Focus on photography and not gear

It is a vicious cycle hobbyist and pro’s go through.

You start off loving images and you end up loving your gear more. Having GAP (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) shifts your focus away from photography altogether. The transition is so subtle you don’t even notice it happening. But it is all over once you have it. Have a look at any photographic website and they all have camera reviews and lens reviews. Very few focus just on images (like Eric Kim and Cole Thompson, just to name two).

The marketing agents of all products are so good, they insidiously move our focus away from real photography towards selling us dreams (dreams is not photography). The dream that a tool will take better photographs that what you ever can.

Now if you have a lot of money and love buying cameras and cameras is your hobby then that is ok. It’s cool. But a lot of us would just like to take images and we end up buying more equipment that we will ever need. And we end up buying the wrong equipment for what we are good at.

I’ll be honest I totally fell for it. My dream camera in the beginning was a Nikon FE2, even a Nikon FM2.  I ended up with an F801, later a F90, F4s, F5, D70, D200, D2, D2x, D610 etc. See a trend.  What amazes me is that a lot of people buy very expensive cameras but have crappy lenses.  You see big corporations know that you can keep a lens for years, but they created this false perception that you need more pixels for better images. The focus has changed from lenses and film combo’s to camera’s only.

Where I completely missed out was in lenses.  Because of my budget went into a camera system, I could only afford slow zooms. That in itself is restricting your creativity.  They are fantastic for holiday shots, but not creative shots. I am not comparing sharpness and that in itself is not an issue for me.  Current consumer lenses are very sharp and you can increase it in Photoshop. My zooms are replaced by four fantastic prime lenses, something I always wanted. 25 f1.4, 35 f1.4, 50 f1.4 and 85 mm f1.2. What more can one wish for.

I am amazed at what Eric Kim has achieved with his Ricoh. And most of us will snuff at that camera. But at the end he has the right camera for the job. And that is what I tried to accomplish by selling off all my expensive and complex gear and moving back to a simpler seat of tools and in doing so, create better images.

If you enjoy fiddling around with buttons and controls then stick with a complicated camera. If you enjoy pure photography get the most basic digicam you can get and spend your budget on lenses. You will find that your focus will shift towards being more creative and pushing yourself to dip into images you never dreamt of taking. We are all suckers for “Needful things” as described by Stephen King.

My point is this, before jumping and buying the latest camera, hold yourself back, save a little, sell your least used lens and spend a little on a really fast good one. It does not have to be a big brand one. Buy a second hand lens, I promise you they are just as good. And if you don’t like it sell it at the same price you bought it, how can you lose.  It’s what I did and I am at a much better place than before.