Invest in a Better Lens or Upgrade Your Camera?
Don Orkoskey | June 1, 2023
Maybe not the oldest question in photography but certainly up there is deciding if you should invest in a better lens or upgrade your camera.
New Lens Or Camera
The decision of whether to buy a better lens or a new camera depends on several factors and your specific needs as a photographer. Here are a few considerations to help you make an informed decision.
Understand Your Needs
Before you can truly answer the question you need to understand your needs. What are you looking to do?
Are you a trying to photograph wildlife or sports? Are you struggling in low light situations? What is it that you feel a new camera or lens would give you?
Do you feel that your image quality is poor, is your focus taking too long or missing? Are there features or benefits of the cameras or lenses you're considering that your current set up is missing?
Let's break all of these down. As a result we can make a much more informed decision.
What Do You Photograph
It's most helpful to understand what it is that you photograph before trying to figure out the answer to this question.
Sports and/or Wildlife
If you're a sports or wildlife photographer you need speed in two places.
First, your shutter speed needs to be fast. In order for this to be possible your lens must gather a lot of light. It won't make a difference buying a new camera body if the lenses you have don't have very big apertures (f-stops).
Most modern digital cameras have shutter speeds fast enough to freeze the motion of humming bird wings. So if you're struggling due to a slow lens it might make sense to upgrade.
Another consideration is the length of the lens. The higher the number (400, 600, 800, etc.) the easier it is to photograph things at farther distances. If the longest lens you've got is a 105mm or even a 200mm you're really going to struggle with far away subjects.
Flowers or Landscapes
These might seem like very different subjects, and the are, but if you're photographing flowers or landscapes there are similar questions to ask.
First, you want to determine if there are light metering tools that your current camera lacks. Second, if your camera body doesn't have great weather sealing, you might want to consider one which does. Bad weather makes for great flower and landscape photos.
Of course if your issue with these subjects is fitting everything in your frame or seeing more detail in the finished photos then a new lens might be a better use of your money.
Portraits or Street Photos
These maybe the hardest subjects to try to answer the camera upgrade vs new lens question. If you're doing a lot of low-light or natural light photos then having a camera with a great dynamic range and good high-ISO performance is critical.
Too, it's helpful for street and candid photos to be able to use a silent shutter. If your camera doesn't have one an upgrade might be in order.
All that being said, if you're looking for a specific look, say one that only an ultra-fast 90mm or 135mm can provide then the answer is simple - buy a new lens.
What's Your Budget?
Many times the question of a new lens vs camera upgrade can be answered by looking at what you can afford. While lenses cost a great deal of money, a new camera body is usually more expensive.
Ultimately, the choice between a better lens or a new camera depends on your specific circumstances. It's worth researching and trying out different lenses and cameras before making a decision.
Additionally, seeking advice from experienced photographers or visiting a camera store can provide valuable insights to assist you in making the right choice.
If you're in the Pittsburgh area stop and see the folks at Premier Imaging or if you're near Youngstown Ohio visit YM Camera. If you're not near either of those then try to find a local independent camera shop (with decent Google reviews) to help you decide.