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The 3 Main Questions about Old Camera Gear-
1. When do I know it's time to get rid of old gear?
2. How do I get rid of old gear?
3. When do I know it's time to upgrade?
I was asked each of these questions recently and thought I would take a moment to answer them because they are all related.
1. This is more of a person decision, but if you are making money with your photography, It is time to get rid of old gear when you haven't used it for more than year, and in some cases less. We all have these times when a new lens or gadget comes out that we want to try, we invest good money into it and it just sits there, never being used. I want you to try to imagine that "unused" gear as money just sitting there. I used to be really bad about this, and at one point had 8 different SLR camera bodies, which is really ridiculous. I can justify 3-4 now that we use them for video, but as a photography shooter only, 3 would be the max I would count on. If I am not using a piece of equipment every 6-8 months, it goes on the "get rid of it" list. Most of my gear can be fit into my main backpack, and I no only have 1 extra bag that has specialty equipment (macro stuff mostly).
2. The most common sense thing to do is to sell it, either to a friend or on Ebay. If you do not have an Ebay account or experience with it, I would HIGHLY recommend learning, especially when considering answer number 3. The forums also have a "gear selling board" and so far we haven't had any problems or issues with this, just know that if you do sell there you do so at your own risk. I have also just "given away" tons of gear to friends or students, depending on the situation.
3. I do not think increased mega-pixels alone are enough to upgrade anymore. In fact, if you are shooting with a 6MP SLR camera, you have plenty of information for a good 8x10. (How often do we actually print much larger than that anyway). I would strongly recommend resisting the urge to upgrade with every new SLR release.
This one is a little more tricky to answer, but probably the best determining factor on whether or not you should upgrade, is if the new equipment somehow does one of the following:
1. Increases your profitability in some measurable way as a photography business owner. This would mean it will give you a new capacity to do something that can make money. This one is not so cut and dry, so you really have to be disciplined- sometimes there is a temptation to buy that 1.2 Lens, and while it may make your images look better, it is very hard to measure how much more business that extra half stop over 1.4 is going to bring you.
2. Increases your efficiency in workflow (it reduces your time or money expense)-
I will say this however, if you do decide to upgrade, for example, to a 7D, and you now have say a 50D, try not to think of the upgrade as $1700. Think of it as $1700 minus whatever you can sell your 50D for. It is definitely ok to think this way, because if you can get $600 for your 50D, the upgrade is really only going to cost you $1100.
One last final note, the resell value on older photography gear is always greater while the product is still in cycle with the manufacturer. Once the company discontinues the product, the re-sale price drops dramatically.