Lightroom 4 and the endless photographic upgrade cycle

As I recently noted, Adobe Lightroom 4 is coming out and it’s actually cheaper than previous versions. This is likely a reaction to Apple lowering the price of Aperture on the Mac App Store. This is all good, right? Maybe.

I’m going to come off as a curmudgeon here, but I’m getting tired of the endless upgrade cycle that digital photography has created. I’m on my second dSLR (a Canon 30D), my third “walk around lens” (a Canon EF-S 15-85mm), my fourth (or fifth) memory card, my third version of Lightroom, my second computer and my third external hard drive to hold the photos. I’d be on my third dSLR if I didn’t have two kids in college at the same time. Things were simple when I had just my old HP 320 and iPhoto. But I was big into photography when I was younger and took the plunge and bought dSLR #1. At first I shot in JPEG and iPhoto was more than capable of handling the images. But just as I discovered what I could do with the camera not set on full auto, I realized that RAW offered more capability. But that required: a) a bigger memory card, b) more hard drive space, c) a faster CPU and d) Lightroom to deal properly with the RAW files. When I got the 30D, it meant even more hard drive space and yet another memory card. I think you can see where this is going. Yadda yadda yadda, here I am at Lightroom 4.

Then I got into shooting bands in live settings. That meant a new, faster lens that allowed me to work indoors without a flash. But it also means high ISO values and my 30D gets pretty noisy above 1600. So I’m thinking I want a full-frame sensor (Canon 5D Mk. II), but that would make all my lenses obsolete, so the Canon 7D is the reasonable alternative. It’s APS-C, but has much better low light performance. Only it’s about twice what I paid for the 30D. I just can’t do this anymore.

So, what to do? For me, at least for now the answer is “nothing at all.” I’m not going to upgrade Lightroom despite the attractive price. No new dSLR and no more computer upgrades. I’m going to enjoy what I have and work within the limitations I have.

Notes: I didn’t mention printing, which has its own slippery slope (inks, cheap construction, etc.).

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