I have recently picked up more interest in photography. I took classes several years ago, but would like to start doing it on the side. I am shooting my friend's engagement shots in a few months and planning on building a portfolio. I have an older camera that I used to use when I was taking classes. It is a Sony A300. I believe it was released in 2008. I have been researching different models and have been leaning toward the Nikon D3400. My question is do I need to upgrade or should I just continue to shoot with the Sony? Would there be that big of a difference in my photos? Will a newer camera make that big of a different on the quality? I just want to compare the two really and see if it's worth the upgrade.

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    I think the answers you get to this question are going to be primarily opinion-based. We also don't do shopping questions on SE as a whole. You might do better asking on dpreview's Buying Advice forum. – inkista Mar 31 '17 at 19:50
  • There are plenty of sites that provide specs, and even some that compare models directly. For example: snapsort.com/compare/Nikon-D3400-vs-Sony_Alpha_DSLR-A300/… – Caleb Mar 31 '17 at 20:30
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    Although be aware that some of Snapsort's categories are confusing and descriptions prone to hyperbole. ("Significantly more lenses available!" is pretty iffy when the options are 230 vs. 126, and maybe neither one has the particular lens you want. And "Has a built-in focus motor" is just... wrong.) – mattdm Mar 31 '17 at 20:57
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    Possible duplicate of When should I upgrade my camera body? – Michael C Apr 1 '17 at 7:35
  • Ugh. I hate the way Stack Exchange doesn't separate out the attribution for close votes. I don't think this is off-topic, but I do think it is either too opinion-based or a duplicate as Michael suggests. – mattdm Apr 1 '17 at 19:35

You don't need to. People were taking perfectly awesome photos a decade ago, and were very happy. However, you're talking about a camera body that's almost ten years old, there certainly have been notable improvements since then. Particularly:

  • Higher sensor resolution: 10 megapixels was common in this class of camera in those days, and now you'll see 24. Megapixels aren't everything, but that's a significant increase.
  • Less noise, especially at high ISOs. Back then, 3200 was often the maximum possible, and 800 was pushing it for practical use. Now, many people wouldn't think twice about 3200 or even 6400 if the situation calls for it, and maximums of 25600 or 51200 are common. Basically, that's the ability to shoot in a quarter the light, which is nothing to sneeze at.
  • Everything will be faster. Time to turn on, autofocus speed, playback, lcd refresh. Again, ten years is a long time here.

The Sony A300 is a little too old, but the similar 2009 model is available for comparison with the Nikon D3400 on Digital Photography Review, where you can see some of these things. You can also find old reviews and look at samples.

Since you've been shooting with the Sony, you're probably aware of some of its limitations. You might consider renting a newer camera for a week or so, or borrowing one if you can, to compare how it feels after extended use and the results you get. You may decide that you're perfectly happy with the older camera and would be best served spending your cash on lighting gear or lenses.

If we were talking about last years' model, or the one before that, my advice might be different — But my guess is that 2008 is just so long ago in electronics-generations that you'll probably want to change.

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  • Never buy something for photography unless you can answer the question "What problem that I have will this solve". Above are some good possibilities, but first decide if you have a problem, then if it solves it. – Linwood Apr 1 '17 at 0:21
  • If I had taken that advice, I would never have realized how awful the Canon 18-55 kit lens is. Well, technically I realized it when it got an Err01 and stopped taking pictures, and I happened to be able to borrow a nice prime from one of my coworkers, and my jaw dropped at how much sharper the shots were. And my upgrade from a 75-300 to a 70-300L involved a drop incident. But in both cases, I would kill to have known much earlier how soft those lenses are even on an original Rebel (much less the XTi) and how amazing the IS is on Canon's long lenses. – dgatwood Apr 1 '17 at 18:39
  • @dgatwood That sounds like a separate issue. – mattdm Apr 1 '17 at 19:33
  • Sorry, that was in response to @Linwood, not to your answer specifically. – dgatwood Apr 1 '17 at 19:34
  • @dgatwood Ah, that makes more sense. To be clear, I definitely recommend taking a look at other gear, even if just to understand your own better. – mattdm Apr 1 '17 at 19:36

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