The Foolproof Camera Buying Test: Do You Deserve the Gear You’re Shooting With?

Please forgive this post, but who hasn’t been there, done that. Who’s never hesitating, if not confused when planning to buy new gear. Choices, choices, choices. So many shiny new cameras promising photographic heaven on earth. If you’re pondering back and forth which way to go, here are some simple guidelines to consider.

Mirror mirror on the wall, which one is the fairest of them all, for me? | photofocus.com

First, be aware of a few basic givens determining your photographic “debit and credit,” meaning: your style and skills warranting a certain equipment, and, secondly, the means to buy what makes most sense for you.

Read the answers, decide what applies to you most likely, then write down your answers’ numbers on the left and add them up.

Sure not a scientific approach. You’ll nevertheless know, as a rule of thumb estimate, where you stand and whether you deserve that shiny new working tool, not to mention: do you really need it? After all, what many desire is nothing but a gadget or lifestyle toy for some. So let’s find out:

Experience

  1. I’m an experienced photographer and use my cameras every day.
  2. Call me an enthusiast who shoots a lot, but hey I’m still improving.
  3. I love photography and take pictures whenever I can.
  4. I admire great photographers. How do they do it!

Technique

  1. I’m not experimenting much with photography. I know the ins and outs.
  2. Especially lighting and focusing can be tricky, but it’s all a question of practice, patience and dedication.
  3. Taking pictures is really easy these days. Auto mode does the job better than most photographers will ever be able to.
  4. It’s said that there is a connection between aperture and shutter speed. Still guessing what’s more important.

Needs & Style

  1. I shoot also indoors and sports, a.k.a. fast moving objects. But studio and sets mostly.
  2. Can’t really tell what I do most. Macro, landscapes, portraits, sports once in a while… Everything really.
  3. Think I’m more of a landscape kind of guy. My subjects/objects are mostly static and don’t move much. That would be street photography, that’s not real photography.
  4. Well I do all sorts of photography, mostly for fun, travel and parties — and believe me, I often push the limits. You can tell from the results that digital photography still has some way to go.

Portability

  1. Doesn’t really matter. Clients wouldn’t take me for real if I’d show up with a mirrorless.
  2. Portability is only one aspect of good photography. You can’t shrink good glass, can you.
  3. I have so much gear by now that I had to start offloading old stuff. Am switching to a compact system camera. Should have done so long ago.
  4. Well how many megapixels can you squeeze into a compact camera? That stuff is simply not yet there.

Budget

  1. Money matters, as does image quality. I know exactly what my clients expect.
  2. I do some very careful research before buying anything.
  3. Well gear, that’s my one great weakness.
  4. The more I spend, the better my photography becomes.

Publishing

  1. I don’t publish much. What I shoot is mostly sold or copyright stuff.
  2. Without feedback from Flickr and other photo sharing sites I wouldn’t know how to improve my photography. And yes, I make some bucks with stock photography, or am thinking about it.
  3. I’m careful with uploading images. What’s online is in the public domain. Forget about real rights or intellectual property protection!
  4. I am a member of all photo sharing communities. Sometimes I get a comment. I think I have to upload more images.

Brand Loyalty

  1. I’m invested in gear and legacy stuff, so a switch is not too easy. But pretty amazing what other companies, especially Sony, come up with.
  2. I could buy from any camera maker, as long as the price-performance ration warrants a move. But what’s great today is water under the bridge by tomorrow.
  3. Gear is so cheap today compared to a few years ago. I’ll buy whatever gives me the best image quality.
  4. Say what you want, but making good cameras is not that easy. Only very few companies have the know-how. I stick with one of them.

Now, did you add up all the numbers?

The total score says pretty much whether you’re good at what you love doing — or if your photography sucks:

7-12 points: You deserve the best, most expensive gear, but are perfectly capable of making any camera equipment shine. You choose what’s practical. You’re most likely not one of the early beta testers when a new model comes out. You know the value of prime lenses and hardly shoot zooms. You work hard for each shot. Maybe a few keepers a month? Nevertheless, you also enjoy taking pictures with your smartphone, but don’t care too much about a Leica. If you do, the Leica is in the right hands.

13–18 points: Awesome! You don’t spend money too easily on gear. You know your style of photography and what equipment is needed to achieve your goals. You have every right to spoil yourself once in a while with a nice new toy. Because you’re making good use of it. And anyone who buys your used gear is fortunate because you take good care of things. The top-of-the-range mirrorless will do for you. You’ll even deliver with a point-and-shoot. And give full-frame a try!

19-23 points: Maybe you waste your time with photography. Did you try painting? First and foremost, try to relax. Hey photography ought to be fun! A serious compact probably overwhelms you already. But you still like most of your photos? Delete 90% of them, or 99% if you want to really advance.

24-28 points: Camera makers love you and our friends must love you even more. They don’t tell you how much your photography sucks. It’s not about what others want to see. Good photos like to be seen by everyone. Sad thing is though that most likely you sport the latest and greatest and really expensive gear. Start anew, from scratch, with the rule of two thirds. Maybe with a second-hand point-and-shoot.



  • Pan

    Awesome post! Contrarian and deeply honest……. Nothing like the rest……… Guess it could piss off some though.

  • Florian Freimoser

    Great and very true! I hope it encourages some to rethink their photography equipment “needs”.