Upgrading camera gear

While always tempted to upgrade my camera gear to the latest model, in practice upgrades tend to be a more reasoned affair. Most photographers will have a range of cameras and lens these days and they must choose which camera is their next priority for an upgrade.

For me as mentioned in the gear section of the site, I use a Canon SLR, a Ricoh GR travel/street camera, a GoPro and a smartphone.

Generally I would say the camera I’m most likely to upgrade to the latest model is the GoPro. This is because the trips I use it on tend to be trips of a lifetime and I really want the best footage possible from it. Footage from earlier trips resulted in disappointing footage that I can’t use for videos. The GoPro is also the cheapest camera in the lineup and puts less of a dent in my pocket.

For the SLR, while this is now a few years old, it still produces very good photographs and video that I’m happy with. I don’t use an SLR enough to justify yearly upgrades and would really only upgrade if the results would be significantly improved by an upgrade. Digital cameras did improve a lot if you were comparing models from five years ago to models from 10 years ago, but I’m not sure that that is really the case any more. The SLR is the camera I’m least likely to upgrade.

For lenses on my SLR, I only tend to carry one lens when I’m shooting and I’m pretty happy with the lens I’ve got. Canon lens are very expensive and I don’t use the SLR enough to justify spending a large amount of money of new lens.

With the smartphone, if you own a recent high(ish) end phone, the results you will get now are likely very good. People used to upgrade phones every two years, more like every three years now. I am still tempted to upgrade a smartphone though just for improvements in camera technology, because I am taking a lot of photos with a smartphone these days. My current phone has quite bad issues with flare shooting anywhere near a bright light and this can make some photos and video unusable. Camera technology does still improve on a yearly basis, so while I’m pretty happy with my current phone for everything else, I would still upgrade just to get the best camera technology.

With the Ricoh GR, I have the first model which I bought in 2017. For photography, this still takes relatively good photos. The video is not so good, and I’ve been tending to avoid using it for video. The latest model the Ricoh GR III is priced a fair bit more than I paid for my current model, and does seem a bit overpriced even allowing for inflation. It sounds like the video hasn’t improved that much and people still use the camera for still photography. The resolution has improved but I’m not sure this is a deciding factor in buying the new model, also the battery life is worse. While I would like to upgrade, I’m not sufficiently motivated to spend a big chunk of money on the upgrade, and would probably only upgrade if I had a windfall. But you never know, one day I might take the plunge.

Upgrading for me centers around how much the quality of results would improve, how much I use the camera anyhow and of course price. Will the quality improve sufficiently to justify the outlay.

Any thoughts will be interesting to read in the comments below.

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