#779. Monday Post (22 October 2018) In defence of succumbing to GAS

By philberphoto | Monday Post

Oct 22

Defending giving in to GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) might seem strange coming from a guy who has spent all of this year with a 20+year old lens (Leica Elmarit R 28mm f:2.8) mounted on a 7-year old camera (Sony NEX 7), both more-or-less-loved leftovers from past times.



When I lost my gear to a thief, I felt I was done with the rat race to more and better gear “needed” to produce more and better pictures. Thus began my new incarnation as Captain Bhab. My near namesake was so obsessed with killing his Nemesis, Moby Dick the Great White Whale, that he gave up on his job, which was to fill the Pequod’s hull with whale oil. Thus Captain Bhab no longer wants to take more and better pictures, but to capture the Great White Wilson(s).


Wilson shots are shots that “speak” to me, that resonate with me for whatever reason. Pictures that attract me in some other-than-merely-rational way, so that I keep going back to them. They are not the 4 Ws of photography (Wow! shots, Wonderful shots, Wall-hanger shots, and … Wasted shots).



I have never been a prolific shooter. When shooting in company, I am always the caboose in terms of numbers of shots. My quest for Wilsons has led me to shoot even less, going from, if I had to pick a number 2-3 shots/km down to maybe 1.


While the numbers are low, my quest for Wilsons has been satisfying enough that I decided it was worth my time, and thus to rebuild a system from the ground up, based on a Sony A7x. I, of course, have been agonizing on deciding before I commit (thank you Pascal for listening and playing along to my endless toing-and-froing), except that I felt there wasn’t much choice on the wide end if I wanted something excellent, not too wide, and light. I tried the new Zeiss Loxia 25mm f:2.4.Β  It is now in the able hands of Pascal, who is taking it to far-away destinations, from which he has promised to bring back one of his tremendous reviews.



So for a couple of days I ended up with it on my trusty NEX, and delighted in being reunited with the excellent Loxia haptics. The specs of the Loxia are very close to those of the Elmarit I’ve used exclusively for 10 months, to the point that it might seem rather ridiculous to begin rebuilding with a first component so close to what I already posess. Thus it would stand to reason that my shooting remain pretty much unchanged, save for routine test shots to evaluate a new piece of gear.



What happened then was unexpected. My shooting numbers shot up. Not 1 shot/km. Not 2-3. More like 5-6. This in the very same area that I live in and have shot so many times. So volume is up sharply, but what about quality? That is where it gets interesting. Yield is as before or better, meaning the extra shots produce extra goodies in all categories. Yes, I get some Wonderfuls, and some Wall-hangers, and even one of my favorite Wilsons of this whole year (very Wilsonian, even the ΓΌber-nice Pascal who has bent over backwards to nurse me back to photography doesn’t quite get what I see in it, so it’s pretty much a desert-island shot, the definition of the true Wilson, not a Wow!, not Wonderful, and not a Wall-hanger).



Now why would my shooting numbers go up? Obviously, when testing/discovering new gear, you need to shoot. No shots, no test. That would account for one’s redoing shots one has already done. Known territory, no risk of failure, and the possibility of comparisons. But my experience goes farther. It involves shooting subjects I’d walked past previously without even thinking about them. Why?


I can see 2 causes. One is praticality. The Zeiss is substantially lighter than the Leica, and substantially easier and more pleasant to use, due in part to a focus throw that suits me much better. The other is curiosity. The need to see “what it would look like”. And that is where the rub is. Why do I “need” new gear to “revive” my curiosity?



Obviously I don’t “need” it. Or at least I wouldn’t if I had the ability to get “in the zone” deliberately the same way a test gets me there. So call it my weakness, and I won’t disagree. But, fact is, new gear helps (me). So, as long as there is new gear to be had, and as long as some of us use it a a crutch to rekindle our awareness/curiosity/creativeness, camera manufacturers can rejoice when they introduce new-and-improved whatevers.


Since then, I shipped the Loxia to Pascal, and it is back to the old Leica. Guess where my numbers are. Yeah, you’re right. Right as in right back down. Ugh…



Which raises a very Pascallian question. How much of photography is in the result, and how much in the process? If we were only about the result, then gear shouldn’t matter beyond quality, usefulness and practicality. If it is the process, then new -and better- gear makes sense, because it energizes a process that may have been on standby…


  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    > “How much of photography is in the result, and how much in the process?”

    Like asking whether the hen or the egg came first…
    Sorry! πŸ™‚

    I mean it’s both!
    ( I’m talking about amateurs, *not* pros.)

    Or, rather, Enjoying Photography and Enjoying one’s Photographs are different but interdependent.
    Good results keep one picking up the camera again…
    ( And bad makes one *have* to try again.)
    Enjoying the process makes one want to see the result…
    ( And not enjoying can make one fight, or just let go.)
    – – –

    In the old days craftsmen made their own tools – to fit their hands. I once saw a selection of carpenter’s tools in a museum.
    There is beauty in a well made tool!

    And there can be beauty also in technology, perhaps not so much in s modern camera, or lens.
    But when it fits one’s hands and the haptics fit the hand muscles and the viewfinder feels good, there is a pleasant satisfaction in handling and using it.

    Especially in the first few days…

    But if the feeling stays, it will be a good tool – and can even become an extension of one’s body.
    And with a good tool there is more joy in working with it – also increasing the number of photos taken (and the keeper rate).
    – – –

    I wanted a farther reach than my compact had and bought a used Canon M (and a 55-250mm STM) when the price dived.
    Then my compact died and I added some lenses.

    It made good enough photos, but I was (naturally) never quite happy using it, although a folding screen loupe (and Magic Lantern) helped…

    Now I’ve a used M5 that fits my hands and eye. It has, though, a bit too many knobs and buttons to touch by mistake, but I think I’ll grow into it.
    It will take me some time to find out which lenses I’ll keep…

    And I do photograph more again!
    ( A dozen in a day is much – for me.)

    • philberphoto says:

      Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Why, Kristian, I am disappointed that you have to ask the question, so obvious is the answer…:-)
      But I am very glad that you are bold enough to use a used M5, and delighted that you do photograph more. Way to go!!

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      Way to go, Kristian! The M5 is mostly similar to my D7200, but in several respects it’s better. I will NEVER understand why Nikon doesn’t provide tilt screens on more of its cameras – gradually starting to, but way too late.
      The mirrorless flock think we’re nuts to keep using DSLRs – maybe I am, but gauging that against the multitude of self-proclaimed sane people out there, at least I’m in my own comfort zone.
      And I must admit, I do tend to grab the D7200 rather than its big brother (the D810), unless I’m feeling particularly serious about the shot I have in mind.
      That’s it! – my Canon PowerShot as a “take everywhere, all the time, never be without a cam”, and no worries about changing lenses (because you can’t!) – the D7200 for a “fun cam” – and the D810 for serious stuff!

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Well, Nikon has a better reputation than Canon for very good sensors; but I’m a bit allergic to mirror slap, and the EVF makes manual focus easier.

        ( I’ll probably have to find a way to handle GAS when Nikon presents its APS-C mirrorless..)

        I would have preferred a fully articulated screen (a 90Β° extra VF is often not adequate) plus a silent mode.
        ( The M50 has only one dial and its silent mode is not globally available.)

        And I’m still looking for a carry-always camera I like…

        • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

          My “carry always” is the Canon Powershot – freakly – hopeless manual – but you’d be amazed at some of the shots I’ve taken with it. Not quite pocketable, but nearly (clunky in a pocket anyway, but with a large pocket, it IS “possible”
          For the rest of your comments, I do agree – but by the time I worked that out, I had a load of Nikon gear and Nikon compatible lenses, and I doubt that I’ll ever be able to afford to change systems, now. Even to Nik’s new mirrorless (that adapter thing puts me off – sorry)

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            Well, several of my lenses are EF or EF-S. The only irritation the adapter gives me is when I shift from an EF-M lens and the adapter sits on the wrong lens, but I usually take my time anyway.

            ( There are reports that some Canon lenses want firmware upgrades to work optimally on an EOS-M with adapter.)
            – – –

            Btw., which Powershot is yours?

        • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

          The Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II. Within certain limits, it takes great shots – often, a bit of a surprise for a camera with a 1.5 inch sensor. Even hand held shots in [sometimes, VERY] low light.
          I’ve already seen reviews saying that with the adapter on the Nikon Z7 mirrorless, using existing lenses doesn’t work as well as they do on FF cameras. I guess that’s kind of inevitable, with any hybrid solution.
          Lately I’ve been looking into super tele lenses, and from a cost point of view, the Nikon 200-500 or the Sigma 150-600 look OK. I don’t really need the zoom thing – just the reach of the long tele. Just as well – can’t see myself ever getting a fixed focal length 500 mm, they cost way more than I can afford. But those zooms, if regularly zoomed in and out, suck in a terrible amount of fine dust particles – I’ve seen a review of that, too, with a photo of an affected lens showing all the particles, quite clearly, on the back of the front element – it was scary stuff!
          I guess if I get one of the zooms, the way to go is to take it out of its box, and fix it at full length by winding ducting tape around the barrel! That should prevent the dust problem!:)

          • Kristian Wannebo says:

            Thank you for the Powershot info!

            I guess Nikon *might* have changed something on the sensor, possibly mikrolenses in case coming Z lenses might be less telecentric?
            ( Just guessing wildly..)

            But perhaps those lenses that don’t like being adapted just need a coming firmware update as the AF methods will have changed?

            ( I don’t know about the Canon M, but any optical sensor change ought to have been found out by now.
            Some EF/EF-S lenses changed their AF behaviour as the M series developed, but lens firmware updates are said to have solved that.)

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I think your questions are for the individual, and individuals are precisely that – not the same as everyone else!:)
    For me, much of what you’re asking is a no-brainer. Simply because my finances won’t stretch to the point of jumping into the GAS syndrome. I have to be content with what I have, and make the best use of it that I can.
    Something has stuffed up again with DS and some comments relating to that, and the Sony’s & mirrorless cams most of you seem to have vs my collection of Nikon or Nik-compatible junk, in response to Adrian’s comments on #777 have yet to materialise.
    Never mind. You chase Wilson’s. I do MY “own thing”.
    Mine are probably of little interest to others – I am one of those awful kids who didn’t “connect” with the blackboard-learning process, I have to do “hands on” stuff, try things out, see what happens, and do my own learning/teaching from the world of real life experience & experimentation. I junked my analogue gear so I could devote the rest of my “career” as an amateur photographer to colour photography, exploring what digital could offer, things I’d never been able to do before because colour processing was out of the question for me as an amateur. To that end, I have been taking around half my photos within walking distance of my home – because this offers a wonderful opportunity to learn – to do, to repeat, to try something different.
    It’s a bit like training for a foot race. Terminally boring to watch someone training. Takes forever anyway. But who wouldn’t have dropped a bundle of cash, for the chance to see Ussain Bolt hit nearly 48 kph in his world record breaking (“smashing”?) 100 m sprint?
    We each get wherever we’re going, in the end. Some of us take the high road, some take the low road – and our cantor was convinced he’d make it to Scotland before the rest of us! πŸ™‚
    In the meantime, because I AM an amateur, I do what I want to do, it is giving me enormous pleasure, I can share a lot of it with friends (or the victims who star in some of the photos I take), and I am very pleased with the progress I’ve been able to make in learning more about how to do it better. The only “issue” is what “it” should be, since not everyone has the same degree of interest in the subject matter of our photos.
    Personally – I don’t need an excuse for that – (1) at my age, I don’t give a toss about other people’s “opinions”, I think “opinion-itis” is one of the worst “social diseases” anyone can succumb to (2) being a mule headed stubborn maverick individualist, I’ve never cared much what criticism or abused is hurled at me – constructive comment is one thing, but I saw through “criticism” the way it is played out in western countries when I was only a teenager and that is a VERY long time ago! – and (3) “each to his own” – vive la difference! – wouldn’t it be uninteresting, if we all did the same thing, instead of sharing with each other those “different” shots that we all produce?

    • philberphoto says:

      Pete, I love it when I am reminded of expressions like “I don’t give a toss”. Just my brand of English! And, as regards your answer, whatever floats your boat is fine with Wilson, and he told me to relay that to you on his behalf. Be well!

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    PS – love you inclusion of the mandatory bicycle shots – a collection of front wheels and a curious speed limit sign! πŸ™‚

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