Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Do You Really Need the Latest, Greatest Camera Body?

With Nikon's announcement of the D4 and D800 series bodies, photographers everywhere are drooling over this latest morsel and trying to find a way to fit it into their camera bag and checkbook. The same thing happens when Canon introduces new product.

This has been a long-standing argument with photographers; should I buy the more advanced camera body, or should I buy a better lens?

Here's my 2 cents worth (c'mon, you knew it was coming!)

Unless you're working with a very low-end consumer grade DSLR, I'm going to tell you to buy the better lens every time. When we dealt with film, I always said "the body is simply the film holder and advance mechanism. The glass is where the difference is made." I stand by that advice with digital.

Think about it like this: would you go out and invest in a Porsche but then decide "ummm, I can't afford the really good tires, but I think I have some at home I took off the mini-van." Are you nuts?!?! You now have a high-end sports car and you will NOT get the expected performance out of it with crappy bald tires. You can, however, put better tires on the vehicle you currently drive and feel the improvement in handling, cornering and even the smoother ride immediately. Is it going to be as sexy as the sports car? Probably not, but it will still get you to the desired destination while being safe and comfortable as well.

The same is true in our industry. Do you really need the latest, greatest camera body? Probably not. Sure, you may be giving up extra megapixels and not have full-frame capability, but as long as you're not photographing "professionally" with consumer-grade gear that's designed for hobbyist applications (car snobs refer to it as driving a "total POS") you will benefit more from getting better glass first. That WILL give you a noticeable improvement in your images immediately!

Whether you're a Canon or Nikon user, the coatings used in the production of better lenses will give you a distinct advantage over the ones used in the "good enough" kit lens that came with your camera. Go ahead and upgrade the body if you really need the new hardware (especially if your camera says "Rebel" on it), but investing in good quality lenses will NEVER be a mistake.

- David Grupa

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