It was quite coincidental that I wanted to publish this article on the biggest shopping day of the year about GAS: Gear Acquisition Syndrome. It’s usually but not always accompanied by is partner in crime: hype.
What is GAS?
GAS is a phenomenon well known and talked about in the photographic community but can certainly be applied to many other ways that involve purchasing items. Usually, photographers start talking about it when they hear about a photographer who seems to have an insane amount of gear. Photographers just look in amazement. The photographer with GAS will have lens that are incredibly close in focal length “Oh, I got a 12mm f/1.4, a 15mm f/1.7, a 21mm f/2…” You find out that they have a couple of dozen lenses! Some are envious. Some are in amazement.
This year was a pretty fantastic year for cameras. Let’s start with the lineup:
I certainly know there have been others, but these especially I know are significant in their markets and manufacturers. Most of these were known to be released in 2017 and some were complete surprises. It certainly wasn’t expected that many of these cameras weren’t going to be as good as they are. The Sony cameras especially with the A9. Many people are claiming the A9 to be one of those milestone cameras. One that redefines the industry.
The Sony A7R Mark III – The Perfect Camera?
The Sony A7R Mark III certainly got my attention. I heard too many negative things about the Sony A7R Mark II and never really thought Sony was a great company to invest in for gear on the professional level. When I saw the A9, I was truly impressed and that got me thinking they’ve finally come around. While no one doubted the sensor performance of the Mark II of the camera, the Mark III improved the functionality and usability of the camera by several levels! It’s like you have a car with this amazing engine but the car would fall apart after a mile. Then the manufacturer got wise and made everything else as good as the engine. If you’ve ever had a knob or handle break off in your otherwise awesome car, you know what I mean.
In many ways, the Sony is my perfect camera. Many ways. Big sensor with spectacular performance specs. Dual memory card slots. Great electronics. Size/weight. Fairly speedy. No camera is perfect though… Ergonomics and menu structure are questionable for me. I’ve had these Sonys in my hand and think I could deal with the ergonomics as well as the menu. Especially when you customize the menu. Oh yes, and how can I forget the cost? It’s a great deal for the money, but still a chunk of money. Just over 3x the cost of my lovely GX8.
I started making calculations in my head “If I sell this and do this, and do this, I can purchase the camera and lens on….” I thought about it a lot. Then I thought, you know, I really love my GX8. Is the Sony going to be that much better for me. Just a few weeks before, I’ve given into the thought of buying a GH5 solely for the dual-memory card slots and available battery grip. I was thinking of spending 2x as much just to get those features. They may seem like trivial items. For a pro however, dual-memory card slots are really a necessity. That’s one of the reasons why the A7R Mark III was elevated to a serious ‘professional’ camera. Dual-memory card slots.
During this period of introspection, I was doing some Capture One tutorials so I can get up to speed on it better. If you’re not familiar with Capture One, it’s basically a professional version of Adobe RAW. Basically you make all your color adjustment, sizing, framing and everything else that you do before taking an image into Photoshop. I can learn any computer application, but Capture One is so major. It’s a huge learning curve.
In the tutorial, there is an image taken from a 100MP Phase One camera. ONE-HUNDRED-MEGAPIXELS! So for kicks, I opened one of my latest images from a shoot and compared them. Both ¾ portrait shots. When you look at them side by side, you can’t really notice a difference. That is until you zoom in. Let’s say you zoom in for just a headshot. The 100MP is still extremely useful with tons of detail. But with my image, not only is the headshot much smaller, but it loses much detail when you make it a useable size. So for all the dopes out there that say MP don’t make a difference, read: amateurs, it does. It can make a huge difference between having a useable shot and not.
Skill, Experience & Money
How often does that happen though? When I’m photographing a model, I’m looking at her as a whole. Critically. If I like the expression she has, I’ll ask her to hold the pose while I get closer for the shot. Boom! I got a detailed close-up! I just saved myself 66% of a camera upgrade! Then I keep going back to the ‘overly used because it’s so true’ saying: it’s not the tool but the person using it. I mean, one of my favorite and very famous fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh uses a 10-year old digital camera. Do you think he’s looking at the new camera models? I seriously doubt it.
So once I go past the hype of these super-cameras, I went back to that. The best thing to do is create the most kick-ass work and do an equally fantastic job of marketing my work. That’s what’s going to get me the work I want. So, when I get the money, I’ll get myself the GH5, save a chunk of money by not getting the Sony and not selling all my other micro four-thirds gear. Or so I thought that was what I was going to do.
The Panasonic G9
The Panasonic G9 came to light a couple of weeks ago and being available in January. Quite a surprise as most people thought the GX9 was going to be released. The update to my GX8. Basically, the G9 is a photographer-oriented GH5. It lacks the in-depth video functions but is tuned for still work. From what I’ve seen, it’s a very good upgrade image from my GX8. Not a huge difference, but a nice one. I get my 2 memory card slots and battery grip. And it’s $300 dollars less expensive than the GH5! Super happy Panasonic listened to pros. I hope they read some of my postings!
Get Past the GAS.
Okay, so I couldn’t resist that line..
So when I read and chat with people who have a couple of dozen lenses, it’s sort of sad to me. Especially if you only do a particular type of photography. If you just shoot one type, what, 4 lenses? A 12, 35, 85 & 150 (in 35mm equiv) in focal lengths and I’d be completely set on the fashion side of photography. I don’t think I know any full-time professional that has more than 5 lenses.
Unless you’re Peter Lindbergh, many photographers will be doing other types of photography to make money. Me, I’ve done sports and events. This includes an 16 – 35mm and 70-200mm (in 35mm equiv). Even with all this, I would have 6 lenses. A 50mm for street photography. Maybe a teleconverter for the sports. So 7.5 lenses. So 12 lenses? Really? 24 lenses?
So before you go out and buy that new piece of camera gear, really think about it. Do you really need the extra abilities of the camera? Or do you need to improve your own?