Like most photographers I’ve experienced bouts of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome), with some of it induced by listening to the advice of others. I don’t know what your experiences have been. Mine have led me to the conclusion that the best thing for me to do is to simply ignore ‘must have’ gear advice from others, each and every time I hear it.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
While most folks are very well meaning when they offer their recommendations and opinions on camera gear, they can’t possibly understand the specific needs of another person. And, that goes for me too. I can certainly share my experiences with you, but ultimately you have to decide what gear best suits your needs.
Buying and using camera gear is an intensely personal decision. What one photographer may find is invaluable to them, another may just shrug off as not being necessary at all.
Like many people I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that a particular format, camera, lens or accessory will somehow help make me a better photographer. That’s precisely how I moved into Nikon full frame gear, first purchasing a D600 and ultimately ending up with a D800 and a healthy selection of Nikkor F-mount lenses. Plus, a Tamron 150-600 mm thrown in for good measure.
There’s no question that all of that full frame gear was excellent in terms of features, performance characteristics and quality. Did it actually help me become a better photographer? Being honest with myself leads to a simple answer, “No”.
In some ways, through my own fault of course, I ended up becoming a bit lazy and complacent. After all, I could point that full frame gear at virtually anything, press the shutter, and have a much better than average chance of getting an acceptable image.
Camera gear, regardless of the format, make or model, is simply something each of us uses to capture an image. We use it to bring a vision in our individual minds into a digital reality, or a physical print. Something that has, for whatever reason, sparked our creativity.
I’ve wasted a lot of money over the years buying ‘must have’ gear recommended by others that I discovered after-the-fact that I really didn’t need. Some of it was so infrequently used that I ended up selling it for almost what I paid for it. That helped to reduce the financial sting of the original purchases, but not my stupidity in buying it in the first place.
My stupidity was not limited to only photographic gear. I also made some bonehead decisions with video-related gear as well. Over the past year or two I’ve been reviewing every piece of gear I own, and selling things that don’t really make any sense for me to own.
I haven’t found buyers for everything that needs to go yet. And, depending on the item and its level of speciality I may end up with a unique collection of paperweights. Or, perhaps I should call them ‘life lessons’.
Each of us has our viewpoints on what contributes to the growth of an individual when they pursue a particular endeavor like photography.
Personally I think choice of gear makes very little, if any, difference at all. What really matters is how well we understand and use the gear we have to bring the visions in our minds to life. Our choice of gear is only relevant in terms of how well it helps to facilitate our creative process, rather than being an impediment to it.
The essence of each of us as photographers stems from our individual abilities to see the world around us in unique ways, and to bring those perspectives to life with our creative interpretation of them.
While photography can have quite a bit of technical orientation to it, none of us will reach our potential by becoming technicians. First and foremost we need to explore the art form that is called photography.
Many of us have become overly gear-centric. When we see an image that we like, we tend to check out the EXIF data almost immediately rather than experience the photograph as an artistic expression. At the end of the day does it really matter if the individual images in this article were captured with a full frame camera, one with a cropped sensor, or even a bridge camera with a tiny sensor? Or, is it simply enough that they were captured at all?
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