Saturday, July 9, 2011

Is New Technology Overrated?

    In my first blog post I stated that I purchased my first DSLR camera in 2006, and I also mentioned that I am still using this camera as my  main camera. I did not mention, however, that the camera I use was originally released in 2003. some may ask "why do you choose to use a camera that is using technology that is 8 years old?" Especially since I sell and market my images.

    Well let me start off by saying that I have never had any complaints about the quality of my work. Whether it is being used as a small editorial photo in a magazine, being used as a photo that spans 2 pages in a book or magazine, or being sold as an 11x17 art print. And yes, I can go even larger than that with careful upsizing in Photoshop.

    But I still haven't answered your question. Well, I'm not one of those people that crave the "latest & greatest" in technology. There are many people that feel the need to buy the newest technology simply out of a need to have the newest to show off to their friends or casual observers that they meet, or simply because they were told it's better by people "in the know." Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having the newest possible camera but you may not really need it. But I don't believe in going into debt just to buy the newest equipment. I am not out to impress anyone with my gear, only with my images.

    I am currently using two Olympus E-1 cameras. I do love m y current setup as I enjoy having two of the same camera bodies. When photographing at home, I usually leave one with my longer lens (70-300mm) attached so it's always at the ready to capture on the fly bird and butterflies when they come to visit. I then have my other E-1 with either my 14-54mm or Lensbaby attached, depending on what I may be photographing at the time. It is also nice to have a backup camera that is exactly the same as the main one that I am using. No need to worry about the main camera breaking down and then having to work with a backup camera that may have a lesser pixel count, a different look to the images, and a slightly different configuration of controls to deal with. After my eventual upgrade, that will be an issue for me to deal with. But not now.

    I love the ease of use of my E-1. The ergonomics of the camera has made a favorite with many. Plus the way it handles color is quite exceptional. Those two points are the reason the E-1 is still a popular cult favorite today. I am not alone in my love for this "dinosaur" of a camera. When I visit my favorite Olympus online photo forum, there are always posts from fellow E-1 users showing off their newest photos. And there are also posts from new E-1 users. Yes, 8 years later there are still new buyers for this old camera. I will upgrade one day but right now I am in no hurry.

    But you are probably still sitting there wondering if new technology is overrated and if YOU need the latest and greatest. Well, obviously I believe that new technology is overrated and that there is no shame in using a camera with older technology if it meets your needs. But everyone's needs are different. If you are thinking about upgrading your camera or if you are buying your first DSLR camera here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Do you really need lots of megapixels? Are you going to print large or heavily crop your images? Or perhaps you would like to capture images with lots of detail so that you can zoom in and see all the details in
 a landscape, natural or urban? If so, then yes, you need as many megapixels as you can afford. If not, a lower megapixel count will render file sizes that are easy to manage and process. My E-1 is only 5 MP and I have not had any complaints about quality from my editors or fine art photo buyers. I do look forward to having more megapixels to play with in the future, but there is no rush.

2. Do you need all those extra current features available in newer cameras? Most specifically I am talking about the recent inclusion of HD video. I don't need it and don't wish to pay extra to have it. Other often unneeded features may include 3 color histograms, rapid fire capability, numerous focus points for autofocus, additional automatic features and modes, super high ISO capability, art filters, etc. Keep in mind if they are in your camera, you are paying for them whether you use them or not.

3. Are you out to impress your audience with your camera or your images? Be honest and choose accordingly. If you are going to shoot events like weddings, you may find yourself wanting to have the latest and greatest to show off. Plus the bride's "Uncle Bob" may have it and you don't want him to have the most expensive camera in the room, do you? Well, remember the bride hired you and not Uncle Bob because, quite frankly, his photos suck!

    If you do decide to shun the newest technology and go the alternative route of purchasing a slightly out of date camera, you now have the option to save money which can be used to purchase lenses, the photographer's "paint brushes." I and many other pros believe that this is the best investment over buying the latest & greatest camera bodies. You can choose to buy "brand new" (unopened with warranty) older model cameras or choose to buy used. I prefer the first option. This is also an option for lenses too, as they often update those as well resulting in stores offloading the older versions at lower prices. Again, used is also an option here as well since many photographers will upgrade and sell their used ones to help pay for their upgrade.

    Whether you are on a budget (yo!), smartly frugal, or just plain ol' cheap - buying slightly older technology may be the way to go. Don't fall into the trap of "the latest & the greatest."

Photos used for this post, top to bottom:
Gaillardia After The Rain
This image won 3rd place in Popular Photography's Your Best Shot Contest, July 2011.

This photo of a cute deer on my front lawn was used as a cover for "Blue Mountain Momements", a local monthly magazine here in the Poconos, Pennsylvania.

Summer Daisy Closeup
Here I captured the wonderful detail in the center of a beautiful Summer Daisy osteospermum flower.

In The Magical Light
I recently sold an art print of this image that was captured in New York City's Central Park.

All images captured with my Olympus E-1.

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