Hello! I thought I’d come on and debunk a couple of myths for you. You see, I’ve been caught up yet again with an attack of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome, not the other thing). That’s when the subtle but inescapable pressure of advertising makes you believe you are somehow inferior if you do not have The Latest camera and/or lenses, and end up spending thousands reaching that unattainable standard.
For the last few years, I’ve been using several different cameras, each of which I have been able to use to produce the goods for commercial clients as well as my own demanding self. They haven’t stopped meeting those standards – they continue to meet them, with no less aplomb than before. But for the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself cruising online auction sites to upgrade those cameras.
Hopefully, I’m over that now, and, if you’re suffering from the same affliction and are interested in curing yourself, here are a few of the logical points I used to calm myself down. Before I start, let me just say that my main go-to cameras in recent times have been the unstoppable Olympus OM-D E-M1, its smaller brother, the E-M5, and Nikon’s big and beautiful D810. The Olympus cameras have been my staples for events, due to their lightness, toughness, beautiful JPeG’s, brain-soothing ergonomics, and the flexibility of using a live-view camera in fast moving situations. The D810, for all it’s weight and physical awkwardness, has some kind of magic inside it that does absolute justice to the eye-watering landscapes I often put myself in, far beyond any other camera I’ve used to date (YMMV).
So. Faced with an announcement of a successor to the Nikon this year, and the release a few months ago of the blindingly fast and videolicious EM-1 Mark II (and the EM5 Mark II), I’ve been flirting with upgrading. Why? There is possibly one reason that makes a little sense, and I’ll leave that to the end for you to ponder. But here is a list of reasons why I don’t need to upgrade:
1) The megapixel war is well and truly over. The 36 megapixels of the D810 is absolute overkill. Even the 16 megapixels of the Olympus cameras are more than enough for any sized print. How do I know? Well, I simply think back to 2004, when 8 megapixels was considered a high pixel count, and people were creating fine art landscape prints using those cameras. What advantage does 36 megapixels give you over those 8, besides the ability to crop (which I rarely do, preferring to get it right on the spot). So megapixels are NO reason for an upgrade at this point. Especially when it also means greater ongoing investment in computing power and HDD space (bigger files).
2) Complexity. As I get older, the less capable I am of dealing with complexity in the machines I use. A camera with a greater feature set will bring greater complexity to the mix. With the EM-1 I believe you have the closest you can get to that ideal of perfect ergonomics. I don’t want to lose that. And I have always found the D810 slightly awkward to use – slightly counter-intuitive if you like – something that has not improved over 3 years of solid use, so why make that situation any worse with a more complex version of the same camera and end up missing shots as a result?
3) What commercial advantage will an upgrade give me? None. My clients don’t care what camera I use – they concern themselves only with the results, and (I hope) are hiring me for that and the level of reliability and professionalism I bring to their shoots. I once had a client make disparaging comments about the E-M5, or more particularly, about its size. But that was when he saw the camera, not when he saw the results. Size can be an issue in certain cultures (at one point in China, for example, if you were shooting with a camera that did not have a large white lens (ie: a full-frame Canon) your professionalism could be called into question), but whether or not the camera you are using is the latest model never factors into clients’ hiring decisions, AFAIK.
4) I get the feeling that a lot of the features and capabilities we are seeing in new cameras are heading into the realm of obsolescence. Don’t get me wrong – I do like technology and love to see it being put to good use. But 60 frames per second of 20 megapixel raw files? The argument for this is that you never miss an opportunity (in Pro Capture mode, the E-M1 Mark II actually starts shooting prior to you pressing the button – what kind of time trickery is this??), but a working pro shouldn’t be missing shots anyway, AND the trade-off in terms of HDD space and sorting time is enormous. If you’re like me, you’ll be wanting to be spending your time behind the camera, not in front of the computer.