Speaking of waiting....
As I've mulled over my camera profligacy a little more seriously these past couple of hours, I've come to a surprising conclusion.
First we have to separate plain old consumer / photographic note-taker Mike from TOP-writing / camera reviewing Mike—not that hard for me to do, actually, since I know myself pretty well. We'll call these Mike1 and Mike2.
Mike2 made the call for what turned out to be mirrorless in 2005, in an article called "The 'DMD': The Digital Camera I'd Like to Own." It took a few years, but the cameramakers eventually cottoned to the idea, and Mike1 then bought a Panasonic GF1 in 2009. I really felt at the time that it was the long-awaited DMD (although the Fuji X100s is closer to the spec). At the time I liked the camera and especially its 20mm ƒ/1.7 lens quite a lot, and I used it as my main or most-used camera for almost three years. (In the meantime, admittedly, Mike2 did putz around with a number of other cameras. But he does that for a living.) But during that time, I said out loud here on TOP that I was committed to the lens and would upgrade the body as needed to get the best out of the lens. And I believe that, also, early in that period, Olympus stated that eventually it planned to build a "pro" Micro 4/3 camera. The path seemed clear, and I believe at one point I stated this "out loud" too: that I'd stick with the GF1 until the day, then far in the future, that the pro Micro 4/3 came along.
I should throw in here that Mike2 has been advising people to plan on using digital cameras for 3–5 years before replacement.
In late 2011 or early 2012, Mike1 bought a GX1, believing it was the logical upgrade to the GF1. (And paid full price for a camera that was soon heavily discounted.) I didn't take to that very well. Then the E-M5 came along, and I thought it was the long-awaited pro Micro 4/3, so I got one of those...and didn't take to it very well either, although it's a good camera. So, casting about for some sort of salvation, I jumped ship altogether, left Micro 4/3, and got a Sony NEX-6. Which, I admit, I have liked from the start.
Then the real "pro" Micro 4/3 camera came out, the E-M1...and I love it.
So what really should have happened here is that I should have used the GF1 I bought in 2009 for five years rather than three, and then upgraded to the E-M1.
Had I done so, I would have bought two small cameras since 2009 rather than, um, five—and stayed with the same lenses.
My mistake? Not waiting long enough.
I should have been more patient.
I can justify the waste of money sort of, because what Mike1 does wrong can be put under the heading of what Mike2 does for a living. But I'd feel a lot smarter and more smug (not to mention richer!) if Mike1's progression had been
So anyway, I think Mike2 is revising his advice. Going forward, he'll be more likely to advise others to keep their main digital cameras for 4–6 years rather than 3–5. To wait a bit longer rather than a shorter time. Be patient; get your money's worth out of your old camera; and make sure the upgrade is really worthwhile (and noticeable!) when you do jump.
We're reaching the point where this is much safer advice than it was ten years ago...quality has risen enough that most options are adequate, and progress has slowed enough that most new introductions don't trump older equipment very easily or by very much.
By the way, I don't know if I've said this in this decade, so I might as well repeat it: The time to start saving for your next camera is the day you buy your present one. That way, when the 4–6 years goes by, you'll have your war chest well stocked with cash and you can look forward to a happy period of angst-free shopping.
That is all.
Mikes 1 and 2
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
ShadZee: "I still have my GF1 (also bought in 2009, paid almost $1000 for it as a kit with the 20mm ƒ/1.7). Mean while I experimented with film (Pentax LX), and tested a few other cameras (returned both GX1 within a week, and EM5 within a month). However, I'm conflicted between the EM1 and GX7...I think I'll wait ;-)"
Mike replies: Waiting sounds like good advice! However having used both the GX7 and the E-M1—and obviously the GF1—I think this would be a good time for you not to wait. Seriously. Or wait till summer for the prices to calm down and the introductory glitches (if any) to get fixed, and then decide between those two. It will have been five years; you done good.
Yonatan Katznelson: "I have informally adopted a leap-frog approach, by recently adding Micro 4/3 (GX7 + 20mm + 45mm) to complement my K5 + various lenses (first acquired in early 2012). Now I can satisfy my acquisitive side every 2–3 years, while upgrading each system every 4–6 years. Next upgrade will be the K3 (or whatever succeeds it, within reason) in 2016 or 2017. The bonus is being able to use the FA 77mm LTD on the GX7."
Mike replies: That approach strikes me as very reasonable and practical too.
Illka (partial comment): "It is easy to wait if you know what is coming. But in the above line of cameras, nobody could have guessed what came next. Nobody."
Mike replies: Aye, there's the rub. [For the rest of Illka's comment, please see the Comments Section.]
Dave in NM: "I shot film and played with a digital point-and-shoot until I could afford a (used) full-frame DSLR in 2006. Then I shot with that camera, a Kodak SLR/n, until a suitable replacement (in the form of the D800e) came along. No regrets whatsoever. I thoroughly learned the strengths and weaknesses of that camera in the six years I shot with it, and I became intimately acquainted with a set of lenses that I continue to use on the D800. Four to six years isn't an unreasonably long time to work with a digital camera. For me, it's probably about the length of time it takes to really assess its usefulness and decide whether I can be better served by moving on to the next one. I've had the D800e for about a year and a half now, and I'm feeling very comfortable with it. I suspect I'll be shooting with it for even longer than I did with the Kodak."
RDaneel: "This resonates with me, Mike. I joined the DSLR world with an Oly E-510, then E-620. GAS and fear of Oly abandoning 4/3 (even though my kit was working pretty well) led me to Sony A-mount; now I'm back to an E-M1. I probably could have gone E-510—>E-620—>E-M1 without the wasteful detour, and maybe even skipped the E-620. The problem is that using a four-year-old camera when all the bells and whistles of the new models are being touted daily is HARD!"
Mike replies: Amen, brother.
Wayne: "Wayne2: 'You already have too many cameras and will just regret buying this one.' Wayne1: 'Just go away!' Wayne2: 'You go away!'"