A hard (and expensive) lesson to learn, leastwise for me, has been to spend my money where it really counts. I'm talking about money spent on gear.
My photography equipment is okay. It's not great. It's not the best. It's just okay. It gets the job done, but just barely. If I had to go back and rethink how I spent my money for photographic production gear, I'd probably spend it differently. (Note: I'm as invested in video and video post-production gear as I am in photography gear. That also goes for continuous lighting as well as strobes. So my gear investments are kinda spread out.)
As a non-photographic example, let's look at stereo equipment. I've known many people who have spent a bunch of money on the best amplifiers on the market. Then, when it came to buying things like speakers or tape or CD players, i.e., the input and output devices, they decided to cut corners. When it comes to audio gear, your money will probably be best spent when it's used to buy top-of-the-line speakers and input devices rather than top-of-the-line amps. Ideally, of course, buying top-of-the-line everything might be best but, unfortunately, we can't always afford the best of the best for all the components of our systems. So, we spend where we think we'll get the most bang for our bucks, that is, by spending on (what seems like) the most important parts of those systems. In this case, the amplifier.
When it comes to photography, my opinion is that your money is best spent on glass. That's not to say a good camera isn't important. It is. But it sure seems to me that an awful lot of people are foaming at the mouth over each new iteration of dSLR the Big 2 camera-makers release while ignoring the importance of other components of their dSLR systems, most importantly, glass.
I shoot with a Canon 5D. (I also have a 20D body as a backup.) In my opinion, I'd get way more bang for my hard-earned bucks by spending on good glass rather than, say, a Canon 5D mkII. Why? Because in spite of things like the processor upgrade and the many more megapixels loaded into that 5D mkII, great glass will improve my images dramatically while a new 5D mkII will improve those images to some lesser extent. More so considering so much of the work many of us produce will be reduced to 72 DPI for web use.
I shot for Hustler on Friday. A friend came along to assist. He brought some of his glass for me to play with, specifically, a Canon 24-105 f/4 "L" and a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS "L." Both are lenses I had never shot with before. Frankly, I think the images were more improved using these lenses with my 5D than they would have been using a Canon 5D mkII with lesser glass. Optimally, those "L" lenses would produce the best work on a 5D mkII. But my budget won't allow for that. And that's why when I next spend on gear, it's going to be on glass, not on a camera body.
Incidentally, I really loved the 24-105 f/4 L. That's not to say I didn't like the 70-200, I did, but the 24-105 really wowed me, leastwise, for the type of work I generally shoot. The 24-105's auto-focus was near instantaneous and spot-on! Yeah, it would be nice if they made the 24-105 with a f/2.8 minimum aperture instead of f/4. And I would have liked a bit more focal length. But I'm thinking the 24-105 is a perfect, all-around, utility lens suitable for almost everything I shoot. How come they don't make an "L" version of the 28-135? That would probably be the most perfect utility lens for me.
The pretty girl in the two pics above is Tori from last week's shoot. (Not Friday's Hustler shoot.) Or was it two week's ago shoot? Damn! I must have ambrosia or whatever it's called. Anyway, I made the B&W conversions using the Channel Mixer method. (Channel Mixer tool with Monochrome box clicked and Red=40, Green=60, Blue=0 as starting points. Adjust to taste.) Composition could have been much improved on the first one-- I had Tori flipping her head quickly to the side, on a count of three, to get that hair movement. But I didn't nail the composition. Oh well. I kinda like the image anyway. No Gaussian Blur was