Gear, Gear, Gear

[Image Credit: Olympus America]

[Image Credit: Olympus America]

I’ve seen a couple of announcements on the web in the past week or so stating that the OM-D E-M5 is finally going out of production.  I don’t find this surprising, as it’s now an older model camera that was superseded by the E-M1 a while ago; at the time I thought it was interesting the Olympus continued manufacturing it, but it makes sense that it’s time is finally up.

I still have two E-M5s and continue to like them just as much now as the day I bought them.  And while I am curious to see what they are replaced with – what the “E-M6” will offer that its predecessor doesn’t, I’m not looking to upgrade.

Back when I took up photography, gear was king.  I lusted after newer, faster, and better bodies and lenses and the general consensus among most photography sites and groups seemed to agree with this lust.  Everybody got ramped up about new releases and plunged right into buying them.

I get it – technology is fun, and those of us who like to geek out with gadgets will always get excited by the new toys.  But I have also come to believe that there is a certain evolution within photography, where after a while you begin to realize that new gear isn’t really that different from the gear you already have and, more important, that it will not make you a better photographer.

Speaking only for myself, I have found that the longer I spend doing photography, the less I worry about the gear.  I have cameras and lenses that are perfectly capable, and which I like using.  And while I won’t deny that there are still items I would like to buy someday, I find that I no longer have the same gear lust that filled me in the past.

These days I don’t think the upgrades are revolutionary, and certainly not the way they may have been over the past decades.  More megapixels and higher ISOs are gimmicks; AF can only get so fast before “faster” starts to lose meaning; and stabilization, whether in-lens or in-camera, has become ubiquitous.

In short, I don’t expect my next camera, somewhere down the road, to give me brand new features I don’t already have.  I expect that I’ll upgrade because my gear is dated and has failed – or is at real risk of failing.  And I expect that the replacement will offer the same comfortable user experience I currently enjoy; a camera that feels good in my hands, that has a control layout I respond well to, and that does the jobs I need it to do.

And you know what else?  I don’t miss the gear lust.  In fact, I’m much happier without it.  I am confident in the equipment I’ve selected for myself and am happy using it, and I don’t miss staring at the B&H site and yearning for a new whatever, trying to figure out how to raise the funds, sacrificing one piece of my kit to afford another.

I don’t miss having to post my gear on eBay and deal with the hassle of selling it and shipping it.  I don’t miss having to search for a new photo bag every six months because my kit keeps changing.  And I don’t miss getting stuck in the trap of having new gear, and therefore needing to update my accessories as well.

Frankly, there are other things I’d like to spend my time and money on.  Actually taking the camera out to interesting places and using it comes in at the top of that list!

I’ll end with one final thought: I shot with my friend Mike at sunrise a couple of weekends back.  He still has a pro Canon setup, which he hauled around in a large backpack.  It probably weighed upwards of 20 lbs.  I had an E-M5 with me, as well as the 12-35 and 35-100 lenses, and it all fit in a Domke F10 bag.  It was all the kit I needed, gave me the images and quality I wanted, and often weighs less than my fiancee’s purse.  All of which I see as justification that my original move to m4:3 was a good one, at least for me.  I’m happy with what I have.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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  1. This post makes me happy – I remember those days of gear lust! Also, you’re probably right about my purse weight. 🙂

  2. The heavy bag was my morning workout since the photo shoot preempted my morning run.

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