a13 August 2014

Best camera is the one you have

Best camera? The one you have

I often get this kind of questions: "What's the best camera?", "I have Camera X and would like to upgrade. What would you recommend?". It's always tough. Really. What's the best camera? I'd say the one you currently have (if you don't have any it's a different case of course). In this post I will describe pretty common behaviour (also known as a really expensive trap) when photographers focus to much on getting new gear, when they don't really need it, instead of on the photos themselves. This post is in fact sharing my own experiences as I also fell into this pitfall.

When I was beginning with photography a few years ago I often thought that if my photo had been of poor quality it had been almost always because of poor gear (at that time I used simple Canon 400D with some 18-55 mm kit lens). So throughout the years I kept upgrading my equipment every now and then pursuing some ideal, looking for Holy Grail of photography equipment. Needless to say I didn't find it. I first switched to Canon 50D because 400D had very low dynamic range and poor high ISO capabilities. Then I switched to 5D MK II because I believed that full-frame is the way to go. But soon after that I switched once again to another beast - 5D MK III because... well, it's a great camera but I'm not really sure why I upgraded as its predecessor had almost everything I needed at that time. I also kept buying new lenses. And new tripods, new filters, not to mention numerous bags and additional small accesories. And a lot of photo editing software. It all costs money.

Now, I don't mean I didn't need any of that equipment, some of it was really helpful and useful for my photography (for instance Canon 24-105 L lens is some amazing piece of equipment I cannot imagine living without). I bought some equipment that allowed me to take better photos. I bought equipment that let me forget about technical limitations or which opened new opportunities in front of me. But with so many changes to my gear I quickly became obsessed with "collecting" it and I started to focus more on the gear itself than my photos. There were some pieces of equipment that weren't really inevitable for me. I didn't need them. They couldn't make my photography better. Yet I got them.

Nowadays I try to limit buying new equipment to only one I really really need. When a thought of getting something new crosses my mind (most commonly it's a tilt-shift lens ;) ) I ask myself a question whether I really do need this? Will my photos become better? Will I have more photo opportunities thanks to that? And the answer is most usually - no (when it is yes, I decide to buy). I'm shooting landscapes mainly, and although tilt-shift lens can sometimes be helpful in this kind of photography, wide-angle lens and ultra wide-angle lens is what I really need 99% of time. And I already have them. I also stopped upgrading my cameras. Yeah I'd love to have camera with sensor similar to Nikon D800 or D810... I'm not making huge prints at the moment so I wouldn't benefit much from 36 megapixels. I usually don't need to crop my photos extensively neither. Sensor in 5D MK III is really sufficient for me - image quality is better than good (in fact even sensor of 50D is sufficient for me in the majority of case) so I can't really complain.

As always I'm interested in hearing your opinion about the subject. Did you behave similarly in the past? Or maybe you still do :) ?

Daily photo - View in Tatra Mountains

Below high dynamic range photo was taken in Tatra mountains last year. It was very windy so I didn't risk setting up my tripod (especially as there wasn't enough room for that) and went with shooting hand-held.
View in Tatra Mountains

Camera Info

Finally some EXIF info:
Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK III (read my review here)
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 24 mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure time: 1/160 s ("middle" exposure)
ISO: 500
Number of exposures: 5
E.V. Step: 1.0
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Technique: HDR, tone-mapping, luminosity masking
Software: Magic Lantern, Photomatix Pro 5 (Contrast Optimizer), Lightroom 5.4, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity

Where was this photo taken:

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