When you’re following the latest camera news and reviews, it’s easy to cast a sorry look over your own camera bag, and the lack of the latest and greatest cameras. Tim Coleman discusses Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS).

As a camera journalist the latest and greatest kit rests in my hands regularly. I’m not going to lie, getting to use these cameras and lenses for reviews and features is such a fun part of what I do.

But before you ask, no, I don’t get to keep review samples! My own camera gear is what second-hand online platforms describe as ‘heavily used’ (and yes, it was hard to give the new Hasselblad X2D 100C back).

If you follow the latest camera news and reviews, you’ll equally be exposed to cutting edge camera tech that you simply ‘must have’. Video recording at 8K and 45MP pictures in a single camera, anyone? What about 120fps continuous shooting?

When you’re read up on the latest kit or have experienced it hands-on, it’s so easy to cast a sorry look over your own camera bag. Those that act impulsively in that moment with their wallet have what we call GAS. And no that’s not a mild bout of stomach discomfort but a sinister angle of consumerism; Gear Acquisition Syndrome.

Put simply, GAS is a want vs need. It is that internal monologue asserting I need that kit. If you fight that inner voice long enough, justification enters the narrative. I’ll make better pictures. My camera isn’t good enough anymore.

Sure, you could improve the technical quality of your photos by splashing out on the next best camera, that high-powered studio light or expanding your lens arsenal.

But here’s the problem – GAS is a rabbit hole because there will always be a ‘better’ kit available than what’s in your bag. Technology evolves, kit gets updated. You scratch that itch, and soon enough it pops up again.

Now it would be ludicrous to suggest never buying new camera kit. From time to time, it breaks and need replacing. We might even branch out in new photographic genres like wildlife and sports and suddenly a telephoto lens feels like a must.

For me though, it’s a crying shame when perfectly capable creative tools go unused, especially if the user hasn’t realised its potential or simply owns too much. If you’re exploring a new photography discipline, how about trading some of that gear to get what you need rather than buying outright?

Ricoh GR IIIx in hand, close-up (Tim Coleman)

Ricoh GR IIIx in hand, close-up. Image: Tim Coleman

Better still, could it even be possible to love the kit you already own a little more, a little longer? To rekindle that moment and excitement when you first laid hands on it? To make sure you know how to get the most out it today, because the answer to your creative problems might be in your hands already; trying new techniques, setting creative limits, delving into those menus.

Significant time passed before I truly got to grips with my Ricoh GR compact camera. I almost sold it as ‘new’, but it has gone on to become my everyday tool and the first digital camera that has truly inspired me in black and white photography!

So, the next time Gear Acquisition Syndrome rears it’s ugly head… 

Don’t judge your own camera against the latest model. The next time you look at what’s in your kit bag, imagine what you can do with it rather than what might be possible with another camera you don’t own! Right, I’m closing the web browser and off out to enjoy some landscapes with my Nikon D800…

Featured image credit: Ben Eaton via Unsplash.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Amateur Photographer magazine or Kelsey Media Limited. If you have an opinion you’d like to share on this topic, or any other photography related subject, email: ap.ed@kelsey.co.uk

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