02 June 2011

Have you got G.A.S!

GAS - photographers ailment

This post is definitely not about the cooking gas in the pipeline or the cylinders (if you are still stuck with that ugly, heavy to lift container), which threatens to become costlier as we speak. This ain't about the unflattering gases that involuntarily make way, when you would least expect to. 
Gear Acquisition Syndrome (sometimes Guitar Acquisition Syndrome, both abbreviated to GAS) is a term used to describe an urge to acquire and accumulate lots of gear, as defined in Wikipedia. 

While G.A.S has not yet caught the attention of medical community, rather sadly so. It is common ailment, much like the common cold or flue. Majority photographers seem to be suffering with GAS. And one doesn't even have a 'paracetamol - like' drug which could be popped every time he / she finds the tell tale symptoms. 

Its quiet easy to spot a GAS inflicted photographer. While we thought we could build a self diagnostic checklist, it would most likely create unnecessary panic. So here are some observation collected from acclaimed GAS inflicted photographers. There could have been no better source, is it not! GAS symptoms are bit different at different stages of photographers life stage. 
  • The newbies : Whenever they see a great photograph on flickr, facebook or any other social network, they are overcome with this strong desire to find out what is the camera that has been used to shoot it. Often leading to stupid remarks like, "Nice Shot! By the way, what camera did you use to make that photograph". That such comments leave a photographer cringe, is something that they realize much later in their own journey of photography.
  • The amateur: These folks believe that in their journey of photography excellence, they are constrained by their equipment. The dilemma if they should upgrade the camera and lens is the maximum for such people. They do not overtly talk about better equipment, having graduated from the newbie follies but covertly wonder if a better camera would push them into the big league.  
  • The serious amateurs: They will often catch themselves, staring at new cameras, new lens - everywhere. They spend unusually high time scanning the cheapest sources of photo gear online, all over the world (whatever that means in online context). They would know which lens is cheapest on which online store. What was the price movement over last 6 months and when is the best time to but what - where. As a positive, such brethren are endowed with super intelligence when it comes to equipment. Not all of them, definitely now. But this is one of the side effects of this disease which is favorable. Well they are walking encyclopedias on the best lens every made, or why a specific model of that 'rangefinder' did not do well in the market and so on.
So GAS indeed does not differentiate. It afflicts all classes albeit the symptoms vary. I started with an entry level DSLR, and continue to suffer myself. Till now, I have resisted the temptation to proliferate. And continue to dissuade friends and family who are eager to jump the learning curve and believe buying a high end camera is the secret mantra. There are many examples from the fellow photographer community who continue to use basic DSLR and continue to churn our eye popping photographs. "Cameras don't make photographs, its the photographer behind the view finder who does". Period. 

The other aspects to keep in mind are, the camera technology is evolving everyday. The new cameras are better than old and so it would continue going forward. And the best of cameras today have limitations requiring corrections for color, contract etc  that need to be done either by in camera softwares or outside using tools. On the contrary it is always better to invest in glass (lens). A good lens stays that way for a much longer time and if prudently managed can be used with newer bodies as they come. 

Always ask yourself why you want to buy a new camera, unless you are getting into professional work requiring you to print life size posters, you do not need the super megapixel cams that are being marketed every day. I often hear an argument around better low light performance. For the size of photographs one would normally publish or print, the grains and noise is hardly visible. So why would you want to buy a new cam - well if you just got a fat bonus, you know not what to do - go and splurge. Or if your loved one wants to gift you a lovely gift.. well why not. 

And if you are one of those incorrigibles, well, you know what you are suffering from ! 

Disclosures: The gear I have Nikon D3000 (the cheapest DSLR in market today), 18-55 mm kit lens (the cheapest AFS lens in market), 55 - 200 mm (the cheapest telephoto lens in market). I spent a bit more on a camera bag, the reasons for which are explained here.


Zephyr said...

Hmmm, your posts are getting longer but not boring. Keep it up. I certainly don't have GAS but a very slow Canon camera which takes good photos and now a Samsung phone camera. But I love the former because I know how to upload the pics and I am so proud of myself for that!

However 'cheapest' equipment you use, you manage the best shots. :)

mayankpandey said...

Thank you. This one was inspired by some recent questions from few of my
friends. How hard it is for me to convince them that better equipment
doesn't make photographs. Often people ask what camera and i always tell
them you dont ask a painter what brush he used, so why a photographer.
PS: Its hard to say so much, i am always comfortable saying through images.

Meghana said...

lol! I certainly have G.A.S.. but it's in the third category. I tend to know the best prices..all the reviews and what not but manage to refrain from buying. And you are right, my favorite compositions have been from my little point and shoot which has nothing beyond auto mode and ISO control. Great gear is good to have for the fun of it but it doesn't improve your photography skills in any way. On the contrary the fancier your equipment I have a Nikon D40 which is quite ancient but I love it and don't intend on ever giving up even if I get a new one. Though I will admit to having a bit of attraction to glass.. I have the kit 18-55 mm, a 35mm prime, a 10-24 mm wide angle and a toy diana plastic lens :D

Meghana said...

It is fantastic! you should definitely try it out..especially considering that its rather cheap, its very sharp and gives great results esp at wide apertures

Maneesh Goal said...

you hit the nail on the head Mayank! This has been precisely my POV as well... I have personally taken some of my best pictures using a point & shoot!

mayankpandey said...

Hey meghana, you have quiet a bit of glass. How is 35mm working for you. I
am looking at picking it up shortly. thanks for dropping by!

Mayank said...

Pretty nice post. I am an avid traveler and have bought a 'bare minimum' digicam now..otherwise i was managing with my humble phone cam since ages. Doesnt really matter which cam is used..its the 'eye' thats important.

// P.S., there were some issues with blogger. Thats why your comment got unpublished. Checked / Resolved them yesterday. All comments are there now. //


mayankpandey said...

Thanks Mayank. I am sure your Digicam would serve the requirements quiet well. Known many photographers who have galleries only of mobile photographs. 

mayankpandey said...

You said it man! 

Andrew Graeme Gould said...

Spot on. For me, personally, less is best. If I can't carry it comfortably either round my neck or (as I do often in the street) in my hand against my body for hours on end, I won't own it. I use a Canon 500D with (super sharp) kit zoom lens. NO problem shooting at 1600 or 3200 ISO when RAW files are processed in Lightroom 3. Professional results can be achieved with these "amateur" cameras, for sure.

Vision comes first. For me, if I don't see a shot there in front of me, there's no point in raising the camera to the eye...

mayankpandey said...

Andrew, So true. With what one can achieve outside the camera using tools
like lightroom, and correct camera shortcomings - i wouldnt go and invest in
camera. Will but a lens any day instead. By the way this super sharp kit
lens is 18-55 mm?