How much camera gear do you really need?

How Much Camera Gear Do You Need

I have worked with a few photographers at a newspaper over the years. One thing that was almost universal with them was their love of gear. Really, they did love their gear.

Some more than others. A couple had to have every new lens or body that came Canon or Nikon came out with. It was an obsession.

Here’s the funny thing. The people with the most gear in my eyes weren’t the best photographers.

The best photographers used the fewest lenses. It seemed that they knew their equipment better than most. One lens. One job.

It’s not just in the newspaper business that photographers become more gear collectors than picture takers. Visit any popular photography forum and you will see members proudly listing every last bit of equipment they own down to their filters. What’s with that?

I learned a long, long time ago the discipline that it takes to use one lens.

At one time I shot landscapes with a wooden 4×5 field camera and could only afford one lens. It was a 180mm Schneider Symmar S. I am surprised that I can remember that. Anyway I didn’t have the money for any other gear and so EVERYTHING that I took with that camera was taken with that one lens. 180mm on a 4×5 camera is roughly the equivalent of a 60mm lens on full frame 35mm camera to give some perspective.

Using that one lens I was forced to see things through that lens and as restricting as it might seem it was liberating. I learned the hard way that every focal length lens has advantages and drawbacks.

Nowadays when I am doing my infrared I use one or two lenses. Both are very wide lenses because I prefer that look. One is a 14mm fisheye that gives a depth and perspective like no other lens I own. I like the near/far relationship that it captures. The other lens that I use isn’t too far away from the fisheye. It is a 14-24 wide angle zoon. Again, it is the near/far and depth of field that I like. When I am using either of these two lenses I LOOK at things diffently than I would if I were to say do long exposures. With long exposures I use a longer zoom, a 24-120mm zoom and usually at the longer end of the focal length.

My camera bag long ago got lighter as I got smarter and you know what? My wallet got heavier. My photos got better.

Happy shooting,



~ by Dan Jurak on July 20, 2016.

2 Responses to “How much camera gear do you really need?”

  1. I agree with several of your points. A lot of photographers I know would rather talk gear and tech, than theory or vision. I do own a half dozen lenses, but I use one of them, an 18 – 35 zoom, for 90% of what I shoot. The other lenses are for special situations, like macro or low light, and I have a T/S for architecture. I also have a Fuji X100 which has a fixed lens, a 35mm, and I love taking that out. I feel like I go back to the basics with it.

  2. Frank, I know too many photographers like that. It’s an expensive hobby to have, collecting equipment.

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