EP 27: PHOTO FOCUS: When Should You Upgrade Your Photo Gear?

Welcome, welcome to episode number 27 of the PBH podcast. The momentum is growing, the community is growing, and more people are finding value from me rambling, which is awesome. Thank you all for your listening ears and support!

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Okay! Appreciation energy is up, let’s get going. I’m coming at you from Minneapolis as I record this, but I’ll be in Florida at Podcast Movement when this goes live on Tuesday. Yeah, FL in August sounds awesome…ugh. 

episode 27 of the Photo Business Help Podcast with Natalie Jennings
Photo Focus: When Should You Upgrade Your Photo Gear

Podcast Movement is a massive, education-packed, party-packed conference for podcasters. This will be my 4th Podcast Movement…crazy! At this point it’s like a high school reunion feel with so many podcasting friends coming together. It’s a blast, and I usually need to sleep for a few days to recover. The schedules are getting bigger each year and so are the parties. 

Aaaannnyway, hopefully I’ll learn something new to make this show even better for all of you!

Today’s show came in the form of a request from someone in our amazing Photo Business Help group on FB. She asked a wonderful question that I have some feelings about: when should I upgrade my gear?

On today’s show I’d like to give you 6 reasons it’s time to upgrade and 2 bonus items: when NOT to upgrade. So let’s go.

Missing a shot

It’s happened to me in the past, and it can be a huge bummer: you missed a great shot. Maybe your flash didn’t fire or your lens didn’t focus properly. No matter the reason you missed the shot, if it’s anything to do with your gear, it sucks. Things malfunction here and there, so don’t go selling your gear if something happens once. But if you’ve noticed a sluggish lens or misfiring flash, it might be time to upgrade.


Reason number two you may want to upgrade: your rental bill. I’m all for renting. I always rent something before I buy it, especially lenses. Many of you also know that I’m a huge advocate of having a back-up camera AT ALL TIMES. If you’re just starting out, this might be tough to afford. Renting is a wonderful option BUT if you’ve been renting the same thing for months, you might want to consider biting the bullet and purchasing it. Not only will new gear perform better, but it’s yours to keep. If you’re busy, those rental fees can add up quickly, so don’t spend more in renting than the thing would actually cost to buy!

Upgrade in quality of images

Reason 3 to upgrade gear might also mean an automatic upgrade in the quality of your images. This is especially true if you’re getting a new camera body since ISO capabilities are like a magic trick these days. I mean, with my mk iv I can shoot in near darkness and still pull off a reasonably non-pixelated image. I’ve always said that taking a great photo doesn’t require top of the line gear. And it doesn’t. But if you’re delivering professional collections like weddings or ad work, your images might be blown up big for print and you want sharp lines and no pixelation. Lens, software, or camera upgrades might be a next step.

Heyo! Interrupting SUPER quick to invite you to join us. If you’re getting value out of this show and want to enhance your experience, join our private FB group: Photo Business Help with Natalie Jennings. You can ask questions, get to know other photographers, join our in-person meet-ups, and catch me LIVE every Friday where I answer questions and drop more photo biz help tips. Go to to join us. It’s free, it’s fun, and it will help you on your journey to building a better photography business. You’ll also be the first to know when I release my next course and be front row for discounts. That’s


The fourth reason to upgrade your gear is straight up ease of use. When things are functioning, working is easier. Whether it’s your laptop or flash trigger, sometimes new gear just makes life easier. I know for me, an upgrade to a faster computer processor was game-changing. But so was getting my Shootsac camera bag. If it’s in the budget and you know if will make life easier, it might be a good time to go for it.

Exploring new genres

When I first started out, I wasn’t sure exactly what kind of photography I’d love the most. I tried a few different things including food photography before I discovered that I love storytelling and documenting. You might love landscapes or sports or birth photography. Whatever it is, my number five reason you might need to upgrade is because of a genre shift. Sports and nature require very different gear than birth photography or weddings. So if a new genre is calling, make sure you have the right gear for the job.

Photo Business Help Facebook Group's first meet-up! We've had many since...join the group at
Photo Business Help Facebook Group's first meet-up! We've had many since…join the group at

Get excited

My final reason that it might be time to upgrade your gear is to infuse your work with new excitement. Ordering new camera gear feels like Christmas did as a kid. It’s exciting to get a new toy. For many of us that have been shooting for years and years, adding something new to your bag might be just the thing you need to get excited about your work again. I remember getting my 45mm tilt shift. This lens was definitely a treat since I didn’t “need” it as much as my other lenses. But it inspired me so much and allowed me to experiment and grow as a photographer.

Okay, so those are 6 reasons you might be ready to upgrade your gear. Here are two bonus items: when NOT to upgrade your gear.

Peer Pressure

The first is peer pressure. This is real. We’re all in photographer groups and asking other people what they shoot with, etc. and sometimes it seems like we have this crappy set up and everyone and their grandma has better gear. First of all, if you can tell from an image I put up that it was taken with my 1970’s spotmatic on film, my Canon 50D or my mk iv, you win all the prizes. Yes, there are differences in new models, of course. We covered ISO. BUT, a good camera will stay a good camera for a looooong time. I’ve published iphone photos on my site before. Yeah, so what? I said it. If you can’t afford new gear but you’re feeling peer pressure, ignore it. Instead spend your precious energy getting as good as you possibly can get with the gear you have.

New models

The second reason not to upgrade: a new model just came out. If you have the means and the passion and gear is your thing, go for it. But for most of us, budgeting is a real thing and gear isn’t cheap. As a loose, general rule, I upgrade every other model, sometimes every third. There’s a lot of weird pressure in some photo circles to have the latest and greatest, but that’s not for everyone. Nor is it a reflection of how good a photographer you are. It can actually cause a lot of unnecessary stress to feel like you need to keep up with gear. Stay curious, read up on new stuff, maybe rent it. But don’t feel like you have to upgrade every single time something new is released.

Alright. That’s it for this show. Thanks to Kelly for suggesting this topic! If you’d like to suggest a topic for an upcoming show, join us in the group: and send me a note! That’s

Remember in all you want to achieve, consistency is key.

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