Long Exposure Photography at Blue Hour, a.k.a. “Last Lights” of the Day, by Joey J 📸


Don’t Upgrade Your Camera Unless It’s Limiting You (or Not)

In a photography forum, I’ve recently come across an interesting comment made by a participant.

You should only upgrade your camera only if it’s limiting you, not just because you have the money to.

In fact, this explains how I’ve grown out of my first body and kit lens, but also the reason why I haven’t upgraded my body for the past 7+ years since moving full-frame.

Back in 2008, I started photography with upper-entry Nikon D60 (APS-C body) with a kit lens. As I grew my interest in cityscape photography, I wanted to shoot wider by using a quality wide-angle lens, which led me to move up to Nikon D610 (full-frame body) in 2014 (so that there is no more “crop factor”) and shoot with “true 18mm” using Nikon 18-35mm (f/3.5-4.5) .

Singapore skyline shot at 18mm on Nikon D610. If not using a full-frame body, the entire skyline can’t fit into the frame.

I believe we all have such stories of upgrading our gear due to limitations posed. For example, you may have stepped up to a fast prime lens to shoot portraits with nice bokeh in the background or a long telephoto lens to shoot birds, none of which is possible with the kit lens.

If Everyone Thought This Way, Camera Makers and Stores Wouldn’t Be Able to Survive

Since upgrading to full-frame D610, though, I’ve stopped upgrading my gear for the past 7+ years. Admittedly, D610 + 18-35mm aren’t the top-of-the-range combo in the market, but they’re decent enough, and I’m fairly satisfied with the image quality. In a way, I’m not “limited” by my gear, hence not feeling any serious need to upgrade.

That said, there is a concern here. While the aforementioned comment resonates with me, if everyone thought this way, camera makers and stores wouldn’t be able to survive, especially in the time of COVID-19 pandemic when they were ordered to close during lockdown as being “non-essential” services.


When I saw this comment, one thing came up to my mind, which is “minimalism”. It has become quite popular in recent years by the likes of Marie Kondo, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (the duo known as The Minimalists ) who promote a minimalist lifestyle.

According to Joshua and Ryan, minimalism is “a tool to eliminate life’s excess, focus on the essentials, and find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom”.

Why do I know? Because I own their books, listen to The Minimalists Podcast and even watched a documentary film “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” (the trailer below). Probably I’m a bit of a fanboy!

In fact, I’ve been a minimalist since my teenage years, owning very few items (partly because I’ve migrated twice and more may come, so always wanted to keep my belongings light).

Minimalism surely helps simplify your life, but if everyone becomes a minimalist, our economic system will probably collapse, just like COVID-19 affecting those non-essential businesses badly.

Minimalism Isn’t about Money

By the way, some people may perceive minimalism as being stingy, but minimalism isn’t about money.

A minimalist typically lives with less stuff but of decent quality that he or she has deliberately chosen. If they buy (or don’t buy) something, that’s because it adds (or doesn’t add) value to their lives, not because it’s cheap or expensive.

Do You Agree with the Comment?

Let’s get back to the main topic. My Nikon D610 was purchased more than 7 years ago, and I’m sure that new cameras today come with a number of features that are lacking in my model.

That said, none of those features (e.g. touch screen, flip screen, WIFI, better video, etc.) is enticing to me. As a cityscape photography enthusiast, the only thing that I’m interested in is shooting sharper photos. If upgrading my gear visibly improves the sharpness, that’s the time to upgrade.

Singapore skyline shot from Merlion viewing platform (top) and Esplanade area (bottom) using Nikon D610 and Nikon 18-35mm (f/3.5-4.5) lens. Personally, I’m quite happy with the sharpness in these photos and wonder if upgrading gear could visibly improve the results.

What do you think about the aforementioned comment of “You should only upgrade your camera only if it’s limiting you, not just because you have the money to.”? Do you agree or not quite? Feel free to share in the comments below!

P.S. This post was published on PetaPixel as a guest post.


About MeAbout the Author: LASTLIGHTS.NET is a passion project of Joey J, a Singapore-based Japanese photographer primarily shooting cityscape photography with long exposure at blue hour. Visit his Home Gallery (30 most favourite photos taken) or download his free eBook, Getting Started with Long Exposure Photography .

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