Some hard learned lens acquisition lessons after after 10 years of nikkors

Started Jul 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Chad Gladstone
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Some hard learned lens acquisition lessons after after 10 years of nikkors
Jul 26, 2013

First, a universally accepted truth is that, at least in the short run, lenses hold their value, especially "pro" lenses, but cameras do not and quickly are outpaced by technology and become sunk costs in a short generation. Example. Around 2003 I bought a second hand Nikon 70-200 VRI for $1400 and in 2013, I sold that same lens for $1400 after 10 years of solid use. I have had similar experiences with many fast afd primes and sod them many years later for at or near the purchase price. That is just not true with DSLR bodies, where my most recent casualty, my D300 (with 18-70) sold for $600 (paid $1900) when new without lens.

Second, buy lenses that are useful focal lengths for your style of shooting and stop obsessing over trying to cover every FL length and to try to anticipate every contingency as you end up with many lenses and a lot of weight to carry without much additional utility. For almost 10 years I have been trying to cover the entire normal shooting range (from 18-300mm) and I invariably only carry only two lenses when on location (either my 28g and 85g or my 24-85 and 70-200 VRII). That means I have a lot of additional lenses just collecting dust just so there are no gaps in coverage with no demonstrable benefits by having access (but never carrying all my extra glass).

Third, disciple yourself. I once spent an entire year shooting only one FL. Sometimes learning how to frame with your feet and relying on what you have will cure any desire to cover all the bases and make the photography experience much more rewarding and open up artistic opportunities that zooming necessarily vanquishes. A minimalist approach frees the shooter from the shackles of the complexities of the situations and can open creative channels not explored by the imperative to constantly change lenses or zoom.

Fourth, when you reach a certain level of competency, start taking risks. Expand beyond the conventional wisdom and push your lenses to the limit to see where your breaking point is. shoot wide open, drag the shutter, embrace the weaknesses of your lenses and intentionally shot on the edge of disaster and then pull back just a little so you become aware what shot is barely possible, but within the gear's and shooter's capabilities. When this is accomplished, push harder. Once you limits are reached, only then is it time to acquire faster lenses and more advanced cameras.

Fifth, photography should fun. If it is not, do something else. It is an isolating (or escapist) hobby and you are only in competition with yourself. Envy of others talent or gear will not improve your handicap. Few here are vying for notariety and most will fail at it as an occupation, but that does not stop anyone from achieving a measure of success, especially if that success is gauged against ones previous attempts and weighed in perspective of previous attempts. If an an impervious wall is encountered, find away around instead of exercising the futility in attempting to dismantle the barrier. It is rarely the lens or the camera that causes the limitation. The high of acquisition rarely compensates for the opportunity costs and rarely ameliorates the barrier. Photography is a lifelong endeavor that takes a lifetime of learning through trial and and learning from others who have overcome mistakes you may now be encountering. No budget or equipment acquisition will compensate for these truths and purchasing power will rarely mask what experience can overcome.

I love to buy equipment and can always justify the expenditure, but even still, acquisition alone, has little, if any correlation on my ability to capture the images I envision in my head. They soon become outdated optics (and bodies) and are relegated by their decreasing utility if their original acquisition was purchased without a clear vision of how their implementation would enhance my images. Now that I have all the lenses I could possibly want. I find less and less utility in their existence no matter how much I justified that their value would better my capacity to capture the images I like to shoot. Most are now just paperweights that will end up at some morbid estate sale as evidence of some eccentric person who had more money than sense.

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Chad Gladstone

 Chad Gladstone's gear list:Chad Gladstone's gear list
Nikon 1 V1 Nikon D800E Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +7 more
Nikon D300
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