Gear lust: The 7 lies of cameras, and how to respond to them

I knew it had to stop. I mean, I had so much stuff that I had to have a conversation with my wife every time I got some new gear coming in. “It's a better camera”, “It's sharper than the one I had” “it's more compact”, “it's 5 fps”……You know the feeling when you've cried wolf too many times? She was oblivious to my rationalization but that didn't deter me. I would have gotten defensive anyways, after all I'm a photographer, and only a photographer knows what they need. Right?

 

I'm now free from G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) now, I did certain things to kick the habit that only years later I would lean is a process that Alcoholics Anonymous and other addiction recovery places use. I took two decisive steps to break free from the addiction: Replacing the old beliefs with new ones, and then moving beyond the camera. But first let's see how habits work in order to kick the GAS habit.

Prime directive

Ever watched Robocop? The android man always had some things in his mind that were programmed: The prime directives. Even if he wanted to, he couldn't go pass these prime directives. For example one is “Protect the innocent” so he couldn't harm them even if he wanted to. Habits are like prime directives, you fall prey to them even if you didn't want to. A gambler doesn't want to loose their money, but they do anyways because they can't help it.

 

An interesting fact is that, just like Robocop your brain can be rewired to change habits. The thing is, your brain crazes to be on auto pilot, or else it would be overwhelmed….so it creates habits, in order to do things on automatic mode. The habits you have basically short circuit your rationality…..if GAS is a habit, you will buy the camera or lens without even really thinking about it. The popular Book “The power of habit” outlines an example of a man that had terrible short term memory, he couldn't draw a map of the house, but he could go the bathroom or go to the kitchen without any issues….all because they were habits ingrained in his brain.

 

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The GAS habit

G.A.S is an addiction because it's a habit. We condition our brains to respond a certain way to certain triggers and gives us what we wanted: A brain that reacts automatically under certain conditions. First, the bad news: Habits cannot be erased. The good news: They can be overwritten. Turns out there's 3 components of habits: Trigger, Routine and Reward. G.A.S addiction has these 3 components too.

habit-loop

GAS Trigger:

A trigger is of course something that triggers the pattern. In case of G.A.S my triggers were Forums and Gear websites. But it can be anything like friends talking about cameras to simply seeing the gear in the wild. I would be on my merry way looking at gear blogs (the blogs where it says photography but it's mainly gear) or forums when it would hit me. I would want a new camera as soon as I saw a lens porn thread, or a camera porn thread.

 

GAS Routine

This will vary from person to person, but as soon as the trigger was pulled, I would feel uneasy. I have to get that camera, that lens. I can't shoot anymore. My photography is worthless without that piece of gear. I have to get it. What can I sell? 2-3 cameras I can now live without? Throw in some extra stuff like a bag? Can I swing it after the rent? I need to get it! I usually tell myself I would get the new camera AFTER I sell the others but if I could swing it I would buy it before putting anything on ebay.

 

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GAS Rewards

I think I speak for everyone when I say that the reward of GAS is instant gratification. Dangggit you feel like FINALLY you can be a photographer, FINALLY it's going to come down, you're going to take damn great pictures. It's the most awesomest camera ever and Eugene Smith can eat his heart out. Simply stated, G.A.S makes you feel real good, about yourself and what you are doing. But the euphoria does not last, wait a couple of months. Rise and repeat and you have an infernal cycle that costs time and money.

 

An example

In my list, I forgot to mention one big, stupid buy: the Nikon N90, so I'm going to use it as an example of the G.A.S habit loop. Here I was, browsing the internet and somehow ended up in Wikiepedia when BAM I saw this picture:

300px-NIKON_AC-2E_1993

That picture had such an effect on me. It's a PDA, there's data cards, there's cameras!!!! It was like a foot fetishist who also had a strawberry fetish (<- Does that even exist?) who was looking at a picture of someone crushing strawberries with their feet. Weird. But you get the idea. It was my first exposure to the Nikon Data Link System. That was the trigger.

 

The routine: Search the hell that I can about it, Is it even obtainable? Can I afford it? How much do I need? Do I need to sell anything? Does ebay have it? Amazon? Make my accounts, will I have some $$$ left after the rent? I went ahead and got the stupid PDA for $80, some rare card for $40 and got the cable down to $40 (instead of $60).

 

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The reward: Heaven. I put the Nikon N90 a tripod, took selfies of my wife and I at the beach. I mean never mind that I could do this same thing with any camera putting it on 2 or 3 second delay, I had a camera that could actually be trigger by a PDA, how cool is that? The whole kit was gone in less than a month. All this for the experience of a glorified remote release and data back? It was not a rational decision but I bought it out of habit: I want, I lust, I buy.

 

Reprogramming the GAS Habit

Apparently the way to rewire the brain to break a habit is to change the routine, keeping the trigger and rewards. If you are craving a cookie, there was a trigger (<- Maybe seeing one?) and you want that Reward (Feeling good, it's a lot of sugar after all), to kick that habit you simply need to learn to replace the Routine (Eat the cookie) with another one (Like eat Apple).

 

That's what I did, I replaced the G.A.S pattern with another pattern. Actually there's 2 aspects to the G.A.S routine: The intellectual talk and the action, both are necessary to rewire in my opinion. Every time the G.A.S trigger was pressed, a slew of self talk kicked in, from I NEED this, to I will BE a BETTER photographer and the like. Below are some of my retorts to counter my G.A.S self talk. Self talk is the rationalization to the action of buying new gear, I had to deal with it first, before the action. Again, if I sound preachy, excuses, I'm preaching to myself first, and sometimes I need some self inflicted butt whoopin' 🙂

Self talk: New is good

I don't know about you, I like new things. Doesn't have to be a new product but a new thing for me. I was addicted to it. Part of the G.A.S self talk was “Hey Olivier, you're going to get some NEW stuff, imagine how it's going to be like holding that new camera, it's going to change the game, but you need to get it first”.

The turning point came when I asked myself WHEN will there be nothing new. The answer: Never. There will ALWAYS be something new to buy, some new camera, some new gizmo. If I didn't stop it it would suck my life dry. “There will always be a better camera than yours, deal with it”, I told myself. So what if another camera is better than mine? Does it mean that mine cease taking great pictures? No. It's not about having yet another camera, it's being content with what you already have.

 

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Self talk: I'm going to be happier

“Olivier, that camera would make you SO much more happy! I mean look at all you will be able to accomplish with it!” Sure I would be happy. For less than a week that is…..would that be TRUE happiness? No. And the funny thing is, after the sudden high of getting a new camera, I would be depressed because I didn't have another one.

 

Every time that self talk of “It will make me happier” comes to my mind, I tell myself TRUE happiness comes from enjoying what you have. It's all about perspective, in the U.S.A I might be part of the poorest 99% but compared to the world, I am part of the richest 1%. Perspective, my friend, perspective. When growing up, I didn't have running water and I din't have hot water. I used to shower with a bucket and a cup, with boiling water thrown in. You who are going to take a shower with running water and hot water on demand….makes you more grateful, no?

 

That's the easiest GAS self talk to defeat when it comes to my mind. When a thought of getting a new camera comes, I shift the focus to my current gear. Chances are I probably can do whatever I fantasize with my current gear. I also think about how lucky I am to even have those cameras and have enough time to take pictures while some are struggling to pay their rent. It never fails to drive out the lie that a new piece of gear would make me happy. Counting your blessings is the way to go, makes new purchases feel superfluous

 

Lies of gear 1: You will become a better photographer

Oh I love this one “Olivier, 15fps, 4 gazillion pixels it's going to make you an awesome photographer!”, “Dude, you NEED that 1.2 lens it's going to Bokeh that background to the moon, you'll take better portraits”. GAS talk will always tell you that you will become a better photographer, but that is sadly not the case. It might expand your creative liberties but hardly make you a better photographer.

 

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G.A.S has a tendency to blow a feature out of proportion, it makes you focus on one little aspect of a camera and make it seem the best thing ever since slice bread. None of my cameras made me a better photographer, it probably had the opposite eddect, I had too much gear that I changed too fast and didn't take the time to create meaningful work.
Pressing on with your current gear when everybody else is upgrading will make you a better photographer. My mother used to be a pottery artist, I used to watch her hands molding that pot, forming it into what she wanted. Her hands where her tools. She knew how every little movement could have a drastic change on the pot when it was turning.

 

Her focus was never on her hands, what she needed to do to accomplish the shape, her focus was the image of the pot in her mind's eye. My tool and your tool is the camera, and the more you know it, the less camera there will be between what you have in your Vision. I think one of the keys to better photography is not to upgrade the camera but to upgrade your relationship with it, know it like the back of your hands. Plus by then, you won't want to separate yourself from it. After all the best camera is the one you love.

 

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Also the very bad consequence of that type of self talk is that you start associating the camera with being a good photographer. Getting more cameras didn't make me one, it simply provided me some more stuff to hide behind. I have a camera therefore I am a photographer. Mediocrity hidden behind superb gear didn't make me better, I was only a mediocre photographer behind great gear.

 

I won't fool myself, my gear hoarding was because I didn't want to face the fact that I just wasn't a good shooter, so I bought more and more gear to hide that fact. I was simply compensating for a weakness. I'm not saying it's the case for everyone but it was my personal case. There are many reasons for buying more and more gear (Maybe sense of lack?), my personal one was to hide my shortcomings. My PDA collection was to hide the fact that I was never really productive, no matter what system I used.

 

Every piece of gear I bought was an excuse, it provided me a way to rationalize my mediocrity. I'm a mediocre photographer because I have a new camera I have to learn, you can't expect me to create great pictures with something new, right?

 

Still wonder why I needed something to hide behind?
Early work. Still wonder why I needed something to hide behind?

 

Lies of gear 2: You are going to look cool

That used to get me a lot when I was fresh in the game. Big DSLR=Instant street cred “Dude, you're going to look SO cool with that camera in your hands” I told myself when I had my hard earned $500+ in the pocket to buy my Nikon D80. The bigger the camera, the more it screamed photographer, the better it was for me.

The respect of the photographer is in the gear he owns, never fail to flaunt your camera's curves. Or so I believed. If I wanted to be a respected photographer, I needed to stop waisting my money on gear, and actually start producing work. When the hint of something along the lines of “This camera LOOKS cool” I immediately tell myself “I can create COOL IMAGES with my current gear”. I shift the attention from the looks of the camera to what really matters: The Images.

It's hard to resist because nowadays, because many camera have the Rangefinder looks, which I like very much. When something temps me from time to time, but I am quick to point to myself that good looks don't do nothing for images and the photographer's eye.

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Lies of gear 3: Everybody uses that new camera!

“Do what you want Olivier, but everyone is getting that new camera, you should too, or else! It's like having an iphone 1G or something” . That's the old “Let's jump into the bandwagon and use what every one else uses” self talk. What I have found out is that there is a guilty pleasure in using what other people consider outdated. If you shoot with a sub par camera and produce great results,I think that's cooler than using more recent gear.

 

Most of this blog, is written on an old HP200lx (20 year old computer), a Nokia 9500 (10 year old phone) and illustrated with images from a Ricoh GRD IV (about $300). Most of my photography is done on small sensor cameras. How can I not feel a confidence boost when somebody blogs on a shiny new $2000 computer, or when someone takes pictures with a $3000 fullframe camera? There's nothing wrong with that, mind you, but if I got that kind of gear, I would not get the kick of self confidence I would get by using outdated gear. I mean, who's more impressive? The egyptians who built the pyramids with wood, stone and manpower or the contractors who builds modern buildings with computers and mountain-moving machinery?

 

self portrait of a man in black looking at a curved mirror

 

Lies of gear 4: Maybe I should try film

OOOoooh boy, this is the big one! That nasty self talk made me loose so much money. I bought a custom made 4×5 camera and all that film and backs……paid about $1500 for the camera, three different backs and loads of film. Didn't shoot 10 frames, sold it for an abysmal $500 without even counting ebay fees and paypal fees. “Maybe I should get into film” is the GAS self talk the Digital photographers are very prone to, I believe. Every time that self talk comes, it's usually about how better the dynamic range is or the how the colors are. Har Har! that talk can't fool me anymore! Here's what's going on in my head:
-So Olivier, let me get this straight, you want to go to film because you want better dynamic range and colors you can't get in digital right?

-Yes……why?

-Well Mr film photographer tell me what you will do when you finish taking pictures?

-I get them developed!

-Yes and what else?

-I get them scanned!

-OOOoooh so you're going to get them scanned right?

-Yea? So?

-So basically you are making a digital image out of an analog image, meaning all this talk about dynamic range and color is foolish because it's thrown out when you digitize it with a scanner. Whatever extra stuff you had is gone and you are now back to a digital image. Wouldn't it be better to have a digital camera that is hum……DESIGNED to take advantage of sRGB Color Spaces?”

 

II never developed a roll. Yet G.A.S Tells me I need another film camera. Catch the Irony?
II never developed a roll. Yet G.A.S Tells me I need another film camera. Catch the Irony?

 

That usually ends it right then and there. If I'm going to end up with digital images, why spend that money in the first place? The above retort easily keeps that buy at bay without even dealing with developing matters.

 

Lie of gear 5: I can always sell an get my money back

Cameras are like cars, they depreciate as soon as they go off the parking lot. Sometimes the incentive to sell a camera is that it would bring me a new camera AND some pocket money. That rarely happened. I lost an average of 100-200$ on each camera, not talking ebay fees and Paypal fees. My Ricoh GXRs….oh boy lost a lot from those because they were unpopular cameras.

 

You see not everyone has G.A.S, so when I was buying from ebay, I was impatient and wanted to buy it now, sometimes losing money I could have saved by being patient on a bid that would end in days. Also did I say I had a thing for portable storage devices like the Epson p5000? Let's move on less I digress……so not everybody acted like me, I was usually was impatient to sell a camera because I was impatient to get another one. So I either left it on 1 or 3 day sale and made an attractive offer on buy it now options, usually around $50. Very rarely did I sell more than I bought a camera for. I lost money, never really made any selling.

Street-Photography-Reflexions-1

 

Lies of gear 6: You NEED that camera or lens 

“Olivier, you can't make it without that lens, without that camera!”. I believed that when I was fresh into GAS. Take my rationale behind buying the 4×5 camera, I told myself I NEEDED this camera to do some landscape work. Oh man, I would go to National Parks, I would trek the mountains, create killer work! I would be the next Ansel Adams I tell ya!

The truth was, I never shot a traditional landscape in my life up to this point. I never woke up for magic hour, I never set foot in the landscape opportunities that Long Island offered, etc. Fact is, I didn't need much to be a photographer. If wasn't a pro, all I would need is one camera, the Ricoh GRD IV comes to mine. Now as a commercial photographer, I need a bit more than a small sensor camera.
G.A.S has a tendency to promise you that you will be a transformed photographer when you get your new purchase. I bought ring flashes, Sunpak 120js, reflectors, umbrellas cuz my G.A.S told me I would be a fashion photographer (Triggered by a friend who had the gear). Nevermind that I never had any remote interest in fashion.

Please note that I never used the flash that I had, EVER, not even for a lit portrait. When my G.A.S self talk tells me I can be a whatever photographer if I get some piece of equipment I check my past and my future intent, if it has no place, I reject it as b.s. self talk

 

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Lies of gear 7: Just in case I might need that

On of the last lies of gear is, “I should probably get that because I might need that”. Sounds pretty genuine at first, and indeed sometimes you might need some specific piece of gear but it's been my experience that this is usually G.A.S talk. The way you can know it is a G.A.S lie is if you check in your past, there is NO indication that you even remotely even needed the said piece of gear. Say you are totally happy with your 35mm and you've never even remotely expressed any interest in landscapers. All of a sudden, you feel like you need a 18mm, just in case you need that if you encounter a landscape.

There's always that idea that if you don't have all the gear for all the situation you will miss something. It's been my experience that the more gear, the more it bogs you down! And to be perfectly honest, all the gear I rationalized by getting “just in case I need that”, I never used!

 

More gear doesn't make you more creative

Human history is proof that more can be achieved because of limitations. Humans that could fly would not invent the airplane. Humans that could run 120mph would not invent the automobile. Creativity thrives on limitation because the brain is problem solving oriented. When I have a G.A.S. attack I simply remind myself that I am more creative with less, here's an example:

 

There is one episode of Batman (the old, cheesy one) were they were so low on money (because of budget cuts) that they had a GENIUS idea for a fight scene that would cost too much to produce: Robin says something like “Gee Batman, this is going to turn violent, better turn off the lights!” The scene goes black with sounds and graphics of KAPOWS! and WAM!, etc.

 

Cheapest fight scene ever and limitation creativity in action. Instead of zooming in or changing the lens because you have many options, one lens will force you to make it work. Check out this article simply using the 28mm. Creativity springs when you restrict your options, not when you have more. I know this first hand as a graphic designer, the best designs are only a handful of colors and elements.

 

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A more balanced view of gear

I don't want to sound like I'm never going to buy another camera again. I am. I'm just more sober to make the difference between what I WANT and what I NEED. One thing not to do as a gear head is to head to forums and blogs where it's all about gear. There's a healthy balance, I talk about gear on this blog because it's a necessity, a requirement but it's not vitality. What is vital is photography, not gear. If a blog claims to be a photography blog yet only talks about gear, stay away if you are an addict, it's like trying to resist smoking at a smoking bar. The lessons I learned throughout my GAS phases is simple: Gear is good, but there is more to photography than cameras.

 

Gear can either be an hindrance or a stepping stone. It can either block your way to become the great photographer I believe is in each of us, or it can be the stepping stone to that goal. It hindered me for way too long, and I believe those who are fresh to photography are more prone to it, I hope I scared you enough not to go the G.A.S route. My venture into photography started with G.A.S, but unfortunately I fed the fire, and it stayed until I deprived it of wood.

 

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Conclusion

My pain, your gain. I've lost time and money in GAS, and let me tell you what I have learned:
-Gear doesn't make you better
-Too much gear makes you miserable
-The more gear you have, the less time you spend shooting with each piece
-Gear can become something to hide your insecurities
-The less gear the more creative
-Much happier with less gear

 

Every one of us have something to teach, sometimes by example, sometimes by example of what not to do. I share this experience of mine in hopes for you to learn from it. But it's not over yet, stay tuned for more practical steps on breaking free from the addiction!
Be yourself, stay focused and keep on shooting.

Read part 1

 

Originally posted on July 10, 2013

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45 thoughts on “Gear lust: The 7 lies of cameras, and how to respond to them”

  1. Hi Olivier,

    i found your blog featured today on one of those gear sites … pretty much open confessions! My take: When you’re in the early phases of photography, you tend to get tech minded whilst learning all the technical stuff in photography. Once you handled it, you relax and focus more on contents not on the technology that produced it …
    I am not over this 1st stage, but I am making progress (as you can see from my blog https://www.mopswerk.de/ I do both the technical and the “real” photo stuff, but it might be due to my technical education that I dive into modulation transfer functions and the like 🙂 )
    Apart from that, your other posts are very insightful!
    Keep on going and have a happy recovery from “lensitis” 🙂 !

    1. Thanks for the support Henrik! Gear and Techniques are two stages necessary to express our Vision. Thanks for the link!

  2. I’ll speak to the film part, about the guys “needing” to try film. I tell them to go out and buy a point and shoot disposable, shoot deliberately as if you only had one chance, then go and get the shots processed with prints. See what you come back with.

    Most don’t take this suggestion. They will either want that 4×5 with the rails and knobs, or they will just discard the idea entirely.

    Some novice shooters think my old mamiya RB67 is just so cool. But just give them a week of lugging that camera around – that’ll cure them for sure 😉

    Some good introspection here and some food for thought for the habitual buyers. Personally these days I have a different kind of GAS – I have Gear Apathy Syndrome. I care less and less about the new toys every day. I’ve already got good stuff. I’m using it.

    1. I have a similar suggestion for anybody who wants to get into photography, get a manual P&S
      As long as you are using it….as you can see I more than wasn’t 🙂

    2. I think the GAS is when people just jump to the expensive stuff on a whim. When I finally decided to buy another film camera it was a month ago with my new-to-me F100 for $180. It’s fun but that’s it for film…

      1. Neil, that’s how I got my Leica M8. Guy I know bought one and two lenses because of all of the forum frenzy, and when he got it, he couldn’t figure out how te auto focus worked 😉 And he was annoyed by that green spot in the viewfinder LOL. For those of you that don’t know, the M8 is a rangefinder, no autofocus.

        Anyway, I worked with him for a couple of months on using the camera – he hated it and sold it to me a few months after. I got a good price.

  3. Lots of wonderful insights here, Olivier. Thank you for your honest and revealing confession. And your suggestions as to the way out of the mess are inspired. With appreciation…

  4. I thought I had GAS, now I am just glad it is not as bad 🙂 It’s getting better really. I just run a photography magazine now to play with the gear without the investment and realise I don’t need to buy it 🙂 Say, could we do an interview with you about this?

  5. Actually, I have a fantasy of shooting B and W large format, simply because I used to shoot 35mm and did all my own darkroom work, and enjoyed the darkroom work a lot. I have this fantasy of 8″ x 10″ contact prints – mmm. And then I think about cost of film, weight of camera – eh, maybe in a few years…decades.

  6. i had gas between letting film go at around 2003 and the day i bought my d700 years ago, from that on i knew that there will never be a camera that is “better” then that one. well i bought a gxr but thats it.

    i think what people should do is buy the best from the beginning.
    which means the best for you of course, in my case i had/have 10 nikon primes, and bought compact cams en masse because i didnt want to invest in half format. as soon as the d700 hit the market i knew that gas is over 🙂

  7. What a brilliant read, both first article and this one. Have I found myself there? Oh YES!!! (my recent M6 + 2 lenses purchase, because it’s film and it’s Leica experience – LOL). Thank you very much!

  8. I fully appreciate the insights into GAS, I’m sure every photographer has had to get over it, whether or not they have actually spent the money, the consideration was there.

    I do have issue with some of the content being somewhat opinionated. For example, as a printer, scanning a negative as a digital intermediary step to then printing digitally or perhaps created a digital negative for alternative processes is a valid and wonderful thing. Scanning a large format negative is a wonderful experience and has many benefits.

    I would prefer the article to stick with GAS and not pass judgement on other aspects of photography.

  9. Merci pour ce beau partage … Un peu de sagesse et la capture de l’essentiel qui se retrouvera peut-être dans mes photos.

  10. Sounds familiar… I am just starting the GAS treatment myself, hoping my brand new X100s will be there for a while : )
    But I am still hesitating to sell my DSLR and all these expensive DX lenses, while they still have some value. Maybe I could use it for macro if I buy a suitable lens… oh no, here it comes again: GAS attack !

  11. Brilliant.

    Here are the two that are spot-on for me

    -Too much gear makes you miserable (mostly because I resent having spent so much and not using it, see below)
    -The more gear you have, the less time you spend shooting with each piece

    One other habit I’ve developed. I get a rush out of purging gear. I buy and build up and then have a fire sale, and I think I’m “doing something good” by unloading the gear and putting cash in my bank. I should instead NOT buy gear and either go shoot or spend more time with my family. End of story. So, for me, the purging is tied to the buying. I am a camera gear bulimic.

  12. Pingback: Letting go of the camera: The action steps I took to break free from gear addiction - Olivier "F8" Duong | Documentary & Street Photography

  13. There is No Such Thing as a “Magic Bullet.” If your compositions sucks with a Canon Rebel with kit zoom, it will suck just as bad with a Canon EOS 1DX with a f/2.8 70-200.

    Photography, like all arts, requires a certain amount of talent. If you have no talent, your sister’s Smart Phone photos will look better than your photos shot with high-end gear. Simple as that.

    Art also requires a lot of practice. Stop reading all the forums and self-proclaimed gurus. Instead spend your wasted time on practice, practice, practice. Maybe then your photos will suck less 8-)’

  14. Interesting article, I’m going through a minor case at the moment but the only purchase has been a small Fuji X-20 which has been getting a LOT of use. Because of the Fuji I’m actually getting ready to clear a lot of unused SLR gear.

    If you ever need convincing that less is more, take a look at this series of shots (not mine) taken with a Canon G1 (3mp circa 2000) – http://photography-on-the.net/gallery/list.php?exhibition=2&pass=public

    It’s not the camera 🙂

    1. I still have a G1 on the shelf. Thousand of pictures, some rough travel, and it still shoots. Haven’t given up my 10D either. I’ve stretched those 6.3 MP to 12×18. But I get more use out of my ZS3 travel zoom.

      The Fujis do make my mouth water. Those new sensors are so clean it puts everyone else to shame.

  15. Olivier I’m sure even you are overwhelmed by the response these series are getting, ain’t you ? GAS is universal for photo hobbyists, and even pros are subjected to it from time to time.

    I’ve “conquered” my own in a different way… By embracing it. By knowing it strictly for what it is. A new camera never makes me a better photographer. But even though I don’t give in to every stupid impulse, I do have a rather heavy flow of cameras coming and going, simply because playing with new stuff is fun. BUT I never have expectations of bettering my photography by purchasing gear, that’s dumb. I want two things from a camera : to be technically proficient and not get in my way (99% of digital cams fit this bill by now) and to inspire me to shoot and be creative. Only a small % of cameras do that. It’s important to learn, realize and accept about COMPROMISE. The worst form of GAS comes from not embracing that ! If you look for the perfect camera, lens or system, then you’ll never be satsified and will always be miserable. I’ve stopped looking for the camera grail long ago, and now I focus on what *I* need, what’s important for *my* style of shooting. GAS feeds on insecurity, I’ve become a secure photog. Not vain of persuaded of my own greatness (FAR from it !) but simply very comfortable with what I produce and why I do it. I’m not a pro, I have nothing to sell and nobody to please, and that’s totally liberating ! I love to have several cameras availale because they’re a bit like friends, and I’d rather have 3 close friends than just one, but I don’t want 35 friends either, I couldn’t spend quality time with any of them.

    Because full time Live View is very beneficial to my style of shooting and yields de best results for me, I now have two Sony systems, one with a NEX7 and one with a recently bought A58, and I’m very comfortable with owning both a soon to be obsoleted NEX model, and a badly poo-pooed cheapo DSLT. Because like you I feel more pride and confidence shooting something a bit older or cheaper, and not having to keep up with the flavor of the day wagon and be miserable. Same for lenses, if I got a focal covered I strictly prohibit myself to doubling or tripling it (ok, ok, except for 40€ legaciy nifties, I have a bunch of those, lol).

    Photography is a hobby, it must remain fun and pleasurable. Addiction is NOT fun and its pleasure is poison. Get free of GAS !!

    1. I was going to leave a comment much like yours, but then I read yours and it says it all. Some of us just like collecting experiences. Different camera systems give different experiences. One of my favorite such experiences was learning to shoot a Hasselblad V-Series, which has turned out to be my favorite system to shoot. I don’t kid myself I’ll suddenly be a great photographer by shooting it, though.

      If one puts oneself in the poor house by experimenting, maybe that’s a problem, but otherwise, different strokes.

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  19. Olivier, I enjoyed the articles – thought they’re well written. I just have to argue a serious point about your comment of: “So basically you are making a digital image out of an analog image, meaning all this talk about dynamic range and color is ludacris because it’s thrown out when you digitze it with a scanner. Whatever extra stuff you had is gone and you are now back to a digital image.”

    This is absolutely not the case. What you’re not taking into consideration is that the dynamic range of film is two fold – one for the actual film itself, the other for what amount of light is able to be compressed (tonally, in an analog fashion) into the film itself. It’s a non-linear medium which means that it does not respond in the same linear fashion digital does. Additionally color, or how a film responds to different spectrums is the study of sensitometry – and this too is also pretty much done before it even hits the scanner. All that matters is the scanner is capable of interpreting what the film contains. It doesn’t matter that the scanner may have an entirely linear response – what matters is that the source image has entirely non-linear “data” in it and this is why one would use that medium. Scanning should be flat and attempt to try and represent the negative faithfully. But the majority of the “magic” has already happened by the time the film has come out of the developer tank.

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    1. This is true to a certain point. It DOES make a difference, on what instrument you do Music (Example the quality of the Strings!). But without the musician and his/her skills they Strings will not unfold their capacity.

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  25. wow, great series of articles. I’ve found that I’ve only ever become compulsive about gadgets/photography tools, in the same way as you, and playing videogames–never any substances or activities. This is a great starting point for getting over it.

    1. Thanks man! Heh I might actually make another article on seemingly “useless” activities, like video games. Because if you want to know, I owe my photography career to Pokemon on the Gameboy!

  26. Great Reading. Thank you for these 2 articles.

    I dont agree though with one point you are writing:
    About the Hybrid workflow, Scanning film, and the Dynamic Range.
    I let My film scanned at a Lab, fuji Frontier and believe it or not, the Dynamic Range , especially the Highlight Roll off is no comparison to digital. I did comparisons, and you can see examples all over the web.

    Also, this is not Only a technical choice, more a emotional one. It has Nothing to do with better than Digital and Vice versa.

    I bought a lot of Cameras to Find the one that fits my needs. I sold THEM all and Only kept a leica m3 and the ricoh gr.
    So in My case, it was a Journey to Find my Partner 🙂

  27. I definitely have GAS, though it’s due to specific needs in gear. I would prefer to carry a Nikon D810 with various lenses. My back and neck would not prefer it. So, I have to be creative in my smaller gear endeavors. Price matters as well. I am a serious hobbyist.

    My gear:
    Nikon D90 (smaller than the big gun D-SLR (Great for sports and depending on lenses, other stuff, too big for carrying all day, back and neck issues)

    Sigma DP3M Merrill (75mm) (portraits)- Foveon sensor. Best B&W images ever at higher ISOs, best detail 3D look that reminds me of film without the cost. Bought this on sale. Many limitations, but for my portrait, landscape needs, beats anything in this size and many D-SLRs in sharpness, detail and 3D effect. So light compared to a D-SLR.

    Sigma DP2M Merrill (42mm) landscapes, street Same reasons as the other Sigma.

    Ricoh GR (28mm) all -around plus street The Ricoh may lack the 3D and very detailed files of the Sigmas, but it makes up for it in usability. So, it’s a trade-off. Produces lovely B&W images.

    Leica D-Lux 4 (CCD sensor) all-around Smallest sensor, but has a great macro which the Ricoh is terrible at, and has a CCD sensor which produces lovely B&W images.

    My needs are different than most. I try to stay small and get the best sensor and lens in my compacts. Each camera is used for different reasons. I carry 1-3 of them at a time depending on the shoot that day. These are small enough to carry all day long in a smaller bag. Each has pluses and minuses. None of them is perfect. If it were, i’d carry only that one. There is no perfect compact. If I were pro, I’d carry either Canon or Nikon in their best body and best lenses, depending on the need. Hell, I’d even shoot medium format as I’ve used many film versions over the years. The reason why I don’t go for a Sony A7 or medium format is due to file size. it would kill my current iMac and then I’d have to spend more money replacing it. Quite frankly I don’t need all of that extra size considering the files I get from the Sigmas and even the Ricoh. I can print pretty darn big with what i have. I’ve even printed 11X14 with the Leica D-Lux 4 and it came out beautiful.

    It’s frustrating trying to find the perfect combo that works for each individual. Sometimes I want to fling each camera for different reasons. I work with what I have and try to resist the urge to splurge. It’s difficult because each new piece of gear brings with it its own look to a file and quirks. I recently sold my Sony NEX 6. Lovely camera, but I hated the kit lens and didn’t want to invest in their lens system. I loved the EVF and tilt screen and the NEX 6 size factor. The lens was terrible, but I did get some awesome shots out of it and have sold many of them. Once I started using the Sigma DP Merrill cameras, I was fully aware at how crappy those Sony lenses are. They’ve improved with the A7 series, but I can’t justify spending that sort of cash to only have the files crash my computer.

    It’s s a definite journey to find a good match. One thing I hate about the Sigmas and Ricoh, no viewfinders. That really pisses me off. Again, it’s a compromise. The files are just too bloody fantastic so I suffer along with my failing eyesight.

  28. I can relate to this article. I was a gear junkie when I first started out. It makes me sick when I think about the money I spent getting the biggest and best, this was during the film days, thank god I was cured by the time digital came along. After 15 years as a newspaper photographer carrying heavy Nikon DSLRs and 2.8 lenses, I enjoy the freedom and mobility of my Fuji X100T.

  29. Oliver — you are a VERY good writer. Found myself laughing ruefully at this post, thinking about that film Pentax 645N out in the garage. It is a beautiful camera… but I just don’t use it, having reverted, like you, to a GRD IV. Gear lust! So true…

    1. Now between me and you….I did seriously consider a Pentax 645 digital at some point! Thanks for the kudos, dunno if I’m a good writer but all I know is I try my best everyday 🙂

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  31. I limit myself these days to three lenses in my kit (!) and I will only carry two of them, I liquidated all the crap I wasn’t using and kept only what I require. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself, I go out of my way to set limits on my shooting for the day (ok, only this lens with this body and that’s it, make it work) if forces you to use your intelligence and hone photo skills.

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