Avoiding the gear trap

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by dhazeghi, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    One of the problems I've had in the past with photography gear - particularly lenses - is that I tend to accumulate them. I buy them because I'm interested in improving or expanding in a particular area, but after some initial experimentation, I return to my old standbys and the new equipment winds up spending almost all of its time in the gear drawer. Granted, there are worse problems to have, but I feel bad having so much money tied up in gear that I keep around 'just in case' and wind up actually using only once in a blue moon.

    I think I've gone through the cycle twice already (first with regular 4/3, and later with Nikon F) and with 8 native lenses, 2 bodies and a bunch of adapted stuff, I feel like I'm right on the cusp of being there with m4/3. Indeed, I was recently researching different UWA options even though I've had two excellent UWA lenses previously which I quickly got bored of once the novelty wore off. My rule of thumb used to be that if my photo equipment was worth more than my car[1], I was in too deep, but given that the car is now 21 years old, one body and two good lenses put me well past that limit.

    So my question is: how do you avoid the trap of 'a lens for every occasion'? Or is having a dozen or so lenses really not such an abnormal state of affairs? And what does one do with those lenses that you use only 5 or 6 times per year, but still really like?

    [1] (Thanks to having to fill out various documents for insurance, I now know exactly how much I've spent on m4/3 gear over the past 3 years, as well as how much it would cost to replace what I have. Let's just say depreciation ain't pretty.)
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  2. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Dara, this has been on my mind too. I usually go through cycles of expansion and contraction. I think I feel most comfortable when I only have a couple bodies and a few lenses. Just got through selling off two E-PM2s and a GX7. But it's easy to start expanding again!

    I'm still in contraction mode though. My current questions:
    -Do I need the O75 now that I have the PL42.5?
    -Did I do the right thing selling the V17.5? Needed the money...
    -Can I part with the O25 or PL25?
    -Am I really going to use the O17/1.8 or am I covered with the P14 and one of the 25s?

    As crazy as it sounds, I'm strongly considering selling the O75, O25, and O17, which would leave me with just the E-M1, E-M5, PL42.5, PL25, and P14 (P14 likely to be replaced by PL15 before long). I will probably keep the O17, but I think the O75 and O25 are going...
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  3. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Bought a fisheye then sold it, only repurchase again. I regret not having a fisheye when I had a trip to Hong Kong and couple of National parks. Some lenses are not used very often but they are still essential for travel (e.g. UWA or fisheye). I set myself a limit to 5 lenses total and only 3 lenses for any given travel. E.g., when I travel, I no longer take a portrait lens with me cause the whole goal is to show the background. One new thing I am trying right now is to avoid shooting shallow DoF. This type of photography is a huge fad currently and I believe that it's not necessary. I now try to focus on composing and making sure the background is clearly defined. If you can overcome that shallow DOF bug, lenses become cheaper:)

    P.S. Trying to overcome O75 lust. The lens is basically for shallow DOF I am trying to avoid but it's still tempting:)
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  4. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    I get rid of lenses that I don't use much. It irritates me to see them sitting there, looking back at me.
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  5. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Real Name:
    I thought that I'd hate the focal length in a prime...but oddly enough now that I have it, I feel much different about it, and love it. Besides, the darn thing it SO sharp.
  6. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 18, 2013
    For my DX stuff I'm a two body shooter and have 5 lens. I have two m43 bodies but that is because the EPL1 has zero value and can't see selling for $50. I'm struggling with the choices of what good lenses to get. Right now I'm looking at 3 or 4 primes or just the 12-40 (I have to seen one in the flesh to decide if it is too big for my EP5. I try to buy very carefully as I tend to let my stuff accumulate. I have not bought a new Nikkor in about 7 years. I'm almost thinking that a 7.5 & the 12-40 plus the 40-150 (I have the kit zoom (first version 14-42 and the 40-150) will be all the m43 kit I need. I like the kit zoom and would keep it for very light travel. I image almost every day and rotate through my lenses. I think the 12-40 would pretty much stay attached to the EP5 for what I'd image with it. It's much harder trying get my m43 to the perfect kit as I don't want to duplicate what I do with the Nikons. Like I say, once I see a 12-40 in person I'll probably know how my m43 kit will end up for a long while.
  7. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    Real Name:
    if I don't use a lens much its gone :)

    IMHO look through what you shoot and why you like then think :) if you have a lens you don't use much take it out a couple times by itself and see what you think or if you have two bodies your other fav lens on the other and when back see what you did with what

    dump the ones you don't use and use the money for other camera stuff
  8. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    I hear you. I've got money still tied up in SLR/DSLR bodies and lenses, even though the use keeps declining. The lenses have held value fairly well, and I may even be able to break even on quite a few of them should I decide to sell them, but the bodies have dropped so much that I don't see the point of realizing a loss at their current market value. So they stay for the few times a year that I still use them for specific purposes that an m43 system is ill-suited to.

    Same with the m43 cameras. The prices, even brand new, seem to drop like a rock, and for me, it's worth more than what I can sell them for. So they stay. As for lenses, I'm not yet at the stage where I've acquired lenses that don't get much use. Every one of them get a workout. The only one collecting dust is the 14-42 kit lens that came with the EP3, and even that lens was a revelation compared to the mediocre kit lenses sold with the Canon XT line of DSLRs.
  9. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Real Name:
    Only a dozen??

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  10. WhidbeyLVR

    WhidbeyLVR Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 14, 2014
    Whidbey Island
    Real Name:
    Right now, M43 is relatively new for me, so I'm still accumulating lenses to play with. I'm amazed at the quality of the optics, the size/weight, and the prices compared to, say, Canon L-glass. It's almost wicked that I can adapt legacy glass with cheap adapters or high quality focal reducers, and get 5-axis IBIS with film-era lenses. Or slap a pancake on the body and slip it into my jacket pocket.

    Guessing by what I see on the "Camera Pr0n" thread, I'm not yet near the high end. :smile: Once I sort out what I like using and what I don't, I may trim the collection . . . or not.

    In the meantime, I'm having a great time!
    • Like Like x 1
  11. kadamnation

    kadamnation Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 13, 2013
    Boston, MA
    For me, I don't avoid the trap so much as trick it: rummaging through the camera bins at goodwill fires all the same gear-hunter instincts, but when I finally find something (like the FD 28mm I picked up this week) it only costs $10! I don't mind cycling my lenses more often when they only cost a little more than a burrito, and it keeps me from doubting my main three-lens prime kit ;)
    • Like Like x 1
  12. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I've had a weird few months - sold off my Canon FF gear, replaced it with a Sony FF system, and expanded the MFT stable a little. What I mostly ponder now is wether it's worth keeping the legacy glass I barely ever use, and the 'need' for a normal zoom in the A7r. Right now (though it may seem odd to some MFT shooters) the A7 is my primes cam, the E-M1 mostly zooms.

    Basically if I use the lens and take it on some travels then it can stay.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    It is awfully easy! I always used to tell myself (and anybody who listened) that I really only needed 3 lenses - a great 24-xx standard zoom for walkaround photography (hiking, traveling, street), a fast 50 for indoors and experimenting with DoF, and a lightweight 70-300 for reach. And yet I keep finding uses for new lenses, and adding them in.

    If primes are your modus operandi, I think you could definitely do a lot worse than the 3 fast Panasonic Leicas!
  14. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    So here's my story so far:

    Olympus 12-40/2.8 - all-purpose walk around. Easily covers 80% of my shooting interests. Replaces the Olympus 12-60/2.8-4.0 as my favorite lens of all time.
    Olympus 12-50/3.5-6.3 - cheap walk-around, for when conditions are dubious and I'd rather not risk banging a $700 lens on a rock or getting it full of seawater. Consequently gets used at most rarely.
    Panasonic 14-42/3.5-5.6 II - supposed to turn the E-PM2 into a P&S carry-everywhere camera replacement, but it's either a bit too big, or I'm a bit too lazy because the E-PM2 still usually sits in the drawer.
    Olympus 40-150/4.0-5.6 - extra reach when hiking although usually when hiking there's not much time to switch back and forth with the 12-40/2.8.
    Olympus 50-200/2.8-3.5 - intended as a faster, sharper telephoto for sports or other moving subjects, but the lack of PDAF on the E-M5 and E-PM2 make it too painful to use, so it sits in my drawer. In theory the 40-150/2.8 will be the perfect replacement, but I'd be happier if I could get my $450 lens to work well instead.
    Panasonic 20/1.7 - for when I want small and discrete in low-light. The 25/1.4 is better in almost every respects as a lens, but sometimes size makes all the difference.
    Panasonic 25/1.4 - my first and usually only response to trying to photograph indoors.
    Olympus 45/1.8 - beautifully small and sharp lens that produces great results, if only I had more occasions to use it on.

    Yet for all this clever rationalizing, the only 3 lenses I've used in the past month are the 12-40/2.8, the 40-150/4.0-5.6 and the 25/1.4. So there's that...
  15. mjw

    mjw Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 23, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Real Name:
    Wouldn't the 20+epm be a more likely everyday carry?

    Sent from my HTC VLE_U using Mu-43 mobile app
  16. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Relax, its nothing.
    Look at the total cost investment and compare that with other investments like your car, your wife, your dog, you sports.
    If the photo stuff is a comparatively heavy investment you should be doing it for a job : and in that case there is no such thing as "too many lenses".
    • Like Like x 2
  17. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Yea, I'm with Ulfric on this. We do photography because we enjoy it and so long as the money in lenses isn't disproportionate to our means, or redirected from things that really do matter (kids, wife, house etc), then it's not worth sweating over. In any case, if you buy carefully (and ideally, used), then lenses don't lose too much money. With interest rates at effectively zero, having a few thousand dollars sitting in photo gear isn't a big deal in the overall life plan.
  18. Dewi

    Dewi Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 11, 2014
    Lancashire, England
    Real Name:
    I only buy what I know I'll use, I've always preferred travelling light to carting loads of superfluous gear around. I have just two lenses for the DSLR - both zooms a short and a long, and I now have all that's needed for the m4/3 with 3 primes and one zoom. I'm lucky i suppose that I've never been a gearhead, I take photos for the picture's sake not for the gear I have. If I need a bit of kit I'll either go buy it or work around it - usually I work around it.
  19. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    I try to sell stuff I don't use, but that is usually to finance new stuff. I find myself in a funny place right now because my kit is pretty much what I want:

    EM5 and EPM2

    P14, O17 2.8, O25, O45, O75, O45-0150.

    The 60 macro would have made more sense than the 75 but I could resist the 20% refurb deal and now I can't part with it. It will be interesting now to see how long I can go with buying something else. It would probably be compact, but the XF1 is filling that need nicely.
  20. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Real Name:
    I feel the same way. I just sold the 14 and 17 F1.8. Both were great lenses and I got good deals on them, but I just didn't find I used them enough. I don't like having too many choices anyway. I'd rather have a solid 3-4 lenses around that get used regularly. For me, having the 12-50, 40-150, 17 f2.8, P25, O45, 60, 75 is more than enough (trying to sell a 14-42). I've found I like shooting longer focal lengths of late and the 60 actually gets the most use, but I don't need both the 60 and 75. Can't decide which to part with. I haven't done much portrait, but I want to.

    Eventually I want the 12-40, but can't justify the investment just yet., but I could probably swap the 75 for it and use the 60 for portrait.

    I'm still holding an EP1 and E1 + legacy glass that don't get much use, but are hardly worth selling at this point.