Sunday 23 June 2013

The danger of not updating your equipment

I frequently urge fellow shooters NOT to buy new gear.

I have spent more money than I care to recall over the years on photographic kit.

I decided to spend money on other things instead, you know like home and family.

My mantra has become 'make the most of what you have' and 'photography is not about what kit you have' also 'its not what you shoot with its what you do with it'

I stand by all of those statements -to a point.

A couple of months ago I updated my Macbook Pro after many, many years of putting it off as an unnecessary expense.

A few weeks ago, after much prevarication, I bought a Canon 6D (though I could have bought a MkIII).

 Like many others, I thought it would be a small incremental improvement over the my 5D MkIIs, on paper there is really not that much difference.

 This did not bother me though, as I bought it for the WiFi (more of this in a future post as it really is most effective)

Though these two purchases were unrelated and bought for different reasons  the combined impact has been huge.

Case Study - the never ending 18 hour shoot for a corporate client.

Last week I was shooting for a major corporate client.

It is an assignment I have been commissioned for annually.

Now this shoot is a challenge, combining high level portraiture, group photography, some 'fashion style' action and event shooting all in one day which goes on for a rather long time.

Its varied nature is DSLR territory and I have used the 5D MkII, which I thought was just fine.

This year I used the 6D which made quite a difference.

The 'fashion style' action shots which in past years have been variable with 1 or 2 shots out of 3 sharp saw a 100 percent hit rate, the AF not missing a single high action shot.

The dreaded, but inevitable on camera flash of fast moving awards ceremonies was simply so much better than I have experienced before,  a world away from the somewhat variable results (will it be under or over?) on my MkII.

Simply every shot was sharp and well exposed, not a duffer amongst them.

Brilliant in someways, depressing in others, with tech trumping experience.

I always shoot RAW and this occasion was no different for this exacting and choosy client.

Many, many frames indeed, heading towards 32gb in-fact.

The client needed some key shots that night, as I was processing them on my blazingly fast Macbook Pro with its SSD I noted just how little time this was taking.

I normally process all the images the next day.

Then it dawned on me.

If I sat down for just few hours I could do the whole lot while I was in the right 'head space'

It took less time than I thought too, less than two hours, as so few adjustments were needed.

Leaving me to have a lie in the next day before going to a quite special night 'secret cinema' night out to see the quite exceptional Laura Marling in East London, where an old school building is transformed into a 1920's country house event, with actors, musicians and entertainment.

In other words, I had saved a day of my time.

Hanging on to gear which is good enough but not the best can cost you time and results.

This really was driven home to me.

When to upgrade and with what gear?

That is the great balancing act, one which I will have to reassess.

My old accountant used to say 'be careful of spending money to save money' he was mostly right on this but if over time the time you save is cost effective by purchasing new gear then it is worth it.

Just when to do it and what to buy, that is the great balancing act in an age where most shooters I know are earning less, not more.


Libby said...

The level headed business savvy person will just "know" when it is time for an upgrade. It has to be done for the right reasons. Any gear purchase does. I don't even buy a filter these days unless I can define (possible) usage.

Right now I have one local shooter bugging me about medium format. He calls every other day trying to justify a potential purchase via telling me what he read on blog posts and forums. Yet he can't come up with valid reasoning of his own and he won't crunch the numbers.

When you have to make a move, you just "know" and you really don't have to justify your choice to others.

Time saving - if you're in the right frame of mind, get the postwork done as soon as it is practical to do so. I try and get the bulk of things done for stills on the same day and let them cook overnight, then take a look the next morning with a fresh eye. Works for me. For large events things are a little different but I still try and get things out the door quickly. For me it's bad to let things linger because then it becomes a dreadful chore.

Unknown said...

Hi Libby

I have to say the reason for this entire post is that with even with many years experience I judged it incorrectly.
The MkII was enough for me, how much of an improvement can the latest generation of Canon camera's be? I simply had not grasped just how big the step was in everyday terms and what an effect it would have on my day to day work, particularly on a monster shoot. As I have said before though I did not buy this camera for its clever AF and other features. I bought it for the WiFi which is remarkable and I use it most days to do stuff that I simply could not do before.

I SO agree with you about getting the post done soonest, it makes a world of difference to heart, soul and the bottom line too.


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