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The DigitalDingus Guide To Photography
Upgrading Digital Cameras: Should I Do It?
September 15, 2005
Upgrading: Should I Do It? (Part 1) | Upgrading: Should I Do It? (Part 2)

For those of us who have been around the block in reference to camera ownership, you're very familiar with the upgrading game. In fact, if you're reading this article, you're more than likely on a 3rd generation of a camera in only the last 3 years. Was it worth it? Are you getting as much out of your current upgrade as you thought you would? These are the questions we'll be discussing. For the new camera owners, this will be something to think about as you look at newer and better cameras, and for the current camera owner who has upgraded several times already, I hope this article will enlighten you.

Marketing 101: Make It Bigger, Better, More Improved...And They Will Buy It

Ever walk down a grocery aisle of tortilla and potatoe chips, and see advertisements on the bags like: "Now Even Tastier!" "Now Even MORE Cheesy!" "Same Great Taste, Different Look!" "0 Trans Fats!" "High In Fiber!" "Naturally Low In Fat!"

I could go on but you might stop reading this and go out and buy a bag of your own favorite chips.

So, let's see. Where were we. You're probably thinking this is going to be another blabber piece on how marketing is corrupting our behavior, and how the world will end. Well, this isn't it. In fact, WE are to blame. Due to OUR spending habits, WE have created this marketing monster ourselves. Marketing gurus didn't just come up with this overnight. Our behaviors are quite obvious to anyone who would take a few minutes and study them.

The marketing department of any company, from tortilla chips to digital cameras, know if there isn't something new with the product itself, or at the least with the packaging, the consumer will shop for something else. Why? Well, it's human nature. We get bored. Regardless of how great a product is, we will buy something else, just because it's different. When it comes to consumerism, you and I are as platonic as a rabbit.

So, is there anything we can do about it?

Yes, there is, but you are also going to be surprised by what I am going to say next: There is NOTHING wrong with this behavior. I will say it again. There is NOTHING wrong with this behavior. Upgrading only gets ugly when you make it a habit of spending money you shouldn't. Upgrading can be your own best scam if the new features are not going to benefit you. It becomes a ball and chain, when instead of purchasing needed accessories for your current camera, you buy the latest and greatest model...and come home flat broke. A few days later, you're depressed. This is what you want to avoid. If you do not, you will be hindering your potential as a photographer. I've seen it so many times. For real-life experiences, all you need is a few links to a few popular photography forums. There, a literal diary of a person's purchasing behavior is there spread out in front of you.

How Am I Going To Benefit

One of the most important pieces of advice I can give to someone who wants to upgrade, is asking yourself: "How am I going to benefit from this upgrade." Please don't lie to yourself, saying things like, "Well, if I got that 10MP camera instead of my 8MP, my images will look better." There is a time and place for upgrading because of higher megapixels, but if it's the only reason for your upgrading, and quite honestly if you don't know much about pixels and resolution in the first place, you shouldn't be upgrading. Period.

Be Aware Of Your Spending Habits

When was the last time you purchased a camera? Did you have the Upgrade Fever then too? How much money have you spent on just upgrading to different cameras in the last few years. These are the questions you need to ask yourself. They are quite revealing if you are honest with your behavior.

When Was The Last Time You Purchased A Camera?

I had a very nice gentleman from the UK, email me about upgrading from a Nikon D2H, to the new D2Hs. It had been only 4 months since he had his D2H, and when Nikon came out with an "improved" D2Hs, he was very angry and perturbed. However, he was also excited about getting the upgraded model and what it could offer him. He basically wanted me to make the decision for him, and I replied, While I would be more than happy to divert you from upgrading because I think it's a waste of money, you need to make that decision yourself. I asked him the same questions which are in this article.

About a week later he emailed and said he was sticking with the D2H, and might even DOWNGRADE to a Nikon D70, because of the questions I asked him. A few weeks after that, he informed me he did in fact purchase a D70. But here's the best part of the story. Since he had a few thousand dollars to spare, he realized all the accessories he needed for the camera. When he had the D2H (which he obviously couldn't afford), his accessories were none and far and few between. Realizing his newly-found fortune, he purchased a flash unit, a lighting system for his portrait work, a nice tripod, backpack for transporting his camera equipment, and a few portrait lenses.

This is how our purchases should be. They should work for us, not against us.

In the next part of Should I Upgrade?, we will continue the discussion and ask a few personal questions too.

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