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Inspiration

The Dangers of Gear Acquisition Syndrome

By Shivani Reddy on September 29th 2016

This headline reads as though you would see it featured on FOX nightly news with the sub-title: ‘A fatal illness plaguing photographers everywhere, no matter what stage they are in their career, stay tuned at 9PM’. But, all jokes aside, G.A.S, or Gear Acquisition Syndrome, is a made-up illness representing the idea that we as photographers always want more than we need. With Photokina announcements last week bombarding our news feeds and emails, this video from Mark Ryan Sallee of Michromatic couldn’t have come at a better time to remind us of a few precautionary steps to consider before taking the plunge into new purchases.

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[REWIND: SONY MAKES WAVES WITH NEW A99 II | WITH 5-AXIS OIS, DUAL SENSOR, & PRO VIDEO]

1. Acquiring Gear Can be Expensive

We all go through sticker shock when we initially lay eyes on the gear of our dreams, whether it be the new Sigma 85mm Art, or even Canon’s Flagship 5D Mark IV. Always consider your budget, alternative options, and whether or not the gear is a necessity to enhance the quality of your work.

2. Don’t Distract Yourself From Your art

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Sallee brings up a point that hits home for us here at SLR Lounge, that education is truly your most powerful tool when it comes to progressing and succeeding in this industry, which is why we created our Premium membership to begin with. This obsession we have with having the ‘next best thing’ in camera tech lends to a vicious cycle and will continue to distract us from our work if we don’t find out what it is we really need to focus on.

[REWIND: 10 TIPS ON BUYING GEAR]

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All of our Photography 101 Workshop was shot on entry-level DSLRs.

3. Don’t let Your lack of gear make you feel insecure

Petty arguments online regarding which gear is better breeds an idea of inferiority. If you’ve got a decent camera and lens, that’s all you need to hone your skills as a photographer. Upgrades will always be available, but growth stems from diligence, education, and experience. Incidentally, it’s frequent to find photographers who are getting published, whose work you love, using less and or less expensive gear than you,

4. There is no ‘magic’ gear

There isn’t one lens that will have clients flooding through your doors begging you to photograph them; that’s all dependent on your talent.

The one beneficial aspect of G.A.S. is that it helps educate photographers. Sallee claims that buying new gear cultivates your preferences as a shooter, whether that be the type of camera you use or your preferred lens focal length. The symptoms of G.A.S. plague us all at some point, but it needn’t be eternal.

Shivani wants to live in a world where laughter is the cure to pretty much everything. Since she can’t claim “Serial Bingewatcher” as an occupation, she’ll settle for wedding/portrait photographer at Lin and Jirsa & marketing coordinator here at SLR Lounge. For those rare moments when you won’t find a camera in her hand, she will be dancing, eating a donut, or most likely watching Seinfeld.

Follow her on Instagram: @shivalry_inc

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Robert Ruffo

    Like most things, the best answer is somewhere in the middle.  Great gear won’t make you a great photographer or cinematographer, but poor gear will indeed put a limit on how what you can do, and, in terms of commercial work, how fast and reliably you can do it.    One gets addicted to gear because in a sense it’s free – because it has the potential to increase the quality of our work for no extra effort cost or even less effort cost.  It’s easier, for example, to deliver a perfectly exposed picture if you shoot RAW  with a camera that has wider dynamic range than another.  On set, this can means saving a few seconds fiddling,  or even saving a lot of time switching out light heads or re-lighting, which you might have to do if you were using a lesser camera.  On a commercial set, time is a lot of money.  In other words, some gear is a wise investment, some not, and it very much depends on what the budgets are of the projects you shoot.

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  2. Karen Borter

    Nice Shivani … always important to remember that. I have always approached upgrades like this; if I can no longer accomplish what I want with the gear I have I look to upgrade. The first was a bridge camera that I had (Canon 510sxhs point and shoot). I was making good images, but I lacked the ability to change lenses and fixed focal lengths. I then upgraded to the Canon Rebel T5. That camera suited me for about 1 year and that started to limit me on things I wanted to do (1/4000th sec shutter speed, missed focus, lack of ability to set custom white balance, poor performance at higher ISO). I then saved up money for MONTHS to buy the EOS 80D. Everyone was pressuring me to get a full frame but I knew if I did that, I would end up having to spend more money sooner for glass that I would have to replace since the majority of my lenses will only work on a crop sensor. Yes, I will eventually invest in a (used) full frame but, for now, my crop sensor is just fine.

    I am also a premium member here and the education is priceless.

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  3. Griffin Conway

    Great share Shivanni! I have to admit after watching all the new releases from Photokina I really needed this.

    SLR Lounge Premium is always a great resource for me when I start thinking I need more gear to create amazing imagery. Education is always the best thing for becoming a better photographer, not gear.

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    • Shivani Reddy

      Appreciate the kind words Griffin! I’m a huge proponent of using your gear to its full potential :)

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