If you are reading this article, there’s a high chance that sooner or later you are going to buy a new camera. And as we all know, photography is not exactly a cheap hobby.
Maybe it is going to be your first more expensive camera or just the next one in line. You might have an idea about specs, brand, and lenses. However, there are still many pitfalls you should watch out for before you make your final decision. Here are 5 kinds of cameras you should definitely avoid.
#1. The Camera That You Will Not Take With You
It was Chase Jarvis who said that the best camera is the one that’s with you. It was then used by many including Steve Jobs while promoting the portability of the iPhone. And when you think about it, it actually makes perfect sense. Whether you buy a camera for work or just for amusement it is an investment that pays off for you by actually using the camera.
That is why the first kind of camera you should avoid is one that you won’t often take with you. Maybe you want to buy a big DSLR with a huge telephoto lens or two. Think carefully: are you really going to take your gear outside that often to be able to justify your purchase? Maybe none of this is the case for you, but it is a consideration worth making before it is too late.
I know because I have been there. I remember my walks with my Leica M240, and even though many people will tell you the camera is overpriced, I loved it for what it did for me and how I felt with it and I still do. But traveling through developing countries or less safe areas, I often felt very uncomfortable carrying around a camera that was this expensive. Now that I have kids and am often packing a lot of stuff for them, I am just happy to slip my Ricoh GR in my pocket and not worry about it.
#2. The Camera with Features You Think You Need Over the Ones You Actually Need
This kind of example brings me to the second type of gear you should avoid buying, and it is the one with features you think you’ll need over the ones you will really need. Let me explain.
With camera companies releasing new cameras every year, it can be tempting to reach for the latest and greatest, right? But when you think about what you are really going to do with the camera, you might realize that you not only don’t need to buy the latest tech — not buying it will also save you a lot of money you can use later to actually get better at photography.
I know, it can be tempting to get the latest camera with 20 frames per second in continuous autofocus. Well, if you are shooting the Olympics and need to deliver, this is, of course, an awesome feature to have. But if you are going to shoot landscapes, then not so much. Buying an f/1.4 lens can give you awesome bokeh but when you end up shooting street photography with f/8, you don’t really need it.
#3. The Camera You Cannot Afford
It happens to all of us, especially when looking at the second-hand camera market. You pick a lens or camera body you want to buy new or, in this example, used, and just when you are ready to pull the trigger, you find a slightly faster lens or slightly newer camera body and of course the price is a little higher. Just a little bit. However, since you are looking at gear that costs a bit more, you may as well look at the cameras at that similar price point. You find something else that is in a similar price range but you know it is a little more expensive.
The faster, lighter, newer gear will let you do much more and better, you tell yourself. But then, you see another… that, again, costs a bit more, and before you know it you are looking at gear that is totally out of your budget.
You can tell yourself how you can manage to pay for the camera. How you will work overtime or sell your other gear to make it work. But let me tell you, it is not worth it. There is always going to be gear that is a little bit more expensive than what you saved up for. But stretching it too far can be a great mistake. It may seem like a good idea at first but you will thank me later when you actually enjoy your camera free of the stress that comes with needing gear to pay for itself.
#4. The Camera Someone Else Tells You to Buy
The Internet revolutionized the buying process of new cameras since you can compare all the specs very quickly and easily. You can also find many reviews and opinions of experts but also users that have already purchased the one you want. However, with all of that useful knowledge come as many opinions as you can imagine. And it is fair to say that the more people get their hands on the product, the more information is available to us to make the decision.
Research has never been easier than it is now. The downside is that there is always going to be that one opinion who hates your dream lens or camera you saved up for. And even though you know you should ignore it because it is nonsense, it still stays in your mind.
Say you set your mind on the new Leica Q2 Monochrom. You love the design, you love the brand, and you are watching review after review to confirm your thoughts. And there it is that one guy or in this case group of people who think it is a waste of money, Leica is overpriced and overrated and you should buy a Sony or Canon instead, which you really don’t want. Somehow those comments are really so persuasive that you start to doubt your decision.
That’s why the next camera or lens you should not get is the one someone else tells you to get. Opinions of other people are just that: opinions of other people. Only you know what is best for you and how you going to use the camera.
#5. The Camera You Buy Just Because You Have the Money (or, Overcoming GAS)
You probably know this one as it is discussed very often. You are not happy anymore when you look at your photographs. You start to blame your gear, which is old and boring and the new gear you just saw will definitely make you a better photographer. You buy the new gear but after a while, you realize you are at the same spot again.
Instead of learning how to actually use the gear you already own, you browse the Internet to find new “inspiring” camera bodies and lenses. Maybe some of your friends suggest you should rent the gear to find out if you really need it or even sell some you don’t use. But that is nonsense, right? Why would you waste money renting the gear if you already know you are going to buy it?
You promise yourself to go out every single day with the new camera even though you have been just sitting home browsing the Internet for quite some time. With this one, it will be different!
And there it is: the next camera you should avoid is the one you buy just because you have the money for it. “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” is kind of famous among photographers and it is not so easy to get rid of it. Well, first you have to admit you have the problem to be able to fix it.
That being said, we should probably talk about the gear that you actually should get if you decide that your iPhone is not good enough for you anymore. As photographers, we tend to be obsessed with the stats of new cameras and that is not a bad thing. Read the reviews, go check out the gear in the store. Consider renting if you are not sure you are going to like it.
Don’t switch to a different model at the last moment before you make a purchase, and when you eventually decide what you want, do not let few bad reviews get into your head to change your mind. I hope this article helps you with your next purchase.
About the author: Martin Kaninsky is a photographer, reviewer, and YouTuber based in Prague, Czech Republic. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Kaninsky runs the channel About Photography. You can find more of his work on his website, Instagram, and YouTube channel.