Do you really need all that expensive camera gear?

It’s easy to get caught up in the concept of gear acquisition syndrome (GAS), especially as a new or learning photographer. I mean, pretty much our entire website revolves around reviewing shiny new lenses. I just wanted to put this post out there to say, you don’t need that fancy $1000 lens to take good pictures.

When I first started in photography eons ago, I got a Canon T5 with the kit lens. Being a broke high schooler, I pretty much was shooting for the cheapest lens upgrade I could get. After months of saving pennies, and a friend’s generous donation of a gift card, I went to my local camera store and purchased… Canon’s cheap nifty fifty.

I fell in love with it, going out almost daily to shoot pictures (very bad pictures, I now realize, looking back). Back then, I didn’t care about the gear, I cared about practicing, having fun, and making memories.


A close up of a fancy lens.

Then I started getting a bit deeper into the Youtube/Blog/Reddit rabbit hole of gear reviews. I think what happens to a lot of photographers is that they stagnate and have creative blocks, but they blame it on their gear. This certainly happened to me. I stopped getting inspired to go out and shoot, and it overall made my existing depression even worse.

Instead of just forcing myself to go out though, I rationalized that getting “the best new lens” would help me get inspired and turn things around. I’ve noticed this same phenomenon with a few of my other photographer friends as well.

And so I did. I researched for days on end, and eventually dropped a fat stack of cash (like, all my savings at the time) onto a Canon 17-55 F2.8. The lens was a beast. Image stabilization, sharp as a tack, wide aperture, it was in theory everything I wanted. Though as with all things, the newness wore off after a week, and I was back to square one. Turns out, I don’t like big lenses, and I ended up just using my 50mm most of the time anyway.


A group of expensive lenses.

Fast forward many years later to the present. I’ve since switched systems (goodbye bulky Canon gear) and overall have formed a better relationship with camera equipment. I’m not wealthy by any means, so for this blog, I often simply rent or borrow gear as opposed to outright buying it to review.

In my “personal” photography life, I like to stay quite minimalist. I still shoot with my trusty old Sony a6000, and I keep a small rotating collection of lenses, mostly manual. I love my Sigma 30mm F1.4, but I usually just rock a small, compact manual lens such as the Neewer 35mm F1.7 (quickly becoming a favorite of mine).

Side profile of a camera.

I’ve found that I’m much more inspired to shoot when my gear is light and, to be honest, when my gear is cheap. I actually enjoy shooting in rain or snow storms these days, because I don’t really care if my $40 lens from 1982 gets wrecked. Also, on the crazy off chance someone tries to steal my camera, oh well, it wasn’t a big A7rIV with a 24-70 F2.8 on it or something.

Just a cheap entry-level camera with a small but varied collection of cheap lenses. And I’m ok with that. I think I’ve found my happy medium in terms of camera gear. I’d encourage all photographers, especially new ones, to step back and take a big consideration: do I really need all this expensive shit?

Thanks for reading, folks.


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4 thoughts on “Do you really need all that expensive camera gear?”

  1. really glad I randomly stumbled on this article… pretty new to photography but I’m loving it… I got a Nikon p950 bridge camera (I know, it’s not necessarily a REAL camera) a couple months ago and that thing does not leave my side… sits in the passenger seat of my truck everywhere I go… it’s compact and I can shoot photos of wildlife that I would otherwise need a giant lens for… anyway I feel like I’m getting into kind of a slump, and of course for the past few days my brain keeps telling me I should start searching around for a BETTER camera haha… I haven’t even unlocked the full potential of my “shitty” camera yet lol… but yeah, I think I’m just going to focus on finding new places to shoot and take some trips farther out of my stomping grounds… and try to get better at other aspects of photography besides just wildlife… and put the business of spending a bunch more money on the back burner… thanks for the article

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  2. Perfect comment, just in time as I’m faced with the same problem. Less is more if it works for you and a smaller, lighter outfit is more enjoyable to use.

    Thanks
    Ron

    Reply

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