The Purge

I go through cycles.

I accumulate.

I purge.

I accumulate.

I purge.

I think many of us serious shooters have been through this. We get enamored by new gear and somehow justify buying into it. I find that to be particularly true with lenses. But I sample other gear on occasion, which is how the sansmirror.com site got started. I’ve reviewed 46 mirrorless cameras now, which means they all got “acquired” in some way—fortunately there were a number of loaners in there—so there are only five four mirrorless cameras sitting in the gear box at the moment, and I’ll be pruning that down again soon as I complete some reviews.

B&H recently leant me 50 pounds of DSLR lenses—the Fedex delivery guy is now mad at me as it was all in one box—which allowed me to manage to escape an early 2018 lens accumulation cycle on the DSLR side. Those have now all returned back to the mothership—and the Fedex delivery guy is now madder at me. 

I look at the shooting I’m doing these days and I realize I still have too much gear for what I’m actually doing. So I’ll be purging the gear locker at the studio again soon. No use keeping things I could rent if I really need them for a short period. 

Nikon is making this easy for me. 

Oh oh, where’s he going with that comment?

The D850 really does manage to do most of what I need doing photographically (and probably most or all of what you readers need doing). A pair of those and I’m covered; or I could keep the D5 and one D850 and be (mostly) happy (only mostly because I then have two mismatched bodies, batteries, chargers). Meanwhile, the D7500 is the only camera I felt I needed to bring to the NAB trade show. Why? Hey, it’s smaller and lighter than many of my mirrorless products, and highly competent!

Truly. A D7500 body, the 10-20mm, 16-80mm, and 70-300mm lens and I’m really covered (14-450mm equivalent). It all fits in a very small sling bag that isn’t all that heavy. What’s an E-M1II going to do for me again? 

Of course the camera companies want us to accumulate. Otherwise sales will go down as we all become Last Camera and Last Lens Syndrome users. Yet more and more I feel the strong need to pare down to the gear essentials of my craft and just concentrate on the craft bit. 

So what’s an absolutely more-than-you-need pro kit these days? Probably something like this:

  • D850 body
  • Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5E fisheye zoom
  • Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G
  • someone’s 24-70mm f/2.8
  • Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E
  • Nikkor 20 or 24mm f/1.8, 85 or 105mm f/1.4 (or perhaps the Sigma Art equivalents)
  • Pick two telephoto primes (e.g. 300mm f/4 and 500mm f/4, or 200mm f/2 and 400mm f/2.8)

Is there something I couldn’t do photographically with that kit? (I didn’t say I’d be perfectly optimized, it’s rather “could I come back with the images I need?”)

Meanwhile, several site visitors emailed me recently with their variation on a D7500 kit (body and lenses). You can do the same thing I just did with the D850 in DX with a D7200, the D7500, or D500 as the body, and you can do it with all Nikon lenses or all third party lenses. I’m pretty sure your entire kit will be under 10 pounds. And it will take great photos.

So why are we still accumulating?

Ah the scourge of capitalism. All it takes is a little Internet hype—fanned by the camera companies, of course—something that sounds new and useful, maybe a little more performance of some sort that can be measured (and again hyped by that Internet buzz machine). Even Nikon’s less-than-exceptional marketing team manages to make enough noise from time to time to get you looking and thinking and…stop, don’t pull out that credit card!

The nice thing about the slowdown in the camera market is that there will be fewer new cameras and lenses for me to review this year and fewer for you to accumulate. So I’ve made my schedule for the year more about going out and trying to do all kinds of different sorts of photography that interest me, not so much being a gear nerd. 

Thus I’m in purge mode again. As I discover that I’m not packing X for any trip I’m taking, well X has to go—preferably to an owner who might use it—not sit in the gear locker. 

Your mileage may vary, but do ask yourself the question: is your accumulation accomplishing useful things? If so, accumulate. If not, consider a purge (oh dear, I’d better get cracking and sell all my stuff before I start a sell-off cycle among my readership and reduce used gear values! ;~).

Seriously. Ask yourself that question. I’ve written about “want” versus “need” before. It’s okay to want things, but you should be much more careful about popping for the want than you are for the need, otherwise you’ll just end up with a full closet (and don’t get me started about camera bags…). 


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