I’m currently going through an introspective stage with my photography and blogging is helping me gather my random thoughts. Whenever we, i mean fellow photographers, fall into the pit of despair, lack of faith or creativity, it is easy to be lured by the GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) siren. How could you not be deceived by this highly attractive wench with her shiny new lens seductively protruding from that smooth housing which is tightly hugged by a firm rubberised grip. She claims to be smaller, lighter, faster and can do things that her older sisters never dreamed of. Then she presses herself against your face and whispers, “I can even make you a better photographer.” That’s the line that should snap you out of her trance like spell but damn, she feels oh so nice in my hands. Not to mention being seen in public with this young jezebel will make you feel youthful and more hip.
My lust for cameras started from listening to photography podcasts even before owning a camera. I was intending to buy the Canon 7D when I walked into the camera store. I saw they also had the Nikon D90 and decided to man handle both of these beauties. The 7D felt good. This was the first camera I held so it had some appeal to it. I then grasped the D90 and it felt so secure in my hands as if it was a lover in a firm embrace. I had seen reviews of this and also saw a bloke named Chase Jarvis rave about the D90, so thought I would enter the courting stage with Nikon. I took her home and introduced her to my wife Dianne. I got the thumbs up from the missus and so started the never ending cycle of GAS.
The D90 was updated to the D7000 about a year and a half later. I thought I was content with this but along came a new breed of camera that looked so retro and the whole photography world was talking about it. That camera was the Fujifilm X100. This was my first true love affair from a far. I just couldn’t get over her beauty. She was a new breed of mirrorless camera that looked like a film camera but with all the new age bells and whistles. I even went to a photography exhibition just to hold her in my hands. I was surprised by it’s size and weight. It looked so much smaller and lighter on the internet but that was a good thing. This was a serious camera. I would have purchased it then and there if it didn’t have a fixed focal length lens. I dreamt about this camera for many months after this encounter debating how I could work around shooting with both Nikon and Fuji. Then another siren entered the scene, the Olympus OMD EM5. I was lucky enough to be one of ten chosen to partake in the CNET/Olympus photowalk introducing this camera. It was so light and tiny compared to the Nikon and even the XT100. It also had a cool retro look with its black and silver styling. What blew me away was its 5 axis image stabilisation. I was use to the old rule of shooting handheld with a shutter speed of at least twice that of your focal length or a minimum the same as the focal length for blur free images. i.e When shooting at a 50mm focal length, shoot with a ideal shutter speed of 1/100th sec or a minimum of 1/50 sec. With the EM5 I could shoot easily at 1/15 sec at that same focal length. I was starting to wonder if I could handheld my seascape shots at ⅙ sec. Tripod freedom……. Needless to say the Olympus rep wasn’t so keen on loaning me a camera to try this out with me knee deep in the ocean. The camera was weather proof but not idiot proof. 🙁 I did end up buying the EM5 that Christmas. I was going to shoot with both Nikon and Olympus cameras but choose to trial a one year only shooting Olympus. Well that was 3 years ago and I haven’t shot Nikon since. Sorry that’s a lie. I did shoot with the D90 for 2 days while in Venice after I fried my EM5 sensor getting too close to a laser show in Florence. It was impossible to shoot the Nikon at night without a tripod and get the same results I achieved with the EM5. I would have to give up coffee or use a tripod. The freedom of shooting while on holidays without a tripod was bliss. I wasn’t prepared to give up this new found freedom and coffee, so purchased from the only camera store in Venice I could find, the newly released Olympus OMD EM1 at a ball busting Euro to Australian dollar exchange rate. When I got back to OZ I enquired about getting the sensor replaced on the EM5 but the cost was almost ⅔ the price of a new camera. Damn it!!! I loved this camera. The EM1 was the Olympus flagship camera but at that time was only released in black. My EM5 had that sexy silver and black retro styling. Then I got a whiff of the rumour mill that the EM5mk2 was just around the corner and it looked similar to the original EM5 but with a lot of extra features like better image stabilisation, a swivel out touch screen and a 40mp high resolution shot from a 16mp sensor!!!! Now that’s crazy. Yes you guessed correctly, I fell for the siren’s song of the shiny new camera.
Now this has been my dance with the siren to date. I thought I had conquered the urge for new gear until the rumours of the newly designed Olympus PEN F. This looks even more retro than the OMD’s, has a higher resolution of 20mp (up from 16mp), a 50mp high resolution mode and a dedicated Ev compensation dial on top of the camera. The best of all it has that rangefinder look that drew me to the original Fujifilm X100 but with the Olympus world class 5 axis image stabilisation and interchangeable lenses.
I know gear won’t make me a better photographer but this next camera might just put an end to a long love affair and rid me of this virus……hopefully 😉
Oh I nearly forgot, there is an upside having GAS. It will keep you away from drugs, as every last cent goes to cameras, lenses, bags, tripods, filters, flash, batteries, memory cards, computers, software, backup drives, faster internet, more data………….. holidays, workshops, training courses……. heaven forbid you get a drone.