Gear anxiety

Camera manufacturers have us right where they want us.

Unhappy. Unfulfilled. Worried. Envious.

Lately a couple of new M4/3 cameras have started shipping and you’d think everyone’s current camera will disappear at any moment. Even though I’m totally happy with my rig, I’ve been caught up in it a little myself. Wondering and watching what they will come up with. Will it focus faster? Focus better? Have improved IQ? Better image stabilization? Less noise? Will it work with my lenses? Will it make my coffee in the morning?

This is a relatively new thing for me and I don’t like it. Why should I worry?

In my film days, I shot with the same camera for 20 years.

Think about that for a minute. From approximately 1985 to 2005 I used an OM-1n as my primary camera.

Oh sure there were new models during that time and I even bought one of them after about 15 years, but I was happily shooting away. Unconcerned about new features. Oblivious to lens mount anxiety. Blithely ignorant as to the resale value of my kit. I just took pictures when I wanted to and didn’t when I didn’t. I used different films and lenses. Even bought some of those, too. Played with filters. Occasionally had big prints made. Mostly just had small ones. I put them in albums and reminisced about where I’d been and what I’d done.

So what gives? Why do I have this squirming knot of anxiety in the pit of my stomach? My camera and lenses suit me very well and I don’t see myself outgrowing them any time soon. Even if something breaks or gets damaged, I can always find a replacement. It will not be the end of the world. So why do I think about what I would do if it happened? Why do I always have this thread of gear anxiety winding its way through my brain? And I don’t think I’m the only one. It seems pervasive for all photographers.

All it does is rob us of some of our enjoyment of the hobby and our growth as both artists and technicians. It’s crazy. Why do we torment ourselves this way? It’s not envy, is it? Do we really want other people’s stuff? Is it just a craven desire not to be left behind? Do we suddenly dislike our stuff after a while? Mostly we like our stuff, right? And it is just stuff. It’s the photos we should be fretting over. Improving our skills with our chosen systems.

Like this image –

Temper, temper!

I shot that in March in the backyard while leaning on a waist-high shed for support. A minute before and after this 5-second burst of activity, they were swimming quite boringly. But I was ready, had my settings dialed in and got this one shot. It’s as much a testament to the camera’s animal detection technology as to anything else. Here’s another example –

Breakfast secured

I was shooting clear across the backyard through a lot of trees and branches as you can see. But darn if the focusing system didn’t find the bird and lock on. Again, I had time for one shot before it turned and flew off. It’s not a perfect photo, but I really like it for what it is and that I got it. It’s doubtful I would have with my old GH3, so I get that newer can be better, but at what price? At the price of constant change? Of constant worry?

The Lumix G9 + Panasonic/Leica 100-400mm zoom combo is really amazing. Neither are new items, but they’ve both received firmware upgrades to improve performance in focus speed and tracking. Damn if it isn’t pretty great. It gave me new appreciation for my kit and helped stave off the anxiety I’ve been feeling lately. It honestly works better than anything I’ve ever used, and it’s probably me, the operator, who needs to live up to its potential.

So between realizing how excellent my equipment really is and staying off of websites and boards that focus on gear and new stuff, I’m keeping these ridiculous feelings at bay. I try to spend my online time with people concentrating on improving their photography and not on the latest piece of kit. I don’t hate my tools. I love my camera and my lenses. I think I made some astute choices when I bought them and so I should get out and use them and the hell with anxiety over having to replace them. Because being satisfied and proficient with my tools is the only thing that’s going keep me feeling positive and worry-free.

Now get out there and shoot!

Ruffed grouse

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