New kit

Is it time for a new camera? I
have always been of the approach that any new equipment has to be a justifiable
expense. I don’t particularly like spending money unless these are tangible
outputs on the back of it. I have been more so this year and I think I have got
a little tighter on spend and I have really made sure that anything that comes
in the door is justified rather than it just being a flippant purchase.  I have bought a couple of lenses recently; one
to see me through a gap and it’s a lens I have coveted for a while and it gives
me a slightly different approach at events. It’s a 135 F1.8 lens that replaces the
kind of 135 F2 that I have had for years that I just lost that bit of faith in.
My other lens is probably more than seven or eight years old, actually it’s
probably 10 years old and I think it was just starting to hit its age limit and
so it was on opportunity to replace that and to be able to shoot in a slightly
different way at events than I have been because a lot of events recently have
been with my 70-200 just because of the flexibility. The 70-200 has been a staple
in my bag for many years and since it got damaged before Christmas, it’s been a
hard couple of months kind of functioning without it, without Mr Reliable in
the bag. So I have replaced that lens as well so now I have two new lenses and
they arguably a similar focal length and do arguably a similar job, but for me it’s
about the functionality of them both and the usefulness in certain scenarios
and I think they are both absolutely fantastic at what they do. 

This isn’t a review by any
stretch on either of the lenses but it’s safe to say that the progression in
equipment from my 70-200 2.8 mark I that I got when I first started out, which
was around 2008/2009, I drove down to Milton Keynes from York to pick it up
because I needed to see it in my hands before I bought it and I never regretted
that decision for the money I paid. It’s served me for more than 15 years so
it’s a fantastic bit of kit but to be fair it was old anyway even at that point.  Technology-wise, it was slightly dated so I
borrowed a friends Mark III which is the latest EF Version and it was night and
day; the focusing, the number of hits out of a set of images was significantly
higher and that was kind of a hard thing to see really because I resisted
because mine was alright, mine was doing its job and it didn’t hold me back on
shoots, it wasn’t having a negative impact on images or anything like that but
then you realise it does and the extra quality you get out of a new one and it’s
just blown me away.

The same with the Sigma, already
in certain low light situations I have just gone, “Wow this is amazing!” Shooting
135 at 1.8 the depth of field is just crazy and those evening shoots where the
light is just going down and you don’t want to crank the ISO up too much, the
lens just makes a massive difference and I am really looking forward to
stretching both of those over the next few months and learning the idiosyncrasies
of each of those lenses.

That leads me on to camera
replacements; my Cannon 5D Mark 4 is actually probably older than I think it is,
it may be six years old. It’s done miles, it’s done a number of thousand actuations
and seeing as this is an SLR, the shutter in that has a risk of going at any
point after that period. It’s served me very, very well. It’s certainly pushed
my career on over that time scale and 18 months ago it was moved to the back-up
position in my bag when I got the Cannon R5 and the Cannon R5 is a completely
different beast, different lens mount, different features, massively different
tech involved inside of it and massively different ergonomically, so things
like the articulating screen always makes the Mark 4 just feel very old because
I have literally just got the screen on the back and now every time I need to
use my back-up as a second body so I don’t need to stop and switch lenses when I
am on a job, if I have the two of them on my hip I always feel like I am stepping
back in time using my Mark 4, even thought it’s not actually that old in the
grand scheme of things. 

So, it’s led me to go, “Right I
might need to spend some of my well-earned pennies on a new bit of kit.” So
plenty of procrastination, plenty of going round in circles and it’s never a
really easy decision and I know that recently a good handful of business owners
have reached out and gone, “We are going to buy a camera for the office, what
do I get?” And I have sent loads of different recommendations and they have
said, “No which one do I want?” But it’s the variables in each of the
scenarios and each of the bits of kit very much depends on exactly what you
want to do and I don’t know exactly what you want to do, I know what you have
just told me but that isn’t necessarily the right answer, so that’s why I tend
to give a varied list of different options. I think I’ve sort of made it kind
of difficult myself for looking at a camera I have the R6, the Mark6 Mark II has
just come out – do I go a smaller body, an ABSA body so I have a bit of extra
reach, and seeing as it’s just a bit of back-up it’s not something we use on a
regular basis so do I go for the R8 or R10? I mean I even looked at the new R50
that’s just come out, it was a lot smaller, a kind of travel camera that I
really like the look of but I think there are too many limiting factors with
it, I think Cannon have done a bit of a booboo on that one for form factor and
various other things that don’t quite fit for me.

So I think realistically,
financially the difference between the R6 and the R6 Mark II is about a grand
at the moment and I think that gap doesn’t necessarily justify the feature
difference so I think I am going to end up like a lot of other camera photographers
at the moment with an R6 and it will probably be before the end of the
financial year, so I have a couple of weeks to get that sorted. It’s that
realisation that the equipment’s got to do what you want it to do now not what
it has done for you or what it could do for you.  The last thing you want is to not be able to
do the thing that you want to do because of a limitation in kit, it is just
money, it is just a bit off your top line, you know?

That doesn’t mean you should be
flippant with choices or decisions. It’s dead easy to spend money as we all
know. There’s the, “Oh that will be cool, that’s cool!” when you start out,
certainly in the photography business, when it starts out as a hobby it’s very
much that you start to hoard things that you might need down the line and
that’s fine, but when you have got to pay your mortgage out of the business you
kind of, your head shifts a little bit and you have got to make the right
decisions for the business not just because, “Ooh that looks nice and shiny.”

So yeah, I think this is as much to say, don’t
be scared of spending money, but also make sure you can justify your decisions
fully to yourself, certainly as a solo business owner, I do have a team, but obviously
I am head of it and the decisions I make financially are all on my head and for
me personally and that means that I don’t need permission to go spend money but
actually I need to look at myself in the mirror and go have I just wasted my
children’s inheritance as Theo Paphitis used to drop in about, you know spend
my children’s inheritance on a bit of kit that might get used once or twice rather
than something that you use on a daily basis. If it’s a daily basis maybe it’s justified,
if you are only going to use it once a year is that money best spent there or
best spent somewhere else?

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