You probably do not need to Upgrade your Camera. A cure for your Upgradeitis.

You probably do not need to Upgrade your Camera. A cure for your Upgradeitis.

By Steve Huff

Eleven years ago when I started this website (out of pure passion within me) it was a very exciting time in digital photography. Digital was fairly new and we all knew that the years ahead would bring us amazing things.

Many of us were so used to the film age of photography and we all knew the limitations (and joys) of using an Analog film camera. When digital came along, the early days were pretty rough. All we really wanted and needed was decent Auto Focus, decent image quality and color, and decent speed. The first serious digital DSLR’s were so lacking in all of that yet would get rave reviews from the magazines at the time. Even with crappy focusing, crappy dynamic range, crappy resolution (3MP with a 1.6 crop for the 1st Canon DSLR, the D30 and yes, some shot billboards with it), crappy low light (non-existent really) many were spending $3000 and more to go digital and that was for a body only.

We were amazed! We could snap more than 36 frames on our new digital “film” and have instant access to our photos! It was opening a whole new world but for the good cameras, the price of admission was crazy high. The 1st Nikon D100 Digital DSLR was awful but at the time, many loved it. Me, I wasn’t a huge fan of it as even for the time it had some pretty crappy specs and results. Even so, a Nikon DSLR D100 was the thing to own back then, and I owned one. When I went to the 4MP D2hs I was shooting like a madman and even set up a studio in my garage! Crappy camera by todays standards but back then I loved it, even with its sensor issues. I even did some crazy comparisons on DP Review with that D2Hs back in the day and showed that it was much better than some were saying. Yes the review world never changes ; )

The Leica Days…

What really got my juices flowing and motivated me like no other camera in life, ever, was the Leica M9. For the time it was special and exciting and for RF and Leica fans the ultimate camera. That camera did amazing for Leica and sold like hotcakes as it was the first full frame digital rangefinder. It was a HUGE deal and was announced on 09/09/09. I shot professionally with that camera and earned money with that camera. It paid for itself and not once was there any complaint about the quality this camera pumped out. It delivered even though it was manual focus only, had no IBIS, had one card slot, had no high res shot mode and did not even have an EVF. The LCD was horrible and looked like it was something from the 1980’s but it didn’t matter. Those of us who shot that M9 loved it and learned it and made those limitations a strength. That camera improved my skills as a photographer. No matter what anyone will tell you, shooting with a Leica M CAN make you better.

Leica M9, 2010

I learned a lot during those Leica M9 years. I learned more about the art of photography, the craft. I learned I didn’t need blazing speed or AF to get any kind of shot I needed. Portrait? NO problem, I made money shooting them with the M8.2 and then M9 for 2 years. Weddings? Sure, I knew a few Leica M9 wedding pros who were making amazing images, I shot two weddings just to see how it would go with an M9. It was superb. Landscape? Perfect, the M9 gave me some of my most vibrant and crisp shots. Street? This is where it excelled, and I mean excelled. There was nothing better IMO besides maybe an M6 or MP. Sports? Well, one would think a manual camera like an M could never do that but our friend here Ashwin Rao has shot sports with his M  and has shown us some fantastic imagery.

The M9 at a wedding just so I can see how it did back in 2010. Even with no IBIS, no EVF, no Eye AF, no Speed to speak of, low battery life and no live view at all, this camera was such a joy to shoot. One of my most passionate times in photography. 

Again, all with a camera that most today would think is useless for anything. For me the main weakness of the M9 was the high ISO capability. It sucked. That was all I longed for, along with a better LCD. Leica has since solved that with the new M10 series. In fact, in many ways, that camera is my perfect camera for photography. It’s just so damn expensive it is hard for me to justify. Even so, that M has brought me so much joy and results, that when I think about it, it really can be justified.

Leica M9 2011

Leica M9, Street Shooting in Brazil 2011

My point here is that the most rewarding times in my photo career or photo life has been when I shot with a Leica. Wether it was an M or even the SL that I love equally as much, these cameras with the least features has delivered to me the most fun, the best experience and the best in quality results. It also happened to NOT have all of these crazy features that are popping up in cameras today, that it seems, many people think they need or must have.

Today it seems camera manufactures are in some kind of race to bring the most features, buttons, menu items and gimmicks to a camera because they can use those things as massive marketing tools to get people to THINK they need it, or to THINK if they have these things then their skills will be taken up a notch. It seems that they want you to think that unless you have IBIS, Eye Af, 16 stops of dynamic range or 20 FPS then maybe, just maybe your photography skills will lag behind the next guy. Marketing is getting slick and while improvements to cameras are always great for things like fast AF,  or improved sensor quality, you know, the basics we need to be successful as a photographer, today it is getting silly and I have to say it is turning me off a bit and making me appreciate cameras makers like Leica even more.

Leica M10 images and while this one is not 100% in focus, or biting sharp at 200% or with 1 million stops of DR, these photos show passion, feeling, emotion which is where it counts when making a good photograph. 

I makes me sad that today so many feel they need these features in a camera when most (but not all) who buy these cameras take photos to share on social media or in some online forum. The market for these cameras is the hobbyist and enthusiast, and this IS the main camera buying crowd that brings in the cash for the manufacturers. This is the crowd who they target and with fancy features that are now having the camera do all of the work, it is starting to get to the point where cameras are so loaded with these features that it is taking the fun, the excitement, the enjoyment out of the actual process of taking an image. At least for me it is and has been for a couple of years now.

Many of these features have been creeping in newer cameras and I simply never ever use them. Why? Because for me they are not needed, and they are IMO, more of a negative for this art form, this passion, this craft that has become more about technology and viewing pixels blown up 500% on a screen than it is about the actual process of taking images.

Leica M-D with Voigtlander Lens

Another recent phenomenon is the slew of new camera reviewers on youtube. I see so many TALKING about cameras, and even reviewing them, all while showing no samples photos, or very few photos that show a brick wall and 200% views. In other words, they sit and talk about the camera, whether they are bashing it, praising it or being neutral, they either show no real images taken with it or a slight few with some crops to show you what a 200% blow up looks like. Kind of strange to me. Lots of talk, but not much action.

Now don’t get me wrong, some channels are awesome, and give proper reviews that are enjoyable to watch and see what they can do with the camera. They exploit the capabilities and many are true artists but those are rare to see. The bulk of these reviews are geared to only tech heads, spec heads and pixel peepers which seems to be the way things are headed. I don’t know about you but give me passion, excitement and using a camera for what it was meant to be used for. Taking photos and creating memories.

What has happened to photography?

I can tell you that no, you do not need these new features to take a great image and in fact, it may be doing more harm to you than good. In 10 years we may have a camera that takes you out of the equation fully. Meaning, you will have to do nothing, the camera will do it all. This means you will learn nothing and this kind of thing just sucks the passion right from my bones. It bores me. Give me a challenge any day of the week, make me do the work and I will feel the reward.

The Leica SL with a Voigtlander M Lens. Simple, Effective, Beautiful. 

As time goes on, each year I say “What else can they do? What can they improve? Things are already so good”!!

Then it happens. A new model is released and BAM they bring a slew of new features that gives us more more more! No blackout EVF, 20FPS, Silent Shutter, Eye AF, IBIS, Super High Res shot, Handholding a camera for 2 seconds of exposure without any image shake, and it goes on and on and on. Now, do some of these features make it easier to get a good image? Maybe. Does it take YOU out of the equation? Yes it does, somewhat, and takes way the challenge as well.

I feel with some of these newer cameras and even what is to come, it will give us more but also give us less by taking away some of the fun, enjoyment and challenge from taking photographs. To anyone here who has read what I have written for the past 10 years, well, you know I make it personal. When I write a review, I bring in my personal feelings, my honest feelings. Instead of just making features and testing those features and staying neutral as most reviewers do (as to not irritate the manufacturers who supply review units), I always share my feelings. If a camera has great specs but sucks with user experience, I normally will not even review it. If a camera delivers on form, function, results and offers us the things that can improve our experience then those are the cameras I enjoy. It seems those are few and far between these days, but again, still alive over at Leica with the M and SL cameras.

Street Photography is best with a simple camera IMO. The M excels at this. 

Even when a camera may have almost no modern day features yet brings a rewarding rich user experience, I usually love it as to me, simplicity is an amazing thing. Less is more in most cases for me but I understand that is not the case for all of you here. I do not write reviews to please anyone, nor do I edit my words or thoughts if I think some will get upset. I just state my honest feelings for me and you can read it and think I am nuts or read it and think about it, and maybe get something from it.

With new cameras being released at a rapid pace and with more set for 2019 (Leica SL2, Panasonic SR1, possible new higher spec Canon EOS-R, new Sony A7SIII) there is no slowdown in sight and as always (as I have done countless times in the past) many will sell a camera they bought 6-12 months prior because the marketing and hype will make them feel left out if they do not upgrade to the latest and greatest.

The problem is we are in a constant state of upgraditis. I have been trapped in this world for years and it is actually a disease called G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). It’s real, and it’s actually pretty serious. I have known guys who have lost thousands and thousands every year by buying and selling cameras just so they can upgrade. As I said, I am one of those guys! But as I get older I realize more and more that even I have been sucked up into the marketing hype of “YOU NEED THIS NEW CAMERA” and these days I not only feel it, I know it. Cameras that have been released even four years ago are still amazing for shooting today. If a camera delivered great results 3-4 years ago, guess what? It still does today.

2009, that dynamic range looks pretty good!

While I own a few cameras, and even bought the new EOS-R that I mainly use for video, my main photo enjoyment still comes from the cameras with less features crammed into them. On the topic of video, that is a whole other topic as today video features in these cameras still have many years of improvement in them, much like when I started this website 11 years ago with strictly photos and still imaging. For me, I have the best quality I can get in photos with cameras that have already come and gone or whatever is offered today. Video, well, that is where the most of the progress is still being made.

So if you shoot photos and are not worried about video, you probably do not need a camera upgrade. Doesn’t mean you do not WANT one but let’s not confuse WANT with NEED (maybe another article and why even I may not listen to my words of advice here on this page). Our old cameras still work well, and will continue to do so as long as they are powering up and working. Have you ever sold a camera to get a new one, and later regretted selling that older camera. Yea, me too. So before you sell to buy new, think about if you really need what is being offered in the new breed. Yes they bring improvements but are 90% of these improvements really needed or are they just there to make us feel they are?

Have a great week guys. I will be out shooting the EOS-R with the Leica M adapter to see how the camera does with M lenses as many have been asking me. Simple, easy, and free of fuss. So far it appears that it is about the same as the Sony series with M lenses, meaning these lenses will always work best on a Leica body.

I will have a report on that soon! As for future reviews, I will always stick to what I have done for years. I will review what I like, what I use or would use and cameras that just motivate me. So not all cameras will be reviewed here just like the past. This earns me way less money every year but it keeps me honest and to me, that is the best way to go.

Steve

Related Post

60 Comments

  1. Thanks for your message! I work with a sony nex 6 and a few lenses, among them the 1.8 50mm sony, and again and again I am surprised by good results in bright and low light. So I wait for innovations which make a difference to me.

  2. I totally agree that all the features of these digital cameras can take the enjoyment out of actually making photos. That’s why I still love to shoot analog film cameras occasionally. I like to take a yearly break from all my digital cameras and break out my film cameras for at least a couple months so I can really slow down and get back to the basics of photography. My Canon AE-1 Program is fun to use, but my favorite film camera is my Canonnet QL17-GIII. The light meter stopped working a couple years ago, so I have to use a light meter app on my iPhone, or I can use the old Sunny 16 rule, which is even more fun! As much as I love my digital cameras, for me analog photography is just all about having fun again with photography and getting back to the artistic side of it.

  3. Steve, excellent points.
    I have not “had them all”, but only my fair share of manual focus cameras. I resisted the digital onslaught with my trusty Pentax LX. Then my eyes began to fail, and I retired. And they gave me an Olympus OM-D, so I bought a second one . . . which I enjoyed enormously for a long time.

    But the camera I love more than my beloved Pentax LX or (choke) MX, more than my FM2s, and more even than my digital Olympus cameras, is the Canon Canonet QL GIII, lowly though it may be. I made better shots with it and loved it more than any other camera I’ve used. I even broke a frozen shutter linkage on one in the middle of Siberia taking shots of an outdoor ice cream vendor at minus 40.
    I can’t afford a Leica, by any stretch. Never used one. Drooling only. And I cannot see going back to film. (Though I almost talked myself into a Pentax MX a few months back-don’t scare my wife with this tale) If only the Pen-F had a rangefinder frame in the viewfinder! I might be able to subsist on that.

  4. I had a Canon 6D and started to find even autofocus lenses were taking a lot of the joy of photography away for me.The Sony A7III might be stuffed full of far too many features that I’d never use but just being able to use one with proper manual lenses (DSLR’s are an awful experience with manual lebses)is a real bonus. Almost feels like being back in the film days but with the advantages of digital. I’ve also rediscovered the joys of zone focusing. Zone focusing can be unpredictable (and occasionally pleasantly surprising) but that just adds to the fun. I like to be in control as much as possible.

  5. Hi Steve! Thought this was a really interesting post and I applaud you. I’ve recently converted from Nikon DSLRs to Sony (A7M3 – wow what a camera) via Fuji and Canon and finally I’m happy with the features I need for work and the overall shooting experience. I wanted a second body just in case and thought about getting into debt for another A7M3 but decided on a used original A7, which I use for 90% of my personal photography. I saved £1400 in the process. This ‘old’ camera, which is still pretty advanced compared to many, taught me that it is indeed great to slow down and think a little more, and I’m actively looking into old manual lenses for my cameras. The A7s are advanced and I wouldn’t want to be without eye AF particularly, but I always shoot on manual and I count size and weight as ‘simplifying’ factors; both of these as they apply to the Sonys makes the experience all the better. I actively try to avoid GAS these days, having been previously affected, and feel no need to upgrade to the A7M4 when it appears, or the A9, but I can’t see myself being immune to the charms of a Leica RF one day if funds permit.

  6. I choose the Eos r coming from the A7rii. Was it necessary? Probably not! But nonetheless I’m very happy with the R and enjoy it a lot!
    I will buy more things in the future, let’s see where that leads:-)

  7. Wise words, truly. I’ve suffered also some years from G.A.S. Syndrome – the Gear Aquisation Syndrome. And nowadays? Well, i do like to shoot my old Queen Mum 5D, because i can’t stand the A7 Menue since years. Would replace it someday with a A7S II, but atm it’s way over the top for me, financial.

    Coming from analogue SLR days, it’s especially into some well-known german forum the usual, when something new comes out – then someone asks the Question of all questions here: “Camera xy still a good buy?” Whileas there is a successor…oh my….Ansel Adams would turn inside his Grave…

    Still, i do like to shoot my old Contax, Yashica & Minolta Gear. 167mt, FX-D & XD7.
    Or my Icarex 35S. And the Shutter from my FC-1 Konica, that Mirror Slap is lovely.

    I do never play early adopter again, all my life…i did it once with the A7, it simply wasn’t worth it. It’s a good DSLM, just out of curiousity, you know, that thing, that killed the Cat…i’ve replaced the eMount with a full metal one, but whileas never being used to heavy and huge Zooms all the time and exchanging lenses, never had issues with the original 2 Piece eMount. But changed the Eyecup to the latest one, because it’s way softer, and therefore better.

    Anyway, i do still like and take pictures with my 13 year old R1, 5D, or 12 year old D80 here and there…

    What many people simply don’t get is – Cameras are just Tools, ideally, they do never get into your way, whileas being taking pictures…i do prefer simplicity & minimalism over tons of features, no one (not myself) cares about…gimmicks like Smartphone Apps, Video, Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi etc, i don’t give a damn about. 😉

    My ideal Camera would being a (used) M9, or M240…but i can’t afford it yet, perhaps in some couple years. I am settled, have my old manual focus lenses, it’s good enough, and i do appreciate the way, old mf lenses do render images, as well as the aesthetics, haptics from these Lenses.

    Into the End, it’s all about the Print, the Pictures. Not about Gear, Tech blurb & all of this. One can make Compositions with good Light & any Camera.

    To quote Chase Jarvis ~ “The Best Camera is that One, that’s with You”. And he’s right.

    Good Light!
    Marc

  8. Great read, I relate much. Sold everything, bought a used GFX 50S. Going all manual, adapting my Rokkor 58/1.2 shooting in 5:4. Back to basics. Slow, manual, hopefuly joy.

  9. Superbly written and very true! 2018 has seen me using my film cameras more than in the past ten. I love the simplicity of the Leica (35mm) and Mamiya TLR (medium format) along with the joy of home processing black & white. I feel like I am making a photograph as opposed to allowing the mini-computer camera take one, if that makes sense.

  10. Your post raises an interesting question: Should the tool serve the photographer or should the photographer adapt to the tool? Seems like you’ve chosen the latter and are better off for it. I started with Nikon F2’s and am fully capable for working through wet processing, switched to Canon digital (I thought Nikon would never catch up) and have been cross-eyed happy with Olympus 4/3 system. My shooting style has not changed for decades. Manual focus and mostly primes. I don’t spray and pray, even though my OMD-EM Mkii is built for it. I shoot single frame at a time, even in fast-moving sports situations. What the technology has given me is access. If I had to carry around 40 lbs of Canon stuff, I wouldn’t be very motivated. I now go more places and look forward to shooting every time. If I had to fiddle with a rangefinder, I’d miss 30% of my shots, unless I completely changed how I shot. I know, because I bought a Leica M, and while adoring the IQ and simplicity, it zigged when I zagged. And it would take months of adjustment for me to get in sync with it. Without a doubt, there’s no substitute for Leica IQ and the experience. It’s just not worth the financial and opportunity costs to ME.

  11. I bought the M9 in 2010 and have always loved it, it has improved my photography immensely and every time i consider an upgrade for better IO, Auto focus, Iso, blah, blah blah, I fall back on the idea that this camera still way outperforms my skill level. Always reminding myself that others have made incredible pics with equipment far inferior to what i currently have.

  12. I’ve had my M9 for 7.5 years- just starting showing slight sensor corrosion issues. I sent it in for a new sensor yesterday, will be happy to have the full CLA, new Sensor, and warranty for the price. With some luck- I’ll get another 7 years out of it. The M Monochrom had the sensor replaced for free. The M8- had it for 9 years, bought used with 400 frames- still use it. The M9 is my favorite digital camera of all time- my oldest is a DCS200. For the “crappy monitor”- you pay EXTRA for the newest Leica to not have a monitor. It’s fine for menus, and good enough to test the focus while adjusting a lens. Sometimes you get used to a camera or lens, and “just sync up with it”. Being out-of-sync with a camera gets in the way of making a photograph.

    • I have been getting rid of most of my cameras. I now am left with an Olympus E – M5 that is a tool for me, and my love – a Leica M3. Now, for me, a camera is just a box to hold a lens. I want that box to please my hands, and respond efficiently to my needs. The Oly does that when I’m photographing wildlife. But, for pure joy, my lowly M3 is a box that brings brings serenity, a rapture to me,and my photos just seem to show this. My M3 helps me create “art”, the Oly helps me document the reality in front of me. Will I replace my Leica? No… The Oly? Yes, when it breaks or I find a better box for my needs.

  13. How right you are Steve! We must all remember that the real photo is in the eye of the beholder, not the camera. The camera only facilitates the artistic expression that the photographer creates through the image. I still have the Exacta VX I took pictures with in my teen age year back in the late 40’s. However, back then I didn’t suffer from the infirmities of age, namely a bit of shakiness. For that reason, I treasure the Lens IS and camera IS that my Sony A7RIII gives me. Since I also crop my images to achieve artistic effect, 43 megapixel images are a godsend. Would I go back to my old cameras of the 40’s and 50’s? Not in your life! Would I use a Leica M10, despite its pedigree and the love conferred on it by its owners, not likely, for the foregoing reasons.

    On the other hand, you have taught me a lesson. Nostalgia is no justification to buy more just because you can. I had put a reservation on the new Fuji GFX 50R simply because I wanted another go at medium format, just because I have a treasured picture of my infant daughter taken in 1951 with a now long gone Bronica. Nostalgia is not a good enough reason to spend $5000 to produce images that my full frame Sony A7RIII can equivalently create. So, thanks for the comments.

  14. For me this is the best article from you for a long time! I’am using the M9-P now for 10 years. No need for new “machines” to change. Always listening vinyl 40 years. Never never unfashionable!

  15. Love the post Steve. The latest and greatest equipment really only helps sports/wildlife and event photographers. As soon as the digital sensors got to the Canon 5d Mk2, D700, M9 level any improvements in IQ have been minor unless you blow up a picture to unreasonable levels. For non professional use, nothing can compete with an iphone for video anyways.

    keep up the great work here Steve- David H

  16. Hi Steve
    Absolutely agree. Although owner of A7iii, I still use my Canon 1D mark iii. I LOVE the heft, the way it feels, the controls, the colours and something about the images – more than I do the Sony! I also like the fact that I have to get the exposure right – no WYSIWYG EVF!

  17. Your message in this post of not needing gadgetry and photo enhancement features to create is not lost, just because today’s cameras, all of them to one degree or another, make the creative process more enjoyable by getting out of the way. So, whether it the Hassy’s delicious MF resolution, Canon and Fuji’s subtlety pleasing stock colors, or Sony’s eye tracking and blazing fast auto-focus, soon every camera will have all of these things as standard on board features as the gap between brands and mounts becomes paper thin. So if you consider yourself a purist in need of a cure for tech-overload, buy the camera with all the neat features because they are getting so damn cheap, then turn off the IBIS, turn off peaking, turn off tracking, turn off AF, forget about bursts and buffers and go shoot. That fancy rig you just bought will feel just like a vintage camera. But when you got to sell it, you’ll get top dollar … talk about having your cake and eating too! 😉 BOO!-YA! …it’s a great time to be a gear-head! 😉

  18. Many of the new features and advancements are well received by some professionells and for good reason as it makes their lifes easier. If you only have one chance and only a couple of seconds to get the shot you are happy to get all the help from the camera you can possibly get. But they dont shoot for fun and often do their job under pressure. If you are not doing it for a living but for fun buy a camera that speaks to, inspires you and makes you feel good. Even pros have a camera of that kind in their bag when they shoot for fun 🙂

  19. Great post Steve!
    The M9 was my favorite camera for a long time and I got some great images with it. A few years later I traded up to the Q and absolutely love it. I no longer have to carry a bag with M lenses and the Q image quality is fantastic.

  20. I found at 68 and after cancer and surgeries that I needed some things I did not before. I looked at all the new cameras that came out when I was inactive. And ended up happy with my EM1 so I got a used one for backup. I put my money into lighter better lens. I never print larger than 11X14. I want 20MP, but then other things in the new camera are not needed by me. Although it was not until I wrote down exactly what I needed that I realized I had the perfect camera for me. I had been looking fora FF camera. My wife is getting me one for Christmas. We decided on the A7II and the extra money will be used for glass. Reminds me of film when the camera held the films and the lenses made the photo. But even that changed with auto exposure and metering modes, etc. I think sometimes we do not really know what we need. Honestly, I have never had the occasion where I thoughy, “I could have gotten that photo if I had better equipment.” I have had the thought if I had the right film in the camera… Gotta love digital as I always have the right film.

  21. I’d also think that the obsession with post processing RAW files and the denigration of JPEG shooters is absurd. Since when did spending hours in front of a computer equate to being a good photographer?

    I do shoot RAW bu many of my most memorable shots were with my Olympus PEN E-P1 and Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 sooc jpegs.

  22. Great article Steve and I agree completely. You watch some of the YouTube channels and read some of the forums and certain folk would have you believe that if you haven’t got the latest and greatest you’re going to suffer and be left behind and I must admit, that sometime I do get that feeling. But I have for while had this philosophy: One-Step-Behind which keeps my GAS in check (and an appreciative wallet!) In fact I have recently been shooting with my Sigma DP1M, a horrible camera in almost all respects but when you know how it works, it’s capable of producing the most stunning images and with it, the reward of doing so, I guess it’s similar to your Leica experience. So there you have it One-Step-Behind, buy “old” cameras and see what you can do with them, it’s a lot of fun and (relatively speaking) a lot cheaper!

  23. Yes, you say it like it is, especially with regard to simple cameras. M Leicas are my favourite cameras to use, too. They focus you on the relevant parameters to watch over while taking a photo and then get out of your way. If I want resistance ( it can be a good thing, keeping you in the moment ), I go the other way. Back into photo history, using my IIIg, color negative film and an incident light meter. Works for me.

  24. Steve.
    This is a great review of our collective lot of lusting for the next greatest thing. Camera. Car. House. Job. Vacation. Business or personal partners. Every damn thing.
    So good on you for using a RF camera as the benchmark for your observational reference point.
    I’ve transferred my photo mindset from film to digital to this iPhone over the decades and sometimes (okay, oftentimes) forget why I still love photography itself.
    Good on you.
    Thanks.

  25. Yeah, that’s the method.
    When you dream with a powerful middle format Hasselblad, or not less than an expensive Leica, then just buy a crunchy compact without viewfinder. But withal great IQ.
    It works! And you save a lot of money. It also improves your creativity.

  26. I recently ‘upgraded’ from the Leica M9 to the M262 and, boy, am I happy I haven’t sold my M9 yet. Sure, raw files from the 262 are more malleable and there is an increase in ISO usability (though not that much). Sure, the screen is much better and the shutter much more silent, but in the end the joy of using a Leica comes to completion when you get the results of using it. As for the M262, almost every single photo needs work in Lightroom, whereas the M9 in most situations when shot properly yields great result that require little to no correction. The b&w jpegs are unbeatable and very usable up to 1250 ISO, which combined with a summilux is enough in most situations. I much prefer the grain like digital noise of the M9 to the noise of the M262. The benefits of the newer camera do not outweigh the fact that the M9 keeps on astounding me after several years of use, whereas the M262 at best does so at lower ISO. In a time where Leica (and PIXII for that matter) produces cameras without a screen, who cares about the quality of the screen in the M9? It is good enough in use, and the surprise of seeing your photos on your computer for the first time is what makes it so much more fun to use. If you want the output of the M9 and a good screen, forget about the M10. Buy an SD card with wifi instead and watch your photos on your phone. It works!

  27. Hi Steve, You are completely right, we make our lives too complicated. As an engineer in my seventies I try to keep up with rapid technical progress, iPhones, computers,Hifi, Cameras etc. However more and more I miss the old days when things, like cameras were more basic. I owned and sold a vast amount of Nikon film bodies and lenses, over the years, and never really progressed my photographic skill. I embraced digital in the early stages and appreciated the spontaneity of the technology. I still have, and use, a Nikon Coolpix with 3.34 mega pixels. Believe it or not, it is capable to still make great pictures. Having moved to a Olympus OM outfit, I frequently got lost with the menu and lots of buttons, and although it made nice pictures I was never was comfortable without taking the manual with me !! I changed to a Leica M9P and several lenses and appreciated the simpler approach.The only problem was through poorer eye sight I could not get on with range finder system. I could not find a DSLR that was as basic as the Leica. The closest was the the Fuji X pro2 system, and now enjoy the concept of direct control through the dials. Although there are still many features I never use, you can easily ignore them. Although your thesis is correct about not needing to constantly update, it seems to be a fact that many passionate photographers cannot resist GAS is it is like a drug. In that we are continuously tempted. I have periods of abstinence but loose control from time to time.Thanks for an interesting article

  28. Great thoughts. But if I can be honest it is fun to try new equipment and see what works and what doesn’t. I recently got the Nikon Z7 and think in my head the limitations it has on auto focus I can live with. I really can’t see a camera being better than this for my needs. But it is fun to dream and to want and to get but in all honesty when I run out the door and need a camera the one I grab is the Leica X-E which really is just the upgraded Leica X2. So there you go a camera maybe 3 years old or so suits my needs just fine. The second camera I like to grab is a little Leica C. Again an older camera the fits in the pocket easily, small sensor, a nice little zoom and when you nail a shot you nail it. It is fun to get that shot with an underpowered camera. Well I guess you are right Steve…all this marketing and the next best thing has gotten the best of us and yet it is still fun to try new things. Anyway great post and I might just stick with the Z7 for a long time now and of course my Leica X-E and C.

  29. I’m still rocking an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark I and although I have been sorely tempted to buy a second, newer body, I realize that I haven’t even maximized the potential of the E-M5 yet. And, it’s still very capable of producing fantastic images. Thanks for the reality check!

  30. Minimalist! How dare you denigrate advancing technology. Be careful, you may become a photographer at peace with the art of photography.

  31. I bought the Fuji X100 when it first came out. Being stuck with the 35mm focal length made me a lot better photographer. Somehow having a camera with limitations helped me a lot. Perhaps because I was stuck with just that focal length using the camera became more intuitive. Some days I think about selling all of my Fuji stuff and just buying the latest X100f and be done with it for a few years.

    If you want to see some serious GAS take a look at this guys equipment. I had seen him on DPR and written to him as he lives near me. Turns out that he only collects stuff and does not shoot much. Bet he has over $150,000 of stuff here. Check out his Leica lens list! Why someone would own all this is beyond my understanding. https://www.dpreview.com/members/8130622742/gearlist

  32. I feel so identified with your text: I recently sold my digital equipment (Sony A7ii) and started shooting only with a Voigtlander Bessa R4m and its m glass line (thanks to your reviews!). On digital I used to like stuff like easy HSS on flashes and LOVE the focus peaking, but nowadays we’re speaking of a future with some AI in-camera that will allow us to make instantly better pictures without thinking, and thats where I think it needs to stop.

    I really want to return to digital photography with a Leica M (thinking of an used 240) and your text has motivated me to look forward to that (and working harder to save for it haha)

    Thanks for the words! Greetings from México!

  33. Steve
    Thanks for getting all of that off of your chest !!
    I enjoyed every word of your article and it has hit a cord with me. and yes I did read every word. Go Fujifilm !
    Thanks again-

  34. Maybe its time to revisit film. I’ve dusted off the old leica m2, and it definitely brings back that vibe of capturing moments of light. Thanks for the post steve.

  35. 10 years of good work Steve. Thank you. I started with a Leica 3f in 1956 and did most of my work with M3s,M4s and my favourite M6. I also used the earlier SL2. For years, my go to set up was the Leica M6 and the Nikon F3 for longer lenses.
    Today, 60 years on and in retirement, I use Fujifilm X Pro 2 and XT2 cameras with the amazing Fuji glass. I have no intention of upgrading. I cannot afford Leica cameras now. BTW, have you noticed that the Fuji XT2 and the Nikon F3 are about the same size? An optimum size?
    Thanks again for you wonderful reviews.
    Cheers,
    John

  36. You hit the nail on the proverbial head in this article Steve well done!……All you need to make good images is a Pentax K5

  37. Morning Steve. Been a while since I’ve added any comments around here but this article sparked my interest. I keep thinking I need to upgrade my kit and whenever I get that itch to do so I realize my “ancient” Leica M-E does just fine. It has the latest sensor upgrade, battery lasts long enough for me and I figured out a long time ago how to get around its quarks. In fact I was thinking I’d pull out my “ancient” Leica 35mm Summilux pre-ASPH for a different look for the next couple months.

  38. Gutsy post!

    And I totally agree! It is quite scary to read the comments section in different places/social media. The amount of hate/bashing just because it has single card slot, no eye AF or another feature that all the competition has is just astounding.

    I also agree that the progression of camera evolution is a bit scary, so much is now being done for you. I was talking with a friend that explained that now there is AI that helps you with composition, it “optimizes” the composition of your image.. which is funny because this is still quite subjective.

    Until now, we are super spoiled with awesome features and specs, basically every camera you can buy now will “be enough”, the added features are negligible comparing to the added cost.

    And Finally, I also greatly suggest everyone to try film camera. It limits you to such an extent that you only focus on composition and it truly improves your eye/vision/creativity.

    So yeah, definitely agreed! 🙂

  39. Agreed Steve…and part of the reason (over the last couple of years) why I’m so attracted to Leica. I’ve been shooting Fuji exclusively for the past 5 years because it’s the budget that I have. Every now and again I’ll rent a Leica and fall in love all over again with the craftsmanship, simplicity and how it makes me slow down…think…appreciate the process and the results. For me, the experience part of making photographs is so very important. In a crazy, fast paced, tech world…cheers to slowing down…

  40. Have to agree, GAS ought to be listed as a mental disorder…

    I recently started to get old cameras back and it seems to help with GAS.

    With my now new D2Hs it would be great to find your posts on them – do you have a link or reposted here on your site, Steve?

    Thanks

  41. Many years ago and because of all the negative reviews I ignored the Nikon V1. Then I read your review and bought one plus, eventually, many lenses including the fabulous 32mm f/1.2. The camera had its limitations but I learnt to work around them and really enjoyed my photography. Later I added a Nikon D5300 and enjoyed that as well. Then came the launch of the Lumix GX80/85 and like an idiot I took aboard all the positive reviews and sold all my Nikon gear and bought the Lumix. I hated it, didn’t like the menu system or even the colour of the images so for 2 years it stayed in a cupboard. Unfair because it could do amazing things but it wasn’t for me so I went back to Nikon with a D7100 but by then arthritis in my hands had got worse and it was too heavy so was returned. A photographer friend suggested I try a Canon M50 which he said would give reasonable results in auto mode for days when my hands were bad but on good days full manual mode would give me back the photographic pleasure. He was right. I now enjoy going out whenever possible with the camera and the results are satisfactory for my purposes. The lesson here is clear and confirms your statement, if the camera (Nikon V1 in my case) does all you need and gives enjoyment then don’t let the reviewers part you from your money for something you want but don’t need. I actually started with a Kodak box 120 box camera in 1949, did my own developing and printing and really enjoyed the hobby. Thank you Steve for your website and the trouble you take to make all your posts and reviews interesting.

  42. Great post. I think some people fill some kind of inner void by purchasing endlessly, it’s just a matter of what they buy. If they like photography, they’ll buy cameras and lenses all the time. Others swear that they’ll be better photographers once they have ~that camera.
    If you’re a pro, I think it’s 100% valid to upgrade if it will make your job “easier”. We all know that living out of photography is no fairy tale so anything to make work more enjoyable is welcome. It all comes down to “why” are you upgrading.
    Some things are funny though. I recently changed to Sony (I shoot weddings mostly) cause of all the known perks (weight, AF, low light, video, etc) from Nikon, but the wedding I most enjoyed shooting and the photos from it was shot with a Leica M9 and two lenses – manual focus, ridiculously low buffer and mediocre screen.
    When I travel I bring a Rolleiflex and a Ricoh GR II (cause my mobile phone sucks). Anyway, I thank all the shopping spree people for providing the world with many Like New used equipment.

  43. I had to laugh at the title of this post, though your right, indeed most of us don’t upgrade because we have to, we upgrade because it’s a lot of damn fun to do so, as you know 😉 Please tell me that you see the irony in the guy who just recently, upgraded to a Leica SL (again), Leica M10, Hassy X1D, Canon 1DX II and Canon EOS-R suggests to me that I probably don’t need to upgrade?!?! … Thank you for that good belly laugh  But you are right, if you bought a D850, A7III, A7RIII or XT3 recently, then there is nothing to upgrade to, at the present time, from a flagship standpoint. You’ll need to wait for the FF Pan-Leica S or the next great Alpha to satisfy your G.A.S. 😉 Now for those of you who haven’t upgraded in years and are maybe on a budget, there are some fabulous deals to be had right now on two year old tech in most mounts. Btw, the only cure is to UPGRADE! 😉

    • Ive owned the SL since it was launched, and still do. Yep, I sold it but then immediately re-purchased it as I knew it was a keeper. This is a 3 1/2 year old camera, and doesn’t have the fancy features of today yet creates amazing quality images with superb usability. The M10, bought and sold without a penny lost as I preferred the SL experience. 1dXII I use for video, which as I say here is a different story, EOS-R is used for video the majority of the time. My video rig is all Canon. My SL is what I use for photos, and the X1D when I want to change it up. Do not confuse video capabilities with photo, as we are now entering the video phase of camera improvement. For photos, a 3-4 year old camera will be good enough for 99% of us, no need for a D850 or Xt3 or A7RIII. Even a D700 would be a good choice today for some, and some still use that camera. I expect to keep this SL for years to come as it does what I need it to do. TO be honest, the rumors of the new SL did not spark my interest. The current one is still delivering the goods. What this article is saying is that we do not need these features such as Eye Af, IBIS, 20FPS, etc to take a good image. Some think we do, but we do not.

      • I completely agree, we absolutely do not need any of these great features to make excellent photos. We got along just fine before IBIS and Eye-AF no doubt it. But we also got along just fine before cars had back up cameras and collision avoidance now standard features in a $20k Corolla. I wouldn’t want a vehicle without these cool new features. The point being I’d rather have the cool new stuff than not, especially now that two grand pretty much gets you all the goodies in the A7III. My Father used to say about buying a car; “Buy it Fully Loaded – it will hold its value longer and sell much faster than a stripped down version.” Sound logic that stands the test of time, even today. But yes, for the few remaining purists out there, bells & whistles don’t matter. Can’t say I believe too many of them are cruising these camera blogs though 😉

      • Great post/article

        At first thought, you’d be considered an upgrade junkie of GAS sufferer – BUT – you do happen to have a website that reviews cameras, gear and photos…..so really you get an exemption 🙂

        Goods like me who have bought the next big thing and then moved on after less than 1000 actuations…well…..no apologies. I’m enjoying myself.

  44. Hi Stevehuff ,I totally agree with you.
    Since I’m not a video user ,i will keep using my M10 and SL for a long time even SL 2 is coming . I really enjoy my SL and M10.
    Thank you very much.

  45. I blew a small, or maybe not-so-small, fortune on digital cameras in the early days. My first “serious” digital camera was the infamous Nikon D2X. I bought one in 2004 along with a 24-70mm f/2.8 DX Nikkor. Man, was that thing a tank–big, heavy and overbuilt. I smashed my piggy bank to smithereens to pay for it. It could take ok pictures as long as you didn’t push it over ISO 400, didn’t mind the 1.5 crop factor, the itty bitty LCD, or expect much dynamic range. Forget shooting in bright sunlight. I shot a lot on cloudy days. Back then sensor technology was evolving so rapidly that within 2 years my mighty D2X had become little more than a very expensive doorstop. Today, you’d have a hard time giving away a D2X.

  46. Beautiful images, I like in particular the B&W street shots in the middle of your post. To look at them gave me a really good start in my working day. I like your philosophy, too, despite it’s bad news for the industry. Some people seem starting to think that way. A few months ago I started a little gear thread on canonrumors about why I still use my more than 20 yrs old EF 500mm lens (no IS!!) for birding and showed an image I shot with it. I didn’t expect any reaction on a site dedicated to GAS and was surprised to receive some positive comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.