Welcome to the latest Photography Bluff.
Here I am, writing yet another demotivating blog about ‘not buying camera equipment’. I know I know. For all those G.A.S. photographers out there, and that includes me, it’s always disappointing or rather frustrated for not getting the latest and the best (fast enough). Rare few richer guys or fortunate professional reviewers are the only bunch on this planet who can play or even own (or given) some of these newest releases.
I remembered the days when I was playing with my first SLR, I only had my kit lens attached. But then I bought a cheap longer zoom three weeks later. Yet it was a lens that I didn’t use at all for the three years and I eventually sold it on evil bay. Though my first kit lens stayed attached to my camera for the best part of my first 4 years until I got a better lens, the pretty good Canon EF 28-135mm IS USM. So, my G.A.S. didn’t affect me just yet. I blamed solely on my limited finance at the time, just after university and my first didn’t-paid-so-well job and no where I was a pro-tog yet.
Even when I turned pro in 2005, I still used the 28-135mm lens on my Canon EOS 1V for my first wedding job. Later I did buy the Bigma 50-500mm zoom and thought that it should covered all my needs. It did and didn’t. Because I was a self-taught photographer, I learnt everything from experience. So soon, I realised that I needed better and faster glass, not for showing off, but for necessity in my line of work, wedding photojournalism.
As a Canon shooter, I know that ‘L’ series lenses are the best in business. So I saved up money from each wedding job and eventually got my first ‘L’ lens, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, then the next and next. My G.A.S. started.
This was the stage when I thought “I need this lens for this type of shots and I need this for another type of situation…” Umm.. So I ended up with a bunch of lenses, a few primes, a few pro zooms, some macro lenses… I haven’t started talking about other cameras and then other lenses to go with them too!
Yes, I use different cameras and I do use different lenses to achieve different type of photography but as I got more experience and older (or wiser), I started to realise that my G.A.S. stage was totally unnecessary. Yes, it was an experience and both made me feel cool and hurt at the same time. I felt cool because I got to play and own the latest and the best at the time and that feeling of showing that brand spanking new lens or camera in front of my friends and customers was wonderful. Then it hurt me because my wallet was never filled enough (didn’t quite make business sense).
Now as an experienced wedding and street photographer, I have come to realise that I only need a few lenses instead of tens, only for those photos that I wanted to take. These days, I mainly use my 35mm and 50mm primes, almost 95% of the time, for the remaining 5%, I either use my 85mm prime or 70-200mm zoom for portraits. I haven’t even touched my 24-70 zoom lens for almost 2 years. This has become even more apparent after I converted to become a Leica photograher.
Here’s the deal, I guess that every avid photographers will go through some sort of G.A.S. syndrome at some stage. Partly not because they want to own the best that they could afford but also to experience different types of lenses to decide what type of photography they wish to pursuit! Every new lens or camera is always better than its predecessor, well, in theory at least. But in real life, the difference is negligible. I bet 99% of people would not be able to tell the difference if two print are presented in front of them that are taken from a new and an old camera or lens. So is it necessary? No, in most cases. Some professionals will get the latest simply because it helps and speeds up their work. I did that when I upgraded from M240 to M-P only because of the bigger buffer (Leica couldn’t upgrade my M240 buffer). Similarly when I got the 1.4 or 1.2 lenses instead of the 2.0 or 2.8 lenses. It was a need in my work. But for the rest, you may not really need to folk out so much money to get ‘that’ lens or ‘that’ camera. So many semi-professionals or enthusiasts out there only use the basic entry level cameras yet still achieve brilliant photographs. The end question to ask yourself is that will the lens or camera you have in front of you do the job for you?
Anyhow there’s no rules or guidelines on how many lenses you should have throughout your photographic life. You will probably know best if you are a professional after a few years of heavy shooting. An enthusiast may take a lot longer to realise since they simply don’t shoot enough to know exactly what they want. Or your wallet has such a bulge that needs some ‘deflating’ 🙂
The choice is yours but for me, my G.A.S. is gone (or is it???) and now I am concentrating on image making with the ‘tools’ I have but the occasional ‘Googling’ could easily reignite my G.A.S. syndrome, I guess, once you have contracted with this horrible disease, you will never be able to recover 100% 😀 (At time of writing, I just ordered the new OM-D E-M5 II to replace the trusty mark I! A full review will come when I receive the camera and conducted a thorough user test!)
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