Are You Using the “Right” Camera?

In GEAR, Pep Talks, The Craft by David56 Comments


There is tremendous freedom when you finally stop worrying about meeting the expectations of others, most especially the expectation of doing things the way you should do them. For years, my Achilles heel was the expectation that I had to do certain things and use certain gear because that’s how the so-called pros did it. That’s how a “real” photographer would do it.

When I converted to digital photography, my non-negotiable was a DSLR with a full-sized sensor. It was partly because digital cameras were new, so if you wanted a 24mm lens to behave like a 24mm lens, for example, you needed a full-frame sensor, which meant going with Canon at the time. But in the years since, it has become easier and easier to get cropped sensor cameras of exceptional quality and pair them with lenses previously unavailable for those cameras.

When I recently received an email asking what gear I used and how important it was to buy full-frame cameras because I’m a so-called professional, I felt the need to discuss it. I want to give some of you the permission to stop lusting after full-frame sensors in “pro-sized” cameras or worrying you’re compromising your craft by using smaller cameras.

I use many cameras. Not everyone has that option. I have a full-frame Leica Q, full-frame Nikon D5 and D800 bodies for underwater, and I have a tiny little Sony RX 100 VII with a little bitty one-inch sensor. My main working cameras are four Fujifilm XT-2 and XT-3 bodies, all of them with cropped sensors. My lenses run the gamut from cheaper modes to the enviable pro-level stuff that cost a fortune. To look at the photographs I make, most of this would be impossible to know. No one’s looking at my images thinking what I shame it is that I used a cropped sensor. 

In case you need a reminder (because I have needed them, too): the photographs are the only things that truly matter. If you love the gear, get it all. Buy what makes you happy, as long as you can afford it. But if what you want is to make photographs that you love, then here’s my advice: pick the tool that works for you. The words “for you” are the important part.

Cameras with full-sized sensors do some things really well. They are usually better at lower light and higher ISOs. Is that important to you? How important? The larger the sensor, the more it’s going to cost. Cameras with larger sensors will give you a shallower depth of field at wider apertures than cropped sensors. Is that dreamy look at f/1.2 really important to you? A full-frame sensor might be a good choice. For your work, it might be the only choice. But then again, if you’re going that route, so might a medium format camera.

Let us also not forget that a camera with a smaller sensor also does certain things really well. My Fujifilm bodies are smaller and lighter than my full-frame Nikons, which I use almost exclusively underwater, where weight isn’t an issue and low-light/high ISO performance matters more to me than elsewhere. But when I put my Fujifilm 200/2.0 lens on those Fujifilm bodies with a 1.4x teleconverter, I end up with a lens that, in terms of reach, is roughly 420mm at f/2.8 lens. That’s a really fast lens for that kind of reach, and it’s still smaller than what I’d need to buy to get that kind of performance from a DSLR (though the price isn’t much different).

On top of that, I have mobility issues now, so when I go out and photograph all day in Venice or India, a smaller, lighter camera works best for me. If a heavier camera is only going to slow me down, it’s not the best tool for the job. Only you know what your limits are.

For some of you, the economics are a more important consideration than they are for others, and you could buy two crop-sensor non-“pro” bodies for the price of one larger DSLR. Or you could put the money into going somewhere to make photographs. Or buying studio time. Or just not going into debt to buy it.

And then again, some of you do astrophotography or shoot in settings where the low-light capabilities are the single most important feature to you (and not an afterthought as they are for me), and the full-sized sensor will truly pay off. Perhaps you print much larger images than I do so all those extra pixels are necessary for your work.

You do not necessarily need a so-called pro-sized camera with a full-frame sensor just because the fancy photographers use them. You need the tool that works best for you. The one that fits in your hand just so. The one you can use all day, with features you prefer.

I am a mirrorless fan with the zeal of the converted, and I love not shooting with DSLRs now. I love the histogram right there in the viewfinder. I love the size and weight. And I love the electronic shutter that is completely silent. I don’t for a minute miss the heavy DSLR with the noisy shutter (though I do miss the extended battery life!).

You don’t necessarily need pro lenses, either, though if I were going to spend money, I’d rather spend it on lenses because they don’t obsolesce the way the camera bodies do. And though sharpness doesn’t get me aroused the way it seems to do with other photographers, I have to confess: when I look at the images I’ve shot with my Leica Q (where you’re mostly paying for the optics) or with my Fujinon 200/2.0 lens, I can tell. I can see the difference. The Leica results are that beautiful.

I also once dropped $2,000 I really didn’t need to on the beautiful Canon 85/1.2L lens. It’s a gorgeous lens that made me feel like a real pro. But you know what? It was heavy. Really heavy. And the focusing! To call it glacially slow would be an understatement. I eventually realized (admitted, even confessed, really) that as much as I loved that lens, I didn’t need it. Worse, it was not the right tool for me. I was missing shots due to the speed of focusing, and as camera sensors were getting better in low light, an 85/1.8 lens was a better option. It was lighter, much faster to focus, and it cost about $1,500 less–and that’s a plane ticket. What did I lose? A little fancy-looking bokeh and the feeling that I was a better photographer than I was because I had the “right” gear.

Better photographers (if there is such a thing—I’m uncomfortable with those words) are the ones who make better photographs, not those with better gear. The only gear that is ever objectively better is the gear that makes it possible, or easier, for you to make the best photographs. A red line on the lens doesn’t necessarily do that. But it might. Only you can determine that. Nor does a pro-sized camera. An aside: when I still used my full-frame Nikon D3s bodies for wildlife, I also had a “consumer-grade” D7200. The D7200 consistently made better photographs. The images were sharper, I preferred the colours, and I took more risks with it because it was so much cheaper. In all the ways that mattered to me, that D7200 was a better camera. Go figure.

Cameras and lenses are not “professional.” They do not “unlock your creativity.” They’re tools. And they either do what you need them to, or they don’t.

That’s why I have several. The logos that adorn them—assuming I haven’t yet filled them with black paint—don’t make a difference to the photographs. But this obsession with gear can show up in your work if you’re hoping that upgraded gear will take the place of upgraded skills or thinking. Cameras of any brand or size do not make photographs. You do. They either help or they get in the way. Only you can know which is which, but an expensive pro-sized camera or lens can get in the way as much as one designed for the average guy, which I will always be, no matter how much I spend on my kit. Don’t let the expectations of others determine for you which is which.

The best camera is not necessarily the one you have with you, though that helps, too. It’s the one that does the job you need it to do: no more, no less.

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and I’m celebrating in the mountains with grizzly bears, fall colours, my darling girl, and best friend. I’m so grateful for all the blessings, and count you among them. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

For the Love of the Photograph,
David

PS – Want more like this? I send these articles out every two weeks to photographers around the world who want to improve their craft and explore their creativity and I’d love to include you. Tell me where to send it and I’ll send you a copy of my best-selling eBook Make Better Photographs, as well bi-weekly articles, first-glimpse monographs of my new work, and very occasional news of resources to help you keep moving forward in this craft we love.

“Each and every one of your emails inspire and motivate me to want to jump right out of my chair away from my computer and shoot for the love of it . Thank you David.” – Millie Brown

Comments

  1. Pingback: Print Your Work Without Printing Your Work? - ScpOnline

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  4. Sometimes gear does make a difference in you. When I first got into photography in a more serious way, I plopped down quite a bit of money (at that time – 1991) buying a Mamiya medium format camera and lenses. Whenever I went out to take photographs, I now felt more professional and slowed down, taking my time composing (maybe it was the cost of the film and developing, I don’t know). But anyway, I did notice a considerable shift in my work ethic; being more thoughtful and discerning in my compositions.

    1. Hello David
      Have I missed something? Have not received your podcast “Beautiful Anarchy “ since July.
      I hope you are well. Truly miss your podcast.
      Blessings
      Michael

      1. Author

        Hi Michael!

        No you didn’t miss anything. I’ve been on a longer-than-expected break. As I return to something a little more normal my podcast is going to be changing in terms of frequency. A new episode is coming this weekend. I’m glad you’re enjoying it enough to miss it. Thanks for your patience.

  5. I have many cameras, but not many that are expensive. I own the Canon 6D which is as you know, full frame. I am blown away by the low light images, and I will keep this camera since I often find myself in situations indoors at parties and meetings where everyone expects me to shoot the photos, since they think I’m the “photographer” as I’m usually the person making the videos and still images for social media.

    I also have other cameras, most recent purchase an Olympus PEN E-PL1, great little compact camera with a crappy lens that everyone seems to rave about. I got it from Goodwill at a decent price, but was shocked at how bad the images were, especially the indoor shots. Someone told me, “Hey, that cameras not for low light, it’s mean for outdoors.” Well, I could see lots of noise on the low ISO shots as well. That camera is now up for auction with 60 views and one low baller.

    I understand it’s not about gear, but for me using a micro 4/3 camera with the kit lens is unacceptable. Somewhere you have to draw the line, and I just did, at least for me. I will stick with the full frame Canon 6d and any APS-C camera, I think that’s a safe bet. Just my two cents.

    1. I get it. We all have different needs. Micro 4/3 was never what I needed. APS-C is usually enough. Horses for courses, as they say.

  6. Hi David,
    After reading some of the comments, I don’t see how you could possibly respond in a timely manner, lol!! I always enjoy reading your thoughts and advice on photography and gear so eloquently provided!
    I’m considering a mirrorless camera and don’t know where to start. I presently have two Canon DSLRs, 5DMkII and a 5D MkIII with a collection of Canon lenses.
    My reason for the consideration is the weight I carry while hiking. I purchased Cotton Carrier systems to help, which they did, somewhat, but the weight was more than I want to experience while hiking.
    Sooooo, after reading your article, I looked at the Fujifilm S-series and the adapters for my lenses. I would sell my MkII to offset the expense. I suppose you would need to know my budget before suggesting which one, so I think after selling the MkII, I could afford around the XT-3 or 4 and maybe a used one. If you are able to offer a suggestion, it would be greatly appreciated or point me in the right direction. I deal mostly with B&H, so could also ask for their advice as well.
    I suppose I should tell you that I am primarily a landscape photographer, selling my matted and framed prints at shows, and do occasional commercial real estate photography shoots for extra income.
    Again, I must tell you how much I always enjoy your writing.
    Thank you!!

    1. Author

      Hi Richard, sorry about that. The download was available until the end of October 11th and removed on the 12th. If you get in touch with me by email I’ll get you a copy.

  7. Another great article David. There is so much info ‘out there’, on which camera you should or must use to obtain professional photos, it becomes confusing. Your article puts it simply that what ever you are comfortable with works. I use a Pentax KP crop sensor camera and prossumer lenses. I have recently had a photo published in an international photography magazine and have just taken the photos of my house for our realestate agent as we are selling. She was very impressed with the quality and has offered me other realestate photography if I want it. Who says you have to have the biggest and the best. Love reading your down to earth articles.

  8. Good advice as always. Even my iPhone can capture good photos. I’m inspired by the images in your latest monograph.

  9. Great article David. The first thing that caught my eye was your amazing image. It is certainly a testament as to who is behind the camera rather than the camera itself. Like you, I too am finding that smaller and lighter gear is one of the greatest advantages in the creative process. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Hi David,
    I’m not a new Photographer, but I’m not a professional either. I take photos of what I like and do it for my enjoyment (mostly landscape). Friends have said that my photos are great and I thank them. I believe its the composition of the shot that matters the most, which make my photos special. I would really like to be able to give them away as gifts. You know, like enlarging and framing them. But I don’t know what my limitations are. I use a Nikon D3000 and have recently acquired a D5000. The glass I shoot with is a Sigma DC 18-250 1:3.5-6.3 Macro HSM. I like the convenience of one lens to carry around. I have made prints for myself up to 8×10, but I want to go a little bigger without losing quality. I know the D5000 will give me a few more pixels, but will that be enough?

    Any guidance you can offer would be greatly appreciated. You can email me at ofcskvarek@cox.net.

    Thanks,

    Mike Skvarek

    1. Author

      Hi Mike – The best way for me to reply to this is to suggest you make some prints of various sizes. We all have different standards when it comes to printing, and what works for me at 16×20 might not work for you. Also, bear in mind there are incredible new sharpening tools that might allow you to print larger than you once could at any given resolution.

  11. I also have a Leica Q and a Fuji system. It is weird how, if I do a two-camera shoot, I can tell which camera shot which image. There is a three dimensional quality to the Leica that, so far anyway, can only be closely matched by the Fuji 16mm or 90mm.

  12. TRUTH! Thank you David for talking against full-frame INSANITY! There is no reason to go full frame in 95% of photography where crop sensors are as good as or even better than heavy expensive brick cameras! Just look at what the pros are creating on the Olympus, Fujifilm, and Panasonic web sites!!

  13. Buying the “right” camera is not easy. I have discovered, the hard way, that there are a number of considerations.

    Firstly, the physical camera itself. My first digital camera was a Nikon D40x. I chose it because of the small physical size as I have small hands. Then I followed the herd and upgraded first to an APSC then to full frame all with a suite of f2.8 lenses. My photographs did not get any better. And I had difficulty handling the much larger camera bodies. As I got older I found the weight a severe disadvantage. Mix a large ff camera with a 150-600 lens and you need a wheelbarrow to carry the bloody thing. Forget about taking a variety of lenses with you.

    Secondly you need to consider the type of photographs that interest you and what you are going to do with the finished product. Like most people I tried to master every genre, failing at all of them. Eventually I realised that I like to take my camera and just go exploring, concentrating on simplifying the little things. I don’t do large prints. I hardly ever used very wide apertures.

    This made me re-think my gear. To do this I had to ignore all the “experts” about what makes a good camera (ff and LOTS of pixels). So, 12 months ago I sold my ff camera body and all its associated lenses and “up-graded” to a MFT camera (Olympus EM5iii) with a small suite of f4 lenses that cover my needs (not wants!).

    This has been the most liberating experience I have had with my photography. The photos and getting better and I’m enjoying it more because my gear now suites my needs. I now regularly take the camera with me wherever I go rather than thinking “do I really have to carry this deadweight?” I can go camera in hand, macro lens in one pocket and longer zoom in another pocket. All situations covered!

    Its only taken 15 years to get to this point. Slow learner!

  14. Hi David,

    I very much liked this most recent post and actually reckognized a lot from my own gear history. Years ago full frame camera’s and films to shoot Kodak Tri-x and Kodachrome 25 and 64. Then digital Nikon D80 and D7000. Now very glad with FujiFilm X-T4 after years with still used X-T20. And I use a number of Viltrox primes and FujiFilm zooms and just love my most recently added 70-300 zoom. With it’s fitting converters (for now 2.0x) the reach is an incredible 600 (at crop size or 900mm at full frame equivalence). That is magnificent since I can also make handheld close-ups at almost live-size with this combo. With all that said I still agree that gear does not really matter and that only the images are of any real importance.

  15. I’m at that stage in photography, as related to film slr’s wherein my exposures are in the thirties on a 36 exposure film. That is to say my travels, and perceptions are relegated to the
    Work of others. David DuChemin is one of those that brings a photographic continuance
    In his observations and emails. I have in person a family member who has travelled to areas as described by David, and, has progressed far and beyond anything I indulged in photographically. I am thankful David among so many other bright photographic stars, that makes the effort and time to install a continuance in their viewpoint and insight, that allows so many To be an integral part of the photographic world, in the waining years towards that thirty six exposure. Thank you David and enjoy a sundowner where ever you are.

    1. Author

      Thank you, Don. I did, in fact, enjoy a lovely sundowner on the edge of pond in a wood-fired hot tub in the mountains of BC. It was magical. And much needed after a very cold day out on the river.

  16. Thank you so much for the monograph – I especially like your abstracts, they encourage me to continue my effort to achieve what I want with them. Again, thank you!

    1. Author

      You’re welcome, Mariann. I’m so glad they’ve given you a nudge. 🙂

  17. Great article as always and my comment would be about how back when I retired from the workforce and bought a Camera it was a second hand Canon Rebel and I was enjoying the experience as the camera had a 50 mm lens in the bag and it became my favorite camera and lens combination as I learned what i could about the craft. This old Rebel had no dust delete function so I learned about changing lenses in the great outdoors but somehow “Dog Hair” managed to get on the sensor with amazing regularity.. The solution was to leave the 50mm lens on the camera and just work with it.

    One day I decided to “Upgrade” and thus began the process of emptying ones pockets with first a Canon 70-D and then a full frame Canon 6-D and lenses galore and so confusion replaced confidence and my images were not improving as I wrestled with which lens will I use until someone said “Go Mirrorless”.

    So one day I found an “Olympus” marked down in the local Camera shop and so begins yet another disaster with a little camera and “Big Hands” and so when one holds the camera and the hand covers the joystick and the nose touches the screen and unlocks the screen lock and so the focal point can be anywhere except where I want it. Then there is the never ending settings that demand attention by going AWOL and yes there is 335 pages in the Users Manual for a reason and so as the light is fading and I want that shot but I cannot bump up the ISO because the “Screen Boost” is engaged and how the hell do I turn that thing off and who turned it on anyway.

    I have never experienced so much trouble with anything ever as what I have had with this damn Olympus and my usual vocabulary is “Why is it doing that” and so things like Composition and Light are lost to “What has happened to it this time” and I am promising myself to find a big deep water hole to drop it into along with the five thousand dollars worth of lenses that somehow I bought for the thing. Bring back My Rebel I say.

  18. Thank you David. For me, it’s been the whole head vs heart thing again – logically I know that the best camera for me is the camera that helps me take my best photos. I love to be out in nature photographing wildlife. For that I need zoom and better low light performance. But I need to switch to mirrorless – I struggle now with the weight of my (enthusiast level) Canon 70D and my beloved 100-400 lens. I feel resentment towards their weight as it impacts my enjoyment of any wildlife moment. I have resisted making the switch as I had the irrational fear that my images would deteriorate if I wasn’t using an DSLR. I don’t know why I needed to hear you say it to validate what I was thinking, but I’m so glad you did!

  19. Thank you David for the wonderful photographs, books, articles, thoughtful and thought provoking words.
    Have a beautiful Thanksgiving, full of love, blessings and memorable images, M

  20. Hello David,
    Completely agree with everything in the article. Like many, I’m a technology junkie, and can’t help looking, but I’m also a hobbyist, not a professional, so anything I buy comes out of the family budget. I photograph for the love of my images that sometimes get shared with family and friends, but mostly end up on my walls.

    What made me comment today was that you talked about the Nikon D7200. Turns out I’m really slow to buy new equipment in the end – I’ve only owned 3 DSLR’s (all Nikon) – a D70, which I replaced with a D7000, which I replaced with a D7200 (my son still shoots the D7000) – usually years after they came out. As I bought them, they were all in that “high end consumer” range – which works for me. I did also recently add some Olympus gear – started with OMD EM10 (which my son now has too :-)) after I upgraded to an EM5 with a couple of their pro zoom lenses – as you say for the features I wanted, water-sealed and in camera focus stacking and a few other nifty mirrorless ones.

    Back to the 7200 – I honestly still love that camera and the images it creates, I have only had it since Nov of 2018 and have no intention of switching anytime soon. The images I get from this camera are way good enough for my purposes and as you say, I’d rather invest in more “glass” than a new body at this point. I still love the optical viewfinder, and while like you, I’m getting older, the feel in my hands is “just right” so I do lug it around – as I still love shooting with it. And as you might imagine, I also still love and shoot b&w film with my Nikon FG and FE. The Olympus is also fantastic and use it when its the right choice – which is more and more often.

    In the end as you say – for each of us we have to marry together needs, wants, budgets, ergonomics, and ultimately results – when you find the right marriage – you know it – and it’s for the long haul.

    Love your writing and insights as always!
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    David

  21. Happy Thanksgiving to you, David! Thanks for your article.
    I was a bit worried that my Nikon d7500 is not very professional
    despite taking good pictures. After what you wrote, now I’m calmer, it’s not that bad.

  22. Well said indeed. I was an early adopter of the 4/3rds system, first with Panasonic and now with Olympus as my main photo gear. For years have been producing ‘professional’ work for commercial and art clients. The mirrorless system works even with the smaller sensor. When I would talk with people about the system no one believed that the smaller size chip was sufficcient and kept asking, ‘When will they make a full frame?’ Panasonic did. but I believe that one of the main bennies of 4/3rds disappears when the larger sensor including weight savings and lower price. Olympus seems to be pushing innovation in the 4/3rds world with features I could only have dreamed about a few years ago.

  23. Hi David,
    Another great article, your philosophy about gear is beautiful and “right on the money” (IMHO).
    But . . . WOW! you’ve got a lot of gear! Of coarse I’m not one who should be criticizing anybody. I’m a “lens junkie” especially when it comes to the vintage glass. Oh well, we all have our weaknesses 🙂
    Love your writings, keep ’em coming!

    1. I sold over a year ago all my gear and only kept my Fufi X70. Can’t say that I make better photographs right now, but definitely I do not need to worry about what gear I need to select. There are only two options. Manual mode and focus for my street/documentary photography and full automatic mode when I take photographs at family events. Low light results are fine and better than manual fiddling and the hit rate with the autofocus is more than acceptable.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it really helps me a lot, David.
      Greetings from the Palatinate, Michael
      Ps.: I understand your reason for leaving social media, but I have to admit that I miss your photographs on Instagram. It was nice to participate a bit in your life and to follow your journeys. It was very motivating to make the next frame 🙂

  24. Hi David,
    I was sending you lots of love while reading this straight up post. It’s the kind of camera talk I wish I could have read when I first got in to photography.
    I am here only to say Thank You for you and your sensibility.
    Best to you!

  25. Hi David,
    I agree, “the photograph is all that matters”.
    I think we can get caught up with gear, and how new, how big, how shiny it may be, but in the end, making the images we care about and what we want to say are what is most important.

    I so enjoyed your recent presentation at Etobicoke Camera Club, so thank you for that treat.
    Best wishes.

  26. I love your articles. I have arthritis and use an Olympus mirrorless, recently acquired Olympus OM 1 film camera and my iPhone. They all suit my needs and produce the photos I want them to.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  27. I agree completely, and would add a couple of things:

    –Consider camera ergonomics. Having everything I need on dedicated controls, Fuji-style, is a lot more important to me than an extra stop on the sensor. But if you are a very deliberate tripod shooter that might not matter to you.

    –Don’t neglect your phone. Sometimes phones can do better than “real” cameras at getting high depth of field in low light, and sometimes the built-in processing voodoo does something that benefits the image and would be hard to replicate in Lightroom. I’ve made my best shot of the excursion on my phone more than once.

  28. I have been doing more and more night photography (city as well as landscape) and astrophotography. I’ve never had a full-frame camera. My first was a Canon T1i for 11 years. Finally was able to “move up” without going into debt. I hate debt and even though the T1i had been falling short as I was learning and growing as a photographer for about the last 2-3 years, it did the job for the most part.

    I moved to the Fuji system after a lot of research and bought a T-X3 right after the 4 came so I saved a lot of money. It is night and day quality wise and the low light capabilities work just fine for me. Really love this camera.

  29. 83 years of age and still shooting but without the weight. Yes, the shoulder straps were starting to dig in; carrying the shoulder bag with all the stuff wasn’t fun anymore. Time to lighten up and keep enjoying the process. Almost cried selling all my Nikon equipment although did not have a going away party. Looked around for a while for something lighter and more portable and even started using my iPhone for my photography. Do not give it short shrift. An amazing camera was built into that tiny phone. All right, cannot do everything but it is the camera t that is with you. Finally decided on what was RIGHT FOR ME. I purchased a Fuji XT4 and a little later fell in love with a Fuji XPro3. The XPro3 is not for everyone but it felt like the Leica I could never afford. I know it is trite but I fell in love with this Fuji stuff and lenses. Spend my time now loving creativity with no aches and pains.

  30. Hi David, enjoyed your presentation to the Etobicoke Camera Club last month. Just wanted to point out that others’ expectations can also work to your advantage. When I was doing wedding photography, I used a pair of full frame pro-body Canons, each with a full-size Speedlite flash, and a different red ring zoom lens. Guests would see the gear, and get out of the way: allowing me to concentrate on getting the shots I was hired to do.
    Now that I’m retired, I use the Canon bodies on a copy stand or for macro rail work; I switched over to lighter Sony A7 bodies with a Sigma converter ring for my Canon lenses. Saved me from having to buy new Sony lenses, and still get excellent images for my purposes.

  31. Excellent article David. I have been guilty of “chasing” the glitter early on in my photography journey. Fortunately I’ve matured out of that but probably still have more than needed. Glad to see how diverse your kit it. Thx for sharing your wisdom & experience with us. Stay true, stay strong. God bless.

  32. Happy Thanksgiving, David, and thank you for your excellent information!
    I’ve been retired for a good while now and although I love my Canon 5D it is heavy and of course obsolete. Still love to do portrait work, do your have any suggestions for a good light weight for that purpose? Larger print quality important too! Not a great tech person.here!!
    Thank you again.
    Carol

  33. Great article David. I have a Fuji X-H1, X-E2, Nikon D850 and a Pentax ESPIO 928M film camera. On any given day one of those cameras suits my for what I want to shoot that day..

  34. Hi David, I couldn’t agree more with your advice. For battery life – get a Sony:-) (crop or fullframe sensor) with the FZ-100 battery and you can shoot all day long.
    I use the crop a6600 (FZ-100 battery) and a6000 (old battery type), and enjoy the creativity inherent in Lensbaby and ’60’s lenses (but also have modern lenses).
    Thanks also for your books, which I keep returning to for ideas and advice. They’re part of my other 15 or so photography books. All for inspiration, ideas and learning.
    Happy Thanksgiving

  35. Hello David,

    You are totally right when you write about gear. I have found a for me a “big” problem with mirrorless cameras. They only deliver jpg then you use multi exposure.

    Be happy,
    Kenneth

  36. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, David! I just returned from my first “real” photographic outing in close to 2 years. When our workshop got cancelled last year, and after a few months of moping, I set up a trip to chase the autumn aspens in Colorado for this year. I used my “old, crummy” Canon 5D3 and a few zooms, as well as my two Fujis: XH-1 and X-T3. Honestly, I had far more fun with the Fujis, and whenever I hiked for any distances, the only camera I carried was one of the Fujis and the 35 1.4. It was perfect. (However, I still have not mastered that vertical ICM technique I was hoping to achieve with those trees …) For most of us, the gains in tech are slowing, and as you say, unless one needs to print really big or needs very specific things, what we have now seems like more than enough.

    It has been awhile; I hope you’re all doing well up there and thank you for the newest Monograph. It’s beautiful. All the best, Sharon

  37. Thanks David. This is the best guidance I’ve read on identifying what tools we need as individual photographers, shorn of too much technical jargon and references. It has served me as a good reminder as I assess and revise my tool kit for photography!

  38. You always have the best encouragement for me. I am 68 with one Canon T3i with an 18-135 lens. Not a lot of money laying around so I am limited where I can go and the desire for “better” gear was a problem for a while but not anymore. I just want to “see” better. To feel and capture those feelings and what I see. I have every Contact Sheet in a file that is labled Inspiration on my hard drive. Thanks for providing so much information and inspiration so unselfishly for free.

  39. David, as usual this is excellent advice. I have 4 cameras. (1) A Phase One D645 with P40+ back and three lenses. I got a “deal” on it way back when, but I really dislike using it, I dislike Capture One, and it sits on the shelf, virtually worthless now. (2) A Canon 1Ds Mk III. It was a very expensive, excellent camera, I used it all the time, quality excellent – both gear and results – but it’s obsolete by now with the superior mirrorless offerings. (3) Sony a6300: the cat’s meow – APS-C sensor but the lenses and sensor quality are excellent and the camera a breeze to carry around and use. It’s been my mainstay and I shall continue to use it. (4) A Sony a7Riv – this is the beast of all mirrorless cameras weighing in at 60MP full frame. I bought it mainly for specialized purposes that need a lot of resolution and enlargement capability, and it is a spectacular piece of equipment. So the two Sony cameras are the ones for me and the others I shall get rid of at really distress prices just to clean-out the gear closet. As you say, the best camera depends on how it works in one’s hands and what one intends to do with it. Very sound advice, and can save one lots of money.

  40. Very well said, David. I am perfectly happy with my Fuji XT2 and XT20. With my 35mm 1.4 the 20 fits into my purse and is always available. I know I am getting quality images from bth cameras and feel no need to upgrade.

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