Having done my time in photographic retail I often find that this time of year has people rushing out to buy a new lens, flash etc for the camera that they got as a gift at Christmas. Before you do anything further STOP! and read on.
It can be very exciting to have a new camera and trust me I know how anxious you are to start shooting wildlife images for National Geographic or fashion for ELLE but before you go splashing cash or crashing credit cards ask yourself if you have really hit the limits of what you already have?
All to often people get into this trap that they must have – for example – a telephoto zoom for when they go to the Kruger National Park. Ask yourself though, how often is that? One or twice a year may not make it worth while spending 10k plus for a lens that does the job justice. Perhaps its best to rent.
Also, don’t be fooled that buying something less than what you need will do the job. I regularly see people buy an entry level 70-300mm zoom reasoning that they go to the bush often but they just don’t have enough for a longer lens right now. They justify spending half their available, budgeted funds on something to substitute what they really want or need and then realise that they have a frustrating substitute which will loose value and put back their ability to buy what they originally wanted for twice as long as if they had just waited.
Another area to save on gear, don’t write off good quality used gear or reduced priced ‘last year models’. Now is the time of year where students enrolling for photographic studies are in a panic – or more so their parents perhaps – about getting all the gear to go pro (as if its happening tomorrow) often with very limited resources. It is actually rather sad to see how many capable cameras there are out there being left in the cold because they are considered too old. That does not mean that they don’t work. My advice is buy good glass (lenses) and upgrade the camera when its working and earning for you.
In short, if you recently got a new camera and are overwhelmed by the options open to you, spend time shooting with the camera and standard lens it came with, being conscious of where its leaving you short most frequently. You may find that you need a wider lens more often than you are running out on the telephoto side? If that is the case buy the wide angle first and don’t waste money on what may be the trend to get a telephoto as the next lens in your bag.