Is it only when you sell it that you realise that it was worth keeping?
I’m only half joking about this. So here’s a less disheartening alternative 🙂
As often when new adventures loom, I’m neck deep in a selling spree. Mostly HiFi gear, but also 3 Hasselblad lenses (XCD21, XCD45, XCD120 Macro, if you’re interested). The buyer of my Puritan Audio filter wrote to me today, to describe how amazed he was at the difference in sound the filter makes in his system. Hardly a surprise, those filters have won all the awards there are to win, and mine was in immaculate state. But with my current Naim amplification, it didn’t do as much good and it isn’t missed.
This got me thinking.
If I sold everything today, what would be missed and what wouldn’t? In the past, I’ve kept lots of gear that was never used (lots of Leica and Zeiss glass lying around in a cupboard, anyone?) but rarely regretted selling anything.
Two standout losses are my folding Fujica 645, which broke and no one up to now has wanted to repair, and the successive Mamiya 7 systems that proved too much of a burden to use far away from film labs, but are still sending spikes of regret to my heart.
Apart from that? Nah, zilch.
The irony is this. We are fortunate to live in countries where technology evolves so fast that whatever we sell, we are almost certain to later find a better copy of, and at a cheaper price. So we are unlikely to regret selling anything that’s tech-centric.
The real sting comes from separation from a product with strong vibes of an era gone by. Whether that sting finds its source in vintage design, an ergonomic philosophy that has no modern equivalent, subjective memory lane or quality unmatched today, the things we long for aren’t necessarily the things we’d want to use in the present.
The thought of a 3rd Mamiya 7 has entered my mind so often it hurts. I love that camera so so much. But no, there’s no falling for that again. Even when our emotional self lingers in the past, our rational counterpart evolves with its time.
There’s one test I find enlightening, however: try something higher up the ladder than your own gear, then go back to it, to see whether the bigger brother leaves a lust crater or not. It’s a dangerous financial proposition 😉 But often worth it.
Recently, a dealer brought higher-end HiFi stuff to my place for a home audition. Evaluated in the usual audiophile fashion (slam, 3D, grip on bass, treble extension and airiness, fluid and dense midrange, detail retrieval …), it was superior in every conceivable metric.
When the guy left, and my lower-grade equipment was plugged back in, I did not miss the more expensive stuff one second. But if I had to drive my previous car again, that would bring home a serious case of cold turkey. The test works. It separates what we respond to, from what is merely lustful thinking.
So, upgrading for a moment and downgrading back feels like a sure way of evaluating an emotional decision in a rational way. One that does not involve selling, to boot. Heck, you might even want to invert it, and try something lower down the ladder to evaluate how dispensable – in real terms, not specs or price – your current setup really is. Who know, upgrading here and downgrading there might be dollar-neutral 😉
(ps: All photos made in the little seaside village of Cassis, in the South of France, with my X1D & XCD30, and processed in my perpetual attempt to emulate some imaginary filmstock and have fun with highlights 😉 )
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