today is so much more capable that my first digital camera back in the 1990s there's simply no comparison. Had I not upgraded over the years I'd still be stuck with that dinosaur, and my images would no doubt show the effects. Technical limitations that severe can't really be overcome. Maybe that camera was state of the art back then, but times change, and technology marches on.
So at some point, an upgrade is clearly what is called for, budgetary factors notwithstanding. But it's all too easy to fall into the trap of wanting every new camera that gets released. You know the type: if it's new, they want it. I'm not that bad myself, but I do catch myself adding things to my wish list I can't really justify.
And this brings me to an important point. Some new camera models represent milestones of new technology. Others are mere incremental upgrades that differ only minimally from current models. I trust it won't come as a surprise that at least some new releases are driven more by marketing than by engineering and scientific breakthroughs. If you find yourself hoping for a new camera this holiday season, or itching to buy yourself a new camera rationalizing that nobody knows better than you what to get, it may be worthwhile thinking about just how much of an improvement you would be getting for the money, no matter who is paying the bill. My general recommendation is to not buy new camera gear without a well understood reason for what it will do to improve your photography. As I've already admitted, I can't profess to always follow my own advice, but I try.
There are though or should be limits.
You can only shoot with the camera you do have, not whichever new or upcoming model you are currently lusting over. When you press the shutter release, the maximum shutter speed depends on your camera, not the one of your dreams. If the image doesn't come out as you'd hoped, you can't blame it on the camera you wish you had. "I would have gotten that image if only I had a better camera" may or may not be true, but it isn't relevant when you're there on site, camera in hand (or on tripod). That just becomes another possible excuse. You may get a new camera before your next outing, but if you don't have it now, you don't have it now.
Each time you go out shooting, it's best to forget about what isn't possible. Wishing for better weather? Perhaps next time, but today you have to work with the weather you were dealt. Accidentally leave something at home? Let that be a lesson to remember for next time, but for now it's best to focus on what you do have. Bummed about dropping a lens on the pavement? Man, I sure would be. But as long as I'm there with other lenses in my bag, it makes more sense to do what I came for and mourn the loss later. There's nothing I could do about that lens for the time being anyway. And if you're hoping or planning for a new camera this holiday season, I hope you get it. But if you don't, and for the time being, work with what you do have. No matter what camera you have or get, Nikon and Canon will keep making new ones in the future for you to lust after.
OK, now back to updating my holiday wish list. I'm hoping for a new camera this year. One step at a time.