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'Letting Go of the Camera': Olivier Duong concludes look at gear addiction

By dpreview staff on Jul 16, 2013 at 18:59 GMT
Photo: Olivier Duong

Florida-based photographer and blogger Olivier Duong has concluded his examination of so-called 'gear acquisition syndrome' with an article that explains the steps he took to break free from his addiction. Starting with the mantra 'there is more to photography than gear', Duong describes how he make a conscious effort to appreciate the equipment he already owns, and to concentrate on using it to improve his photography.

Duong outlines several 'action steps' in his own recovering from gear acquisition syndrome, among which are those already mentioned above, but also - importantly - 'accountability'. Duong suggests 'tell your partner that you won’t buy a new piece of gear and hopefully your sense of pride won’t let you because if you do, you would fail in front of someone else.' 

The final step is what Duong calls 'marrying photography'. This consists of 'creating something tangible' with your work, like a blog, a photo project or a portfolio. Ultimately, Duong says, 'I was a gear addict, now I am a photography addict'. And hopefully we can all agree that's much healthier.

Click here to read Olivier Duong's article 'Letting go of the camera: The action steps I took to break free from gear addiction' and don't forget you can share thoughts and photos in our forums, and you can also create your own articles, and submit them for consideration by our editors. 

Comments

Total comments: 42
AntonJA
By AntonJA (8 months ago)

I'll have to hide this from my g/f when she comes home with yet another pair of shoes.

0 upvotes
Jcradford
By Jcradford (8 months ago)

Truth be known, its probably not so much about gear acquisition as it is about our compulsive disorders, which could replace cameras with model planes, golf, wine, gambling, etc. and there's probably a fine line between compulsive behavior and passionate expertise. But if it doesn't hurt the family budget, or even makes money without causing a health risk, then WTF ... gopher it! Now, back to eBay.

0 upvotes
RBFresno
By RBFresno (8 months ago)

I'm too busy buying lenses, cameras, and photo accessories to worry about something as insignificant as gear addiction!!!!!

Seriously, I do try to buy lenses that are relevant to my photography (and budget!), and restrain myself from the next greatest DSLR, as the latter tends to become out dated.

As an example, a half dozen years ago I bough a D2h for $2400 and a 200-400VR lens for $5,000. I sold the lens for $100 more than I paid for it last year. I put my D2H (all 4 MP's of it!) on Craigslist for $450 and not one call.

The 200VR lens I bought for $3999, now sells for $5800.

So at least the high quality lenses tend to hold their value.

Do we need expensive gear to take great pictures? Oftentimes , No. But sometimes great gear makes all the difference.

1 upvote
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (9 months ago)

Of course, concentrating on the image instead on the camera is a almost always a better method for achieving good or interesting images. But ... you shall not take this too far and claim that equipment is irrelevant.

Early digital cameras were not good at all. They matured, and depending on your needs almost all that are newer than say 2005 are just fine, and some before.

0 upvotes
JohnEwing
By JohnEwing (9 months ago)

I can't read it.

0 upvotes
mbloof
By mbloof (9 months ago)

G.A.S. = "Shop-a-holic" .

Nice read. DPR being home to more self admitted 'gear heads' than photographers it was only a matter of time before this subject was brought up.

2 upvotes
Rooru S
By Rooru S (9 months ago)

I feel like a need certain lenses for certain situations. It all began with my small NEX-5. I bought it with a two lens kit (16mm f2.8 and the standard 18-55mm since it was on a special offer) and felt like I needed some reach after taking pictures with it for a month. Bought the 75-300mm f4.5-5.6 (really cheap) with the LA-EA1 adapter (not so cheap). Then, noticed how my pictures didn't had the "amount" of bokeh I wanted and were sometimes unusable in low light. Bought a 50mm f1.8 (again a cheap lens). After that, I felt I had a lens for each scenerario. Didn't buy another lens for about a year and a half.

Now I have a new "old" Sony a850 (for 800USD because of the box being a little damaged) with a 85mm f2.8 (somehow cheap) and a used minolta 50mm f1.7 (really cheap), and hopefully, these two lenses will help me to make some money. (already made some money with the NEX-5). Is it GAS? Maybe yes, maybe not. But it's justified.

1 upvote
Ivan Lietaert
By Ivan Lietaert (9 months ago)

My advice is to start your own 'passion project'. Find a theme, topic and then go at it for a longer period of time (I'd say at least a year). This will make you much more 'mindful and focused' towards your gear acquisition, you will go out a lot for it, and you will meet kindred spirits, which is, in fact the most rewarding of all. You'll learn a lot. Soon, you'll find your own style and you'll realise that that style has everything to do with you as a person/filmer/photographer and less with the gear you use. I started my personal passion project 'On Holy Ground' (https://vimeo.com/channels/onholyground ) over a year ago. This project involves a lot of hiking, so light weight is important. Until two weeks ago, I was using my 550D with a whole collection of Canon lenses. Now, I have bought a compact Nikon 1 V1 with 3 tiny lenses - a completely different camera (mirrorless, 1 inch CX sensor, no manual lenses). Now I can do exactly the same, but with a featherlight bag. Less is more!

1 upvote
Esign
By Esign (9 months ago)

I don't think we have yet seen really good digital cameras and lenses, all are just a little better than the old obsolete generations. Not until we can duplicate the quality of eight by ten inch glass plates from a hundred years back, all we have accomplished is increased ease of use and comfort. The first Leica was never meant to be the ultimate camera, it was built for ease of use. Before digital, 24 x 36 film was just acceptable for small prints, but not for printing. Still, I owned (and carried!) twelve expensive Nikon lenses in the seventies. My GAS is driven by the urge to get Ansel Adams quality from a credit card size camera. In the meantime, I like my full Canon EOS M system in a 7,5 x 7 x 4 inch leather "purse".

0 upvotes
showmeyourpics
By showmeyourpics (9 months ago)

Hi, a few more words about this. Technology-wise, all current brand name cameras are good for most photography. The true difference is in the lenses. Photography-wise, and no-one is talking about it, do yourself a big favor and invest your money in some reputable workshops. You go to great places, get to meet some truly cool people (with whom you can stay in contact and share your passion), and can count on some real breakthrough improvements in your photography.

0 upvotes
JohnHH
By JohnHH (9 months ago)

I must admit to having Aquasition Syndrome

I think I have had it for over 70 years but my mantra is simple - the best camera you can have is the one you have with you at that critical moment

I am now almost totally blind but have discovered that I can use a digital camera to be able to 'see'with again. I have severe tunnel vision but can see just enough of the rear screel to compose a pic and get a shot - my camera's wide angle lens lets me see what my natural vision cannot see. Like getting my sight back.

However I keeep buying camers to see if there is something new that better suits my limited field of vision - besides I just love fine equipment old or new.

When life gets a bit tough I don't go to a shrink I buy a new camera - I call it techno-therapy.

And right I am eagerly awaiting the new Ricoh GR - should be a great pocket camera. I have enjoyed using Ricoh since I bought a GR1 35 mm film camera back in 1996 - a great little pocket camera - and it was Full Frame!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
white shadow
By white shadow (9 months ago)

The thought of loosing ones eyesight completely especially when one was not born blind is very frightening. Strangely, tunnel vision seems to affect many photographers.

Your situation is different. You must be quite old. Perhaps in your eighties. Having some new gadgets to help you see and play with is always a bonus and life's companion.

If one is alone that's one of the few remaining joys of life.

Get the Ricoh GR. Its a great little camera. If you are not doing large prints bigger than A3 getting the Lumix LX7 maybe adequite. It can give you a wider view at 24mm and will zoom to 90mm if you want a closer view. Sizewise, its just nice. The superb lens will give you a satisfactory picture.

Enjoy whatever that will put a smile in your face.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
JohnHH
By JohnHH (9 months ago)

Oops! I must have water on the brain - yes I mean I have acquisition syndrome - have had since I was very young and always loved learning about advances in technotogy - and I am not quite so old only 74 - but it's my young wife that keeps me youthful

1 upvote
Miguel Mealha
By Miguel Mealha (9 months ago)

Olivier Duong had a very mild and short GAS, good for him. Or not, because as others have mentioned there is nothing wrong with loving photo gear.

0 upvotes
TomCreek
By TomCreek (9 months ago)

If GAS didn't exist then neither would this website.

Been to any Canon forum here lately?

0 upvotes
Arup65
By Arup65 (9 months ago)

Thats why even though I have plethora of Minolta lenses that would have worked in latest SONY DSLR, I resisted the urge and went for RX100, I am quite satisfied with it and my SONY Xperia ZR with its superb 13MP camera that does a swell job as a point and shoot.

0 upvotes
Opinionator
By Opinionator (9 months ago)

You know someone is out to impress when their comments are followed by a list of cameras they say they own and their lens list is "too many L's to list". Unfortunately they are compelled to write all sorts of trivia as if their every word is worth well a thousand.

There's nothing more enlightening about gear than to look at pictures in a published book collection and see they are not using the "latest and greatest". Now if CanonRumors.com were somehow taken down.......

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
showmeyourpics
By showmeyourpics (9 months ago)

I am a seasoned part-time pro and do some teaching, and these are some of my views about this subject. If you are a pro, your gear selection should be driven by your market and your budget. If you are an amateur purchasing gear with your honestly earned money, you have to answer to no-one about your choices. If you own lots of equipment but do little with it, you are a collector, not a photographer. If you do take pictures but you love the technology more than the output, you are a technician, not an artist (John Paul Caponigro). If you state that you are a photographer, I firstly want to see your pics. If they are lousy, I can't care less about your gear. My main career is in electronic engineering and I do love cool technology but my photography begins with a vision. My gear is there to help me translate it into a compelling print. After 40 successful years in the trade, I find my Pentak K5 system + Photoshop + Epson Pro printers to be way more powerful than my own creativity.

7 upvotes
palinode
By palinode (9 months ago)

Nicely put. I think it comes down to the gap between what you envision for yourself and where you're actually at. If you consider yourself a photographer but behave like a collector, that's a problem. On the other hand, if you admit that you're a collector, then go for it. And I think I just restated what you said. Okay, I'll show myself out.

1 upvote
RBFresno
By RBFresno (8 months ago)

Well said.

0 upvotes
razadaz
By razadaz (9 months ago)

When I taught photography, I used to say to my students find 3 famous photographs you like. Now decide whether you are influenced with the sharpness and quality or by the content.
My favourite has always been the Bert Hardy photo of the 2 girls on the sea front taken with a box brownie.

That said, I don't see any great harm in enjoying camera equipment, there are worse vices.

3 upvotes
SayCheesePlease
By SayCheesePlease (9 months ago)

3 thoughts

1)Give Eric Clapton a cheap guitar and he will still sound great. Give me a $15K Martin guitar and I will still sound like crap.Gear does help, but only so much. Understand ISO,f-stop and shutter speed and ....composition and you can make beautiful images with almost any camera.

2)Camera companies need to sell gear to exist and make a profit. The same goes for this site. Which is fair enough.We all have to make a living. Be wise to this.

3)There is nothing wrong with loving photo gear for its beauty- and not for talking pictures.For example- fast lenses are a work of art- form and function, amazing engineering and beautiful to look at and hold.

4 upvotes
headofdestiny
By headofdestiny (9 months ago)

Give Eric Clapton a cheap guitar, and, while he may sound great, he'll sound different. It's all about your aesthetic preference, and different cameras result in different looks.

1 upvote
monographix
By monographix (9 months ago)

i have witnessed someone taking amazing pics with a bridge camera because somehow he owns a great perception of angle, moment and light (or maybe what he sees from his specific viewfinder inspires him) - but he was lacking a sense of color balance. I personally being decades more than him in photography will struggle to catch, notice, the moments and angles he so easily spots. And then again, i also saw that when i got my hands on seriously upgraded equipment many of my questions "how they do that" were solved as the equipment alone provided me 80% of that great result i wanted and i couldn't get before because of equipment limitations. I dont think there are many people that are so naive and immature to think latest equipment will make great photography for them. Its also a matter of subject. You can do great artistic photogrpahy with any cheap camera, but if you want or need to do sports for example you need to sacrifice serious money, its a specialized field.

3 upvotes
monographix
By monographix (9 months ago)

You can be whoever you want to be. Why filter how you feel. If owning something even if you dont use it makes you smile then keep own it. Just as that. If you need the money, sell it. Even if you don't take photographs but you fancy having these fine pieces of machinery, that some inspired creative and scientific people called artists, designers, and engineers, have put together, then be it? Whos to tell whats healthier and what not. You have the right to not feel creative if you don't feel. And if you do then you pick up any toy from your collection to explore what you can do with it. And if you choose to concentrate on a single item and make the most of it and make it do what you have in mind you want to do then be it too !! Just enjoy :D

2 upvotes
artistguy
By artistguy (9 months ago)

Seems like many on this site will pay thousands to buy the latest gear to photograph their dog/cat/children (in that order). Within months they're pleading with the manufacturer to release the next better version.

Once the megapixel count became sufficient and higher iso became clean enough I really stopped looking to buy (I use a 1DsII and a 5D) and really started to use the gear I had. The best value for money gear I've bought is a pair of really good walking boots and waterproof clothing, this allows me to get out there and take images when most are aiming at the dog.

1 upvote
fromo1946
By fromo1946 (9 months ago)

Hello, my name is Frank, and I'm a GASaholic...I really, think this thread has hit way too close to home. I just haven't been able to get the strength to sell some of my gear. I know what I have to do and every time I look at my gear to shoot and place on ebay, I have withdrawals. Hopefully, I can come back and gather the will to post my gear to sell.
Thanks,

1 upvote
Spectro
By Spectro (9 months ago)

Also don't hang around dpreview, amazon and flickr which are enablers. The less influences you have, the less likely you will be drawn into buying something. If you never heard of the sigma 35mm 1.4 chances are you won't buy it.

3 upvotes
Eric Hensel
By Eric Hensel (9 months ago)

ah yes, good point...Sigma 35mm 1.4 you say?

0 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (9 months ago)

The only way is rehab...no cameras...

1 upvote
km25
By km25 (9 months ago)

Back when, during the film days you took pride in your beat up looking camera. It showed you use it. Today the frist thing they want to know on ebay is if you have the box! When the Nikon F3 introducted, I went to look at. I told the guy from Nikon I liked my F2s better. He told that's want everyone was saying. The only real new lens was my 105 F2.5. I had wore out the old one. The photographic object that we all went for them olden days was the new films that came out. But again sometimes the old stuff is best. There is no Kodachrome any more. You used what you had. It was you, not the camera that took the picture. One of my best photos was take by "The worst camera ever made".

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
white shadow
By white shadow (9 months ago)

Its about time someone points out the futility of acquiring new cameras and lenses in the believe that having the latest gear will improve their photography. It won't.

One must acquire the skill of a photographer first. For a novice, that will require both theory and practice for at least 6 months of training. Most important is acquiring the "art of seeing". It is not something that is easily thought or learned. Some just don't have it. Its like teaching a person to draw or paint.

In the days of film cameras, one usually use the same camera for years with an occasional purchase of a new lens. Further, one has to always think before they shoot as film (and processing) is not cheap. Thus, novice has to learn how to see and get right as far as possible.

Materialism is definitely not a good way to train a craftman.

2 upvotes
Valterj
By Valterj (9 months ago)

For a semi-professional and a professional, the latest cameras and lenses are very important: new functionalities, better ISO quality,...

0 upvotes
white shadow
By white shadow (9 months ago)

Can't disagree with you. Sometimes it matters if the new product really can make a difference to ones photography. Very often, it does not. There are many people who are just addicted to buy new gear. That's exactly what marketing companies want them to do. I am saying this as I have been a marketing man for 30 years. Our job is to create the desire to sell more stuff.

0 upvotes
TomCreek
By TomCreek (9 months ago)

This magic bullet syndrome has been written about for years( here's one from 2001: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/archive/index.php/t-5277.html). The author is not discovering something new. At least he got people to click through to his blog and see some grainy pics of poor people in Florida and a guy with his finger in his nose. Really?

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
jorg14
By jorg14 (9 months ago)

How about we find 5 other photographers. On the first of each month we trade our gear around. This will be six months of new equipment without a cent spent and no GAS pain.

2 upvotes
EastOfGratiot
By EastOfGratiot (9 months ago)

Good, sound advice. I have found a financially responsible way to enjoy GAS without spending money - buy used/sell used - it's a bit time consuming and it doesn't let you play with the newest camera gear but it does satisfy the urge to try different equipment. I'm actually a bit on the plu$ side after dozens of Ebay buys and sells.

0 upvotes
Joe Talks Photo Gear
By Joe Talks Photo Gear (9 months ago)

good article but should have given attribution to Henry Ford for the, "...if you think you can..." comment.

My name is Joe and I am a camera addict.

2 upvotes
mathew crow
By mathew crow (9 months ago)

But when new gear is announced my old gear instantaneously turns into a steaming pile of poo that I could never use to take an actual photo with. What's a guy to do? ;-)

3 upvotes
alfredo_tomato
By alfredo_tomato (9 months ago)

Poverty is a sure cure for GAS.

7 upvotes
kona_moon
By kona_moon (9 months ago)

How I grew out of my GAS was by learning to "see the big picture." Don't look at individual components like resolution, sharpness, dynamic range, color, etc,; but look at the picture in whole. If the whole is good, then the resolution/etc is secondary.

3 upvotes
Create Dont Imitate
By Create Dont Imitate (9 months ago)

One of greatest photo exibits I've ever seen was shot in the Yucatan... shot by a professional photographer... 20x24 inch prints... using a Diana camera... plastic lens [not glass]... cost of camera $15.

Professional photographers know that talent... creativity... determination... is what is important. Everyone else has been sidetracked into gear acquisition... and into thinking that buying new equipment will somehow will make them better photographers... it wont.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
9 upvotes
Total comments: 42