This is a discussion that always comes up at some point during a photographic safari, how important is it to stay on top of the latest and greatest cameras & lenses and how big a part does your creativity play in your photographic journey?
Personally I don't believe that a newer camera will automatically result in better images... Yes upgrading your camera gear certainly does have it's benefits, and here's when I would consider possibly upgrading your camera:
1. Low Light Capabilities
No doubt one of the biggest improvements in cameras of late is their ability to deal with high ISO's. If your main focus is wildlife, chances are that more often than not you will be photographing wildlife, especially big cats during early morning hours, sometimes even before sunrise, or late afternoon and even after sunset. All the camera ranges from the Canon 7D models through to the 1D series have improved dramatically in this regard. I remember owning a Canon 1D Mark II and shooting at ISO's above 800 resulted in very noisy images, whereas the latest 1DX MKII cameras you can happily used ISO's in the range of 3200-6400. One of my favourite times to photograph is before sunrise and after sunset when you get those rich colours. For that particular reason, a upgrade was necessary for me.
2. Frame Rates
Although I personally don't feel that you always need 15+ frames per second, this can come in very handy especially when photographing birds in flight. Like I mentioned, it all depends on what the main subjects are that you focus on. If you're more into landscapes then this would obviously not be a consideration.
3. File Sizes
I am by no means up to speed with the latest tech specs on the new cameras, but there is definitely an argument to be had for larger files sizes. If your goal is to sell large prints then this is definitely for you, however a lot of the people I have spoken to about this mainly share their images on social media where this doesn't matter too much. Once again, it also depends what genre you mainly focus on. For me personally I would rather have a bit more frame rate instead of massive files in wildlife photography, especially if I focus on action scenes. If Landscape or wedding photography is something you do more of, then larger files could come in very handy and a faster frame rate is not as important. Once again, one needs to look at what you are currently doing with your photography and what route you would like to take going forward.
I firmly believe that Creativity will still outweigh the tech side most times.
There are so many way of creating interesting images, and here are 3 ways you could change the look and feel of your images.
1. Shutter Speeds
One of my personal favourite ways of creating your own version of an image. Have you ever been able to recreate a slow shutter image that looks EXACTLY the same as another one? Very difficult right? By using slow shutter speeds you are creating a unique image, one that probably not many people have... Of course this comes with a lot of practice and often disappointment, but the reward far outweighs everything else. I would urge you to try slow shutter speeds next time you have a moving subjects and once you've gone slow, try go even slower... the higher the risk, the more satisfying the reward.
Creating a shallow or larger depth of field can be a great way to bring your story across. The creative possibilities are endless and once again this could give your images a look and feel that is unique. Usually the "rules" will say focus on the subject closer to you, but by changing it around and rather focussing on your subject that is further away, you are once again creating a different, creative and interesting image.
Personally I feel this is one of the best ways to create a striking and unique images. Too many times we are "limited" to the rule of thirds, often resulting in images that look the same. How about breaking the rules a bit and even exaggerating the emphasis on negative space? The way your images look and feel will far out whey everything else.
What do people say when they look at your image hanging on a wall? Wow that must have been a nice camera? Wow that must have been a good lens? Wow I wonder what ISO he/she used? Or wow I love how the background is blurred out. Wow love the slow shutter movement. Wow I love the placement of the subject in the frame!
See my point on this...?
Look at our images and decide, do you need to upgrade or do you need to get creative?