True innovation is rare.That title may be just common sense to most of us. Messages from many tech firms, however, would have us believe that the next release of their product is going to revolutionize the industry – be it video production, personal computing, cell phones, etc.  The truth of the matter, though, is that true innovation happens on rare occasion and often takes a few years to really become practical.

So when is it actually important to invest in new technology?

As I said, true technological innovation doesn’t happen every day. My first generation iPad is a great mobile tool and helps with my project workflow and communication a lot. But would the newest iPad truly change how I work, would it really add much value to my projects?

Even when a product is truly innovative, that doesn’t mean it is the right tool for the job. I recently wrote a blog post pointing out the limitations of some new cameras on the market: cameras capable of producing RAW (uncompressed) video. These cameras, honestly, are a great leap forward in technology. But there are some significant limitations, and just because they are new and more advanced doesn’t mean that they are the right tools for every production.

My point isn’t to complain about the blinding pace of innovation in the video and computing worlds, but to rather focus on what is important: doing good work with the tools that match.

I’m always watching the development of new technology, (like this awesome new camera stabilizer, MoVI) because often there is new equipment that I have to consider investing in. The key, however, is to do a good old-fashioned cost to benefit analysis. Will this new piece of technology save time and cut cost? Will it produce a better end product?

There will always come a time when the answer is yes to those questions and I will buy a new computer, a new camera, a new lens, or a new microphone. But all of those decisions should be driven by production needs, not by the release date.