Do you have Too Much Camera Gear?

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In this post, Steve Berardi from PhotoNaturalist talks about the problems of having too much camera gear, and what you can do to minimise your gear.

Image by Claudio Matsuoka

Image by Claudio Matsuoka

When you first got into photography, you probably started out pretty simple. Maybe you started with an advanced point and shoot camera or an SLR with the kit lens. Photography seemed so simple back then, didn’t it?

Then, as your interest grew, you started buying more and more gear, until all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you found yourself surrounded by mountains of camera gear: lenses, filters, flashes, memory cards, cleaning kits, bags, camera bodies, lens hoods, tripods, ballheads, panheads, levels, tripod collars, camera straps, card readers, remote shutter releases, and the list goes on forever…

But, is all this gear really worth it? Is it really all necessary to achieve your end goal of capturing light?

Problems with having too much camera gear

Whenever you get new gear, you may just think about its cost in money: can you afford it? Should you wait until they lower the price? Is it really worth it to get the name brand or should you buy an off-brand?

But, anytime you get new gear there’s a whole lot of hidden costs too, which Leo Babauta illustrates brilliantly in a recent post on his new blog about minimalism. Here are some of those hidden costs he talks about (along with some adaptations I’ve made about how they relate to photography):

  • Too much gear clutters your space, causing distractions and stress
  • You have to constantly move your gear from your house, to your camera bag, to your car, and finally to the photo location (and then move it all back)
  • When you move to a new house, you’ll have to move all that camera gear
  • For a lens or camera body, you have to store the warranty information somewhere, and make sure not to lose it
  • If your gear breaks, you have to get it repaired (or replaced), which costs more money and time
  • If you went into debt to buy your gear, then you have to constantly worry about that debt
  • If you eventually decide to get rid of your gear, then you have to spend time (and possibly money) to get rid of it (e.g. eBay, craigslist, etc)

One of the biggest costs that personally affects me is trying to decide which gear to bring. As a nature photographer, I can only carry so much gear in my backpack, so I’m at a point now where I can’t carry it all in one bag! Having so much camera stuff has become a hassle because now I have to seriously think about what to take and what not to take on a hike.

Why gear isn’t the most important thing

So, maybe now you recognize all the hidden costs of your camera stuff, but after thinking about your gear, you still think it’s all necessary for capturing great images.

Although you certainly need special gear to capture certain types of images (i.e. you can’t really photograph birds without a long telephoto lens), the gear isn’t the most important thing. In photography (and just about everything), it isn’t the gear that makes an image great, it’s the photographer.

Nothing illustrates this more beautifully than the new book by Chase Jarvis, The Best Camera is the One That’s With You. The book is full of remarkable photos he took with the simple camera on his iPhone. He didn’t even use Photoshop to edit the photos, but instead relied entirely on iPhone apps.

Often times, I think that instead of pushing the limits of our existing gear, we just buy something new in hopes that it’ll solve our problem. Everyone loves to get a fancy new toy, right?

How to minimize your gear

Although I don’t think you should necessarily get rid of all your camera stuff and just use your iPhone for now on, I do think it’s a good idea to minimize your gear and focus on what you really need. I have a feeling there’s probably some stuff in your camera bag right now that you haven’t used in awhile.

So, how do you minimize your gear? And, how do you resist the urge to buy even more?

Well, here are a few things that have worked for me:

1. Keep a list of what you use and don’t use during a photo shoot. I actually learned this trick from a backpacker that always wanted to reduce the weight of his bag. Whenever he left for a trip, he would make a list of everything he put in his backpack. While on the trip, he would cross something off if he used it. If he went on enough trips without using something, he stopped bringing it. The same thing has worked great for me as a nature photographer (I always want to hike with as little weight as possible).

2. Push the limits of your existing gear. Learn the limits of the gear you already have, and if you get an overwhelming urge to pass those limits, then that’s the time to get another lens or another camera body.

3. Focus on adding knowledge, not gear, to your camera bag. I think this is the single most effective way to minimize your gear. Read blogs (like DPS, heh), books, and magazines. Attend workshops or other classes. And, perhaps most importantly: experiment with the gear you do have! Learn as much as you can: knowledge doesn’t take up space, and it doesn’t cost nearly as much to obtain!

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About the Author: Steve Berardi is a naturalist, photographer, and computer scientist. You can usually find him hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains or the Mojave Desert, both located in the beautiful state of California. Read more of his articles on nature photography at the PhotoNaturalist and follow him on Twitter.

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  • Great tips and suggestions. I’m guilty of too much gear, but am getting very muscular from hauling it around. Perhaps I’ll make a list and cross things off…

  • Anthony

    Stevo, I’m in agreement with you. While it’s good to cut back and not bring everything with you, at times I almost want to carry around an empty pack filled with bricks just to make the photobackpack seem that much lighter!

  • I dont think there is anything wrong with having too much gear. The challenge is to know which ones to bring with you so you dont have too much gear on you.

    It is easy to limit your gear when you use zooms (you could use something like 16-35, 24-70, 70-200) but once you start using primes, you quickly end up with a lot of lenses, each one with its very specific use.

    On the other hand, I can relate to what you are saying. A few of my lenses are getting use once a month or less (24TS-E, I am looking at you) so I am thinking about disposing of a few of them to get one nice one (85L). Hard choice, I love each of my lenses and it is always hard to let one go!

  • Nothing is wrong with owning an arsenal, simply knowing what you need when you need it is where the real discernment lies. I shoot in a very minimalist fashion so I don’t own a ton of things but many of the things you stated seem like they would only be problems for someone who had no idea what they are doing. A very organized and knowledgeable professional should not have any of those issues.

    [Too much gear clutters your space, causing distractions and stress] – Why? That sounds like a poor organization problem. If someone is distracted by gear, I hate to see how they manage the distractions that can occur in a photo shoot itself. Most photographers are stressed about making ends meet in a tight economy and if simply owning nice gear or a lot of gear is a source of stress, perhaps they have no bills, family, college/grad school costs, healthcare concerns or any real stressors to attend to.

    [You have to constantly move your gear from your house, to your camera bag, to your car, and finally to the photo location (and then move it all back)] – Not so. Owning a lot of gear doesn’t mean all of it must be transported. Although Jarvis has a wonderful book characterizing minimalism in shooting (via iPhone) he also has a video on YouTube that catalogs the large amount of gear he takes on his shoots. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6R73OJzKxUs

    [When you move to a new house, you’ll have to move all that camera gear] Again, focusing on the mosquito bite instead of the cancer. Would this be a bigger concern than moving furniture, cars, getting kids registered at a new school, canceling and reopening accounts etc?

    [For a lens or camera body, you have to store the warranty information somewhere, and make sure not to lose it] – If someone cannot manage to organize a simple pieces of paper, then perhaps running a photography business is not a good idea. To me, income in a recession is a bigger deal than where I store warranty information. A simple filing system and an Excel spreadsheet can cure this.

    [If your gear breaks, you have to get it repaired (or replaced), which costs more money and time] – True, but most people I know (outside of nature/environmental photographers) rarely have extreme damage to their camera equipment. I do agree that more equipment means more repair costs.

    [If you went into debt to buy your gear, then you have to constantly worry about that debt] – My student loan debt surpasses anything I ever bought for photography. LOL. This is a good point and I agree but I would argue that most people owe more for fancy cars that they don’t need and houses bigger than needed than photography equipment.

    [If you eventually decide to get rid of your gear, then you have to spend time (and possibly money) to get rid of it (e.g. eBay, craigslist, etc)] – Everything I posted on eBay sold in 24 hours and near retail value. People waste more time on social media sites than the time needed to post items for sale.

    I feel like there is a certain backlash for people who like gear. Certainly anyone who calls themselves a pro understand the limitations and benefits of good gear. It’s OK to like cameras. I do agree that we should push the limits with what we own (i.e. I only own 1 dSLR camera body) but it doesn’t have to be a I love gear vs. I hate gear kinda thing.

  • Justin

    @Trudy. Exactly what I was going to say. This is just another “meh” article I’m affraid.

  • Annette

    I thought this was very insightful. Steve isn’t saying gear is evil – in fact, he tells us he has more than he can carry when he goes out, so he clearly likes gear. But I do believe taking a step back and looking at gear as far as what we *really* need can help us improve as photographers.

    Have limited lenses and knowing what they do well/don’t do well, we can take the best shots for the gear we have and better come up with our own personal style, I believe.

  • Dayto

    Thank you for this article, it is helpful and informative to a great extent

    I look forward to seeing more of your thoughts.

    -Dayton

  • Linda

    Not that it’s necessarily bad to enjoy your toys, but …

    You likely have too much gear if:

    1. You carry a balance on at least one credit card or if you have a second mortgage.
    2. You are somewhere between casual photographer with simple equipment and full-time professional photographer.

  • “I’m at a point now where I can’t carry it all in one bag! Having so much camera stuff has become a hassle because now I have to seriously think about what to take and what not to take on a hike.”

    I totally agree with your thoughts…although I am not a nature photographer. When I travel, I try to minimise my camera gear. I just don’t enjoy trips where I have to lug heavy equipment while on my feet for hours. I just have to learn to maximise whatever gear I have on hand to get the best photos out of them. And that was what I did on my recent trip to Perth.

  • Same as @Trudy and @justin…
    The only interesting thing I see here is if you have so much gears you don’t know how or when to use it, you’ll just bring everything along and spend more time on deciding which camera / lens to use than on the picture you wanna take.
    If one knows in an instant which camera / lens he’ll use to shoot something then no he doesn’t have too much camera gears.
    — Woods

  • jd

    Ugh, are you kidding with this article? I had to look twice to see if today was April Fools…

    “You have to store those warranty cards?” – Hardly a hassle or space waster for a few pieces of paper to have some piece of mind around your investment. Here’s a future article idea – how to use a manila folder to store your warranty cards and receipts.

    “You have to move it when you move to a new house?” – Good grief. Store things in cases, put them in a box, and move them. Hardly more hassle than a couch… can’t wait for the DPS article asking “Do you have too much furniture?”

    “If you went into debt…” – Let me stop there. If you’re a hobbyist and went into debt for gear, you’ve got bigger problems than too much gear. And if you’re a pro, you’re likely not reading articles like this on DPS and you already know exactly what gear you need (and when).

    “You may eventually have the hassle of getting rid of it.” – Because listing something on Craigslist or Ebay to make some cash, possibly funding upgraded equipment, is such a pain. If the hassle of “getting rid” of something were such a factor in purchasing it, nobody would own a home or car either.

    Things started off well with DPS, but the push for lots of content has led to poorly edited fluff… please seek quality, not quantity (in gear and photography articles).

  • I know for a fact I have way too much gear. I have about 3-4 lenses that are “oh yeh that would be nice to have coz I’d like to shoot that some time” when in reality I cannot recall the last time I used those lenses……..I’m already planning on sticking them on ebay so that I can at least clear my credit card.

  • Aside from my two main lenses. My Nikon 17-55 f2.8 and Nikon 70-200 f2.8VR…..It seems like I have a huge bag of “just in case” or “In THIS situation” prime lenses and flashes. But I rarely use them when Im actually WORKING. Id never get rid of them though. I guess its just the piece of mind of having them. Or maybe the fact that just having them and knowing what they can do makes me a more versatile photographer.

  • Although some of the reasons he lists to support his point are quite silly and trivial to some shooters, I don’t really believe that those examples are the point of this article, even though they seem to be what a lot of commenters are reacting to. I think Steve summed it up really quickly in one paragraph though:

    “Although you certainly need special gear to capture certain types of images (i.e. you can’t really photograph birds without a long telephoto lens), the gear isn’t the most important thing. In photography (and just about everything), it isn’t the gear that makes an image great, it’s the photographer.”

    For me that’s really the only point to take away from this. Even if we all know that already(we’ve all heard it before right?), sometimes it’s good to get a reminder once in a while that most often the gear isn’t what makes the shot in the long run, and if it feels like too much, remembering to simplify can be a really good thing.

  • Thanks all, for taking the time to respond to my article. I value your feedback, good and bad.

    I’d like to emphasize a few statements I made:

    Although you certainly need special gear to capture certain types of images (i.e. you can’t really photograph birds without a long telephoto lens), the gear isn’t the most important thing.

    Although I don’t think you should necessarily get rid of all your camera stuff and just use your iPhone for now on, I do think it’s a good idea to minimize your gear and focus on what you really need.

    I wasn’t trying to say “get rid of all your stuff” but instead: “focus on what you need” and think about things before you buy them. I do think there are a lot of hidden costs when buying things, some of which I listed here.. Sure, none of them by themselves are enough of a reason not to buy something, but when you add all these things up and multiply it by all your gear, I think it adds up to a lot of extra time and resources.

    “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” -Henry David Thoreau

  • JP

    Meh. I rarely ever feel inconvenienced by all my gear. I always keep 2 stands, 2 580’s, and little softboxes and umbrellas in my car as well as my little rebel and a 17-55 on it. (parked in my garaged and locked up in the trunk of course) The only things I ever bring in the house are my bigger cameras, lenses, strobes. which i keep in my crumplers & lowe pro backpack. the big light modifiers sit in my studio or garage. then again I am only 23 and I have a guy that helps me with gear setup.

  • Luckily I don’t have to worry about too much kit as I am just beginning my photographic voyage! All I have is a DSLR, kit lens, telephoto lens, polariser and a shutter release!

  • It really is about the photographer, not the gear. And minimal gear can certainly lead to more actual photography getting done.

    I recently got a tiny, cheap compact camera to take around with me day-to-day instead of my SLR and related gear. The first week I had it, I took it jogging with me — which I’d never have done with my SLR. And the first picture I took with it on that jog made the front page on Flickr.

    Less can definitely lead to more.

  • My first reaction to the title of this article – “Sacrilegious! You can never have enough gear!”

    After reading the article, I have to say that the hidden costs part of this article is BS. It looks like someone trying to justify why they like to have a minimal setup in photography (or life). These all seem to be problems related to mental quirks (like OCD, compulsive buying) than legitimate problems. For example, if you are buying so much gear that it clutters your workspace or puts you into debt (and you aren’t trying to go pro) then you have a compulsive buying problem. You should never go into debt for a hobby – it just isn’t smart. (Unless, again, you’re trying to go pro)

    As far as moving your gear to your car and back to the house – this is an anxiety disorder. If you know what you want to shoot, you only pack that equipment into your car. If you’re anxious that you might miss this subject or that subject – tough cookies. Even if you have all your lenses with you – if you don’t have multiple bodies, your subject will probably flee before you can switch lenses. I pack according to what I expect to shoot. When I went to a friend’s wedding, I packed two bodies, three lenses, and a flash. So I had one camera with my mid-wide to shot-telephoto lens and one with my normal to telephoto lens. Then, at night, I switched my telephoto lens to my 50mm f/1.8 so I didn’t have to use flash on that body.

    As far as it breaking – if there isn’t a disaster like a fire or hurricane, only the lenses you have with you should be at risk of breaking. These are the same lenses you’d have with you if you had less equipment and, therefore, the same lenses that would have broken no matter what.

    Finally, and I hesitate to say this because you’re a professional writing for a magazine and I am a nobody photography enthusiast, but you really shouldn’t be fretting over what to put into your camera bag. If you’re a professional, you should know what kind of lenses you need for a particular shoot. Then pack one off the wall lens in case you want to try something different. Again, if you don’t have a particular lens at the shoot, tough cookies. If you didn’t have a lot of equipment, you wouldn’t have that choice anyway, would you? Sounds, again, like an anxiety problem.

    In conclusion to my opening argument, this “hidden cost” thing is a load of bull. If these are your (or a reader’s) personal problems, then it’s something to consider. But I don’t see how it’s a problem. I want a lens that goes to 400mm and it’s $899. Well, guess what? I’ve been saving up spare money for a year to buy it. See – if you do that – no debt! holy smokes!

    Anyone that goes over what I’ve written in this blog will know that 99.9% of the time my comments are not this confrontational, but 1) I hate stupid arguments and 2) I feel like recently there’s been this huge push to keep people from buying good stuff. I don’t know if the pros are nervous that amateurs are getting the nice grey L lenses and they don’t feel special because everyone has one now, but I’ve been seeing article after article telling people they don’t need good equipment. There’s a place for telling people that they should probably learn the basics because they move on to advanced P/Ss or dSLRs, but if you can afford to be into photography, you’re probably an adult with a job. So if you’re an adult, you can make adult choices. If you want to spend money to get every lens Canon (or Nikon) makes (even though you don’t even know how to take photos with the kit lens), then that’s your problem – not mine or anyone else’s.

    The advice I would give, is that you should see what you want to have eventually and save up for that. For example, if you want to eventually go to a full frame Canon camera, don’t waste your money buying EF-S lenses. They won’t work on a full frame camera and you’ll be wasting your money. Instead, save up your money for EF lenses. And, if you want L lenses, don’t buy the non-L lens in the same category and then buy the L lens, you’re spending money needlessly. Just save up and buy the L lens.

  • Yawn

    I read this article and thought “Is this for real”?? Is this person a ‘Professional Photographer’?? I highly doubt it. A quick read of the another one of the aurthors ‘articles’ confirms.
    DPS: Listen when people say Quality not Quantity – no more of this sort of dumb-ass space-filling rubbish.

  • an exmaple of someone saying the same thing as my penultimate paragraph, see

    paragraph 2 of http://trushots.blogspot.com/2009/09/its-ok-to-like-cameras.html

  • The gear is more important to some than to others. Obviously having the right tools to get the job done can be very important, but among individual photographers the range of acceptable tools varies widely. Photographer A wants specific brands and models. Photographer B is happy with whatever brand as long as it’s a particular camera body design (such as SLR), and a certain range of formats and focal lengths. Photographer C is willing to consider the strengths and weaknesses of whatever gear is available, and may end up shooting sports with a Holga. There’s still D through Z, and that’s probably not even enough letters to describe the variations in attitude, style, subject matter, etc… among photogs. 🙂

    My own experience is that telling gear obsessed photographers that the gear isn’t important is like telling the newly heartbroken that time will heal all wounds. It doesn’t change anything; you are just making annoying squawking noises at them. 😉 As I was moving beyond noob into the realm of enthusiast, and starting to form a bit of a camera collection, one of my mentors told me that I was like an artist fiddling with the 124 pack of crayons, but I should be concentrating on mastering the 8 pack. I didn’t listen to him, and now I’ve got a heap of gear that could be stacked taller than me. If I could go back in time 20 years and give myself some advice it would be “Don’t waste so much time, money, and energy on the gear. Stop worrying about what lenses you own, and start studying the light.” But maybe I had to spend a decade immersed in the gear to move past it?

    When I’m on the job (weddings & portraits) I carry a lot of stuff. I actually rarely need most of it, but what if I did, and I have to have back ups of everything. When I’m shooting for myself I go as light as possible. I carry a single lens, and make it work whatever I run into. After hauling around big cases full of gear for work I find a small, single DSLR barely fits bag to be wonderfully freeing.

  • This applies nicely to an outdoor adventure photog that really has to worry about weight when walking and hiking, for those of us that are either on-site studio-style shooters or simply dont have that much gear, it’s really a non-issue.

    At the moment I cover a 35mm equivalent range of 15-450, no gaps, with a fast 50 and a flash. This kit comes with me in one small bag (lowepro 180EX) and is easily stowed at home, in the car or anywhere else, really. Even with a full “Mobile studio” in a CompuTrekker Plus AW, I dont get too many funny looks on the bus, and those mainly from the lightstands/umbrella mounted to the outside of the pack.

    I do like the idea of crossing things off a list, and I may do this for future travelling, but I hardly think the rest of this applies to much more than the serious adventure/nature photographer or photojournalist.

  • Is it possible to have too much gear?? I always say, the first thing I do after winning the lottery is buy one of each of everything Nikon makes, and two of many things (can’t have too many D3s’s).

    However, from a practical standpoint, I think having too much gear comes about when gear starts to overlap.

    And just a side note, have you ever heard anyone say “gear doesn’t matter” that didn’t own all the highest level gear him/herself?

  • Well I got held up yesterday and *all* of my camera gear stolen (passport, too!), so when I read this headline in my inbox this morning I had to laugh. No, no I don’t have too much camera gear 🙁

  • Robin, I hope you had it insured.

    I don’t agree with this article. The “problems with having too much gear” list is a bit far-fetched to me. Seriously, if keeping your warranty cards in a spot where you won’t lose them is too hard, I don’t think your camera gear is your issue. Also, how often do you move houses where having too much camera gear is a major issue?

    I guess the only real valid points brought up were having to haul gear in and out of the house and accumulating debt.

    As everyone has mentioned, the real challenge isn’t owning too much gear, just knowing what to use and when… And the all too familiar feeling of seeing a good shot and knowing the lens you need to get it is sitting on your counter at home.

  • Gary (surfdog)

    There’s no such thing as too much gear!

    I have several bodies, numerous lenses, flashes, monolights, hot lights, background supports & backgrounds, C-stands, reflectors, filters (both camera & lighting), etc., etc., yada yada yada…sheesh, enough gear to start my own second-hand store if I were so inclined.

    And I still want MORE! (The new 7D looks interesting.)

    That doesn’t mean I NEED to carry ALL of that EVER. (With the exception of moving, which I recently did…)

    But it does mean that I have choices and I can then make the most of my shoot.

    For ME, travelling light means 1 body, 3 lenses 10-24 or 16-35 (depending on body), 24-70 2.8L & 70-200 2.8L, 1 580ex, and maybe a couple of filters. But it’s nice to know that I have more available for those times when I really DO need it.

    Then again, travelling light might just be a single long lens… It’s all about what I need based on how I want to shoot or what I’m shooting. (I’ll tell ya, a 16-35 is darn near useless for shooting birds… ROFL)

    Oh, one last thing… If you’re looking to use your credit card to buy more gear… You have enough for right now, it’s not going anywhere. Just save yer pennies and it will be yours. Oh yes, it will be yours. (Nod to Wayne’s World. 😉 )

  • Great reminder. I only carry around with me a few prime lenses. Small, lightweight and able to deliver the images I’m looking for. I’m a big proponent of prime lenses for those wanting to learn more. When you have to move your feet to get the shot, you often discover new angles and techniques you might have never thought of!

  • In most cases I have only two lenses with me and a compact camera as a backup.
    Before I want to photograph something, I think about the situations which might occur and what lenses are best, if a tripod or ring flash is required and so on.
    I very much prefer prime lenses – so this implies even more careful considerations. 😉

  • I can leave the house with my crown graphic mounted with a 127mm, 6 film holders and a tripod, and be set for the day.

  • johnp

    I agree keep gear to a minimum and concentrate on taking photos. Trouble is because I dont ask for fees for taking photos (because I dont think I’m good enough to ask for them) I keep getting given gift vouchers to camera shops. There’s only so much ink & paper you can use!

  • “the less you bring, the more you get” (someone said that on the forums I can’t remember their name though or I would quote them.)
    I agree, somewhat. Maybe a second lens and a flash is good (even in daylight sometimes).

  • I LOVE your last point, Steve. This is something I’ve been thinking about. People are way too quick to thrown down a lot of money on a new body, new lens, or whatever…and they would have been better served by spending a few bucks for a workshop or two, to learn how to better use the gear they already have. Hardware comes and goes, and fluctuates in value. Knowledge is scalable…and priceless.

  • Jerry

    I can never have too much photography equipment.
    For a good photographic journey though, what I need most is a concept. When I prepare for a shoot that concept will help me decide what gear to bring along. It will keep me focused on my mission and give meaning to my endeavor.
    I like to take the “casual shot” as much as the next photographer but I much prefer to be on a mission to develop a concept and create a work that satisfies my vision.
    I could be documenting an event. I could take a super wide lens and look for creative ways to use it. I could grab my macro lens and spend hours in my own little world. I can experiment with different kinds of lighting…
    I can never have too much photography equipment as long as I don’t allow it to cloud my ability to focus on interesting concepts instead of the gear itself. (Look through the camera, but concentrate on the subject and what you want to say about it)
    So I can agree with this article in this way. Don’t carry a bunch of gear so you are ready for everything. Carry a concept and what gear you need to fulfil it. Yes?

  • Rob

    ok, so far, we know

    Focus on the getting photos rather than the equipment to achieve your photo, so its about photos rather thatn one upmanship ( wasn’t there an article about a famous photographer who got great shots on a disposable ?)

    Think about why you are getting a piece of equipment and what it will achieve for you rather than my lense is bigger than yours. ask yourself if carrying it around on a regular basis is going to be ok?

    as eric mesa has pointed out , think about your purchases for future use and upgrade path eg. compatible lenses.

    maybe someone at DPS can write an article explaining the minimum we get away with certain scenarios. e.g travel, upgrade paths to consider when on a budget.

    I for one wanted to ask someone to advise the min camera gear i can get away with for use in the caves / jungle of borneo.

    i do think this article had the right idea about too much gear, but perhaps did not justify / explain well enough to everyone here.To be honest I have almost recently got carried away with the idea of all the extra lenses and gear i wanted to buy until I realise the expense, limited avalibilty in my area( middle east ), lack of future proofing. So I decided to take more time to think about what I really need and get the most out of my equipment.

  • rick lumpas

    Thanks Steve. I appreciate this article for I already understand that in most situations it is the skill and knowledge in photography that really matters, not the gears.

    But I believe your article should have been entitled “Do you have too much gear for outdoor/nature photography?”

    Many people reacted negatively since they have already invested a lot in gears and training and have won in contests and earned the respect of their collegues and I envy them, somehow. For some, it is already their bread and butter; so gearing up is necessary.
    But I am sure a number of them are hurt because they think they are great photographers because they have plenty of gear in their arsenal. I just ignore them, always.

  • flatulent1

    Great article, and very true. I had that same Ah-HA moment 20+ years ago, and promptly sold my T90 and all the garbage I’d accumulated with it. I’ve got most of it back now (and then some), except the Quantum batteries. Never been keen on flash.

    I have since come to realize that, while I enjoy owning a large dumpster full of camera gear,and really do use most of it, I am a minimalist when it comes to the shoot: one body, one or two lenses. Never more than that.

  • Vineet

    Hey, I love this post because it is an issue I’m looking forward to having. Right now, I’m in acquisition mode and would love to acquire anyone’s well maintained equipment that is stressing you out. Just setting up shop and don’t want to bust the bank getting brand new stuff. If you live in the lower mainland, BC, and have stuff, let me know 😉
    Vineet
    604-347-9856

  • Ric

    In 2001 I went minimalist by giving all my SLR gear to my daughter and buying a digital point and shoot camera. Ahh! The freedom, no more aching shoulder from lugging my gear around. No more security concerns about leaving the gear in the car. Mmm! No more flexibility of manual override!

    A couple of years later I traded up to another P&S with more advanced features. A couple of years after that I traded up to a prosumer type camera and now, I lug around my digital SLR, two lenses, flash, etc. Now all I need (want) is another camera body to avoid changing lenses in the field. Oh! And another flash – or a studio set up – and a back cloth …

    Why? Because, this kit gives me the flexibility and results I really want.

  • Doug McKay

    For me, photography is capturing an image of something rare or rarely seen the way I do while wandering around in everyone else’s ordinary world. I tend to a basic kit, that produces the kinds of images that I will be happy with the data stored at the moment. Having said that I very familiar with just exactly it takes to tote my load so to speak and depending on the environment our travel conditions particularly in the middle east.

    Yet with all that planning 50% of the time there is that absolutely magical moment that I have to take what I know are less than what I want shots because (curses under breath) I did not bring the macro or some other item i labored over to take or not.

    For me I would not give up the tools, I just keep trying to get better at planning and anticipation of being fully ready capture the most magical moment that I am not likely to walk into again in my life.

  • I loved reading these comments it’s great seeing all the differing points of view. This one’s sparked some interesting arguments!

  • Your comments were very relevant for me. It seems whenever I am out with my camera and one lens, it’s the other one that I wish I had. And of course I am always chomping at the bit to buy a new lens–even before I have thoroughly learned how to use what I have. Thanks for the wise words!

  • You could also help a lot of less privileged people in the developing countries who are interested in photography with some of these unused and unwanted gear. You would make a difference this way.

  • Robert

    You want some cheese with your whine? I agree with JD…it’s a filler article with NO MERIT, or justification to print. What about the positives of having “too much gear”…always prepared with the right tool for the right job.

    Cowboy up and discuss something with substance.

  • pitysing

    Carrying gear is getting old. What photographers need is a type of cart with large wheels that can be pulled into the field…then it wouldn’t be necessary to leave anything behind. It happens often enough that the one piece of equipment I leave behind is the one I’m sorry I don’t have…one of Murphy’s laws?? Golfers have their carts, flea market people have their carts, what about photographers? I don’t want to leave anything home!

  • I have about 20 M42 mount lenses for my 10D, and another 7 or so Canon FL lenses in various stages of conversion to EOS mount. (and Yes I do take photos sometimes.) I’m a collectotographer

  • I have the Canon Rebel T2i for half a year now and I am using only the kit lens that came with it in the box. I would like to buy some more gear but I get the point of this post. Minimalist photography sounds like a cool idea, and I guess it makes one more focused on quality of the work rather than on quantity of one’s gear (which although helpful, it’s not that necessary for decent amateur photography).

Some Older Comments

  • Quotes January 16, 2012 10:19 am

    I have the Canon Rebel T2i for half a year now and I am using only the kit lens that came with it in the box. I would like to buy some more gear but I get the point of this post. Minimalist photography sounds like a cool idea, and I guess it makes one more focused on quality of the work rather than on quantity of one's gear (which although helpful, it's not that necessary for decent amateur photography).

  • Scott MacRae Collingwood January 30, 2010 06:22 am

    I have about 20 M42 mount lenses for my 10D, and another 7 or so Canon FL lenses in various stages of conversion to EOS mount. (and Yes I do take photos sometimes.) I'm a collectotographer

  • pitysing November 6, 2009 08:40 am

    Carrying gear is getting old. What photographers need is a type of cart with large wheels that can be pulled into the field...then it wouldn't be necessary to leave anything behind. It happens often enough that the one piece of equipment I leave behind is the one I'm sorry I don't have...one of Murphy's laws?? Golfers have their carts, flea market people have their carts, what about photographers? I don't want to leave anything home!

  • Robert November 2, 2009 04:05 am

    You want some cheese with your whine? I agree with JD...it's a filler article with NO MERIT, or justification to print. What about the positives of having "too much gear"...always prepared with the right tool for the right job.

    Cowboy up and discuss something with substance.

  • ochuko October 30, 2009 05:37 pm

    You could also help a lot of less privileged people in the developing countries who are interested in photography with some of these unused and unwanted gear. You would make a difference this way.

  • Anita October 30, 2009 12:10 pm

    Your comments were very relevant for me. It seems whenever I am out with my camera and one lens, it's the other one that I wish I had. And of course I am always chomping at the bit to buy a new lens--even before I have thoroughly learned how to use what I have. Thanks for the wise words!

  • Mandy October 25, 2009 06:35 am

    I loved reading these comments it's great seeing all the differing points of view. This one's sparked some interesting arguments!

  • Doug McKay October 25, 2009 12:30 am

    For me, photography is capturing an image of something rare or rarely seen the way I do while wandering around in everyone else's ordinary world. I tend to a basic kit, that produces the kinds of images that I will be happy with the data stored at the moment. Having said that I very familiar with just exactly it takes to tote my load so to speak and depending on the environment our travel conditions particularly in the middle east.

    Yet with all that planning 50% of the time there is that absolutely magical moment that I have to take what I know are less than what I want shots because (curses under breath) I did not bring the macro or some other item i labored over to take or not.

    For me I would not give up the tools, I just keep trying to get better at planning and anticipation of being fully ready capture the most magical moment that I am not likely to walk into again in my life.

  • Ric October 25, 2009 12:19 am

    In 2001 I went minimalist by giving all my SLR gear to my daughter and buying a digital point and shoot camera. Ahh! The freedom, no more aching shoulder from lugging my gear around. No more security concerns about leaving the gear in the car. Mmm! No more flexibility of manual override!

    A couple of years later I traded up to another P&S with more advanced features. A couple of years after that I traded up to a prosumer type camera and now, I lug around my digital SLR, two lenses, flash, etc. Now all I need (want) is another camera body to avoid changing lenses in the field. Oh! And another flash - or a studio set up - and a back cloth ...

    Why? Because, this kit gives me the flexibility and results I really want.

  • Vineet October 24, 2009 04:12 pm

    Hey, I love this post because it is an issue I'm looking forward to having. Right now, I'm in acquisition mode and would love to acquire anyone's well maintained equipment that is stressing you out. Just setting up shop and don't want to bust the bank getting brand new stuff. If you live in the lower mainland, BC, and have stuff, let me know ;)
    Vineet
    604-347-9856

  • flatulent1 October 24, 2009 02:37 am

    Great article, and very true. I had that same Ah-HA moment 20+ years ago, and promptly sold my T90 and all the garbage I'd accumulated with it. I've got most of it back now (and then some), except the Quantum batteries. Never been keen on flash.

    I have since come to realize that, while I enjoy owning a large dumpster full of camera gear,and really do use most of it, I am a minimalist when it comes to the shoot: one body, one or two lenses. Never more than that.

  • rick lumpas October 23, 2009 12:17 pm

    Thanks Steve. I appreciate this article for I already understand that in most situations it is the skill and knowledge in photography that really matters, not the gears.

    But I believe your article should have been entitled "Do you have too much gear for outdoor/nature photography?"

    Many people reacted negatively since they have already invested a lot in gears and training and have won in contests and earned the respect of their collegues and I envy them, somehow. For some, it is already their bread and butter; so gearing up is necessary.
    But I am sure a number of them are hurt because they think they are great photographers because they have plenty of gear in their arsenal. I just ignore them, always.

  • Rob October 23, 2009 11:16 am

    ok, so far, we know

    Focus on the getting photos rather than the equipment to achieve your photo, so its about photos rather thatn one upmanship ( wasn't there an article about a famous photographer who got great shots on a disposable ?)

    Think about why you are getting a piece of equipment and what it will achieve for you rather than my lense is bigger than yours. ask yourself if carrying it around on a regular basis is going to be ok?

    as eric mesa has pointed out , think about your purchases for future use and upgrade path eg. compatible lenses.

    maybe someone at DPS can write an article explaining the minimum we get away with certain scenarios. e.g travel, upgrade paths to consider when on a budget.

    I for one wanted to ask someone to advise the min camera gear i can get away with for use in the caves / jungle of borneo.

    i do think this article had the right idea about too much gear, but perhaps did not justify / explain well enough to everyone here.To be honest I have almost recently got carried away with the idea of all the extra lenses and gear i wanted to buy until I realise the expense, limited avalibilty in my area( middle east ), lack of future proofing. So I decided to take more time to think about what I really need and get the most out of my equipment.

  • Jerry October 23, 2009 08:56 am

    I can never have too much photography equipment.
    For a good photographic journey though, what I need most is a concept. When I prepare for a shoot that concept will help me decide what gear to bring along. It will keep me focused on my mission and give meaning to my endeavor.
    I like to take the "casual shot" as much as the next photographer but I much prefer to be on a mission to develop a concept and create a work that satisfies my vision.
    I could be documenting an event. I could take a super wide lens and look for creative ways to use it. I could grab my macro lens and spend hours in my own little world. I can experiment with different kinds of lighting...
    I can never have too much photography equipment as long as I don't allow it to cloud my ability to focus on interesting concepts instead of the gear itself. (Look through the camera, but concentrate on the subject and what you want to say about it)
    So I can agree with this article in this way. Don't carry a bunch of gear so you are ready for everything. Carry a concept and what gear you need to fulfil it. Yes?

  • Steve Gray October 23, 2009 02:56 am

    I LOVE your last point, Steve. This is something I've been thinking about. People are way too quick to thrown down a lot of money on a new body, new lens, or whatever...and they would have been better served by spending a few bucks for a workshop or two, to learn how to better use the gear they already have. Hardware comes and goes, and fluctuates in value. Knowledge is scalable...and priceless.

  • CanonRebelz October 22, 2009 12:55 pm

    "the less you bring, the more you get" (someone said that on the forums I can't remember their name though or I would quote them.)
    I agree, somewhat. Maybe a second lens and a flash is good (even in daylight sometimes).

  • johnp October 22, 2009 12:54 pm

    I agree keep gear to a minimum and concentrate on taking photos. Trouble is because I dont ask for fees for taking photos (because I dont think I'm good enough to ask for them) I keep getting given gift vouchers to camera shops. There's only so much ink & paper you can use!

  • tyler October 22, 2009 10:13 am

    I can leave the house with my crown graphic mounted with a 127mm, 6 film holders and a tripod, and be set for the day.

  • Timo October 22, 2009 09:52 am

    In most cases I have only two lenses with me and a compact camera as a backup.
    Before I want to photograph something, I think about the situations which might occur and what lenses are best, if a tripod or ring flash is required and so on.
    I very much prefer prime lenses - so this implies even more careful considerations. ;-)

  • Matthew Dutile October 22, 2009 09:46 am

    Great reminder. I only carry around with me a few prime lenses. Small, lightweight and able to deliver the images I'm looking for. I'm a big proponent of prime lenses for those wanting to learn more. When you have to move your feet to get the shot, you often discover new angles and techniques you might have never thought of!

  • Gary (surfdog) October 22, 2009 05:01 am

    There's no such thing as too much gear!

    I have several bodies, numerous lenses, flashes, monolights, hot lights, background supports & backgrounds, C-stands, reflectors, filters (both camera & lighting), etc., etc., yada yada yada...sheesh, enough gear to start my own second-hand store if I were so inclined.

    And I still want MORE! (The new 7D looks interesting.)

    That doesn't mean I NEED to carry ALL of that EVER. (With the exception of moving, which I recently did...)

    But it does mean that I have choices and I can then make the most of my shoot.

    For ME, travelling light means 1 body, 3 lenses 10-24 or 16-35 (depending on body), 24-70 2.8L & 70-200 2.8L, 1 580ex, and maybe a couple of filters. But it's nice to know that I have more available for those times when I really DO need it.

    Then again, travelling light might just be a single long lens... It's all about what I need based on how I want to shoot or what I'm shooting. (I'll tell ya, a 16-35 is darn near useless for shooting birds... ROFL)

    Oh, one last thing... If you're looking to use your credit card to buy more gear... You have enough for right now, it's not going anywhere. Just save yer pennies and it will be yours. Oh yes, it will be yours. (Nod to Wayne's World. ;) )

  • Marcus October 22, 2009 04:43 am

    Robin, I hope you had it insured.

    I don't agree with this article. The "problems with having too much gear" list is a bit far-fetched to me. Seriously, if keeping your warranty cards in a spot where you won't lose them is too hard, I don't think your camera gear is your issue. Also, how often do you move houses where having too much camera gear is a major issue?

    I guess the only real valid points brought up were having to haul gear in and out of the house and accumulating debt.

    As everyone has mentioned, the real challenge isn't owning too much gear, just knowing what to use and when... And the all too familiar feeling of seeing a good shot and knowing the lens you need to get it is sitting on your counter at home.

  • Robin Ryan October 22, 2009 01:38 am

    Well I got held up yesterday and *all* of my camera gear stolen (passport, too!), so when I read this headline in my inbox this morning I had to laugh. No, no I don't have too much camera gear :(

  • Jason Collin Photography October 22, 2009 12:51 am

    Is it possible to have too much gear?? I always say, the first thing I do after winning the lottery is buy one of each of everything Nikon makes, and two of many things (can't have too many D3s's).

    However, from a practical standpoint, I think having too much gear comes about when gear starts to overlap.

    And just a side note, have you ever heard anyone say "gear doesn't matter" that didn't own all the highest level gear him/herself?

  • OsmosisStudios October 22, 2009 12:26 am

    This applies nicely to an outdoor adventure photog that really has to worry about weight when walking and hiking, for those of us that are either on-site studio-style shooters or simply dont have that much gear, it's really a non-issue.

    At the moment I cover a 35mm equivalent range of 15-450, no gaps, with a fast 50 and a flash. This kit comes with me in one small bag (lowepro 180EX) and is easily stowed at home, in the car or anywhere else, really. Even with a full "Mobile studio" in a CompuTrekker Plus AW, I dont get too many funny looks on the bus, and those mainly from the lightstands/umbrella mounted to the outside of the pack.

    I do like the idea of crossing things off a list, and I may do this for future travelling, but I hardly think the rest of this applies to much more than the serious adventure/nature photographer or photojournalist.

  • Matt Needham October 21, 2009 11:25 pm

    The gear is more important to some than to others. Obviously having the right tools to get the job done can be very important, but among individual photographers the range of acceptable tools varies widely. Photographer A wants specific brands and models. Photographer B is happy with whatever brand as long as it's a particular camera body design (such as SLR), and a certain range of formats and focal lengths. Photographer C is willing to consider the strengths and weaknesses of whatever gear is available, and may end up shooting sports with a Holga. There's still D through Z, and that's probably not even enough letters to describe the variations in attitude, style, subject matter, etc... among photogs. :)

    My own experience is that telling gear obsessed photographers that the gear isn't important is like telling the newly heartbroken that time will heal all wounds. It doesn't change anything; you are just making annoying squawking noises at them. ;) As I was moving beyond noob into the realm of enthusiast, and starting to form a bit of a camera collection, one of my mentors told me that I was like an artist fiddling with the 124 pack of crayons, but I should be concentrating on mastering the 8 pack. I didn't listen to him, and now I've got a heap of gear that could be stacked taller than me. If I could go back in time 20 years and give myself some advice it would be "Don't waste so much time, money, and energy on the gear. Stop worrying about what lenses you own, and start studying the light." But maybe I had to spend a decade immersed in the gear to move past it?

    When I'm on the job (weddings & portraits) I carry a lot of stuff. I actually rarely need most of it, but what if I did, and I have to have back ups of everything. When I'm shooting for myself I go as light as possible. I carry a single lens, and make it work whatever I run into. After hauling around big cases full of gear for work I find a small, single DSLR barely fits bag to be wonderfully freeing.

  • Eric Mesa October 21, 2009 10:58 pm

    an exmaple of someone saying the same thing as my penultimate paragraph, see

    paragraph 2 of http://trushots.blogspot.com/2009/09/its-ok-to-like-cameras.html

  • Yawn October 21, 2009 10:05 pm

    I read this article and thought "Is this for real"?? Is this person a 'Professional Photographer'?? I highly doubt it. A quick read of the another one of the aurthors 'articles' confirms.
    DPS: Listen when people say Quality not Quantity - no more of this sort of dumb-ass space-filling rubbish.

  • Eric Mesa October 21, 2009 09:50 pm

    My first reaction to the title of this article - "Sacrilegious! You can never have enough gear!"

    After reading the article, I have to say that the hidden costs part of this article is BS. It looks like someone trying to justify why they like to have a minimal setup in photography (or life). These all seem to be problems related to mental quirks (like OCD, compulsive buying) than legitimate problems. For example, if you are buying so much gear that it clutters your workspace or puts you into debt (and you aren't trying to go pro) then you have a compulsive buying problem. You should never go into debt for a hobby - it just isn't smart. (Unless, again, you're trying to go pro)

    As far as moving your gear to your car and back to the house - this is an anxiety disorder. If you know what you want to shoot, you only pack that equipment into your car. If you're anxious that you might miss this subject or that subject - tough cookies. Even if you have all your lenses with you - if you don't have multiple bodies, your subject will probably flee before you can switch lenses. I pack according to what I expect to shoot. When I went to a friend's wedding, I packed two bodies, three lenses, and a flash. So I had one camera with my mid-wide to shot-telephoto lens and one with my normal to telephoto lens. Then, at night, I switched my telephoto lens to my 50mm f/1.8 so I didn't have to use flash on that body.

    As far as it breaking - if there isn't a disaster like a fire or hurricane, only the lenses you have with you should be at risk of breaking. These are the same lenses you'd have with you if you had less equipment and, therefore, the same lenses that would have broken no matter what.

    Finally, and I hesitate to say this because you're a professional writing for a magazine and I am a nobody photography enthusiast, but you really shouldn't be fretting over what to put into your camera bag. If you're a professional, you should know what kind of lenses you need for a particular shoot. Then pack one off the wall lens in case you want to try something different. Again, if you don't have a particular lens at the shoot, tough cookies. If you didn't have a lot of equipment, you wouldn't have that choice anyway, would you? Sounds, again, like an anxiety problem.

    In conclusion to my opening argument, this "hidden cost" thing is a load of bull. If these are your (or a reader's) personal problems, then it's something to consider. But I don't see how it's a problem. I want a lens that goes to 400mm and it's $899. Well, guess what? I've been saving up spare money for a year to buy it. See - if you do that - no debt! holy smokes!

    Anyone that goes over what I've written in this blog will know that 99.9% of the time my comments are not this confrontational, but 1) I hate stupid arguments and 2) I feel like recently there's been this huge push to keep people from buying good stuff. I don't know if the pros are nervous that amateurs are getting the nice grey L lenses and they don't feel special because everyone has one now, but I've been seeing article after article telling people they don't need good equipment. There's a place for telling people that they should probably learn the basics because they move on to advanced P/Ss or dSLRs, but if you can afford to be into photography, you're probably an adult with a job. So if you're an adult, you can make adult choices. If you want to spend money to get every lens Canon (or Nikon) makes (even though you don't even know how to take photos with the kit lens), then that's your problem - not mine or anyone else's.

    The advice I would give, is that you should see what you want to have eventually and save up for that. For example, if you want to eventually go to a full frame Canon camera, don't waste your money buying EF-S lenses. They won't work on a full frame camera and you'll be wasting your money. Instead, save up your money for EF lenses. And, if you want L lenses, don't buy the non-L lens in the same category and then buy the L lens, you're spending money needlessly. Just save up and buy the L lens.

  • Matt Gibson October 21, 2009 09:19 pm

    It really is about the photographer, not the gear. And minimal gear can certainly lead to more actual photography getting done.

    I recently got a tiny, cheap compact camera to take around with me day-to-day instead of my SLR and related gear. The first week I had it, I took it jogging with me -- which I'd never have done with my SLR. And the first picture I took with it on that jog made the front page on Flickr.

    Less can definitely lead to more.

  • sbunting108 October 21, 2009 08:06 pm

    Luckily I don't have to worry about too much kit as I am just beginning my photographic voyage! All I have is a DSLR, kit lens, telephoto lens, polariser and a shutter release!

  • JP October 21, 2009 04:39 pm

    Meh. I rarely ever feel inconvenienced by all my gear. I always keep 2 stands, 2 580's, and little softboxes and umbrellas in my car as well as my little rebel and a 17-55 on it. (parked in my garaged and locked up in the trunk of course) The only things I ever bring in the house are my bigger cameras, lenses, strobes. which i keep in my crumplers & lowe pro backpack. the big light modifiers sit in my studio or garage. then again I am only 23 and I have a guy that helps me with gear setup.

  • Steve Berardi October 21, 2009 03:02 pm

    Thanks all, for taking the time to respond to my article. I value your feedback, good and bad.

    I'd like to emphasize a few statements I made:

    Although you certainly need special gear to capture certain types of images (i.e. you can’t really photograph birds without a long telephoto lens), the gear isn’t the most important thing.

    Although I don’t think you should necessarily get rid of all your camera stuff and just use your iPhone for now on, I do think it’s a good idea to minimize your gear and focus on what you really need.

    I wasn't trying to say "get rid of all your stuff" but instead: "focus on what you need" and think about things before you buy them. I do think there are a lot of hidden costs when buying things, some of which I listed here.. Sure, none of them by themselves are enough of a reason not to buy something, but when you add all these things up and multiply it by all your gear, I think it adds up to a lot of extra time and resources.

    "Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify." -Henry David Thoreau

  • Amandalynn Jones October 21, 2009 02:52 pm

    Although some of the reasons he lists to support his point are quite silly and trivial to some shooters, I don't really believe that those examples are the point of this article, even though they seem to be what a lot of commenters are reacting to. I think Steve summed it up really quickly in one paragraph though:

    "Although you certainly need special gear to capture certain types of images (i.e. you can’t really photograph birds without a long telephoto lens), the gear isn’t the most important thing. In photography (and just about everything), it isn’t the gear that makes an image great, it’s the photographer."

    For me that's really the only point to take away from this. Even if we all know that already(we've all heard it before right?), sometimes it's good to get a reminder once in a while that most often the gear isn't what makes the shot in the long run, and if it feels like too much, remembering to simplify can be a really good thing.

  • Adam Despres October 21, 2009 02:33 pm

    Aside from my two main lenses. My Nikon 17-55 f2.8 and Nikon 70-200 f2.8VR.....It seems like I have a huge bag of "just in case" or "In THIS situation" prime lenses and flashes. But I rarely use them when Im actually WORKING. Id never get rid of them though. I guess its just the piece of mind of having them. Or maybe the fact that just having them and knowing what they can do makes me a more versatile photographer.

  • Mat Packer October 21, 2009 02:03 pm

    I know for a fact I have way too much gear. I have about 3-4 lenses that are "oh yeh that would be nice to have coz I'd like to shoot that some time" when in reality I cannot recall the last time I used those lenses........I'm already planning on sticking them on ebay so that I can at least clear my credit card.

  • jd October 21, 2009 12:55 pm

    Ugh, are you kidding with this article? I had to look twice to see if today was April Fools...

    "You have to store those warranty cards?" - Hardly a hassle or space waster for a few pieces of paper to have some piece of mind around your investment. Here's a future article idea - how to use a manila folder to store your warranty cards and receipts.

    "You have to move it when you move to a new house?" - Good grief. Store things in cases, put them in a box, and move them. Hardly more hassle than a couch... can't wait for the DPS article asking "Do you have too much furniture?"

    "If you went into debt..." - Let me stop there. If you're a hobbyist and went into debt for gear, you've got bigger problems than too much gear. And if you're a pro, you're likely not reading articles like this on DPS and you already know exactly what gear you need (and when).

    "You may eventually have the hassle of getting rid of it." - Because listing something on Craigslist or Ebay to make some cash, possibly funding upgraded equipment, is such a pain. If the hassle of "getting rid" of something were such a factor in purchasing it, nobody would own a home or car either.

    Things started off well with DPS, but the push for lots of content has led to poorly edited fluff... please seek quality, not quantity (in gear and photography articles).

  • Woods October 21, 2009 12:33 pm

    Same as @Trudy and @justin...
    The only interesting thing I see here is if you have so much gears you don't know how or when to use it, you'll just bring everything along and spend more time on deciding which camera / lens to use than on the picture you wanna take.
    If one knows in an instant which camera / lens he'll use to shoot something then no he doesn't have too much camera gears.
    -- Woods

  • Mei Teng October 21, 2009 10:51 am

    "I’m at a point now where I can’t carry it all in one bag! Having so much camera stuff has become a hassle because now I have to seriously think about what to take and what not to take on a hike."

    I totally agree with your thoughts...although I am not a nature photographer. When I travel, I try to minimise my camera gear. I just don't enjoy trips where I have to lug heavy equipment while on my feet for hours. I just have to learn to maximise whatever gear I have on hand to get the best photos out of them. And that was what I did on my recent trip to Perth.

  • Linda October 21, 2009 10:49 am

    Not that it's necessarily bad to enjoy your toys, but ...

    You likely have too much gear if:

    1. You carry a balance on at least one credit card or if you have a second mortgage.
    2. You are somewhere between casual photographer with simple equipment and full-time professional photographer.

  • Dayto October 21, 2009 10:20 am

    Thank you for this article, it is helpful and informative to a great extent

    I look forward to seeing more of your thoughts.

    -Dayton

  • Annette October 21, 2009 09:47 am

    I thought this was very insightful. Steve isn't saying gear is evil - in fact, he tells us he has more than he can carry when he goes out, so he clearly likes gear. But I do believe taking a step back and looking at gear as far as what we *really* need can help us improve as photographers.

    Have limited lenses and knowing what they do well/don't do well, we can take the best shots for the gear we have and better come up with our own personal style, I believe.

  • Justin October 21, 2009 09:27 am

    @Trudy. Exactly what I was going to say. This is just another "meh" article I'm affraid.

  • Trudy October 21, 2009 08:43 am

    Nothing is wrong with owning an arsenal, simply knowing what you need when you need it is where the real discernment lies. I shoot in a very minimalist fashion so I don't own a ton of things but many of the things you stated seem like they would only be problems for someone who had no idea what they are doing. A very organized and knowledgeable professional should not have any of those issues.

    [Too much gear clutters your space, causing distractions and stress] - Why? That sounds like a poor organization problem. If someone is distracted by gear, I hate to see how they manage the distractions that can occur in a photo shoot itself. Most photographers are stressed about making ends meet in a tight economy and if simply owning nice gear or a lot of gear is a source of stress, perhaps they have no bills, family, college/grad school costs, healthcare concerns or any real stressors to attend to.

    [You have to constantly move your gear from your house, to your camera bag, to your car, and finally to the photo location (and then move it all back)] - Not so. Owning a lot of gear doesn't mean all of it must be transported. Although Jarvis has a wonderful book characterizing minimalism in shooting (via iPhone) he also has a video on YouTube that catalogs the large amount of gear he takes on his shoots. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6R73OJzKxUs

    [When you move to a new house, you’ll have to move all that camera gear] Again, focusing on the mosquito bite instead of the cancer. Would this be a bigger concern than moving furniture, cars, getting kids registered at a new school, canceling and reopening accounts etc?

    [For a lens or camera body, you have to store the warranty information somewhere, and make sure not to lose it] - If someone cannot manage to organize a simple pieces of paper, then perhaps running a photography business is not a good idea. To me, income in a recession is a bigger deal than where I store warranty information. A simple filing system and an Excel spreadsheet can cure this.

    [If your gear breaks, you have to get it repaired (or replaced), which costs more money and time] - True, but most people I know (outside of nature/environmental photographers) rarely have extreme damage to their camera equipment. I do agree that more equipment means more repair costs.

    [If you went into debt to buy your gear, then you have to constantly worry about that debt] - My student loan debt surpasses anything I ever bought for photography. LOL. This is a good point and I agree but I would argue that most people owe more for fancy cars that they don't need and houses bigger than needed than photography equipment.

    [If you eventually decide to get rid of your gear, then you have to spend time (and possibly money) to get rid of it (e.g. eBay, craigslist, etc)] - Everything I posted on eBay sold in 24 hours and near retail value. People waste more time on social media sites than the time needed to post items for sale.

    I feel like there is a certain backlash for people who like gear. Certainly anyone who calls themselves a pro understand the limitations and benefits of good gear. It's OK to like cameras. I do agree that we should push the limits with what we own (i.e. I only own 1 dSLR camera body) but it doesn't have to be a I love gear vs. I hate gear kinda thing.

  • AlainP October 21, 2009 08:21 am

    I dont think there is anything wrong with having too much gear. The challenge is to know which ones to bring with you so you dont have too much gear on you.

    It is easy to limit your gear when you use zooms (you could use something like 16-35, 24-70, 70-200) but once you start using primes, you quickly end up with a lot of lenses, each one with its very specific use.

    On the other hand, I can relate to what you are saying. A few of my lenses are getting use once a month or less (24TS-E, I am looking at you) so I am thinking about disposing of a few of them to get one nice one (85L). Hard choice, I love each of my lenses and it is always hard to let one go!

  • Anthony October 21, 2009 08:09 am

    Stevo, I'm in agreement with you. While it's good to cut back and not bring everything with you, at times I almost want to carry around an empty pack filled with bricks just to make the photobackpack seem that much lighter!

  • Stevo October 21, 2009 07:48 am

    Great tips and suggestions. I'm guilty of too much gear, but am getting very muscular from hauling it around. Perhaps I'll make a list and cross things off...

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