After they’ve been using their camera for a while, most photographers start to think about making an upgrade. Here are a few things to consider when choosing your next camera.
Which camera do you have?
This is often my first question whenever anyone asks me for advice about upgrading their camera. It’s important to think about your current camera and what you like or dislike about it. Does it have all the features you want? Do you like the control arrangement and menu system?
If you generally get on well with your camera then it makes sense to explore the manufacturer’s current range.
Do you have many lenses?
If you have an extensive collection of lenses for your current camera then it may be cheaper to buy a new camera with the same mount.
However, even if you’re planning to buy a new camera from the same manufacturer, make sure that your lenses are compatible. Canon EF-S lenses, which are designed for use on the company’s APS-C format cameras, for example, cannot be used directly on Canon’s full-frame cameras.
If you want to switch manufacturers you may be able to sell your existing kit as part exchange for a new camera and lens(es).
What are your reasons for upgrading your camera?
Many photographers want to upgrade to a more modern camera for an increase in pixel count and/or improvement in image quality. Improvements in sensor design and processing algorithms mean that current cameras generally produce images with less noise than earlier models.
Making a major jump in pixel count may not bring the improvement in image quality that you might hope for in low-light, but it enables larger prints to be made and gives more scope for cropping.
Bear in mind that a camera with a high pixel count (by which I mean 36Mp or more) may need more careful use.
To get the full benefit of the Nikon D810’s 36 million pixels, for example, you need to use a shutter speed of around 1/125 sec or more when hand-holding, and mirror lock-up or exposure delay is usually advisable when the camera is mounted on a tripod.
What images do you like to shoot?
Modern cameras are generally very capable, but some are stronger in some areas than others. Cameras like the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II and OM-D E-M5 Mark II, for example are very useful if you like shooting long exposures because of the Live Bulb and Live Time mode.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II also has this capability and its autofocus system is vastly superior giving it greater scope for shooting action.
Similarly the Fuji X-T2 has some serious speed credentials, especially when paired with the Vertical Power Booster (VPB) grip.
If landscapes are your thing, you may want to investigate high pixel count cameras that enable you to record lots of detail. Speed is less of a concern here, but a smaller and lighter camera may be desirable if you plan on carrying it over long distances.
Are you looking to downsize your camera?
Many photographers upgrade their camera to get a smaller, lighter camera – usually a mirrorless or compact system camera that has all the control of a DSLR in a smaller body.
There are lots of examples available and provided that you go for a model with a sensor with same dimensions or larger than the camera you are upgrading, the image quality can more than match that from a DSLR.
Many compact system cameras (CSCs) have an electronic viewfinder (EVF). Most modern EVFs provide a clear view and bring the benefit of being able to show the impact of the selected camera settings. So if you adjust the exposure you’ll see the image change in the viewfinder.
Are there any other features that you want?
Are you looking for a more sensitive or faster autofocus system, a higher pixel count or a larger sensor?
Camera features are being improved, evolved and developed all the time. Some new features are very useful. Tilting screens, for example, can help with shooting from more creative angles, while touch-screens can make camera control more intuitive.
Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to transfer images wirelessly to your phone for sharing on social media etc. It can also enable you to control your camera remotely, even setting the focus point and tripping the shutter with a tap your phone screen.
Nikon’s SnapBridge technology takes wireless connectivity a step further, enabling a permanent connection between the camera and phone. As a result, images can be transferred to you phone automatically even when the camera is turned off.
It’s a good idea to jot down a list of the features that are essential to you along with a list of those that are ‘nice to have’. Then you can peruse the camera specification sheets and reviews to see how much you can get for the money you have available.