Some Thoughts on Gear


Photography gear is something we have a lot of, believe we need more of, while others constantly tell us we have the wrong brand of. The best camera is the one in your hand the moment you need it. When the shutter clicks, it does not matter if you use a camera or a smartphone, a $1,000 lens or a $100 lens, or even a piece of film versus a digital sensor to capture the image as long as it expresses the your photographic vision. Be the eccentric photographer in the crowd, the one who does not worry about mega-pixel counts, shooting at a million ISO, or lugging around a five-pound piece of glass just because it has a red ring around it. Unless these items are keeping you from capturing your photographic vision, do not let others convince you that you need them. I have won first place at an art show with a photograph captured on a point and shoot camera, which some would say cannot possibly capture an image worth having.

Now, with that rant out of the way, in future articles I will outline some of the gear I use in different shooting situations. All I can guarantee is that these configurations work for me and allow me to create my photographic vision. You are free to disagree with, laugh about, and endlessly ridicule the choices I have made. Or you might possibly see the genius in my thinking. The choice is yours.

My best advice to anyone thinking of making a major gear purchase is to rent the gear before plopping down your hard-earned cash. Perhaps you have a friend or colleague that would allow you to borrow the gear for a few days. In either case, actually seeing, or using the gear will solidify your buying decision. Sometimes it will steer you away from purchasing the gear because it does not live up to the expectations you set.

A few years ago, I strongly considered purchasing a 24-105mm f/4 lens and after researching and reading the reviews, I was ready to place my order. While I was looking for the best place (based on price) to purchase the lens, I found an online vendor that rented the lens for three days. I decided to test-drive the lens before doing major damage to my credit card and I am glad I did. While the lens performed wonderfully, it just did not feel right in my hands.

I sent the 24-105mm lens back after the rental period and rented a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens that I fell in love with. Although it damaged my credit card a little more than the previous lens, I was much happier with my purchase. In fact, the 24-70mm lens is my walk around lens that I use for most of my shooting.

I no longer make major gear buying decisions off the shiny brochure and a bunch of favorable reviews from the Internet. I always rent first, and then make the buying decision. This has saved me a lot of heartache and money along the way.

My Canon AE-1 is still in my bag when I'm traveling. Sometimes simple is as complex as I want.

My Canon AE-1 is still in my bag when I'm traveling. Sometimes simple is as complex as I want.