Updated: Nov 1, 2020
Most photographers are obsessive buyers of stuff, but we rarely pause and think about what's on our wishlists, and why we want it. Are you really saving up for that shiny new camera because you think it will make a substantial difference to your photography, or because you think it's going to look great in your kitbag? Here are some things to consider before you purchase a new camera.
What's wrong with my current camera?
You can likely think of a few issues with your camera - and even seemingly trivial problems, like a button that you can never seem to press properly or a shallow grip can make for compelling reasons to switch if they interrupt your shooting style. What's important isn't identifying these issues - it's finding a solution. Let me use the example of my own camera. A user of the entry-level Canon EOS Rebel T6, I felt like my camera was holding me back through its low megapixel count and lack of features. So I made a list of all the cameras that substantially improved on this performance - and came up with two key candidates. The Sony Alpha 7R II featured 42 megapixels (compared to the T6's 18) and a built-in image stabilization system, while the Canon EOS 5DS featured a 50.6 megapixel sensor and an opportunity to stay within the Canon system. I eventually chose the latter, and my problems were resolved - but the decision isn't always that simple. For an ergonomic consideration, try renting any gear that you're considering for purchase - one camera will simply feel 'right' in your hand.
Can I afford it?
Of course, there's a financial constraint involved in the purchase of gear, and you should always stick to your budget. I've heard it said that 80% of photography is skill, 10% is luck, and 10% is gear - unless you really need that extra 10%, avoid overspending. There are, of course, ways to save. Buying used gear could save you huge sums - especially on 'prestige products' from companies such as Zeiss and Leica, and refurbished items also offer massive savings for what is essentially a new piece of kit. With just those handy tips, you can find brilliant gear at any price point. As such, I'd recommend focusing on technique above gear, every time, but once you've mastered shooting, it could be time to upgrade.
However, the single most important tip that could be given when it comes to the buying of gear is to go with what feels right. Once you've done your research and considered the above issues, you'll know when you discover the right camera for you.