Lens Or Camera: Where To Put Your Money
Why Lenses Are A Smarter Investment Over Cameras
For most filmmakers and photographers, their equipment budget is something that needs to be constantly balanced. With new hardware being constantly released, new specs about megapixels or speeds, it’s very tempting to use that budget on the latest and greatest camera technology. But when you step back from the hype, the question really comes down to lenses versus cameras. This is particularly important for those just starting out, as the choices can seem overwhelming.
The general advice we pass along to both filmmakers and photographers is this: when in doubt, invest in a lens, and here’s why:
It’s worth your money to invest in a good lens. While the specifics vary from lens to lens, the general rule of thumb is that cheaper lenses are manufactured with lower-quality materials, from the body to the optical elements. The result is a noticeable difference in photo quality, particularly in difficult lighting or shallow depths. These issues will appear no matter how state-of-the-art your camera is.
Both photographers and filmmakers will probably tell you that they’ve been working with their favorite lenses for years. The truth is that while technology can push the possibilities of a camera body — anything from megapixel count to wifi connectivity to cloud storage — the basic principles behind lenses have stayed the same for well over a century. In fact, some models that came out decades ago can still be found in use today — they may even be the preferred choice by their owners. That’s why the imaging industry will often crow about the year’s latest camera bodies but won’t have huge marketing campaigns behind lenses. Sure, new lenses come out, but they arrive without hype or fanfare, and that’s because they simply come down to specifications rather than bells and whistles. Invest in a good lens and you’ll use it for years to come — in fact, most lenses built in the pre-digital era work with modern cameras today.
The Pace Of Technology
Of course, new camera models aren’t just marketing buzz and false hype. There are new features and more powerful specifications announced each year. That’s a good and bad thing. Much like TVs, computers, and other technology, what’s new and exciting today becomes the standard in two years and obsolete two years after that. People have been shooting quality for years with the so-called latest and greatest, and yet those top-of-the-line cameras become yesterday’s news quickly — and the price drops with it. That doesn’t mean that their image quality degrades; rather, their exciting new features become part of the standard. Technology evolves quickly, so a little patience on the camera body will save you money. And in the end, unless you’re dramatically behind the curve on megapixel count or other critical specs, those new features are little more than conveniences or accouterments.
The Verdict: Invest In Lenses
Camera features change fast, but a middle-of-the-road camera can still take excellent photos with the right lens, even if it’s missing some of the latest bells and whistles. At the same time, investing in a good lens can be something you only need to do once a decade or more; there’s longevity in the design of a good lens that will save you money in the long run.
Not sure where to start with researching a camera lens purchase? Contact the experts at Meets the Eye Studios. We’re happy to discuss our hardware experience with you, including our library of lenses available for use by clients.