In this blog, I'm talking about the answer to the age old question for photographers: should I upgrade my gear for the new year? As many photographers and videographers will tell you, the answer to that question truly depends on how far you have progressed in your craft and if your current gear is limiting you from creating what you want to see. I also use the term gear loosely; gear could mean anything from cameras and lenses to memory cards and other accessories that make your workflow easier and customized to your shooting style. For me, I chose to make a few changes and upgrades to my gear kit at the beginning of 2019 for a multitude of reasons. I wish I had a before and after type photo to show you, but the present and future are all that we can reasonably control, right?
This photo comprises the gear kit I'm currently working with. Not pictured are my video stabilizer, Rode mic, tripod, dual camera strap from RSVP Handcrafted, and new business cards (they're shiny and cute so you're totally missing out by not seeing them). Previously, I owned two different camera systems: Canon and Nikon. No brand loyalty whatsoever. A concept I think can be a good thing, because you never truly know what works best for you and your shooting style if you never give a chance and do research on the product. About midway through 2018, I knew I wanted to get into video more and that my Nikon D7100 just wasn't going to cut it long term. It can only shoot in a 3:2 ratio, and the banding was ridiculous in low light or high ISO situations. I was also using the Nikon D7100 with a Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 as my second camera at concerts, and its focusing in fast paced situations and low light just wasn't fast or accurate enough for me. I've come across quite a few concert photographers who have had complaints with Sigma lenses while shooting. I've heard that the Sigma doc helps as it keeps the lens updated and calibrated for peak performance.
Being able to sell my Nikon gear and basically trade for another Canon 6D (which I love) worked perfectly for me. I love the color science on Canon cameras, and their full frame cameras are incredible for video. As a wedding photographer + filmmaker, having two cameras is essential. Not having to worry about differences in color editing in Adobe Lightroom and Premiere Pro is also a huge plus and time saver.
Let's get to the fun part shall we?! The lenses you use are just as important, if not more, as your camera body. I couldn't be happier with my current lens lineup. (That sounded really important and official, wow.) The most notable lens I own (as seen in the photo above taken by Maddie Ramos) is the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L. It's not the most current version of the lens and doesn't have image stabilization (IS) but it works well with how I shoot and doesn't lack in clarity or bokeh in the slightest. For people wanting to shoot a lot of portraits, it has three of the most popular portrait focal lengths all in one: 85mm, 105mm, and 135mm. It's extremely versatile; I use it for concerts, weddings, and portraits. This lens was a lifesaver at my first music festival (RIP to Sloss Music and Arts Festival) as it compresses the crowd and the music artists to make for some amazing shots even from far away. It's also good for looking down the aisle during a wedding, allowing you to get intimate shots while not being intrusive. My main concern about the lens before I bought it was carrying the weight of it around for long periods of time. This is where a really solid camera bag and/or camera strap can be important. While I typically shoot with a dual camera strap at larger events, having to transport this lens from point A to point B was stressful with my previous camera bag. I loved that the camera bag was waterproof, but since it lacked proper padding and support for my gear I decided to make the switch to this very accommodating and super stylish bag right before the new year. This bag came with a waterproof cover, so that was enough to appease me that it was rugged enough to withstand almost any situation and gear I may need to carry.
This exploration of when to buy new gear is highly personalized to how and what I shoot. My best advice, especially for those on a budget is to do your research, buy/upgrade smart, and truly assess whether your gear or knowledge of how to use your gear is limiting your creative abilities. If you're still reading this, you're a trooper. Here's to creating at our greatest potential in 2019!
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