made an interesting post yesterday
about photography, asking whether or not your current camera is the last camera body that you'll ever buy. I highly recommend the post as she brings up some points that I'm not going to dwell on here.
Good food for thought. I've been shooting for about 40 years now, digital for 15+. I can't class Nikon bodies as to what is what in the Pro vs Consumer or Prosumer spectrum, when it comes to Canon, it's pretty clear: 1D series is Pro, 5D series is just under it, and 6D is the top of the line prosumer: full-frame, but not quite the full-metal body of the 1 and 5. Then you have the consumer Digital Rebel series. The Rebels are quite adequate and I spent a number of years shooting them, and I still own one. But now my main camera is a 6D.
Two decisions went in to me buying the 6D over a used 5D Mark II (Mk III wasn't out at that time and I couldn't afford new), the 1D was never in the race as the price point was just ridiculous for me. I knew I needed a full-frame DSLR to get rid of the 1.6 multiplier for lens focal length caused by the imaging chip crop. This prevents you from having true wide-angle lenses, and that's critical for me. I'd lived without it for a decade, and that was long enough. The first reason for buying the 6D was price. It's simply much less expensive than the 5D. The first generation 6D also had built-in GPS and WiFi. I don't normally use the GPS when shooting locally, but it was turned on constantly when I was shooting in Germany. The second was weight. Again, very nice when I was shooting in Europe, but nice overall. Electronics-wise, the 5D has some slightly better features than the 6D, but price won out.
Will it be the last body that I buy? Ignoring loss (theft or damage), it's a possibility. Like Amy, I'd like larger pixels for improved lower light sensitivity for shooting at night at the observatory (homey don't do weddings and ain't much of a people shooter). For me, I expect I'll be buying more glass as I don't have the exact mix of lenses that I want: though I'm happy with what I have, I need a long zoom and I'd like a wide fixed and perhaps a fast normal and fast 85mm, though not a priority on the last two. I'm very slow on acquiring gear: it's not just my unemployed state, it's my attitude of my gear fits my needs pretty well.
Which still dances around whether or not this is my last body. In short, probably. It takes a lot of shooting to wear out a body, and I haven't done that yet. I currently shoot three bodies, plus, occasionally, my iPhone. My cameras are: Canon 6D, Canon Rebel SL1, and my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 (I also have a Elan 7e film body, though I have no plans for that to ever be used again, you never know). I'll be keeping the two Canons, barring theft or the body failing, but I am planning on replacing the Lumix. There's another Lumix model that I covet: it's pretty much the same size, so it's easily kept in my pocket, about the same lens focal length, the difference for me is that it has a viewfinder. It has a fake place for your eye that detects your eye being there and turns on a tiny LCD screen, just like the big one on the back. The difference is that I can't use the big one on the back for composition without putting on my reading glasses, which means the rest of the world goes fuzzy. So either the composition is clear and the world is fuzzy, or the composition is fuzzy and approximate and the world is clear. Annoying. I think that would be worth spending less than $400 to remove an annoyance, if I ever get another job.
Thinking about it, my Lumix is currently my primary camera based on current usage, but that changes when I have a specific objective when shooting with friends. But that's all mainly because I can carry it in my pocket all the time.
The Rebel SL1 fills a specific niche. Actually, it fills two. First, it's a Digital Rebel, which means a smaller sensor, which means all focal lengths get multiplied by 1.6. Thus the 100mm lens becomes a 170mm lens. Fantastic for telephoto shooting, sucks for wide-angle. I have a 75-300mm for wildlife and other telephoto shooting, so this body will stay until it dies, and it's pretty inexpensive to replace if you don't mind used equipment, and 90% of my equipment over the years I've bought used. It's very lightweight and small, so nice to transport. Excellent backup and specialist camera.
I'm going to talk about one more thing: what are the reasons to buy new camera bodies? Ignoring buying a new body for sheer newfangledness, I see it for two reasons: pixel lust and feature lust. Pixel lust breaks down to more or bigger. More is sort of a false race at this point: while 20 is better than 10, for more people 30 is not markedly better than 20. The sheer number of pixels is not terribly meaningful, but the size of the pixels is. Let's do the time warp: five years ago, cell phones and DSLRs were beyond 5 megapixels and people were saying that cell phones were going to replace DSLRs. There's two problems with that line of thought. Yes, in terms of the raw number of pixels, that was true. But the cell phone pixels were crammed in to an area the size of your pinkie thumb nail while the DSLRs were the size of a postage stamp and thus were much larger. When the number is the same, size matters. Second, when the density is increased, in the case of cell phones, other problems emerge: cross-talk between pixels, increased noise, false colors, etc. So while cell phone pictures look great on a computer monitor, blow it up to a 16x20" print and it won't look nearly as good.
There's also generational improvements in digital technology. Last month I gave my mom one of those digital picture frames loaded up with photos from my wedding. My wife and I were married 12 years ago, and our wedding was shot by a friend using two Digital Rebels and two film bodies. And we really should have hired a professional. T is a very good photographer, but the equipment quality just wasn't that great. I was cleaning up those photos prior to loading them on to a memory card and was proverbially gritting my teeth, mentally comparing them to what my cameras produce today. That's viewing them on two computers: a late 2015 27" iMac with a 5K display and a 2011 1" MacBook Pro. The flaws in the camera electronics are quite obvious. I know the electronics in my current cameras are amazingly awesome: but what are they going to be like in another 10 years?
30 years ago, my mom asked me what computers would be like in another 20 years. My answer holds true today and for the future, and for photography: smaller, lighter, faster, less expensive, but I have no idea beyond that. Ask any serious photographer and they probably have more money in glass and other equipment than bodies, and next year's bodies work on last year's glass. My oldest Canon lens, a 35-105 (the first Eos lens that I ever bought), is from the late '80s and works just fine on my 6D from 2-3 years ago.