Should I continue to spend on gear?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by j_e|8, Mar 4, 2017.

  1. I've been into photography on and off for about 20 years. I had some entry level and mid range film gear in the late 90's to early 2000's. Entry level and mid range dslr gear when I got into digital some years ago and left the hobby and settled for some higher end compacts and a superzoom.

    I've recently got back into photography with mirrorless olympus and panasonic bodies. I think I've used or owned all the GF and E-pl models released form 2013-2016. I've also had all the mki OMD's and now I have an E-m1 and 2 "pro" lenses in the 12-40 and 40-150 2.8.

    The thing is, I'm a lazy photographer recently. I've learned enough over the years that I know what I'm doing most of the time, but I don't always apply the techniques that I've learned or read about and sometimes I just shoot in P mode most of the time and don't even bother to check the values before I press the shutter button.

    My pictures are ok, not great, but that's never stopped me from enjoying myself with a camera. Especially going hiking and walking around the city I like to have one around.
    I live in a big crowded city, there's lots of things to photograph but I've found I've been taking pictures of the same things and places over and over again just with different cameras.
    I've also never learned to do much post processing beyond cropping and adjusting brightness and colors a bit. I've made some efforts to learn a bit more but I just don't have the patience.

    Lately, it seems I'm more into buying and replacing my gear than the actual photography. I'm wondering now if this attitude and approach of mine warrants the cost of using higher end stuff or maybe I should take a step back from spending.

    EDIT: Sorry about the spacing, I don't know why it's come out with all my paragraphs bunched up like this.
    david_mcewan likes this.
  2. It's my general experience, reducing the amount of gear, trimming that extra fat almost always leads to a more efficient workflow. IMO, its better to target covering all your bases (focal length ranges, camera bodies) with the least amount of gear. The idea is not to let the gear bother you so that you can focus on your shooting, but I understand different people have different styles and some can handle significantly more gear than I do. As to cutting spending, I think you have enough information in your own post to come to the only reasonable conclusion. However I would add, you need to ask yourself, are you really into photography. If something else excites you more, may be selling all the camera gear and investing in another hobby would be a reasonable decision. The bottom line is, if you are satisfied with your photographic skills, a small mirrorless with two lenses may be more than sufficient. If you are not satisfied, buying higher end gear will not necessarily help.
    BTW, your question is not related to philosophy of photography, hence I suggest finding a more suitable forum to post such questions, may be the casual conversation forum.
    Dave Luttmann likes this.
  3. Thanks for the reply. Photography is a hobby I'm not the best at but it's the one I enjoy the most.

    Btw, how do I go about moving this to the section you suggested?
  4. david_henderson


    I can think of three reasons to buy camera gear if we ignore "collector" type motives, replacing broken stuff, and commercial pressures for a pro.

    • Your gear is not capable of supporting the type(s) and quality of photography you want to achieve and feel you could achieve. This is an easy one to flannel and requires brutal honesty with yourself over whether the gear is holding you back, or indeed whether you are holding it back- particularly if you move on before getting to use equipment properly.
    • To keep you photographing. Sometimes your gear gets to be too much/too heavy to carry around in the execution of the type(s) of photography you prefer. An example might be to opt for lighter/smaller equipment to make walking round a city all day with a camera bag more comfortable , and stop you wishing you weren't doing that.
    • There are people who just like the process of acquiring stuff, and can find the money to support that tendency. This can often show up in more than one walk of life. I have one or two friends like this about cars- they are always looking to buy a new car. There's nothing wrong with this, on the assumption that its not causing a social or financial problem- but its more about you than it is about photography.
    And the short term , workaround solution to your paragraph problem is to do what I did here and use the "bullet point" tool on the bar above the writing space.
  5. SCL


    If I was a retailer or camera manufacturer, I'd say "GO TO IT - GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT", you may be the ideal customer in terms of sales. But does continual turnover really make sense? Has it improved your photography? I'm guessing from your post that more than likely it hasn't materially improved your results. The other side of the equation is whether it has satisfied your desires to try new and different things without plunging you into financial straits. Only you can determine whether you should continue the trend you have engaged in. If the previously used gear has piled up in the closet or drawers of your home and doesn't get used anymore...and you aren't a true collector, I'd say you may have a problem which you could easily rectify by donating at least some of it to worthy causes to allow others to enjoy the fun of photography. If you've merely been turning it around...selling or trading in the old for the new....not really a problem IMHO....sort of like many of us remember our fathers trading in the family auto each year for a new model, even though both got us to the same place in the same time and comfort. Personally, I'd say cease spending money and start really enjoying and getting the best out of the gear you already have acquired. At least that's my excuse for having both film and digital gear, although none of it is of recent vintage, nor do I plan to do much in terms of future purchases....I'm having too much fun with my Olympus E-PL2 and Nikon D300 on one end and my 1950s Leicas on the other end...and still learning every day.
  6. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    I buy gear, mostly lenses to let me get photos that would be difficult or impossible otherwise. E.G. a longer macro for flowers and insects, and a long telephoto for birds. I believe there will come a time where unless there is a transformative change in equipment (particularly camera) capability, you will have everything needed to do what you want photographically. I'm pretty much there.
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  7. I think you should put more effort into post-processing. With my photos, that's where the image comes alive. With the right tool, by which I mean Lightroom, it's actually fun. And, because the changes are parameterized, you can do a little when you feel like it, and then come back and continue or redo when you have more time and think more highly of the image.
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  8. I am the minimalist type. It works for me but it would not work for others. Just do what you feel you need to.
  9. I suspect that in my case, they'll have to pry my PayPal credit card from my cold, dead fingers....
    Vlado and Landrum Kelly like this.
  10. Some people buy yachts, others enjoy photography. Whatever gives you pleasure, and possibly income. If you stay within a system, you can keep the lenses as you change bodies. You can also leapfrog between the two.

    <br><br>I'm still using Nikon lenses I bought early in the millennium, and some much earlier. I have Leica lenses which can be used on my current bodies, Sony A7ii and A7Rii, but they have been retired as I fill out my "kit" with lenses specifically designed for that camera. The Sony FE mount may prove to be a durable standard, since it is used on a variety of Super-35 video cameras, not just Sony either.
  11. There is a saying, buying more/better gear won't make you a better photographer.<br><br>

    Look at yourself and your kit. <br>
    Will you be constantly shooting in P mode? Or can you push yourself out of P mode and into Manual or even scene modes? <br>
    What do you shoot, and is the gear appropriate? It is hard to shoot surfers out on the waves with a 50mm normal lens. You don't need pro gear, but you do need gear appropriate to the task, or it becomes frustrating. <br><br>

    How about training your eye? <br><br>

    Story: <br>
    I had a friend, a pro photog. His daughter was shooting some GOOD stuff with her Instamatic (yeah it was a long time ago).<br>
    So for her birthday, he gave her a Hassleblad. <br>
    About 6 months later, his daughter sadly gave him the Hasselblad back, and went back to happily shooting with her Instamatic.<br><br>

    What happened was that the complexity of using the Hasselblad was getting in the way of and distracting from her creative eye. As a result she was not shooting the GOOD stuff she used to shoot. IOW not all of us are techie photograhers <br>
    So maybe like her, go simple (P mode) and work on your eye. <br><br>

    Quote: I've found I've been taking pictures of the same things and places over and over again just with different cameras. Unquote.<br>
    To break out of the rut that you say you are in, challenge yourself. <br>
    There is a guy in the "Street and Documentary" section that is doing this. Pick a subject or item, and spend a day shooting just that. How creative can you get with different subjects; mail box, building corner, street signs, etc, etc. This might get your creative juices flowing.
  12. Gary, Ernst Haas used to do a drill in Yosemite in his classes where he would give students a viewing card, a card with a 24mm x 36 mm cut out or a 2'x3' and have them stand in onespot looking through it moving it closer to the eye for wide angle, further for longer lens and find 10 images. I think it is a valuable drill for most photographers, costs nothing and gets your itchy trigger finger off the shutter release and forces you to take the time to look at compositions. It is a real "eye opener."
  13. I'm here to help you out. I know how strong the compulsion to spend on new gear can be. I want to keep you from falling into the new gear addiction syndrome. Send me the money you would have spent and I will spend it to prevent your suffering.
  14. I was in shoes similar to yours, buying new lenses and bodies every so often, until it finally dawned on me that, for my interests (purely hobbyist), one of the superzooms would suit me just fine. So I sold what I needed to to purchase a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 sometime in the middle of last year, and haven't used a different camera since (I did keep one of my Pentax bodies and a couple lenses). For me, it's been the perfect tool. Took it to Ireland last year, and got every shot I cared to get. I used some of the manual adjustments to get different exposures of the same shot, but didn't do anything too drastic with it.

    I agree with marc above that post-processing is where you can really make a photo stand out, no matter what camera it was taken with. You don't have to do it for every shot, just concentrate on those you like the best. Play around with layers and different blend modes for them. I like to play with the 'equalize' filter and a black-and-white gradient fill layer (blended as 'overlay' or 'soft light' typically and then adjusting the opacity). Also look into applying a high pass filter for general sharpening. Whatever you do, it's for your own enjoyment, so who cares if someone else likes it.
  15. Carry on, but slow your pace down! Folks like Ken Rockwell & Tony Northrup get hold of every bit of latest gear, to remain popular reviewers. Maybe they are managing to make a living from their links to shopping sites and tips that way. But if your stuff is doing your thing; why bother? MFT sounds like the dialectic synthesis of your trip from DSLRs through high end compacts. - Fine. - I guess you settled for it and am not sure what you might like next and why. - I am a lazy photographer myself too. My Leica Ms are on auto everything i.e. ISO & shutterspeed when I am walking around. I might enter manual since there is probably no AE lock in them. I do histogram chimping and am somewhat conscious of the camera's selections. But TBH: If somebody as dumb as I am can pick right settings, why shouldn't tiny computers be able to do the same? There are enough no-brainer situations in handheld photography to give even program mode a right to exist. - Happysnapping with Fujis I would most likely not leave it either. Manual mode has its place but gets overrated. - Shopping: I here am not happy without a 2nd body at hand. - Stuff breaks, bitches and as nice as interchangeable lenses are, juggling them is no fun. - Some people live happily with 12mm as their widest, others fancy wider. 150mm is long enough for my taste but I am no birder / sports- / wildlife photographer. How about fast primes for selective focus? - I'd be lusting after the Panasonic 42.5mm YMMV. Bottom line: Shoot what you have until you know that you want something else too. These days I recommend buying "the next mile stone" instead of faint hints of improvement. This includes megapixels you neither print nor need to fill your screen
  16. It is really important to develop your vision and tailor you equipment to it, not the other way around. I replace equipment for a couple of reasons -- it wears out, it breaks and replacement is better than repair, or new technology enhances my ability to produce image that meet my vision. If I were to weight what I value it would be 60% software and 40% photo equipment.
  17. "Lately, it seems I'm more into buying and replacing my gear than the actual photography." Hmmmm. Maybe you need to explore different hobbies!
  18. If collecting great hi-end gear is all your into then spend away. If you want to improve your photography to where you think they are great shots, then develop your skills to where using the camera in full manual mode is second nature and does not feel like work. It is f-stop, shutter speed, ISO, light and composing the shot and of course post editing. Take inspiration from others work that inspires you. Study what was being done and learn how to be the master of your camera using it as the tool it is. Get a new camera if you want to, but it sounds like you have been into photography for a while and having fun but would really like to get wow images. Look at your "not great" images, think about what you could have done to make it great. Maybe the shot can be edited in post, Maybe there is something you should have done to get it right in camera. Every shot good or bad is a chance to grow.
  19. My solution to the constant bombardment of new gear has been to set up a couple or three bags that suit different needs. My big go nearly everywhere bag is what I used on a daily basis in the news business with a couple of digital bodies and three or four lenses, a single flash and extra batteries, cards and so on. I could cover mischief murder and mayhem, sports, weddings and whatever else I came across. I can also drop a laptop in it if I want to make it weigh about a ton. Second bag carries a film body, perhaps two, and a couple of lenses, maybe a flash, some film, notecards, a few batteries. Much simpler and lighter. It usually just lives in the car and really does go everywhere. Who knows what might catch my eye? Third bag is filled with RB67 gear and I use it when I want to be slower and more deliberate. I may need to add a new digital body in the next year just on principle but there is no other need to add gear. So quit doing it! Just carry very basic equipment and concentrate on everything else. Keep the fun part fun.

    Rick H.
  20. "I don't always apply the techniques that I've learned or read about and sometimes I just shoot in P mode most of the time and don't even bother to check the values before I press the shutter button."<br>

    I think that I would stop spending until I had redirected myself back to the primacy of photography, not gear acquisition. I say that not in a judgmental tone, since gear acquisition is an affliction that most of us know about--but at least we know that it is an affliction and can take steps to rein it in. You may--and I repeat "may"--still be in denial that you have a problem.<p><p>

    I think that we should have Gear Addicts Anonymous, and the only requirement for membership would be that one has to stand up and say, "I'm John Doe, and I'm a gear addict."<p><p>

    (recovering gear addict--and it never goes away)
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017

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