I’ve made a fundamental mistake. I knew there was a risk of it happening but it crept up slowly and without notice. Slowly I’ve traded studying the craft of photography with studying the equipment and technology.
One classic example is the Canon 50mm lens that I use for videography work. I started with the f/1.8 lens that did everything I needed. I started reading how great the f/1.4 version of the lens is and the desire to upgrade was drawing me like a magnet.
A year with the f/1.4 and, yes you guessed it I was spending too much time on the Canon 50mm f/1.2 group reading just how much better the f/1.2 is compared to the 1.4.
I saved, and saved a little more, I sold my f/1.4, I sold a spare flash and eventually I had gathered up enough to invest in Canon’s flagship f/1.2 50mm lens. I expected the ultimate fulfilment and of much more concern I expected my photos and video to be transformed into unbelievable works of art.
Don’t get me wrong the 50mm f/1.2 is a stunning lens but I really struggled to save up the funds to pay for it and the reality is the f/1.4 is a great lens as is the f/1.8. I had fallen into the trap of unconsciously thinking ………
“My photography would be so much better if I just had…”
It is a terrible place to be and remarkably hollow. I read about photography every day from magazines to literally dozens of RSS subscriptions to the various websites and blogs so much so I decided to take a look at the list with some interesting findings.
A year ago my RSS reader was predominantly the feeds of photographers studying their craft and mastering the art of photography yet in just over twelve months these websites had been overcome by blogs and feeds focused on reviews and the technical aspects of photography.
I have slowly become more interested in gear that wasn’t even released over the fantastic camera in my bag that I literally wasn’t using to maximum potential.
The result was repeatedly and consistently dissatisfaction. Photographers do this all the time, on photo walks, meet ups the conversation is always equipment focused. I wonder how many writers get together to compare the pencils they use and actually, if pencil envy exists?
Interestingly, I keep being asked when I expect the X200 to be released. Fujifilm have demonstrated they expect to see the X100 around for some time to come with the release of the WCL-X100 adaptor. It is photographers who are creating the demand and expecting a refresh after 12 month.
The turning point
I am making changes, the review websites are gone and I am left with 30-40 feeds from great photographers who regularly share their experience and their learning.
As for kit, I am remarkably lucky to have the gear I have, a fact I truly appreciate. The time has come to streamline and set limits. To this end I have reduced my EF lens collection to just two lenses as, if the 50mm f/1.2 is so good I convinced myself I needed it then I shouldn’t really need an array of addition lenses covering every focal length especially as this kit is used primarily for video work.
I realise I cannot ‘bang on’ how great the Fujifilm X-Pro1 or Canon 5D are while keeping my eye on the magazines for the latest incarnation of either camera. Both the Canon and the Fuji systems are stunning and they are built to last. For me personally, last they will! I have decided to put in place a ‘strict upgrade when wrecked policy‘.
As photographers we should be consuming our craft not our technology. The “my photography would be so much better if I just had….” thought process is simply the road to misery, it will have very little impact on the quality of our images and it offers little satisfaction.
Photographers take photos not cameras. It is more important to improve the photographer than improve the camera.