confessions of an ex gear addict

Confessions of an ex gear addict: How Gear Acquisition Syndrome made me miserable and lose thousands

I stated pretty innocently with my first camera, and then slowly but surely I became a camera and lens addict, throwing money out of the window. The result after all of these years is wasted money and all the stuff I got never made me happier besides the initial high. When others make mistakes one can either learn from them, or….not. Here’s my story, I’m not too proud of it but I am sure this will serve as a lesson for countless others. Here are my confessions of an ex-gear addict.


Let me start first by saying that in this article, I might sound preachy and maybe harsh but please understand that I am first and foremost preaching and being hard on myself first because I wasted a lot of money and time because of my gear addiction. I hope this helps you in some way and I wish someone was there to tell me the exact words I am about to say.

When reading this article please understand that I LOVE gear but I am throwing rocks at GAS.

What is Gear Aquisiton Syndrome?

We all need to pass gas sometimes, but I am talking about G.A.S or Gear Aquisition Syndrome. I define it as the syndrome that makes you buy more and more without really needing the gear. You just want this…and then that, and then another this and another that, etc. While I am writing as a to photographers,  I must say that this article has been of help to everyone in many fields, most notably music. So the symptoms are universal!

Man in bus

It all started innocently-ish

My first foray into photography was actually for the wrong reasons. I still remember that day when I saw my friend with their camera, DSLRs weren’t too common in my neck of the woods in Jacmel, Haiti and I was awe struck by what I could describe as the coolest camera I’ve ever seen. Fast forward a year or two, I was working and I asked about her camera, it was the Nikon D80.

A quick craiglist search and then it hit me: HECK YESSSS! I could afford this! I didn’t waste time, I went to Brooklyn and Bam it was in my hands. When I held it in order to check everything was in order, I realized I had absolutely NO idea how to even check if this thing was working, but I went ahead and bought it anyways.

I think it’s ok to enter photography by loving the toys first, I mean cameras are really cool, but the problem was, I didn’t stick with the camera I got. It went downhill from there.


The slipery slope

I can’t really remember how many cameras I owned from then, all that I now is that I didn’t need them at all. I started with a Nikon D80, then it was too big, I got a Samsung NX, then I wanted a retro camera, got the Olympus PEN, then missed viewfinder, got a Pentax K20D.

Tried a Pentax Limited lens, loved it s much I bought another one. Then I had something fantasizing in my head about being a film photographer. I got an Olympus XA, Pentax 110 and Pentax Optio i10 then I was like I want the best image quality, got a Fuji 6×9 with loads of film.

Then I had another fantasy of being like Ansel Adams, I had a custom made large format 4×5 camera with Graflex Back, Fuji readyload loader and Polaroid loader plus loads of film. Then I felt everything was too big and got one GXR, then another, then another, then another…….I had a Alienbee ringlash and 2 sunpak 120js, a bunch of flashes, reflectors, Vagabond battery pack, etc.

I had more cameras and stuff than the above, I had the Sigma DP1 and a few others….I just don’t remember the rationalization behind them.

Even further down the slippery slope

I wish to say my addiction was just about cameras….but it wasn’t. Mind you, I had a side addiction of PDAs and Phones. I had the Nokia N900, Nokia N800, Nokia E90, Sony Experia, a random HTC smartphone, Nokia Comunicator 9500, NTT Docomo Sigmarion III, Hp Jornada 720, Nec Mobilepro, Sony Clie z, bunch of Palm PDAs, a Fujitsu UMPC, Fossil PDA watch, etc.

Thank God I didn’t get too deep into camera bags! A sure way to know you have G.A.S is that you start not only buy cameras but also everything else like bags, gadgets and other gizmos.

The issue? I wasn’t even loaded

Woah you would think I was LOADED right? No, it was just a matter of selling what I had to buy some new stuff. I always lost money in selling what I had and let’s not even talk about the ebay and Paypal fees. In total, and I don’t want to even know the exact number if you want to know the truth, I lost 1000’s of dollars.

That could have gone to savings, or better yet investments. In 20 years the amount of money I lost in selling and buying gear could have amounted to 10000$ if I invested. I was royal idiot, please don’t follow that route.

I knew I had a serious issue because I felt weird telling my wife about each camera I brought home, even worse I remember when my wife’s family members asked if I was rich because I had all of these cameras. I felt very uneasy, but as an addict I rationalized it and said that they couldn’t possibly understand what a photographer really needs. Truth is, you don’t need much gear to create great work, my best has been done on a $200 camera.


The worse part: I didn’t even USE the gear

It’s good to have all that gear, IF you do something serous with it. That was not my case at all. I shot two rolls of film with the Fuji 6×9 and sold it with 19 rolls of Ilford HP5. And I even STILL have those 2 rolls in my drawer.

The large format camera? I made about 7 shots with it, then I sold it with the graflock back, fuji readyload back and 2-3 nice boxes of film. I lost about $800 in that transaction alone.

All that lighting setup? I even had a 90inch umbrella! I barely made a few shots with them. It’s weird how you think you absolutely need something only to use it for a week and then it’s off to be sold. That being said, here’s how I believe G.A.S works.

Understanding the addiction

Here’s how to understand G.A.S., it’s what helped me. It’s a sort of idolatry. Normally idolatry is understood as anything you put as greater than God (Yourself, Money, etc), and I believe that G.A.S is in a sense a form of idolatry: it’s putting gear as greater than images. The main goal is no longer photography, the making of images but the acquisition of shiny new toys.


The lie of gear

We lie best to ourselves, because we believe ourselves. I didn’t need all these cameras, but I got them anyways. I had reasons, I told myself, to buy them. I had GOOD reasons too, I told myself, to sell them.

The line that always got me was “It’s an investment”, all my cameras were investments in my mind. But investments are worth nothing without commitment. Buying that that 4×5 was “an investment” into my landscape photography. Nevermind that I never really actually took landscape seriously. The only “landscape” I got out of that camera was a scene of an empty school yard at nautical twilight.

That shot is still in the readyload sheet. So is my two rolls of 120 film, a bunch of 35mm cans and all of my 110 film canisters, 4 years later.

I somehow believed the recurring lie that somehow my photography would be unleashed with a new camera or lens, how much better how I would be. It’s like believing that running shoes will make you stop being a couch potato. I could have been 3 times the photographer I am today if I didn’t have G.A.S. So much time wasted that could have been used in better ways!
Beware of making excuses to buy another camera, you will always find one. Every camera has it’s strengths and flaws, find the camera you love and stick with it. Also be very careful when saying to yourself that this camera will allow you to do X while never even attempted anything near X with your current setup. So…say you want an expensive macro lens but you have not even tried the macro on your current camera..that might be G.A.S showing it’s head.


The truth

The truth is, we don’t need much gear, only the minimum for what we do. Street Photographers need less than wedding photographers for example. The truth is, the perfect camera doesn’t exist. What I think is the best camera might be annoying to you and vice versa. It’s all about dealing with idiosyncrasies. Every camera will have issues but it’s not the end of the world. Just deal with it.

Throughout all the years of buying and selling cameras and losing time and money, I could have been such a better photographer. I wouldn’t be an understatement to say that all I needed (except for maybepaid work) for my photography was one camera.

The infernal cycle

I’ve been around forums and picked up on certain talk about a few cameras, so let me illustrate how things can get ugly quickly by not appreciating your current gear:

– Some buy a fixed lens camera….then complain that it doesn’t have interchangeable lenses

– Some buy an interchangeable lens camera…then complain that they don’t have this or that lens

– Those who have a few lenses complain how limited an APSC sensor is

– Those who have a full frame complain how they love the film look

– Film isn’t what they thought it would be and go back to digital

It’s a infernal cycle that will never stop if we don’t put a break to it. The complaints usually come after the high of having some new gear has passed.


When gear becomes validation

Olivier the Photographer. It rimes so it must be true! I am photographer! What did I have to show for it? Cameras. There’s only two ways you can validate yourself as a photographer, either by pursuing your intent or hide behind cameras. I chose the later option. The better the camera, the better pillar it became for me to hide behind. It felt comfortable until I saw another guy with a bigger or better camera, then my ego became attacked and needed more and more.


Filling a hole

It took a while, but after a while I realized what was happening, I was insecure in my photography so I was finding it in acquiring cameras. When you get a new camera you feel like you can take on Eugene Smith or somthing. But after the high, I needed my next fix to hide my insecurities. That’s why I could never have enough cameras, I needed more and more stuff to hide behind, to validate myself.

I needed to look at a camera and say “Don’t worry man, you’re a photographer, you have a camera, you’re a photographer……” It was of course rooted in my insecurities. Now I of course don’t care about showing I am a photographer at all, because I know I can deliver at any time, whatever I have in hand.

How I remediated

So the question is, HOW did I re-mediated? How did I break free of my gear addiction? What are the steps? That’s for a next episode folks. All I will say is owning the fact that you have a problem is fixing 50% of it. Until I admitted to myself that I was a gear addict, I would never fix it because in my mind, I HAD no problem, so no fixing was necessary.

Translations: German Version

164 thoughts on “Confessions of an ex gear addict: How Gear Acquisition Syndrome made me miserable and lose thousands”

    1. I also am very guilty of this and not only with camera’s, I have lost thousands of pounds which could have helped me now in my retirement. I used to be a full time drummer and must have bought over 40 kits {crazy!!) The pleasure you get from it is very short lived then regret & guilt comes in, but then I just go out and do the same, this goes for camera gear and cars as well as drum gear. Many years ago I did the very same thing with hi fi gear costing a fortune. I have been very stupid and selfish. I thought it was just me but clearly not and I don’t know about others but I hate it. Back in the days when smoking was a cool thing to do, i used to smoke about 100 a day then one day I realised I only enjoyed about two out of each packet and the rest just made me feel ill, then one day I just came to my senses and never smoked again, a few time i nearly went back to it but managed it and that was about 30 years ago and never had one since nor would want one. Now if I could only do that with my other addictions my life would be so much better.

      1. Oh yeah… I know this addiction very well too. It got crazy, heavy, expensive. Then, one day, I decided RX100 Sony, and that`s it. I`m happy now. One camera for all. In my pocket.

    2. any addiction is a temporary fix for depression,
      deal with the root of depression to heal addiction

      oh; and depression can comes from loss,
      loss of self-esteem, a job, love, ANYTHING
      and for some the result of anger and or guilt

      *addictions temporarily distracts the mind from emotional discomfort

  1. Rommel Mendoza

    thanks for writing this up. i am on the way to becoming a gear addict myself. after reading this, i realised how many cameras I currently have (I have 3) along with my addiction with gear I don’t use as much anymore. you are right, the idea of owning an object becomes the primary motivator instead of using it as much as possible. and although my dollar value losses are not as significant as yours, that is still money i could have placed in my savings. again, thank you. this was an eye opener and now making up my mind not to buy new gear until 1. i reached the limit of what it can do and 2. it breaks. thanks again!

    1. This is part of the problem though, there isn’t really a limit to what your camera can do photography wise. You’ll invent a limit & buy a new camera.

  2. Sad story. Most of us are GAS addicts to some extent and unfortunately it has to do with ego and rarely with a real need.

    Solution? Facing reality, accepting our ego issues and deal with it.

    Most gear is stored and not use often and yet we spent thousands to get it. What’s wrong with us?

    Am I a GAS addict myself? Frankly I used to be. Bought an expensive body with 3 very expensive lenses until I realized the stupidity of it. The good question for me was: what did I do with that stuff the last 3 years I could no have done with a more basic gear?

    I sold the whole thing. Lenses keep their value… That was the only good part of the story.

    Now: 1 mirror-less body and 2 small lenses, no flash, no big zooms anymore. Good quality stuff, less gear: less weight, less $, less space, less worries, less noticeable in the street, etc.

    Less is more very often

    1. interesting story but I could call it experience…

      and experience it is the result of several attempts

      photography like a journey… many different places…


  3. Laziness keeps me using cameras light & small that i can carry, so luckily i can’t spend that much! (currently a Sony rx100)

    Can see the attraction though. New gear is exciting, and every iteration does more things better. And I think once you have a DSLR you will need the lenses, the flash, the viewfinder, the bag, the tripod, the blah blah. Its easy to justify the extras on the base of the original spend.

    I take loads of pics though. I think really a gear nut like this guy needs to make the time to use the cameras and that will make him feel he got his money’s worth out of them. Every weekend a trip somewhere photogenic. That will improve his self image a lot.

    Nothing wrong really with spending money on a hobby… its cheaper than smoking.. As long as you get value to satisfy yourself, and you can afford it. If its what you love then its what you love. Just – use them!

  4. A very timely article! I was about to plonk my money into a Hasselblad recently but then I took a step back and looked at my already full-to-the-brim dry cabinet and told myself “No I don’t need this, nor the 5 or 6 other cameras sitting in the cabinet”. It’s easy to succumb to GAS so nowadays I avoid going to the gear forums and instead, dwell more time on proper photo sites and books. But of course, nothing beats using whatever I have and going out and shoot.

  5. George Pahountis

    same experience here, I have owned over 20 professional cameras and many many lenses and lots of studio gear, I m trying to close my eyes and wallet to things that are not anymore necessary.
    Great work can be done with simple ways and little gear theese days..

  6. Most recognizable story ever. I guess I’m quite the addict myself. Nikon d800, canon 5d mark ll, 7d, sony nex7, off course with a bunch of good glass too. Couple of weeks ago someone broke into our car and stole my nex 7…first I felt like crap during the first days of our holiday only to realize I didn’t really miss it and found out that in good light I had a brilliant photographic tool in my iphone 4s. Lightweight and as said in good light I’m convinced the quality of the pictures is perfectly fine. But the junky I am I soon started to look for the replacement of my lost sony nex ( read loss of mirorless camera) only to discover that the perfect replacement didn’t exist, so I cut waisting time on the forementioned gear blogs and ordered a new sony nex kit with 2 carl zeiss lenses (I had a voigtlander and kitlens with the other one). So yeah I gained one extra lens, again. But actually I couldn’t be more happy with the combo. In fact…I started to realize: what the hell do I need that 70-200 f2.8 lens for, and I do own the canon and nikon counterparts, that’s about 8 pound off glass and metal together. I guess I am on that turning point to. I think I would always keep 1 dslr with a couple of good lenses because sometimes I just love the IQ and to grab hold of a proper camera. But I should get rid of the rest and get more creative. Thanks for the inspiring blog!

    (If there’s anything wrong with my English please forgive me, it’s not my mothertongue, that would be Dutch)

  7. I was in the same boat. I had a rx100 (small sensor), nex5r (no evf), nex6 (small sensor), RX1 ( slow AF), then got an a99 (too big). I have sold off everything in the past two weeks and today feels good (sold off the nex6) and I do not have a digital camera anymore.

    I just have 2 canon film cameras and 4 rolls of fuji 400 films to hold me over until the end of the year. I will make a final decision to go with a rx1r, new nex, or new alphas and then call it quits. I just have to realize I’m just a casual snap shooter and any camera other than a cell phone is good enough for me. Probably will save a ton of money if I just buy the new rx100 ii next month.

    1. That’s some stuff you have!
      Aside: Can I make an excuse I’m french-vietnamese-creole and english is not my mother tongue? =)

        1. I’m French and English is not my mother tongue either but it’s a real pleasure to read you Olivier. Keep up the good work monsieur !

  8. Excellent cautionary tale…I am a new enthusiast, and although I have not collected that much yet, (just a Canon 600D, kit lens+ 50 mm 1.8) I could easily be on my way. I waste a lot of time on the web looking at photography review and shopping sites and they make you want to own everything. Ebay is particularly tempting, particularly for small items like filters, etc. The only saving grace is that I live in Israel and things are expensive locally, and Ebay orders take 2-3 weeks to arrive, so I have a “cooling off” period. Thanks for writing this!

  9. Pingback: Are you an addict? Photographer blogs about ‘Gear Addiction Syndrome’ |

  10. Very recognizable. Although I don’t really hide behind my gear. I tend to buy my gadgets for the short period of happiness it will bring. And with the large amount of funerals (parents, grandparents, uncle, aunt and friends) I attended in the past few years (I am only 31) I really needed to cheer myself up and the only way I know how is with gear or food both not the best options.

    The downside is that I got a tad depressed and I had a hard time getting motivated to do anything let alone hobbies. Luckily lately I started picking up photography again through tutoring enthusiastic starters and this is starting to reignite my own enthusiasm.

    That being said, I do have too much gear with 4 high end slr bodies an and more then a dozen premium lenses and various other gear as well as a x100 that I love due to it’s portability and the challenges the limitations bring.

  11. great article ! so I am not alone in this addiction.. ! olympus EPL1, EP2, E620, SONY A580, RX100, FUJIFILM X10, various lenses, flashes, etc…etc.. Each camera makes me fantasize long distance vacations in exotic places where I could take hundrends of amazing shots …. like the pictures seen in National Geografic Magazine…..Actually I never had the time for such long vacations and I try to take picts near my city every weekend mostly… maybe for me, each camera represents the lost trips that maybe one day I will make.. maybe on my retirement.. and given that I will be cured from my addiction by then to save money !!

  12. Work on your grammar. Also, G.A.S. stands for “Gear Acquisition Syndrome.” If you’re going to call it by that well-known name, you might as well use the correct terminology.

  13. Aha someone had the guts to put it in writing! Well done. Strangely when I became a pro photographer the addiction took a twist with studio gear but that was OK as it paid for itself. Now I’m semi pro I lapsed into G.A.S. however I now have a strategy which works for me – primary SLR for serious work (Nikon D7100), a camera where I have to make time and be deliberate about my shots as I love it’s output (Fuji X-E1) and finally something for my pocket that produces lovely stuff – Sony RX100. Finally down from 15 cameras to 3 and it feels good – plus selling the others paid for the stuff I actually use. I think we buy cameras and kit when we should use them – better to spend money on a trip to take photographs than buy more kit. Enough said

    1. 15 to 3 is a huge step! The danger when I was going pro is to label everything as an investment, it was GAS disguised as investment 🙂
      I take that same route as you, one camera for commercial purposes (Nex 7) and one in the pocket (GRD IV)
      Saving for a trip is much wiser 🙂

  14. George Richardson

    I dont think that its totally Olivers fault.
    Camera manufactures deliberately put new amazing gadgets in front of our noses.
    Each new gadget is better than the last one which came out 7 days ago.
    If i had more money i would most probably change my camera each month….mobile phone each week, computer every six months, wife every week (just joking as it could be the other way around).
    Just look at Samsung… gadget every few days.
    The painful truth is that when a camera manufactures comes out 3 months later with a new (lets say) DSLR like the new Canon with its amazing revolutionary focusing system…..hold everything,,,shall i get one…or maybe 2.

    We can’t win.

    Oh by the way ….have u seen the new Nikon zzz it has karaoke built in, so u can sing to any melody whilst taking a picture….only $150.
    Id better get 2 for the stereo effect.

    1. Manufacturers do what they can to stay alive! I personally take full responsibility for my actions because in the end I am the one that makes the choice.
      Enticement towards oh so sexy cameras is no a crime =)

      1. George Richardson

        Not correct.
        You THINK that u are the one making the choices….but clever promotion, and marketing is what gets into out heads, and makes us do the things that common sense tells us to keep away from.
        There was a chap in Germany once who was good at that.

        1. George you’re not wrong in that environment is the biggest influencer in behavior. But shifting responsibility for one’s choices to external influencers is a quick path to self destruction.

          The ones who survive and prosper are the ones that can adapt and make good choices.

  15. i’m with you buddy but to take great photos you need a good camera and good lenses. everyone is saying you don’t need a camera or lenses to make great shots. that’s utter crap.

    1. I take the position that every camera is good enough. I say enough because you are in the end limited by your gear, if it can’t focus well then you will have blurry pics

    2. Nobody claimed that you don’t need a good camera and a few good lenses, but mid-priced stuff will be good enough for all but the most demanding applications.

    1. Huuuuummmm not really 🙂
      I takes 100% responsibility, manufacturers do what they need to do to survive, and I love them 🙂

  16. hahahahha:) hilarious!! i shud say i am currently at some mid level here. thnks thnks thnks so much!!!!! for waking me up!!! damn NIKON u made me one NIKON addict.

  17. Partially correct, but you still miss a main cause of G.A.S. and it is the one the camera manufacturers play on.

    Basically (and here is where I slightly disagree with you) the aim, as well as having shiny new toys, is to be a good photographer and take great photographs. However, every time you get a camera or lens and put it to use the results always fall short: exposure not quite right, focus not quite spot on, too much noise, etc.

    In addition, there is a fear that if you find yourself in a position to take the great shot, but the gear falls short (not fast enough focussing, not enough resolution, etc.), it would be a disaster!

    And so the virus begins. We always look to solve the problem that isn’t the problem, or has never actually happened yet. Soon we have all this gear which still doesn’t allow us to take great pictures.
    Mainly because the biggest factor is the man behind the gear, but we are always too weak to admit it!

  18. Duong … I thank you for your bravely to open up this topic for G.A.S. confession .. it is indeed a hot-topic! I was such an idiot myself especially in the late 90s … I got myself a full range of Canon “L” and Zeiss lens, and later went into Medium Format thinking that the sharpest images only come from such gears! It is only when I had spent tens of thousands and not really getting what I want to achieve that lead me to do a reality check on myself! At the end, I figure out a big part of photography is all about our vision, techniques, creativity and more importantly … digital darkroom technique that make one’s photos look like a Pro.

    Today, I do a lot with less … I don’t even have a single “L” or Zeiss Len in my bag … and I always go with entry-level gears like the 50 f1.8, 85 f1.8 and the Tamron 17-35 f2.8-4 and 70-300 f4.5-5.6 VC. When people look at my photos now, they will ask … which “L” or Zeiss len you use … it is so f.cking sharp & detail and the color is so rich?!!! And I smile … thinking … “they will laugh at me if they know what is in my bag”!

    At the end, we paid to learn our lessons … and discover how not to get suck-in into the world of marketing .. and the best is the most expensive!!!

  19. Duong … I thank you for your bravely to open up this topic for
    G.A.S. confession .. it is indeed a hot-topic! I was such an idiot
    myself especially in the late 90s … I got myself a full range of Canon
    “L” and Zeiss lens, and later went into Medium Format thinking that the
    sharpest images only come from such gears! It is only when I had spent
    tens of thousands and not really getting what I want to achieve that
    lead me to do a reality check on myself! At the end, I figure out a big
    part of photography is all about our vision, techniques, creativity and
    more importantly … digital darkroom technique that make one’s photos
    look like a Pro.

    Today, I do a lot with less … I don’t even
    have a single “L” or Zeiss Len in my bag … and I always go with
    entry-level gears like the 50 f1.8, 85 f1.8 and the Tamron 17-35 f2.8-4
    and 70-300 f4.5-5.6 VC. When people look at my photos now, they will ask
    … which “L” or Zeiss len you use … it is so f.cking sharp &
    detail and the color is so rich?!!! And I smile … thinking … “they
    will laugh at me if they know what is in my bag”!

    At the end, we paid to learn our lessons … and discover how not to get
    suck-in into the world of marketing .. and the best is not always the most

    1. Thank you for your compliments! You remind me of one of the best deals out there, the Sigma 30mm 2.8 and 19mm 2.8. Great stuff but without a name,
      I had the same realization too, gear is only one part of the equation, not the equation itself.

  20. I feel sometimes I have to have the latest camera fortunately I resist simply because of lack of money. Looking at these new Pens and GR, I think Ricoh will make it to my garage anyway….
    PS. A note to myself: stop reading DPR and you’ll ve OK…..

  21. So, I don’t have it as bad with cameras (I have 2 DSLRs, one as a back-up, and have taken thousands of shots with each, and I actually use all the gear I’ve bought on a regular, almost daily, basis – tripod, lights, and bag). My issue is with smartphones. I’m currently on a Lumia 920 after owning an HTC One X for a few months, to which I’d upgraded from a Galaxy Nexus that I owned for a few months, etc,etc. Tablets are a problem for me as well. I now realize this, and will make better purchasing decisions in the future (especially when the Lumia 1020 releases). Thanks for this article! It’s opened my to my own problem…

    1. You are welcome… that you’ve opened the can I had quite the number of tablets myself! Guess I was more messed up than I believed!

  22. Pingback: Acquisition Syndrome Gear – você é um viciado em câmeras? « Meio Bit

  23. Extremely interesting words! I’ll use your testiominial to convince some of my students…

    As a professional I’m a fuji x100s user and happy to be one… (although clients demand at least the use of a Nikon D800…)

    1. Thanks and thanks for the honor! That’s my fear, that some clients start requiring a DSLR from me 🙁

  24. Anthony Papagallo

    lovely honest article. Thank you. I bought a D2Xs in 2006, after sticking with film up to that point and Im still using it half a million actuations later.
    As for Lens’ I have a couple of ‘Antiques’ to my name, a 1999 purchased 28-70 F2.8 Nikon (the one that Ken Rockwell really rates) and a 1985 80-200 F2.8 ….and thats it !
    that set up and a rack of old Bowens paid my mortgage, put my daughter through private school and bought me a nice American SUV.
    When the D2Xs dies I will pick up a secondhand D3X and run that to death, the Len’s will work til they die or me which ever comes first.

  25. My name is Nancy, and I am a GAS addict. On the other hand, I do have a rule that I need to learn how to use each item as I go, which works fine for items such as lenses. Where I fall down on the job is on software. I buy software, often very inexpensive because I get an academic discount, and it takes me forever to learn, because I have OTHER software that I am learning at the time. LR 4 is my main program, but I am stumbling my way through a new pano program (the free one crashed often), a new astro program (the free one crashed often when given stars, it was really designed for moon and planetary image alignment and processing), eyeballing the nearly virgin Photoshop CS6 (hard copy, not CC), not even eyeballing the extra Nik programs given to purchasers of a single Nik program (Nik HDR Pro, which I do know how to use). I do need to stretch the capacities of Sigma Photo Pro RAW conversion and processing program for their Foveon sensors (my always with me camera is a DP2 Merrill). The Software Acquisition Syndrome and related Book Acquisition Syndrome take some of the edge off the G.A.S..

  26. G.A.S. is not universal in all sufferers. My cell phones get updated when they die (have had exactly 3 since the dawn of cell phones). My cars get updated when the parts get too dam’ hard to find or when they threaten to need repair costing more than their value – my current car is age 16 years, previous car was age 19.5 years, and these were ordinary cars. I am not a pro, so I don’t really NEED to have more than one camera in use at one time, but I do have 3 mid-level digital cameras (Canon 60D and 6D; Sigma DP2M), in addition to my retired film SLR and a bunch of lenses.

  27. You can never have too many lenses or cameras! Yes I know, I’m totally hopeless! LBA is a disease. 🙂

  28. Interesting post and discussion. I love buying lots of gear but the big difference is that I do use it. From my perspective, your point that all gear is somehow a compromise is the key. For example, sometimes low light capabilities trump weight considerations; other times they do not. Buying different cameras for different uses is a reasonable way to deal with this dilemma (assuming your budget accommodates it) and perhaps a better solution than buying a single camera that compromises on both aspects.

    1. You have to know what your actual needs are, and they are probably different from the next guy’s. You can spend a lot of money and still not get something that will suit your needs any better than something more moderately priced.

    2. The key message is: “do use it” – if you have stuff you don’t use, part with it. I went through a brief GAS period when I thought I needed every lens remotely useful for me, in the meantime, I have sold every lens and body that has been sitting idle on my shelf. I even refrained from buying the next upgrade to my camera because I still get satisfying results from my old ones (Nikon D3x and D3s), instead I focus on the artistic part of photography, buy books and attend courses. I find myself to use only a few lenses that I feel comfortable with. As a rule of thumb, start out with a basic setup and get familiar with it first. Wait until you run into limitations of your photography, before you start to fill the gaps in your camera bag.


    Thanks to GAS I was recently able to buy a Mamiya 645AFD II with a Leaf digiback and a whole bunch of lenses (with only a few hundreds of clicks) for very little money! I rarely buy a new camera or lens, I just wait for a gas-victim to sell some of his gear!!!!!! Thank you lord.

  30. Etienne Muller

    Great observations. My problem is probably on the other side. I buy quality and expect it to last for ever.

    I finally retired my trusty old 1969 Nikon FTN (still going strong) a couple of years ago for a 5mp Lumix which served until now. Still use the old Nikon Lenses though, which never seem to die.

    I do art repro with 4×5 and have a 44 inch printer, so was waiting for an affordable digital camera to do it justice. The D800 fit the bill, but somehow I don’t think it is going to serve me for another forty years like the old FTN.

    With film a camera could last a lifetime. A strong body and good glass and you were set for life. All the tech in new cameras, and in the new lenses, is going to limit their longevity. Like everything else they have become consumables.

    I do have GAS though. I have what is known as “kayak builders syndrome”: addicted to building kayaks. I currently have nine boats, and one in planning. I can only use one at a time, but I have to have a shed to accommodate those in the rack. I need help!

    I suspect most of us have GAS in one form or another. With my wife it is shoes.

    1. Yeah music folks can have it hard too, I know a dude that dunked more than a grand on a mic. My second question was if he was a singer or pro. Not by a longshot.

  31. genocidal_maniac

    Eh, yeah. Basically, buying something triggers some sort of pleasure center in the brain. You also get to play engineer without actually having to sweat the annoying little details. You get to be the big-picture guy, evaluating different approaches to solving the problem and then choosing the *right* solution. Except you’re paying money.

    To each his own.

  32. Didn’t want to repeat myself so, thanks guys for sharing your camera list! I understand you and thank you for sharing!

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  34. Yeah, I have G.A.S. – However, partly because these manufacturers refuse to make the right camera. M9 in quality, built in EVF, full frame, 18-24mm – interchangeable lens (Basically a full frame XPro1 type of camera) – but none of them do it. Sony will be close so I’ll try to do my best and wait. 🙂

    1. The thing is, even if you have the best cameras, you will always find an excuse to buy more. Your body might be stable but the lenses will start looking reeeeal good…

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  36. I’m an optical engineer, so I have a pretty good idea of what a camera and lens can do. Modern digital cameras have tremendous capability, but you have to know the craft of photography to get the most out of them. It’s also worth the time and effort to to become fluent in Photoshop. The camera companies and photo mag writers always try to convince people that they need a Nikon D 800 and an assortment of $3000 fixed focal length lenses to make good pictures, but that’s not true. We should remember that the great masters like Ansel Adams used primitive equipment by today’s standards.

  37. Hi Olivier. I liked very much your article and I must say that unfortunately I am more or less still in the same position (addicted). But I know what you meant by “How did you remediated” – it is only God that can take us out of this misery. And this is valid for any other addiction as well. Important is that we sincerely recognize this problem and let Him deal with it. Praised be the Lord! And thanks to you for this text!

    1. It is not the Lord – if there is one – it is YOU! The first step is to acknowledge the addiction, then change something. Seek help if you cannot deal with it on your own. If praying helps you, so be it…

  38. I realized it is NOT the gear but the photographer & his nice moments the day I left EF-S-10-22 at home and gone to Italy with a P&S (alone; no family). 2 months ago I still used the same P&S (that time with my whole family). I didn’t mind taking all those shoots with a P&S. I also didn’t miss 10-22 at all (because I was busy living the delicate moments)
    It is like hunting with bare hands and a knife! Once you do it, you are freed from this GAS (which is pumped with all these consumption madness).

  39. i usually reapeat to myself “life is too short to master all types of photography for which each camera is suitable and that I could buy”

  40. I work in the retail consumer electronics business. I can tell you this is very typical behaviour of >50% of our return clients. Its sad, actually. Because they never really are happy with the gear….they will also nit-pick the gear like crazy, for a piece of dust in the VF and I ask “did it show up in the pictures’ and they respond ‘I haven’t taken any yet’… has always puzzled me. Oh, and those with the best gear NEVER have the best pictures. Or no pictures at all…

    Ive worked in the industry for over 15 years, and I am always poked fun at because I don’t own much gear (I can borrow any high-end equipment I need, anytime, so why would I?). I have an old Mamiya 645D with an 80mm that was given to me by a client, and I have a Sony NEX-3 that I won in a contest. And my Iphone 4s. That’s it. And I shoot with all almost everyday. I’m might be leaving the industry soon so may decide to get a Nikon D800 and a 35mm F2.0D (because I don’t need the 1.4 despite how beautiful it is!) and that’s it!

    Reading some of the comments here, I really feel like people are wanting to place blame on manufacturer’s and retailers…..but the truth is, these companies are just people who love gear and tech as much as anyone! When they make a new discovery, they want to see it come to life in a product and for people to fall in love with it as much as they already do. Sure, they are trying to make money as money helps R&D. It is a case of self-reflection. You need to decide what you want and what you need. And TRY FOR YOURSELF. Review and Blog site slaves are often lost and confused.
    Thanks for the article 🙂

  41. Olivier, Thank you for sharing what I had to hear for a very long time. As only an amateur started digital photography with Leica Digilux 1 coming from Leica minilux, I now like to label myself as LAS (Leica Acquisition Syndrome). However, my situation is a bit different. Instead of hugging the gears, I only bought a new gear after selling my gears one after the other. I repeated the vicious cycle many times a year. I was only a student when this “syndrome” took my soul. I couldn’t stop chatting about gears after gears in forums and blogs in many different sites. I am only to blame I know but the questions like, “so I am looking for a perfect camera, what should I buy?” didn’t help me get over my weakness. I would advise someone to get a certain type of camera or gear, then I would buy them as well in few days. Now I have zero camera but a smartphone with terrible sensor in it. I started looking again, but now I am sincerely afraid of losing the passion of photography all together. Plus my wife will say something as well I am sure. You are dead correct on insecurity. My suggestion is GAS brotherhood. If we can come together like AA meeting and help each other, that would work in my opinion.

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  43. Good Read! Found myself nodding my head in agreement! Even though I lost my job, i still fight myself trying to justify another purchase of gear. It’s not easy. Like others here, I also have the RX100 and HATED reading about the flip screen on the new RX100 Mark II. It’s what I have been missing on my RX100… We need a support group.

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

  45. What a sad disorder it is. I am an Enthusiast and suffer daily because of my GAD. The second I see the problem, , I re-justify it again and start planning my next purchase. I love my X-Pro 1, but wouldn’t my creative journey be so much better with a Leica M-E? Better yet, how about an M 240? And though I have already bought and sold a whole range of fixed lens film cameras, quickly feeling limited by them, I can;t stop fantasizing about their digital counterparts? A Ricoh GRD V. No, an X100s. Or perhaps an RX1-R. And won’t a a collection of different sized camera bags make my hobby run much more smoothly? I won’t even mention the film cameras I own in every possible format. Ugh. Thanks for this article. Acknowledgement is the first step towards recovery.


    I am a wedding photographer and have 3 cameras, nine lenses and a couple of off camera stuff. But all that great weighed me down and I have felt that they actually hindered my creativity.

    So….I leave most of them in the car just as a backup, take only two camera- a 5dMkII with Tamron 24-70mm VC and 5D classic 85mm F1.8. ( The 50f1.4, the 24mmf1.4, the 100mm macro and 70-200 zoom stay in the car most of the time) and one 580EXII with battery pack.

    And have i told you ….that I love my 5D classic even more than the 5DmKiI? Its so simple and works just like a camera should with an added benefit of LCD screen.

    Thats it! and my photography actually improved considerably after I left the idea of mentality of prime and bokeh is the answer to becoming a great photographer. I noticed if i relied on just one or two primes, my composition would look too “forced to choke on prime” ….like so many current photographers out there.

    I was forcing myself to use the F1.4 everytime or most of the time and the photos looked so boring after a while. Now I am very happy and content with a competent F2.8 zoom and a 85mm for the portraits.

    The rest will just stay in the car 🙂

  47. Ernest Aquilio

    This was a wonderful read and hit close to home. I did have GAS at one point too, in my college days. At one point it got so bad I had four tripods…four! Now I have minimized my gear and keep looking for a way to minimize it further without sacrificing client needs. Thanks for writing this and I hope people will heed what you’ve said. Really all you NEED is one camera…one lens 🙂

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  49. Hello, my name is Peter and I’m an addict. I suffer from advanced G.A.S. Anyone want to buy some of my stuff to help me? Alone I wont make it! ……… We should create an A.G.A.S.G (Anonymous Gear Acquisition Syndrome Group) and meet once a week, now that we know, we are not alone. Cheers

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  53. I have GAS and also TPS – Trophy Photography Syndrome. With TPS you tell yourself you have to go somewhere like a “National Park” before you can do any great photography. That you have to travel to Africa to photograph a lion rather than the cat in your back yard. An eagle in Alaska rather than a crow. And the reason you can’t take any great pictures is no “vacation time” or no travel money. It was Ruth Bernhard who gave me the insight to stay home and photograph what I know and what I care about.

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  55. Just lucky to read this article, ive used my first generation 5d to every shoot from wedding, fashion event , look books and till now i have no plans of changing it… they say if it aint broken dont fix it.

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  68. Pleasure seeking gives you a thrill but being happy just lasts. My kids make me happy, my photography I enjoy, it’s the framing recording and printing. Don’t really enjoy the digital darkroom. Man all that kit. You should have bought some books then you could have got some pleasure out of looking at the photographs and it introduces to different ideas. Yes definitely limitations make you more creative. The hard bit is not just find something that works and then just not to keep regurgitating it.

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  72. You’re not an addict – in my book, you’re not even a social drinker..
    This is about 80% of my collection. The many MF lenses I use on my NEX-6 and A7, and my M4P aren’t here.

  73. Ha! Ha! I totally recognized myself into the PEN acquisition need, lurking at the EP-5 right now. So help me! Is it good enough that I’ll want to stick with it. :-). Truth is I could probably do everything with the Sony RX100 III,so what about this one ;-))

  74. Great article ! I’m fairly new to photography, but I already know what GAS is.

    Personally, I don’t think the manufacturers are guilty for anything. They’re creating new stuff, trying to develop markets, and sure, sometimes, you feel like they’re really pushing it hard on you, but in the end, you know they’re just making their job, and you turn a deaf ear to what they say. What photographer still believe in the marketing bullshit ? There are so many websites that test new gear that I’d say none.

    No, the most guilty people are the ones with GAS. Those who always write on forums you can’t take great pics without a FF and a Canon L lens (which will, surprisingly, not be enough anymore when you have acquired it since MF is much sharper, and has a better 3D effect), while they’re not able to take decent pictures themselves. How many people always compare their gear on websites like DPreview, trying to convince others (and themselves) that they’ve made the best choice ? Sometimes, you wonder if photography, to them, is about taking photos, and not just having the best gear and defending it on the web. How much time to they spare for “real” photography ? If more than one or two hours a week, I’d be surprised.

    Also, there are those websites, where a guy who is just not that good at photography, but good enough to be paid for weddings (yeah, there’s one website like this), explains that if you want to have pro results, you have to have pro gear, i.e. D810 + lenses that dwarf the price of the camera. I remember when I spent a thousand and some hundreds bucks on my camera and lenses, I was feeling a bit unhappy for compromising, and feeling like, well, I would have to keep it amateur because I couldn’t spend more. Standing back now, I just feel like slapping myself in the face ! I feel like saying to myself: “You’ve spent more than a thousand bucks in a camera plus two lenses, how can you not be happy with what you have now ?!! Who can spend that amount of money in those days ? Sure it is not “the best of all time”, but hey, it’s good, and more important, it’s at your disposal to take pics, and maybe some “amazing” pics. How can you feel unhappy about it ? Just go out and take pics !”

    Now, I’m not a great photographer, I must admit. However, with some experience, I tend to give less attention to those who push GAS on others, because they feel insecure with what they have. I can differentiate, now, a great photo from a “meh” photo, and I know that most of the people who spend so much time criticizing gear are not that great in what they should do, i.e. taking great pics (by the way, great bokeh doesn’t always mean great pic). Also, it helped me living with a true pro photographer, being paid for shootings by magazines, who was still using some 2007 camera with a simple 70-200 f4 all the time, and loved using my tiny mirrorless camera when his camera finally died. I’ll always remember his advice “You have a great camera, more than enough to take great pictures, so now, all you need to do is to go out, take pictures, and make sure you always have your camera with you wherever you go”. Well, enough said I guess, but I really feel like all major sites dealing with photography should have an article like yours about GAS. It’s really instructive, and I feel like it could make photography more enjoyable for loads of photographers who start photography being anxious about the gear they’ve bought, and not being happy about being able to take pics (even though they may have some limitations).

  75. Great and honest read, so thank you. You pinched some home-grown nerves. Appreciated.

    Oh…and a final word about the grammar mention. Who cares. The message was clearly (and KEENLY) understood. It’s easy to be an armchair critic; he real skill comes with honest sharing and words that offer meaning. Besides, it shows the authentic voice. And isn’t that what we want?

  76. Very interesting and informative discussion. English is also not my mother tongue, so the auto corecters will be over me. 🙂
    Here is my take on the GAS subject. My body is limited in what it can do. Period and a fact. So is my camera. Missing a shot because it didn’t focus fast enough? Better focus on the slow focus subjects and make an outstanding image in that field. I came from Nikon EL2, very happy with 35,50,100mm primes. We are talking 1970s. Went for a Nikon F4s and a whole bunch of lenses and God knows how many different films, flashes, screens, etc etc. The whole kit n caboodle. I spend more time fiddling and carrying than making breath taking images. Came the digital stuff, and here I went again. Long story short, in 2010 I went for a 3-week Europe vacation with ONLY a 50mm prime. WOW, that was an eye opener. I spent time thinking about my image, instead of thinking about equipment. Whatever I buy I go for quality, or I don’t buy. As simple as that. So I took the dive and acquired the Leica X2 en gave literally everything else to my son. I could never been happier in my life. Only one thing to carry. OK, spare battery aside, but thats it. I zoom with my feet and miss what the camera cannot handle. But thats OK. I focus on what the camera is capable off. As I do with my body. Get the best out of it’s capabilities. Now comes along the Leica Q, and that is what I was waiting for. Full frame, 28mm, topnotch quality images, if I focus right. Surely this will be an investment for many years to come, as I have learned to accept any short comings in my gear and learned (and still learning) how to optimize it’s capabilities.
    My 2 cents.
    Greetings to all,

  77. I think that it’s impossible to stay in GAS recovery mode without developing the insight into what drives the addiction to begin with. When I was a Nikon user I had it bad, lots of camera bodies and expensive glass and a permanent fan base on ebay and craigslist that new my gear was like new. Then mirrorless seemed to hold the promise of being the street photographer I wanted to be. Ran through the list of brands , the last being Fuji. Started with an x100S but needed more lenses so got an EX2 and quickly acquired four lenses. Then I had my epiphany moment. I met a guy in a coffee shop who was in a wheelchair. He had a beat to shit Leica DLux 3 10MP camera around his neck. I had my XE2 and a bag full of lenses and other crap. We got to talking and looking at photo galleries. I was blown away by this guys work. It was the only camera he ever owned and all that he ever wanted or needed. Sadly, he passed away a couple of years ago and we never really kept in touch very often. After that first meeting I began to think about what I really needed and/or wanted from my photography. Now whenever new gear presents itself, I actually go through the motions of handling it at a camera shop. Sometimes I’ll rent it from my local shop. They are very understanding of GAS and I suspect they make a lot of money with their easy rental program. The end result is the same these days when I ask this question of myself – how will this new gear make me a better photographer than I can be with what I already have in my bag? If I’m being honest with myself as I’ve learned to do, the answer is I don’t need more gear, I need to shoot more photographs, a lot more!
    So I feel like I’m in recovery with GAS. Relapse is always a risk but knowing oneself is the best defense. Thanks for writing this piece Oliver. People often joke about GAS. Once you’ve seen the downside, you know it’s not all that funny.

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  80. G.A.S. seems to hit photographers the worst IMO, along with model railroaders and car (life-size and models) guys 🙂

    In all three fields there is the slippery slope from user to collector becoming a trap for the unwary.

    Nobody is becoming a master cook just by purchasing the latest and greatest stove nor does having 15 stoves in your home make a master cook.

    In photography many believe this to be otherwise (I used to, too).

    It is sad, really.

    Give a good photographer something like (off the top of my head) an Olympus 35rc or 35rd and he/her will get good results. Give an idiot the latest and greatest doo-dad and you will see, what you get ….

  81. Whoa. Already over 100 comments. I guess this post really resonated with a lot of people, myself included. I used to use the Canon T4i and I loved it, but then it was all about the Canon 5D Mark III. Anytime I was out taking pictures, I would see people with either the Mark II or the Mark III. After lusting after the Mark III for almost a year, I bit the bullet and bought it. I loved it but then I started getting interested in Leica cameras. Even the huge price tag on just the body alone didn’t deter me. I started to come up with dozens of reasons for even considering such a purchase such as it’s smaller than my Mark III and therefore less noticeable, or that it looks like an old camera so people will just think I’m some tourist out photographing the city. As with the Mark III, I started seeing people with Leica cameras every time I went out to take pictures. You’re right. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s kind of like “keeping up with the Joneses”. Having to talk yourself out of having G.A.S. takes years. 😀

    1. Hey Tina,
      It’s actually an older post, revamped and updated 🙂 But it is my most read article ever 🙂 Price is never a factor, according to my studies, it’s the LAST thing people consider after questions like how pretty is it, how will that make me feel owning it, etc. It actually doesn’t take years, it’s all about replacing the urge with another one….stay tuned for the follow up post!

  82. It was good to see this article again. Maybe we need to think about “acquisition syndrome”, recognising that “gear” merely establishes a subset of something broader. Acquisition is surely the true religion of our culture. We are taught, through advertising, that owning new things will make us happy, and our economists and politicians seem to agree that if we don’t maintain or increase our consumption the economy will stop growing and we and our children will be ruined. Rejecting this attitude by accepting that what we have is enough already is a heresy in terms of the actual values which the dominant culture promotes. The alternative, which involves accepting the teachings of Jesus and the Buddha as well as some radical philosophers and economists that it is possible to get off the treadmill of endless buying is hard to accept both in terms of overcoming our own cravings and of understanding intellectually how a different kind of society would work. Photographers are in the same position as everyone else as far as these issues are concerned.

  83. ‘The fact is that relatively few photographers ever master their medium. Instead they allow the medium to master them and go on an endless squirrel cage chase from new lens to new paper to new developer to new gadget, never staying with one piece of equipment long enough to learn its full capacities, becoming lost in a maze of technical information that is of little or no use since they don’t know what to do with it.’
    Edward Weston 1927

  84. Great article and I always read articles about G.A.S. I knew I had G.A.S. when I started racking up from a 20D to 50D then to 5DMkii then acquiring a 1DMkii then sold everything including glass at loss. I went to film and bought a Zorki then an M6 but only one glass. I used it a couple times until I could not have the time to develop the film. It was more ego as I want to be recognized and then realisation hit me. It wasn’t the camera, it was the photography that makes you a photographer. So I kept the Zorki and bought a Mamiya which I used only once. I got an Olympus pen and then that was it. I regretted selling off my Canon stuff as I’ve been using it for more than 10 years… then my wife got me a Nikon. Until today, I’ve fended off buying add-ons but I am weak so I started collecting glass again but only second hand primes. To break off my G.A.S. I stopped reading gear forums and updates on what’s new. It’s the same equipment, just upgrades on mega pixels, speed, processing power, and of course the marketing speak. I admit it is an addiction and just like any addiction, turning cold turkey is the only way. It creeps slowly as soon as you have extra cash but you have to be mentally strong to resist the temptation to buy. What I do now is that I look at equipment and then say, do I really need it? When was the last time I made money with my photography? Is it worth buying a new lens when the other just suits fine? What’s my style of photography? Ask a lot of questions first before buying anything, take a step back before getting your inner feelings to acquire.

  85. Hmmm…wonder if this afflicts boys more than girls. I have an iPhone 4s – that’s my only camera and I am still trying to master it and many post processing apps 4 years after purchase. I did acquire too many apps over the years, but most were a dollar or free so I have few regrets. I have no funds for gear acquisition – but from the number of replies to this post, it seems you hit a nerve and likely helped a number of readers with your cautionary tale.

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  88. The idea of one camera, one lens,one film is so neat and tidy.
    It can appeal to one who constantly shoots really in ONE way and mostly ONE subject..
    I was a pro and that idea is as tempting as a cold stale fish soup.I hate fish!
    I needed backup cameras and lenses,
    Weddings are not repeatable!
    Photojournalism, advertising, publicity. documentary.
    I needed high power strobe units..
    A need for a portrait lens, macro or telephotos/wide angles.

    Thanx to Digital, i was able to acquire many cameras and bodies for almost nothing, or totally free.
    I can play with SLR or RF or Point and Shoot compacts.
    My style is strong so it really is simply fun.
    True on many street walks( with buddies or alone)my usual film choice is a M3 or M6, one lens.
    I don’t buy the newest and latest!
    I do not own a DSLR or EVF body.

    1. Hey J, I appreciated your Zeal for your faith, and I am sure that many would agree with what you are saying. But fact is, you usurped a photography discussion and turned it into a call to conversion, and that technically is spam because this is not a religious discussion site but a photography one, and would love to keep thing within that circle. And if you would like my 2 cents about what you are doing, I believe Jesus found the way to do what He needed to do without ever being pushy. Something to ponder, no?

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  90. God, I’ve been and still am walking down that route. In spite of having read your article already over a year ago.
    It’s insanity.
    By now, I own 10 Nikon DSLRs (1xD300s, 1xD700, 2x D800, 1x 3Ds, 3xD5200), 1 Canon, 2 Panasonic bridge cams. 50 lenses for the Nikons, including Holy Trin and whatnot, pretty much all except for the really high end (600mm, 200/f2; I stay below 2.5k per item)
    No, I’m not loaded either. And I am not a pro. I’m not even good.
    My pictures pass for decent on a lucky day, in the eye of a benevolent beholder. I have an OK job as a software programmer and I don’t have kids or any hobbies besides shopping on the net, otherwise I’d be totally broke (It was laptops and ipads before, don’t want to go there right now…)
    And I can’t stop.
    I’m not kidding.
    50 F-mount lenses. I only now really counted them all for the first time.

    The only thing I can come up with as an excuse is that at least it’s better than doing drugs. And that there are more people out there with a similar problem. Right.
    How lame is that?


  91. I’m a gear addict. I think I lost 2k last year alone. I had some lenses almost 1k I sold off in less than three months. Here’s a few more points if I might add:

    1) Cameras- much like cars- feed the imagination. It works to the manufacturers advantage that most gear is not easily accessible to the user. You can’t really assess it’s value and overall pleasure of ownership until you have it in your hands. Unless you rent the gear- you most often buy based on specs and online reviews. This warps perspective.

    2) You buy the wrong lenses. This leads to more addiction. I’ve got big fat telephoto lenses that barely get used. You’re better off buying a zoom for the long and wide end. About three years ago I packed over 30lbs worth of gear to Scottland…I’m talking 135mm 1.8, 500mm reflex, fisheye, 2.8 24-70, 50mm 1.4…I used the fisheye more than anything else. Gear addicts rarely consider the context of their own environment and exactly what the demands are. It’s easy to gravitate toward the longer lenses- but it’s the wide zooms and 35 or 50’s that get the most use. Buy those if anything.

    3) Ultra performance fixed primes are a disease. You get one and the desire to create uniformity and “completeness” amongst your kit kicks in. It’s “game over” then- you have to have all the “loxia” lenses or all of the Zeiss- whatever system. Do you need the 85 if you have a 50 and 135? Heck- you can use the 50 on a crop and save 1k. Doesn’t matter- you convince yourself your line-up is missing something.

    4) The camera market now thrives off of niche products. These products are designed to each out perform the competition in one aspect or another. This drives gear addiction as one believes they are missing out. I need that GH4 for the 4k, EM1 for the 5 axis, D750 for the amazing battery life and big pentaprism, Fuji for the X-trans……see, it doesn’t end. No camera has it all. Read all the gear addicts who recently sold everything to buy an A7RII…I imagine a massive graveyard of lenses and bodies made its way to ebay after that camera was released. Many stories of acquiring one also follow with a long list of “sell offs” in the process.

    It’s not the camera as much as it is the experience. You bet I like metal lenses- but the composite plastics are admittedly better in almost every regard. Looking through a pentaprism on a FF is much better than a pentamirror on a crop. The grip is better on DSLR’s if your using bigger lenses. I could go on- the only way to fight the disease is….

    1) Complete a damn system. Let me give you an example. I have a M43 set up I NEVER switch out. 25mm 1.8, 45mm 1.8, 9-18mm and an EP5. Whenever I want more I compare to this system. I often loose interest after that. At smaller print sizes in all but the largest pictures, you can’t tell the differences. I have some lenses well over 1500 that I barely can tell the difference. With three lenses I can do it all for 90 percent of what matters. I sell what doesn’t get used. The worst thing you can do is start multiple systems and never complete one. You’ll fret over the limitations night and day. Whatever you do- complete one.

    2) When you want something, take what you have and go out and shoot for two hours. Just shoot…and shoot….and shoot…it has the effect of killing the over glorification you make of it. Fantasizing builds the image up in your mind…using the product deconstructs the image.

    3) Don’t compare lenses. Consider what each lens can do for you- measure it on it’s own merits and REFUSE to compare. You undervalue your lens and feed the addiction. Comparing is the root of all addiction.

    I still have camera issues but I think I’m more sensible about it now. You also need to tell yourself that part of owning equipment is buying a limitation. Consider your camera and lenses that limitation. Consider it from that point- you aren’t just buying the lens for what it can do but what it can’t do. That will completely change your perspective. Fall in love with the limitations. Heck, I get just as much of a kick out of playing around with 25 dollar CCTV lenses as I do my Zeiss. I even sometimes use them more than the Zeiss. It’s the challenge after all.

    Hope this helps.

  92. Yes I am also addicted. I only got into photography a year ago. By now I have (I think) 14 or 15 cameras. One FF DSLR and 13 35mm film cameras. A lot of AIS lenses, zuiko OM lenses, minolta, a Leica M2…
    Now i am going to sell some of that gear because I want a Hasselblad. I don’t even know what i want to do with it, but I just want it. I’ll play with it a bit then sell it because I want something else. I am never really improving as a photographer – I am always using something new rather than learning how to work with what i already have. In fact, I don’t really enjoy photography as much as I did when i started off.
    What’s worse is that I don’t have a lot of money and I should be saving for my family and mortgage rather than wasting $$ like this.
    Thank you for the article Olivier,

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  98. Just want to add my view.

    I’m a numbers guy and keep track of my expenses and have recently categorised it down into different types of photography equipment. I’ve had this hobby since 2004 with the Nikon D70. I am looking at getting a mirrrorless camera and it has made be reflect this 13yrs of my hobby. We spend all these money they depreciate and we remove the packaging and it just goes in our camera bag(s) then put underneath a table or in the wardrobe.

    Fortunately also I went for the cheaper non f2.8 lenses for the wide angle cos I do landcapes or scenery. For the mid zoom with people i got a push pull oldie and the tele I got the f4. At times I have thought getting that latest 24-70 2.8 cos I think the skin would be better and I can get eyebrow detail, ie top of the line dSLR matching a top of the line lens. I have also in the past thought about getting 3 pro zooms and then 3 pro primes just cos then it would be comprehensive. I even thought about a 300mm f2.8 but it was so pricey I wasn’t really practical. I mean hey many pple even kit lenses are up to 200mm.

    First why mirrorless, isn’t that more spending? Having used a D70 and ten years later a D600 it’s gotten too large and heavy so when I have been overseas on travel it’s taken the enjoyment away. I’ve tendered to find my spot, get there, shoot and go home but because I have so much stuff I cannot go and enjoy and eat and drink much.

    Fortunately I didn’t buy so much stuff. Earlier on I was always online and when Nikon announced new products I would print the brochures out, compare specs, look at the sample images with their commissioned photographer. I would debate endless just because this camera had a faster high speed sync flash or this one had a faster 1/8000 shutter speed than 1/4000 or that this is more cool and pro because the viewfinder is round and not rectangle.

    I am not the guy who continually sell and upgrade. So like maybe many family people who have a camera and use it for 8yrs. 90% of the value is depreciated. My $1,000US D70 is now worth maybe $100US tops. The lenses are better but they still depreciate maybe 60% gone. Nowadays I simply get used, I regret my D600 wasn’t that has gone from $1,800US to about $700US today. Hence when the XT3 Fuji come out I would get the XT1. Maybe in a 1 or 2 yrs for now I will make do.

    I also shoot film out of interest. While they were bought used. The Nikons were bought in 2006 so they still depreciated I got it for $500US now it’s worth $150US (F100 Nikon). The Fm2n not bad, fortunately I got into medium format just last year so they were well depreciated. With film photography it’s the indirect costs. Just to view your images you need a scanner because the lab are expensive if you need prints every time and many don’t do a good job or they are ultra expensive. So I got a used Coolscan everyone says go dedicated right, they were discontinued got a used one for $500US that broke within a year, then I got a $500US Epson scanner. Then there is the film and lab cost. Go on holiday shoot a modest 10 rolls of slides and have them developed that’s $180US. With other times even thou you don’t plan on shooting this much film you convince yourself to shoot more because the postal cost to the lab wasn’t economical, I send my film to the USA because the labs here are just so expensive and I import my film from the USA. Slide film can be $25US here per roll and development is $15US. Also not as clean. Also with b/w film if you are developing it yourself, shoot more because you would end up wasting the chemistry. With all that said, it does question myself well was medium format really needed, was going with my Nikon film cameras really needed after owning the D70 (digital). The scanners are also not that great after you spent the money and time shooting film. Unless you are going to get them professionally scanned and pay big bucks or spend $2k on a scanner.

    I do landscape photography. Or actually more cityscape or suburban scapes. Like you said the only time you did landscape was at school yard. In all honesty my real landscapes have been a 1 trip in 5yrs to a remote town for a couple of days, morning fog sunrises etc. Most of my trips like many people have been to urban places like cities or simply just stuck at home. So as a landscape photographer you have all these accessories that are pretty much worthless to most people – like grad filters. They go for $60US each, or $100US the better ones. How often do they get used? One needs 4 grads as a kit – 2 and 3 stop filters in the soft and hard transitions. I heard Lee now have other ones like very hard transitions and the 6, 10 or even 16 stop solid ND filters.

    People who live close to the border of Canada, the USA, or in Europe or in Asia. One can get very cheap airfares at offpeak season. For one or two filter could had been a overseas one way flight. Instead of a camera and lens kit could have been a week away trip all cost included. They could also been invested. Rather than juts having all this gear as it depreciates and you sit at home and perhaps you go out but you go out to the same places. Even that aside one could have gone overseas or to another city for a 2 or 3 night weekend.

    There is also the aspect of taking up your space at home. Esp with things like a near free printer. I reason to myself oh its a free printer, how much were they, it’s an A3 Canon or Epson fine art printer. Blah blah. But the ink and paper is the same cost as labs, so after a while one can do the sums. Times I print cos I can not that I would if I were using a lab. Without the printer and the table imagine the room that can be spared. Also the cupboard space to hold your spare ink and your paper.

    I do set a budget and photography comes off my entertainment / insanity money. After a while it’s not efficient. I’ve basically had these gear and spend my time reading online and with the B&H brochures they send you when I could had spend my money with other aspects of my life and using my the photography equipment I already own. Mine have been on film photography and accessories. As a testament, I am using a D600 5yrs old and a lens 18-35mm AF-D before the tripod was blown over was a 17yr old lens. That old combo can still produce the works.

    I’ve spent $8K USD in photography and a further $5k USD related to film photography (film, lab, scanners, film cameras and its lenses). For this 14yrs. I’ve set a hiatus, no real spending until I reach the 20yr mark. It’s do different than a boy’s interest in car magazines and pimping up their car and drove it around the block (!). I’m pimping up my camera setup and going for a wander around the same block.

  99. Hello,
    thanks for this very enlightening piece of writing ! I found it while typing in google “addicted to lenses”, as I am feeling this addiction growing in my mind.

    Maybe of some use is a series of questions I have been recently formalizing before buying anymore gear :

    1) did I try to do with the gear I already possess the things I’m thinking this new gear will allow me to do?

    2) after trying to do it with my actual gear, do I still really need the gear I am planning to buy? According to other users testimonials, which true improvement can bring this new gear? Is this improvement worth the cost?

    3) is it an immediate, professionnal need, for a precise project with a proper budget ? Or for an hypothetical use? In this case, am I obliged to buy it now, or can it wait until this hypothetical use becomes real? Are there smarter and more appropriate ways of spending the money it costs?

    4) is the gear I chose the best value for money ? aren’t there better solutions, less pricey, for my needs?

    5) will buying this at this very moment of time cause me any kind of financial hardship?

    Besides, to know our real needs, I think the best is to always have a camera in one’s pocket, in order to always be able to make the photo we want to. It’s a good way of finding one’s style, and which gear we need to develop it. If I’m mainly shooting outdoors, do I really need lights? If I’m a fan of large landscape views, do I need a very powerful zoom? If I’m mainly shooting portraits, do I really need a sophisticated stabilizer? And so on…

    All the best anyway 🙂

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  101. The photographic industry is expert at promoting their products. They use terminology like professional to make non commercial photographers believe that they need to buy and then upgrade to the very best gear.

    Most of it is a joke. It assumes that the best photographs of today were better than the best of 10 years ago and those were better than the best of 10 years before that. And following this twisted logic one would assume that the best photographs of 10 years from now will be better the best of today. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    While I find gear obsession revolting I am in the end very happy for it. That is because these addicts pay for the development of the industry. And thanks to them I will get some great cameras a few years down the line for chump change. Do “better” cameras mean that my photography will be any better? Not at all. But they may allow me to get shots at the margin that I couldn’t have gotten with a lesser camera. This is important for a commercial photographer as they must compete or become insolvent,, but is of very limited use to most lovers of photography depending of course on what type of photography you do.

    What pisses me off about camera addicts however is when they judge my work based on the camera I use. And sadly there are endless numbers of them.

  102. Buying gear is an excuse for not taking pictures. Pro’s take two camera’s and two lenses with them and are ready for every situation. Amateurs spend too much time discussing stuff, instead they should go out taking pictures. The camera industry drives us crazy with all these new camera’s we don’t really need. Nice article, I enjoyed reading it.

  103. NAS – Nikon Aquisition Syndrome is an extremely old phenomenon of photographers. Nikon F-mount is an age-old system and a large number of excellent glass can still be used on New Nikon DSLR bodies and produce excellent result.

  104. Timeless and very honest article.
    Same happening to me. I was just thinking recently, once gear is more important than taking pictures with it… G.A.S.

  105. I did it to myself, must to have been depressed about something at the time and G.A.S kicked in. Now I have excessive gear, looking at it and some items not even opened. It gets frustrating looking at so much gear, hunting through so much gear. So much money spent on gear that sit around taking up room and collecting dust. Theres times Im looking through my gear for something and see many things I forgot I had bought. Some gear you acquire, requires you to relearn it if it has not been used for some time like flashes, triggers, lights. I fell into the lie of when I need something I want it there not having to order it. It gets so depressing, it distracts from the main goal which is to get out and enjoy photography. Now I wish for less, one camera and a few lenses, a flash, travel bag and travel tripod. I currently have at least 2-3 of each and more. Then there will come the time when all you have bought will face the getting old factor and you won’t even remember using it that much. With all your will follow the K.I.S.S. theory and keep it simple. It comes a time when so much gear won’t make you feel good but cause you to feel horrible about yourself.

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