Photographers, it’s okay not to own the latest photo equipment

Photography is a very technical job. Camera companies do a great job creating new gear and creating the fear of missing out. However, very few pros I know are actually going to splurge on the latest and greatest equipment.

A high-end food photographer I know uses 90s flash generators daily. Another fashion photographer I know uses a 2012 camera for most commercial work. So why do many pros choose not Own the latest and greatest equipment?

Professional use and abuse

Let’s first see how professional photographers use their equipment. Wildlife photographers, for example, can travel to some of the most remote places on this planet to capture what can only be described as jaw-dropping photos of our wondrous world. Their cameras and lenses end up in the snow, dirt and rocks.

Speaking of lenses, a good wildlife lens comes at a decent price. A wildlife photographer may only purchase a prime telephoto lens a few times throughout their career. This lens can be used until it breaks or the photographer makes an unreasonably expensive change from one brand to another.

When it comes to camera bodies, the story is a bit different due to the fact that a new camera can be significantly better than the previous model, and therefore the photographer can choose to upgrade. That said, there are wildlife photographers who are still using gear from over a decade ago and creating incredible work.

A profoto professional photography studio flash
This very light exploded in August.

The same goes for sports photographers. Of course, many in this niche are probably using the latest technologies, such as the Canon R3 or the 1D X Mark III, but they are still part of a group of many other older camera users.

A great example where photography really hasn’t changed since 2009 is fashion and still life. My own portfolio contains images shot on Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 5DS, iPhone 12 Pro Max and Kodak 35mm film. Viewers usually cannot tell the difference between a good 5D Mark II file and a good 5DS file. The only times you can it’s when I crop the 5D Mark II or have really bad light on the 5D.

A portrait of a woman

In terms of still life, the difference is even less apparent. Take for example old and new medium format cameras. Many still life photographers work with older Phase One P+ (released in 2008) or even P (released in 2005) backs. Technologically, the older backs are relatively terrible, but that’s not a big deal for some full-time photographers who still produce high-end work with somewhat dated hardware.

So the number one reason pros don’t own the latest and greatest gear is that the cost of upgrading is often not necessary and their old gear is still holding up well despite the wear and tear due to it. to use.

Camera equipment upgrade. When and why?

So when To do professional photographers improve their equipment? What drives someone to switch systems or buy a new camera? What I’ve noticed is that photographers often buy two or more identical bodies and then use them until the shutter mechanisms die. If there is nothing better on the market to upgrade to, the photographer has the shutter replaced for a fraction of what it would cost to buy a new camera, and the repaired camera continues to perform. serve as a beast of burden.

This cycle can pretty much go on indefinitely – in some photographic niches, at least – until it makes more financial sense to invest in a new system.

For many, the cost of upgrading is directly associated with the question “will it make me more money?” For example, I would never buy a Profoto C1 Plus studio light for smartphone photography. But when I won one, I ended up using it every day. I love it, but I probably would never spend money on it.

It’s the same thing why I haven’t upgraded my DSLR gear to mirrorless yet. It is an excellent technology, I have no doubt that some photographs need this technology. Many, however, do not, and that includes me.

Film camera equipment on a table

So the second reason why some professional photographers may not have the latest and greatest camera equipment is that there is therefore no sound financial justification for an upgrade when their existing equipment does always good job.

Old gear is not bad gear

Camera technology has reached a point where sensors don’t improve as drastically with each new generation as they did in the early years of digital photography. At the time, customers were clamoring for more resolution, but the megapixel wars have since died down somewhat.

The mediums for which photographers produce images have not changed. In digital. it is mobile or online use. For printing, the billboard is still pretty much the biggest use. There have been no new advances in technology requiring working photographers to create images in a new way. Only the diversification of online and print media exists. Because of this, there haven’t really been any “bad” cameras for over a decade now. Regardless of the brand, they are usually all capable of producing high-end, quality commercial work.

So if so, why do I have to use a 5D Mark IV and a 5Ds? Well, I use the 5D Mark IV for ISO range as well as autofocus; it tends to go out on location and for general purposes. As for the 5DS, I mostly use it in the studio or when I know I might need to crop. I prefer filming with the 5DS, honestly. There’s something about it that compels me to slow down, think things through, and approach creating images more carefully.

The back of a Profoto B2 studio flash


The cost of owning a camera is made up of many factors. One of them is the depreciation rate. For example, when you buy a new camera and pay for it, much of that cost is amortized, just like when a new car comes out of the lot. The moment you open that box and take the camera out, you’re burning off a bit more of its resale value.

Usually buying the same product used will cost half as much and be just as good. The longer you own a camera, the more it depreciates, but technology tends to lose its value significantly in the first few years after release (and even more so as the technology becomes obsolete with new features and specs).

Suppose a professional buys a new camera every time he goes out. Many photographers only use their camera once or twice a week (this can vary depending on their niche, of course), so upgrade to a new case every couple of years after using a 100 camera or 200 times would probably not be profitable. sense.

A table covered in $100 bills

In summary, professional photographers tend to own equipment that makes financial sense to own. This equipment should be enough not to limit the creativity of the artist or the quality of the delivered product, but as long as it is not the photographer would probably benefit from focusing more on upgrading his product instead than on upgrading its tools.

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