On Upgrading Your Gear

On Upgrading Your Photography and Lighting Gear

The annual PDN Photo Plus Expo is a great way to keep up with the latest and greatest photo and lighting gear, and not only. It’s also a welcoming excuse to look through old gear and recheck, re-evaluate, and consider upgrading, if necessary.

Lights. Camera. Action. Photo by Alina Oswald.

But deciding on what new gear to purchase is not an easy task. It takes lots of dedication, time, patience, research, asking questions, considering and reconsidering options, and the willingness to accept that a first attempt might not offer the solutions that you’re looking or hoping for.

The reality is that, every once in a while, we do need to buy new gear. The better we maintain our gear, the longer it lasts, and yet…. Old gear gets, well, old and needs to be replaced. Or we change or add to the subjects and stories we’d like to photograph–the best gear for photographing a wedding is not quite the best fit for capturing close-up shots of the moon and the stars, for example. Sometimes brand new gear makes it possible, affordable for us to try our hands at new types of photography, stories and subjects. Other times we need to buy new gear (in particular when it comes to software for our post-production workflow) to keep up with industry standards.

Profoto Lights and Umbrella. Photo by Alina Oswald.

While it’s pretty straight forward how and why we should look for new gear, and while sometimes we might know, almost exactly, what gear we’re looking for, a few things, I think, are worth mentioning:

– based on the type of photography you do or are interested in, decide on the kind of gear you’d like or need to have, the kind of gear that would make your life easier

– while most of us are not on an unlimited budget, decide on how much money you feel comfortable spending on that gear; look for discounts, coupons, etc; also, these days, I’m looking more and more not only at how much the gear costs, but also at how much it weights

With my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 at NYC Pride March, a few years ago

– do your homework; be prepared to spend up to several days, usually weekends, to come up with a list of possibilities

– read reviews, check out videos, talk to friends or people who are in the know, who’re using that same (or even similar) gear, etc.

– go to a store (full disclosure: I’m always at B&H) or attend a trade show if possible

– hold that gear in your hands, test shoot with it, even if only for a few minutes

– make a list of pros and cons based on: goal/purpose, cost, weight, ease-of-use, necessary storage space, discounts/rebates, etc., and much more

– consider the best time to purchase that gear: Do you need it right away? Is it on sale? Is there a coupon available? Can you sell your old gear and use the money towards the new gear? etc.

Drone in Action. Photo by Alina Oswald.

In Hawaii, with my Nikon 70-200mm lens. A #tbt

As a general comment, I  think it’s best not to wait until the last minute to buy new gear. It’s usually not a good idea to buy a new lens or camera today, and then go photograph for an assignment, for a paying client, tomorrow. It’s best to allow yourself a bit of time to get used to the new gear, even if you stay with the same brand. Just my two cents….

Happy shopping!

And, as always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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