A collection of thoughts about my ever evolving relationship with camera gear. Hobbyist ramble fest ahead. You have been warned.
Use what you have: Gear.
Have been seeing a few articles recently making a big deal of Canon and Nikon pivoting away from DSLRs. One article started with pointing out that Nikon is pivoting away from their core cameras of 60 plus years.
My thoughts?… Big whoop.
So we are just going to ignore other advances over those decades like autofocus and the transition from film to digital?
Now I do not mean to upset those that have, use, and love DSLRs. Quite the contrary. Just as people who prefer focusing for themselves or shooting film before, you can continue using DSLRs. A market shift does not invalidate your chosen tool of preference. These companies are simply making a business decision. Sales here are dwindling as the market pivots so finite resources available transition there.
Have DSLRs and like them? Keep them. Use them. I have one and have no plans of getting rid of it… ever.
Need another DSLR body? Pick up one used once they are no longer available new.
Need another lens? There are a bazillion DSLR lenses still for sale new and on the used market. Likely to be many more on the used market as others transition.
No new cameras or lenses released? Well it is a good thing the last round of DSLR bodies are so competent that they will remain relevant for years to come.
Buying a mirrorless body and can’t swing mirrorless lenses? Use your existing glass with factory adapters made for Canon and Nikon.
Just because a company changes their model line up that does not obligate one to follow suit if the gear they have gets the job done.
Where you shoot: No travel, no problem.
I used to wish I could travel back to my home state more. Specifically NYC. Lots of interesting places and people to capture.
I used to have a mindset where I “needed” to be there to create images that I find interesting. Over the past few years I have instead pivoted to focusing on capturing wherever I happen to be, not where I am not. Once I made the pivot I could see things I had not noticed before.
Not trying to emulate what would be seen elsewhere, but instead appreciate what was before me.
May not catch a guy skateboarding down the street in The Bronx…
…but you can get a shot of a guy standing in the road.
A couple there…
…and a couple here.
May not get a shot of a plate at one of my favorite restaurants in The Bronx…
…but you can get a nice shot of a plate where I am also.
And as stated in a recent post the manager…
…stopped by, saw my camera and gave me a tour of the place.
And random shots while walking…
…can be made anywhere.
Bagel shop up top…
…and a pizza shop nearby.
No bus to capture on the fly?
How about a boat then?
Very different, but both interesting to me.
Additionally I come up with side projects to keep my mind active like creating diptychs.
Scenes that interest me can be found anywhere.
When you tend to blow backgrounds to smithereens anways for portraits the location does not matter as much as the subject.
Now do I still look forward to going to NYC to take photographs? Yes. Of course. But it is an option, not some form of impediment to my shooting.
Wrap up: What matters.
What matters is you and whatever you choose as your image capturing tool of choice. Phone,…
…etc. those are all tools. They may impact how you shoot or even what you choose to shoot, but none keep you from shooting. Anyone at any budget can join in. That is one of my favorite things about photography.
Had an Instagram friend reach out to me in the last day or so expressing how they have really been enjoying their Fujifilm camera and I could not be happier for them. There is absolutely no need to respond with, “But I use xyz, because…”. Who cares what I chose? That is personal preference and has nothing to do with the image capturing device that works for him. What matters is that this person found a tool that meets their needs and inspires them to go out and capture images. That is great.
Even though I take no heed of reports that camera phones will replace dedicated cameras (I do not see this happening for me personally, though it may work for others.) I still do not like to hear people say, “It was just taken with a phone.”. There is no “just” when it comes to modern phones. I regularly use my camera phone for quick product shots for instance.
Much of what we see online is not primarily for our benefit. It may benefit us as a byproduct, but the primary aim is usually profit. And I am not just talking about cameras. Most of what we consume either seeks to profit from our clicks/views or by convincing us that what we are currently using or doing is not sufficient. May have worked for you before, but now? Oh ho ho, nope. You need this new thing we happen to have in our store or at the affiliate links at the bottom. Your car, house, laundry detergent, etc?… Ptooi. Garbage. You need the new thing, now with Retsin© and rich Corinithian leather (Old head commercials reference. If you are scratching your head right now you are blessed with the gift of youth, or not having been subjected to 70s or 80s American marketing.)
I used to read all of the new product announcements and reviews regarding camera gear. Now? Not so much. There is nothing wrong with the new products at all. I have just reached a point where what has already been produced already exceeds my needs personally. Others may have a need met and I am happy for them also. That is just not the case here.
Key to finding myself in this space was identifying what my minimum needs were. Absent that I would likely still be on the trade for latest and greatest treadmill. Figure out what is your minimum required gear set. For my main kit it was the Sony A7III.
After that camera I had to admit my only motivation for upgrading was to have the latest and greatest. Not an actual need. Your minimum need may be something else like my Instagram friend that found his happy place with Fujifilm. For friends of mine it has been a Nikon full-frame DSLR, Sony A7RIV, mirrorless full-frame Canon or Nikon, and for another it was “downgrading” to a GFX 50S II after realizing they did not need a GFX 100S II. To each their own.
Same thing for lenses. For me it was getting my mitts on a couple of prime lenses essential to me in my opinion and then cover a broad focal range with a couple of zooms. Newer lenses may be released in all cases but I am perfectly happy with what I have. I heard a quote recently that I am about to butcher.
If you are never happy with what you already have, you will not be happy with anything else either.
There. I mangled that, but I think I captured the intent.
Can’t reach your minimum? Then figure out what you could make do with until you can. I would do just fine with crop DSLR and third party lenses if my current set up was not in the cards.
I could make a MFT system work if need be.
I say all of that to say the same thing I did in the title of this post. A lot of virtual ink is spilled trying to convince you that you need something you do not have, but what I find most important is to:
Use what you have where you are.
I am not mad at nor do I mean to disparage the media content profit model of others. Creatives need to eat. Including those creatives that create content for those who create. But at the end of the day we each need to be careful that we are not putting more emphasis on what we consume or what we purchase than on the creation of content itself.
I did the best with what I had, but I was also regularly convinced that I needed the next best thing. In actuality it was a want. There was no formal process for this change. No plan. Just one day realized I am good. And I am much happier for it. Have had no “new” actual or planned digital camera purchases in a while now. Won’t mention that rabbit hole that is film photography. But that has toned down to only relatively inexpensive acquisitions as of late.
That being said I am no expert in any of this. Just sharing a few thoughts. My hope is that you find your gear happy place as well.