Camera reviewers love writing about cameras because it's like holding fresh meat out in front of hungry dogs. It's an easy sell. And, at times, I'm in the middle of the dog pack trying to snap at the bait. Most photographers have only two cruel mistresses; ever newer cameras and ever cooler lenses.
I am one of the unfortunate photographers who also has a penchant for wanting new lights. In fact, I go months without thinking about which camera I'll use on a commercial job but almost every day I'm busy considering how I'm going to light the next job and with what sort of equipment.
I'll be quick to say that in the present time of nearly perfect cameras (across formats and brands) lighting makes a much more profound difference in the way a photograph looks than your choice of camera. From small flashes to large banks of fluorescents the different ways of lighting and modifying lights are, to my mind, where most of the magic resides. And yet, except for a handful of electronic flash brands, the lights rarely get their due.
In the last week, on paying jobs, I have used several Profoto mono-lights, a big, battery powered Elinchrom Ranger flash system, five SMD LED lights, several TTL hot shoe flashes and even two Lowell tungsten fixtures. I used them in soft boxes, umbrellas, bounced off foam core, bounced off a white ceiling in a giant atrium and even direct.
While I have six Sony cameras in my equipment cases I have far more lights and even more lighting modifiers. Why? Because the quality of light you can create from each source is unique and expressive, and matching the light to the emotions you are trying to convey in an image is a vital part of what photographers, who can light, do to make their images work.
If I want an amazingly soft source with a fast fall off to black shadows I can use a giant light source (like the 6x6 foot silk scrim I love) as close to a person's face as possible. Depending on the thickness and opacity of the diffusion material and the light source I chose I can get a wide palette of possible looks, textures and variations. It will always look different from a hard light or a smaller soft box.
And yet I can shoot a portrait in the light created by the giant scrim with just about any one of the cameras currently in favor (D810, Olympus EM-1, Fuji XT-2, Sony A7Rii, Canon 5Dmk6, etc.) and, with the right lens, get pretty much the same kind and quality of image. It's almost like the camera doesn't really matter if you know how to light and how to do the camera basics.
I've pulled files from the Sony, the Nikon, the Canon and the Olympus cameras that I've shot in similar light over the years and, after I equalize for minor color, contrast and saturation differences in post processing I would be hard pressed to tell the difference, even over generations, between any of the cameras. One reason for this is that lights allow a photographer to work at optimum apertures and optimum ISOs, which goes a long way toward minimizing advantages of less noisy sensors.
Sure, there are differences in dynamic range but at ISO 100 those differences aren't as apparent in the final medium as many might think. But the lighting.... that makes huge differences.
I know many of you will read this and dismiss what I'm saying because you don't work commercially and spend most of your time photographing with natural light. You are, of course right, for your work. But even when I am off the clock I prefer the look of portraits and other images in which I have total control of the quality, direction and intensity of the light.
Sadly, this means I rarely meet a lighting modifier I don't really like or have a curiosity about. It may be a worse addiction than yours just because it is in addition to the camera buying addiction.
But in the beginning I seem to remember someone saying, "Let there be light." Except for my bouts of introspective street photography I hardly ever leave home without the lights and nearly always I end up using them. Light em up and you'll be working at a level most people don't bother with. It can be a wonderful component of your photographic vision. But every high end flash or deluxe modifier you choose to buy is one less camera body or lens buying opportunity ahead. It may be opportunity loss but the lighting gear tends to stick around longer and go out of fashion much more slowly.
And, as ring lights repeatedly show us, lighting trends come back in to fashion faster than you can imagine. Lighting trends are the Groundhog Day of the photographic world. Hold on to your old modifiers, I can almost guarantee they will be cool and trendy again soon.
Six cameras versus 25 light fixtures and instruments. It's hardly fair.