How to avoid gear envy
Do you ever feel like your photography will take the next step if only you had “blank” camera gear? I know I do at times. You have probably heard this a thousand times before, “the best camera is the one you have access to”. Photography gear can be very expensive for a hobby. One of the pluses of having only a 50mm lens is that it is not only one of the cheaper lenses in any camera bag, but it is also one of the fastest and sharpest too. Trust me, there is a huge difference between my Nikon 50mm and my sigma 18-250mm in clarity and speed.
For me the easiest way to avoid envy is to stay out of touch with any new gear that might be coming out. This can be difficult at times as most of the photography channels you might find on YouTube or blogs often do tech reviews as well. I find myself falling victim to this often. In those cases, I just try and focus on their technique rather than their gear. “A photo is not made in the camera, but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen
Gear envy can also apply to gear outside your camera. Laptops are one area that I find myself looking at the newest and thinking that will improve my photos all the time. Spoiler, it won’t. It might help in post processing speed but, honestly, the best way to avoid that envy is by ignoring any new things coming out and taking your current gear and making the best of your situation. Having limitations can be a good thing as long as you use them to your advantage. With these limitations you are free to explore other ways of capturing the shot you want.
Whenever I find myself searching for new gear I remind myself that some of the great photographers of the past often didn’t have more than a fixed 50 at their disposal and yet they are remembered for creating some of the greatest images in the world, images that changed the view of the world in some cases. This isn’t because they didn’t want better gear, its because that’s all they had. A fixed 50 lens (any prime lens actually) is much easier to make than a zoom with all their moving parts.
I had my d5100 for 5 years before upgrading to my d610. In that time (with only a fixed 35 and sigma 18-250 lens that I rarely used) I really learned my camera. I knew its limitations and how far I could push it in every situation I came across. I would let someone borrow it and they would give it back saying they couldn’t get the shot they wanted. I would then proceed to take the exact picture they wanted. I would hand it back, with them a little angry typically, as they had no idea how I was able to do that. I would tell them: “I have spent countless hours learning this camera, I know its quirks.” It’s something that’s hard to explain but when you experience it you will understand. I tell you this because it is important to learn your gear and what it can (and can’t) do. If you keep upgrading, you will have a hard time finding those quirks. No two cameras shoot the same way. Once you have mastered your current gear, then you will feel ready to expand your gear set.
I’ll leave you with these thoughts: How well do you know your camera?
Can you efficiently navigate its menus? Do you know all its functions?