Many think "if only".
Many amateurs, many semi-pro, many “wanna-be” photographers and even some professionals are consistently making wish lists for new lenses and bodies which they wrongly think will make them much better photographers.
One reason for this behaviour is that web-pages, TV and printed media are flooding us with advertising which promotes a notion that a new camera, lens, etc will somehow make your photos better.
Besides this we also have photography manufacturers and sales team, shops and webportals that want us ot buy their products.
New cameras, lenses, and various accessories are released on a regular basis, especially around vacation and Christmas and they try to create anxiety that drives some photographers to consider upgrading and push others who feel their photography will never improve to “catch up” to top of the range gear.
This post is meant to counteract the entire camera/lens orientation and assist in making your future purchases with a more open mind.
Why would you for example buy anything you’ll seldom use, besides this it is even more unreasonable if you are humble enough to “face the fact” that any specific type of equipment will not improve your photography in the first place.
Photography is a skill-set, and you can not buy a skill.
All makes has good points and bad points, however if you use one make (typically Nikon/Canon) or any other make this will NOT make you a better or a worse photographer.
Brand allegiance is part of almost every vocation, trade, music, art, computers, sport, or anything else you can think of. But it is not acceptable if you ponder on huge investment related to photo equipment.
There are many things to take into account and many components/aspects that must be thought through before handing over money to the seller/maker. In effect the discussion actually is pointless as long as any camera/lens will create a good quality outcome.
Just think of it, all around the world there are some extremely good photographers and the only true way of comparing them (if one can compare in the first place) then some use Canon, some use Nikon, some use Sony, some use Pentax, some use Hasselblad, some use Mamiya, etc, etc, etc. And if you look and compare you fairly quickly see that brand does NOT matter.
Each manufacturer simply follow a certain set of company policies and principles and to create differentiating models. When they do these companies all ending up having their own pro’s and con’s as a result. No unique manufacturer ”does it all” so in effect none of them got the capacity to make a better photographer out of you.
Many of the best photographers in history shot before we had all the major SLR/DLSR companies we have today. Their technical skills or artistic ability was not a result of noise-ratios or sensor sizes, neither was it a result of having the biggest and the best lenses in their bags.
These things were simply not relevant back then. And the fact is that we still have many photographers (including myself) who aspires to get and create a similar expression of craftsmanship, proficency, and competence.
It does not matter what make your camera is; just look at the photos that has been in print and produced by Life + National Geographic etc.
We still might remember the images, but admittedly we are in utterly ignorant in regards to what make/model/brand the photographer used at the time. Even if we went back with and tried to find out what they used by looking at the images only, we would without exception be completely unable to.
There are a lot of discussions all in printed media and on the internet about what camera model or sensors which “produces” superior photos. Some people say Full-Frame, some say Micro-FourThirds, some promote Medium-Format only). But the fact still remains that the an Image Sensor size does NOT make much of a difference when it comes to making you take better photos.
Most DSLR-cameras today are vastly superior to anything the old school photographers ever used. Just look at the ISO handling, the last few years we have entered a capacity that most old photographers could only dream of. Almost all cameras today are perfectly fine for almost everything that needs to be in print (there are of course a few exceptions to this, I am only making a generic blanket statement).
Yes, larger sensors might have less noise and better dynamic range, however this will not automatically make the final photo any better. And if you use a crop-sensor it does not somehow make a worse photographer than anyone who use a fullframe sensor instead.
There are lots of “photographers” using Canon 5D and Nikon D700 who take photos that are absolute rubbish and that could actually be taken with any point/shoot system by my mother in law.
The cameras in question are very flexible and absolutely superb tools for any true professional, however the ignorance of the enduser restricts the capacity of the camera and it ends up becoming a substandard equipment in his/her hands.
“Pro gear in the hands of amateurs becomes amateur equipment“.
NOTE: If you have not reached the full potential of your current camera, or if your work does not require any of the components/elements of the high-end bodies; then hold back!!!
Do not spend 1000′s of Pounds/Euros on a new camera if you are not going to use the features regularly.
Should you get a Zoom or a Prime, and if you do get a Prime, what F-stop should you aim for, 1.2, 1.4, 1.8?
Does it matter?
In short, what you really need to know is the limitations of ANY lens you shoot with.
Just like with cameras, it does not matter very much in many situations.
There is however one very important thing to keep in mind, lenses are actually MORE important than the camera body itself since it arbitrates a lot of the beauty of the photos and limitations related to the camera.
Generally speaking faster lenses enables a photographer to work in lowlight environments and creates a shallow depth of field. It does not necessarily mean that you must only use it at the widest apertures though.
Generally speaking a fast prime lens is much cheaper + sharper than any fast zoom, however it has not got the diversity that a zoom delivers though.
Lenses are not released nearly as often as bodies; and quality-glass can be very very pricey.
The lifetime of a lens is one reason why you should best the best lens you can afford instead of the best camera.
A solid quality lens will expand the way you are able to use your camera in a way that most bodies seldom can do.
In conclusion if you have been shooting for a long time with Zoom lenses that might have lowest F-stop of 4.5 or even higher, give yourself a gift you will never regret.
Both Nikon and Canon got a 50mm lens prime with an F-stop of 1.8, they both cost under £-100 and if you get one of those you will never look back. They are absolutely fantastic for the price you pay.