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Old Sep 6, 2010, 11:43 AM   #1
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Default Why do we buy new cameras?

Silly question this one is, right? Well, perhaps. This past weekend I had to dig into my archives and find some old pictures of my son (from Baby - and he's now 13 - to current) for his 8th grade yearbook. In the process, I came across some real good shots (not esthetically speaking but in terms of IQ as well). In fact, they were so good that I started checking the EXIF data to see which camera was used. Some were taken with my beloved Sony R1 (well, no surprises there), some with the Pana FZ20 (another gem with its 12x zoom f2.8 exceptional lens) and lots taken with my very first super zoom, the Sony H1. I was amazed by the quality produced by these cameras. In fact, I had more of a hard time finding good current pictures (and I mean from the past year or so) then old ones. I sold the FZ20 a few years ago (upgraded to the FZ18...NOT...the FZ20 was far better), but still have the R1 and H1. So, I decided to dust off the H1, charge up the AA batteries (and it only takes 2), go out and shoot. What a pleasure that was. Once again, I took some beautiful pictures of flowers in my backyard and my family who came over for a BBQ. In fact, I was sooo pleased with the results that I decided to sell my FZ28 and start shooting with the H1 again. I do have the Sony 1.7x tele-converter for the extra reach (used to have a Raynox 0.66x wide angle but I was stupid enough to sell it thinking I would no longer needed it since just about every new camera comes with a wide lens (28mm or wider). So, I might go shopping for another WA converter).

Why am I writing all this? Well, this entire exercise made me think...why do we feel the need to by new cameras, specially when the old ones still work fine and produce excellent pictures? Do I really need the extra MP? (the H1 is a 5 MP camera and I challenge anyone with a 12+ MP P&S - obviously not considering making very large prints); how about 6400 ISO? (most P&S still can not handle anything higher than 800 anyway. The H1 tops at 400 but its IS is so effective that I can shoot handheld at 1/4 and get sharp results. The camera firmware has been designed to keep the ISO low but I noticed that IQ at ISO 400 is just as good as any new model shooting at ISO 800. How can that be? Well, less MP combined with an excellent lens and a great image processor do the trick); or that HD video? (I recorded some videos with my H1 at SeaWorld while vacationing in S. CA a few years ago and they are excellent. I have many videos of my son playing tennis, family events, you name it...all great quality stuff. Sure there's limitations such as no zooming during recording but since quality is what matters, it beats many HD P&S cameras today); and the list goes on and on.

I think part of the urge to buy new cameras comes from the excitement of having a new toy (just like a kid who has 30 Transformers but wants that just released Optimus Prime). There's also the mis-perception that newer is better, which may not always be so. My advise (and I am going to start applying this to myself) is to take a closer look at what you have, how happy you are with the existing equipment and the results you are getting from it. Don't go for an upgrade unless there is a real reason for it and if you do, save up so you can really upgrade it to something superior rather than end up buying a cheap new camera simply because its tiny or it has 3x more MP or a high res LCD, that in the end will under perform your old one.
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Old Sep 6, 2010, 11:58 AM   #2
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We buy newer cameras for the same reason we buy new cars and new computers and new cell phones: Our current ones are no longer serving our intended purposes. That doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't as good as they once were. It means that, since we've owned them, our intended purposes have expanded.

I presume that, while your R1 and H1 are (still) fine cameras, there are some things that, as good as they are, they were incapable of doing some things that you wanted to do, or they could only do poorly or with some inconvenience. Some people that want to shoot macro are content with using extension tubes, but at some point they get tired of having to install and remove the tubes, so they buy a macro lens.

It's not that your older cameras have failed you; it's that you've just outgrown them in one or more respects.
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Old Sep 6, 2010, 1:02 PM   #3
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The thing is TCav, not everyone buys new cameras because their existing one(s) is not serving the purpose but because they "think" they will be better off with a higher MP model or a model that can go up to ISO 6400 and things like that. The supposition that all new cameras outperform the old ones is simply incorrect. Some do and some don't. I haven't found yet a P&S that performs better than the R1, F828 or F717 6+ year old models.

Sure the old models have limitations. Take the H1 for instance. Its max shutter speed is 1/1000. Not very high at all. ISO tops at 400 (even though this may sound like a huge limitation, in reality is not because the IS is extremely efficient allowing for sharp shots at very low shutter speeds, not to mention that at its max 400 setting, images are cleaner than many new cameras at the same ISO value). It only has 5 MP, which in reality it only becomes a limitation if you wish to make real large prints because in terms of IQ, it produces some of the best pictures I have taken. the 2.5" LCD is low res but not much worse than the LCD that comes with the new Oly EPL1. But on the positive side, the built in flash is excellent, IQ is superb, exposure is great with good DR, it's responsive , it only takes two AA batteries, and the list goes on and on.

Now, as long as your last statement is true, I agree with it. All I was trying to say is that many times we tend to buy new cameras just for the heck of it, to try them out, see how they feel, how they perform, etc., and not necessarily because our existing equipment has become limiting in any way. Of course I'm not telling anyone not to upgrade. Just be smart about it.
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Old Sep 6, 2010, 1:27 PM   #4
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This has been my thoughts for a while now. I honestly think my 4 yr old camera outperforms any of the new cams my friends and family have purchased in the last year or so. My "out of date" cam was taking flawless pics of our kids mid-jump into a swimming pool, jumping on the trampoline, and in front of the Christmas tree lights, while their "latest technology" was blurred and noisy in those same situations. That's why I miss mine so much, and also why I am debating purchasing an older model camera as opposed to one of the latest and greatest. Why spend $150 more for more MP if the newer camera has a smaller sensor? But that seems to be the advice I keep getting so I am still debating my options.
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Old Sep 6, 2010, 1:50 PM   #5
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jbmom-

There are indeed times when ideal design does not "jive" with your photo desires. There are lot of super zooms in the market. But have you noticed that they all use small imagers??

That is because of the problem in matching a long lens to an imager. To hold the price down on a super zoom camera, the lens has to be smaller in diameter, thus making the need for a small imager.

The only way to get a larger imager and a relative fast zoom lens, is to move to a DSLR camera.

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Old Sep 6, 2010, 3:33 PM   #6
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I buy new cameras because I love toys. I have bought certain ones to assist me in the areas I want to focus on, such as the 1DmkIII for sports and the 5D followed by the 5DmkII for weddings/portraits. Did I need the mkII, nope, the 5D was fine but as soon as the video on that was updated to be fully controllable then I really 'had' to have it. Other cameras have been whims or with my underwater one, something for a special holiday (honeymoon).

So upgrading isn't essential, but isn't technology fun
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Old Sep 6, 2010, 3:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbmom06 View Post
...Why spend $150 more for more MP if the newer camera has a smaller sensor? But that seems to be the advice I keep getting so I am still debating my options.
Who is giving such an advice? It's been proven again and again that more MP with small sensor is a real bad combination.
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Old Sep 6, 2010, 5:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark1616 View Post
I buy new cameras because I love toys....
Same here. However, it seems like the new toys (just like kids toys) don't seem to be as well made as the old ones. When I was a kid, my toys did not talk or transform or fly. There was no remote control, only batteries. However, they were made out of wood or metal and lasted forever (in fact, I still have some of them). Today's toys have all this fancy stuff but can break as you take them out of the box. New cameras are no different. They offer a lot more for less money but they don't necessarily beat the old units in terms of IQ.
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Old Sep 6, 2010, 6:49 PM   #9
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I feel sorry for Panasonic and Canon so I buy to keep them afloat...lol...NOT!...I think we enjoy the challenge of new cameras and the skill set it takes to master each one with it's different set of quirks, whistles, and bells...

One thing I think we should all remember: If you are not having fun with the camera you currently have, change the model to something you are comfortable with and can have fun with...because thats what is all about...isn't it?
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Old Sep 6, 2010, 9:02 PM   #10
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I think the car analogy fits nicely. Sometimes people buy a new (or new to them) car because the old one doesn't work. Sometimes they buy one because their needs have changed (like buying a minivan when the kids start multiplying) and sometimes they just like a new toy.
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