One of the best things about the photography world on the internet is that it’s so easy to connect with other people who are just as passionate about their gear as I am. Yes, you read that right: passionate about their gear. There are countless websites dedicated to reviewing and discussing cameras, lenses, bags, straps, etc. - all of them are passionate about photography itself, but there’s an equal love for the technology of the craft that can’t be overlooked.
I’m sure you’ve heard “It’s not about the gear you use.” and “Gear doesn’t make the photographer.”. Both are valid points and nobody should be under the illusion that the latest and greatest gear will make you something you’re not - that only comes with time, dedication and practice just like any other craft. That being said, on a social networking level I find it interesting to see what choices other photographers make with the equipment in their kit. I certainly don’t expect my photos to be the same as a more experienced professional just because we use the same camera, but I do find it extremely valuable to have an experienced persons insight into the camera system before I invest in it. It’s just smart to know the pros and cons of something before you purchase it, and with the way that the technology progresses in this industry, it can be tough to keep up at times! For example, when first researching cameras I noticed that a great deal of photographers have recently moved away from DSLRs and have gone to mirrorless systems (some as backups, some as primaries), and that helped me to focus more on the micro four thirds system when I was making the choice myself. I valued the insight into the smaller form factor and it was a deciding factor in my purchases from that point on.
There’s also a fantastic market for resale of photographic gear on various sites, and for some reason I find that getting an item second hand still feels like a new item when I receive it. Perhaps I’ve been lucky up to now, but the three or few items I’ve bought second hand, both lenses and a camera body itself, have been in amazing shape. People just seem to take care of their photography equipment, and it’s comforting to know that there’s a community of people who respect their gear so much.
The dark side to gear...
Camera manufacturers are working at a furious pace to get their latest cameras, lenses and accessories ready for Photokina next month, and I’m sure we’ll see a few surprise announcements. The downside to these types of shows and announcements is, of course, the dreaded GAS - Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I’ve been hit by this a couple of times myself, but I’ve managed to shrink things down recently to a kit that I’m happy with (for the moment anyway!). The problem with loving technology and photography is that whenever that hot new item comes out, the consumer in me says, “Oh, I wonder if I should get that?” Then, of course, you read the reviews and everyone sings the items praises and suddenly the voice inside your head starts trying to convince you that maybe, just maybe, this new piece of technology will help you to produce better photographs. Whether it truly will or not is the real question. The “Want vs. Need” debate is something that I find is brought up quite frequently in regards to photography gear!
I actually find that the best way to beat Gear Acquisition Syndrome is to get it out in the open, so I’ll be making a couple of blog posts soon discussing why I’m still opting to shoot on the Panasonic G6 and how I’m fighting GAS knowing that the Olympus OMD E-M1, Fuji XT1 and even the Panasonic GH4 are staring me in the face. The other post will be about one item that I had been swooning over and how I thought I had won the GAS battle against it, but how it all came crashing down in an instant.
Update: Those posts have been combined into one, check out: Gear Acquisition Syndrome for the whole story!
Besides the dreaded case of GAS that inevitably sweeps through us all from time to time, I think it’s healthy to be attracted to and to discuss the evolving technology of photography. I think we should all continue to share our experiences with our equipment to help others who might be interested in purchasing the same products. It’s true that the gear doesn’t make the photographer, but it’s also true that the photographer loves talking about the gear.