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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> camera upgrade...does it make you better?
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12/03/2009 12:54:31 AM · #1
i've been wanting to upgrade my camera for some time now but i'm not sure is such an investment is worth it. I want my photography to improve but I don't know if I just lack the needed practice and technique or if the camera is holding me back. I believe a good photographer can make super shots with any camera but would he make considerably better images with a better camera?

Has anyone made a major upgrade and noticed a marked improvement undeniably linked to the change of gear?
12/03/2009 12:58:30 AM · #2
When I upgraded I noticed a MAJOR improvement in my capability. The ability to use the added capability is dependant upon the photographer.
12/03/2009 01:09:43 AM · #3
Originally posted by Delta_6:

When I upgraded I noticed a MAJOR improvement in my capability. The ability to use the added capability is dependant upon the photographer.


But did you discover an improvement in your own images? Did they suddenly get better?
12/03/2009 01:15:32 AM · #4
Paint is paint. It's the application.
It's not going to be like "blow! national geographic!" but you will might find that you have a higher percentage of keepers and more freedom to pursue things as you desire. The biggest question to ask is this: "how is my current camera limiting me?" if you don't have an answer, how can you expect to suddenly take advantage of features you never even wanted?
12/03/2009 01:33:43 AM · #5
Originally posted by spiritualspatula:

"how is my current camera limiting me?" if you don't have an answer, how can you expect to suddenly take advantage of features you never even wanted?


Thanks for the response. Well I don't know. If I have never used a better camera then how do I know how much better it is? I mean if i have trouble getting a sharp image, for instance, what should i think? Do I just not have a steady enough hand? Or am I ok in that department? Do I need better ISO quality? (I think I do) then I could increase the shutter speed. Am I using inferior lenses?

I could go find someone I guess and get them to let me borrow their camera but I would like to hear from someone who has made a significant upgrade to see if they felt the cost was worth the difference in their overall quality of shooting. I expect there to be an initial learning period before leveling off and that could take a bit of time, more than a quick loaner would give me.
12/03/2009 01:36:20 AM · #6
the answer is : "NEVAH!" :-)
12/03/2009 01:53:51 AM · #7
Originally posted by briantammy:

Originally posted by Delta_6:

When I upgraded I noticed a MAJOR improvement in my capability. The ability to use the added capability is dependant upon the photographer.


But did you discover an improvement in your own images? Did they suddenly get better?


When I switched from my EOS 300D to the EOS 40D, my images actually got worse at the very start, but now I think they're better. I've learned how to use the camera's new functionality (like taking lots of images in sequence, really fast!, and live-viewing, for use with focusing those finer details)
12/03/2009 01:57:19 AM · #8
Not sure you are asking the right question. Maybe you should try out some possible upgrades and if they turn you on go for it. Not sure you need a marked improvement in your images.

12/03/2009 02:01:06 AM · #9
Looking at your current photography you seem to have the the eye and technique down. With that said I would say that upgrading equipment could help your photography. Each time I have upgraded either a lens or a body it opened doors for me that had been closed before. Things like a faster and more accurate focusing system, better high ISO performance or sharper and faster glass do make a difference. But in the end you have to have grown to the point you can put those things to use.
12/03/2009 02:16:13 AM · #10
I felt my old Olympus was limiting me and just upgraded to a Canon 20D. At first i didn't notice any improvement over my old camera but I was using the old kit lens. I upgraded to a 50mm f/1.8 and a kit 18-55 IS lens. With the new IS lens I can definitely say the 20D gives me so much more control and options with my shots. I just entered my first challenge with my new 20D (tilt shift). I'd say for me it was well worth the upgrade. Now I just got to practice putting all that extra control to use.

Edit:
As to if you'll take better shots. I think the potential to take better shots is there, but you're going to have to learn whatever camera you get first. I'm still trying to figure out certain stuff. Like which ISO setting I can use before the level of grain starts to be too high. How slow of a shutter I can use and still hold the camera still. And of course all this changes with different lens.

Message edited by author 2009-12-03 02:22:51.
12/03/2009 02:23:55 AM · #11
I'm not sure if your sharp image example was hypothetical or not... but to reply...
I know nothing about your lenses, so I can't really say if that is related. If you use RAW, you could evaluate your workflow. Steady hands are something that are useful no matter what, so I'd say you should try to improve that new camera or not, because as much as VR (for instance) can help, if you've got the shakes you'll have less good shots than if you didn't. This goes back to the whole paint comment I made. I think the primary advantage of higher level camera bodies is ease of control so you don't miss when the moment is right. For ISO, I'd look first at what your subject matter is or will be. Do you need high shutter speeds in low light? Yes? ISO performance is a worthwhile facet to look at. No? use a longer shutter with a quality tripod.
I made a significant upgrade in my camera when I went from my S9100 to my Nikon. I felt there were numerous specific areas that were limiting me, but some are specific to the ultrazoom P&S vs dslr argument. But some weren't. The S9100 behaves similarly to a D40 type camera with a fixed lens, so some of the reasons I made that jump may apply to you. Some that weren't based on inherent P&S limitations, though; hand feel, ability to adjust settings without diving through ten menus, customization of buttons and menus, higher max shutter, support for Nikon CLS system, improved autofocus for action/wildlife photos, and a couple others. It's a pretty short list. What the Nikon has helped me do is see what does and doesn't work, only faster. Did my photos instantly get better? No. But I feel that I traveled a further distance in a shorter period of time. I made the decision to invest in a higher quality body (and lens, having gotten the 18-200 kit) because I was investing in the future expansion of my skills. Just because your equipment expands your boundaries creatively, though, doesn't mean you won't keep running in circles in the dead center of the corral. That's all it does- widen your playing field, and in many cases, the amount its widened isn't that much and the real problem is running in circles to begin with.

ETA: All in all, I think lenses have a more drastic effect on my photography than a body.

Message edited by author 2009-12-03 02:26:22.
12/03/2009 02:48:35 AM · #12
It's mainly about the glass, and the ability to get the good stuff, Canon L or Nikkor.

That said, I have been holding out on a pro digital camera for some time, mainly financial reasons. They are expensive.

I've had an excellent Canon 10D and two good Canon 30Ds. Neither one of these was ever as good as my old film EOS 3. However they did allow me to really expand into using photoshop and not just on scanned film images. (Mind you all 4 of the afore mentioned cameras were using a Canon L grade lens, the same one in fact)

This fall I had a chance at a Canon Mark III. I grabbed it. I had to take out a loan to get it. I have now shot one (horse) event with it in mid November. (I've done other thngs too but that is my main gig so it is the best comparison so far for me) I think I can now say WOW. I sometimes hire people to work for me at bigger events and 2 of them have had Pro grade cameras, a Mark III and a Nikon D3. I could tell the quality difference in processing their pix but I wasn't sure if it was their shooting style or not. Now I know. the Mark III was the difference, particularly in catch-light quality. (keep in mind I'm shooting an event all day and the sun doesn't aways co-operate fully at high noon) The details are so much better preserved in the pro cameras. I was blown away, especially considering I was shooting this event using the sRAW (7.1Mp) and not the full RAW.

I can now say I have a camera body that matches my high grade glass once again but I also have a lot more to learn about it too. (I only sorta missed my EOS 3 film camera)

Message edited by author 2009-12-03 02:54:16.
12/03/2009 02:53:11 AM · #13
Lens and technique are more important than body.
12/03/2009 02:59:58 AM · #14
I went from an Olympus E-410 to an Canon 5d MKII; I had four reasons for this - I need find the ISO limiting; 1600 on the Olympus was a bit of a mess and that was as high as it went; I tended to buy lenses on a bit of a whim, getting the right Olympus lens 'today' was a challenge - availability of Canon lenses was much better; the increased resolution of the Canon allowed me to shoot wider and crop down, giving me more flexibility and choice at the PP stage; but perhaps the most important thing was that I wanted to take my excuses away, with great kit, I know that I can only blame myself. I can say that I saw an instant improvement in the tonality of my images and I got sharper images through better lenses and a more responsive, more flexible focussing system.

Here's an interesting thought though; I would say that the investment that has made the biggest improvement to my work isn't hardware related at all but in the software I use. Nik Software's Complete Suite has transformed what I can do; I already had Aperture and CS4 but with my limited Photoshop skills, the Nik software allowed me to pull the full potential from my images very quickly and very easily. However, having said that I wouldn't give up my Canon to keep it - to much of a gadget freak.
12/03/2009 03:04:11 AM · #15
Your eyes and abilities won't improve with a new camera. But an upgrade might motivate you to get out there even more (I went from D40 to D300, almost as someone else here said).

Any cameras you think of that you want to buy?
12/03/2009 04:40:06 AM · #16
Purely non-technical, but a new camera is always fun. Yep, fun. Do you need it? Probably not. As others have mentioned, there's probably more bang for your buck in glass, and possibly software, than a new body. But at some point you WILL need a new camera body just because the electronics will be "old" (relatively speaking) and you'll simply want one with more new features and capabilities. So it comes down to when and which one.

Oh, and I got a shiny new Canon 7D and promptly won a blue ribbon! :-) (The two events are not even remotely related, but it sounds good, doesn't it?)

Message edited by author 2009-12-03 04:40:50.
12/03/2009 05:24:18 AM · #17
I'm not satisfied with my Nikon D70, but if I have extra money, I will invest on strobe lighting first.

In my opinion, unless you are a professional, the camera is not very important. Besides, it depends on what kind of photos you want to shoot. If you want to focus on landscape photos, maybe you can upgrade to a full frame camera even 120 fomat camera(but not very necessary). If you usually shoot in the enviroment without enough light, maybe you can choose a high ISO quality camera. (but a speedlight may solve this problem) If you want a sharp image, maybe the lens is more important than camera...etc. So, what's your need?

Message edited by author 2009-12-03 05:26:33.
12/03/2009 05:28:11 AM · #18
OK let's get pyschological...

I find that once I've gone down the route of thinking about an upgrade, after a while I feel like it's necessary before I can improve. So there's a confidence factor involved; i.e. if you're thinking of upgrading your camera body, then each time you go out with your old one you start thinking 'I bet I could have done this better if I'd only upgraded yesterday', etc. So eventually I have to succumb...

Of course, images don't improve immediately, but the upgrade gives you the confidence that your equipment is about as up-to-date as you need, so then you just need to work on yourself. I recently upgraded from a Canon 350D to a 5D (Mark I) and have noticed quite an improvement in my average scores since then, but I reckon a large part of that is because I feel I should be doing better as I have the equipment to support it!

Does that make sense, everyone??
12/03/2009 05:43:39 AM · #19
Dude, If you think you are taking bad fotos then I have no idea what mine would be called, one thing i do notice as I am using a old 300D is that the lens make much more difference than the body. Having said that I can see many fotos that are taken with newer cameras with the same lens I have an the overall quality is better for example something simple as a clearer image. I think this is completely down to the old sensor technology I have and as soon as I have the funds i will be investing in a 7D.
Thanks
sarsonuk
12/03/2009 06:40:28 AM · #20
It's simple. The better the camera, the better the photographer.

Nah, just kidding.
12/03/2009 10:37:11 AM · #21
In my opinion, the upgrade won't make a heck of a lot of difference unless it's a significant one. Switching from the Oly to a Rebel, for instance, isn't much of an upgrade at all. Thinking of going full frame, on the other hand, is worth pursuing. I think the 5D I managed to snag is a significant improvement, over my 20D, technically. I think a move into a full professional body would be even better. There's just more *capability* in these cameras, that's a fact. It's no help at all if you don't have vision and technique to match, but it sure leaves more room to grow.

Just my opinion.

R.

Message edited by author 2009-12-03 10:37:33.
12/03/2009 10:44:56 AM · #22
People always want to try and say that its not the gear its the photog, but while that is true in respects to having the "eye" for it, ultimately lackluster equipment will hold you back. Example: My studio work increased greatly when I swapped out some home depot hot lights for a set of strobes with proper modifiers. Yeah I was taking the same images visually, but getting much more consistent results.
12/03/2009 10:54:41 AM · #23
If money is an issue there is always a way to get what you need.

Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_837326.gif

Matt

And I would say that depending on how much of an upgrade you go to, will depend on how much of a difference it makes. Example, I can make the same photo with a 30D, 1DMKI, 1DMKII, 1DsMKII, 1DMKIII. But the quality of the final product will depend on the file that comes out of the camera. It will still be the same photo regardless of what body I take it with. But my end result should always be better with newer technology.
12/03/2009 11:14:15 AM · #24
I've said this before and it echoes what has already been said:

I believe the 80/20 rule applies. 80% is the photographer and 20% is the gear, but ONLY if the photographer has the knowledge and skill to take advantage of what superior gear offers.
12/03/2009 11:16:50 AM · #25
Originally posted by jimness:

d have noticed quite an improvement in my average scores since then, but I reckon a large part of that is because I feel I should be doing better as I have the equipment to support it!

Does that make sense, everyone??

A Placebo effect?
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