Confessions of an ex gear addict: How buying cameras and lenses made me miserable and lose thousands


Translations: German Version

[T]hank God, I am now a gear minimalist focused on photography and a big fan of Limitation creativity (you are more creative with less)….. But here’s the truth, I used to be a huge gear junkie, basically having GAS as soon as I got a new camera. I had this problem since the very beginning but now I am cured. In one sense I am trying to help those who know they have GAS (Gear Aquisition Syndrome) to stop having it and trying to prevent others from having it.

I might sound preachy and maybe harsh but please know that I am preaching and being hard on myself first because I wasted a lot of money and time because of my gear addiction. I hope this helps you in some way and I wish someone was there to tell me these things.

When reading this article please understand that I LOVE gear but I am aiming at GAS, the syndrome that makes you hoard gear that you don’t really need and get stuff for the sake of getting it.

I always knew I had a problem
My first foray into photography was because of GAS. I had a friend that had a cool looking professional camera and one day realized that I could afford it. And did. I got my Nikon D80. It’s ok to enter photography by loving the toys first, but the problem was, I didn’t stick with the camera I got. It went downhill from there.

My painful list of cameras
I can’t really remember how many cameras I owned, all that I now is that I didn’t need them at all,just the basics. I had a Nikon D80, then it was too big, I got a Samsung NX, then I wanted a retro camera, got the Olympus PEN, then missed viewfinder, got a Pentax K20D. Tried a Pentax Limited lens, loved it s much I bought another one. Then I had something fantasizing in my head about being a film photographer. I got an Olympus XA, Pentax 110 and Pentax Optio i10 then I was like I want the best image quality, got a Fuji 6×9 with loads of film. Then I had another fantasy of being like Ansel Adams, I had a custom made large format 4×5 camera with Graflex Back, Fuji readyload loader and Polaroid loader plus loads of film. Then I felt everything was too big and got one GXR, then another, then another, then another…….I had a Alienbee ringlash and 2 sunpak 120j, a bunch of flashes, reflectors, Vagabond battery pack, etc. That’s the abridged version btw….I had other cameras like the Sigma DP1 and others….I just don’t remember the rationalization behind them.

G.A.S is universal
But it wasn’t cameras only mind you, I had PDAs and Phones. Nokia N900, Nokia N800, Nokia E90, Sony Experia, a random HTC smartphone, Nokia Comunicator 3200, NTT Docomo Sigmarion III, Hp Jornada 720, Nec Mobilepro, Sony Clie z, bunch of Palm PDAs, Fujitsu UMPC, Fossil PDA watch, etc. Thank God I didn’t get too deep into camera bags! A sure way to know you have G.A.S is that you start not only buy cameras but also everything else like bags, gadgets and other gizmos.

I wasn’t rich
Woah you would think I was LOADED right? No, it was just a matter of selling what I had to buy some new stuff. I always lost money in selling plus the ebay and Paypal fees. In total, and I don’t want to even know if you want to know the truth, I lost 1000s of dollars. That could have gone to savings, down payment on a house or a college fund. I’m a royal idiot, don’t follow that route. I remember when my wife’s family members asked if i was rich because I had all of these cameras. I felt very uneasy, but as an addict I rationalized it and said that they couldn’t possibly understand what a photographer really needs. Truth is, you don’t need much gear to create great work.

I never made anything serious
It’s good to have all that gear, IF you do something serous with it. That was not y case. I shot two rolls of film with the Fuji 6×9 and sold it with 19rolls of Ilford HP5. The large format? about 7 shots. All that lighting setup? I even had a 90inch umbrella! I barely made a few shots with them. I barely have anything substantial with all my other cameras. All the PAA devices? I was still not as productive as I fantasized. Ya see throughout all of my professional camera owner career I stagnated when it came to photography, I was never focused on what I could do right now but always what I could do later, when I got yet another camera or lens.

Understanding the addiction
Here’s how to understand G.A.S., it’s what helped me. It’s a sort of idolatry. Normally idolatry is anything you put in front of God (Yourself, Money, etc), but G.A.S is a form of idolatry in the sense that you put gear in front of photography. The main goal is not photography but the acquisition of shiny new toys.

The lie
We lie best to ourselves, because we believe ourselves. I didn’t need all these cameras but bought them. I had reasons, I told myself, to buy them. I had GOOD reasons too, I told myself, to sell them. The line that always got me was “It’s an investment”, all my cameras were investments in my mind. But investments are worth nothing without commitment. Buying that that 4×5 was “an investment” into my landscape photography. Nevermind that I never really actually took landscape seriously. The only “landscape” I got out of that camera was a scene of an empty school yard at nautical twilight. That shot is still in the readyload sheet. So is my two rolls of 120 film, a bunch of 35mm cans and all of my 110 film canisters.

I somehow believed the recurring lie that somehow my photography would be unleashed with a new camera or lens, how much better how I would be. I would think that while being oblivious to the fact that I never advanced in my photography because I was too busy to get cameras to learn anything or too shoot anything. What an idiot. I could have been 3 times the photographer I am today if I didn’t have G.A.S. So much time wasted.
Beware of making excuses to buy another camera, you will always find one. Heck, speaking of excuses some dude sued his own parents because of how bad he turned out!

The truth
The truth is we don’t need much gear, only the minimum for what we do. Street Photographers need less than wedding photographers for example. The truth is, there is no perfect camera only compromise. What I think is the best camera might be annoying to you and vice versa. It’s all about dealing with idiosyncrasies. Every camera will have issues but it’s not the end of the world. Just deal with it. Throughout all the years of buying and selling cameras and loosing time and money, I could have been such a better photographer. I wouldn’t understate it if I said all I needed (except for maybe the paid work) for my photography was one camera. My Ricoh GRD IV would have been perfect, but seriously, any camera would have done great, even an obsolete one.

The infernal cycle
Those who bought the x100 quickly felt limited because of the lack of interchangeable lenses. Those who bought the X-pro felt limited because they do not have one more lens. When they get them all and then it will feel limited because of how small APSC is. They also feel limited by the dynamic range of digital. They buy a Fuji 6×9 (superb camera) and then they feel limited because it’s too big, and limited because of the lack of feedback from film….then go back to digital. It’s a infernal cycle that will never stop if we don’t put a break to it. The story above would have been my rationalization if I went with a X100. It’s a cycle, you always find a criticism for a camera and somehow end up with a camera similar to you original one.

What photographers who have everything don’t have
I had may cameras, but I could have them all and still not have one thing: enough. When is the amount of stuff we have enough? When is one more lens enough?

When gear becomes validation
Olivier the Photographer. It rimes so it must be true. I am photographer! What did I have to show for it? Cameras. There’s only two ways you can validate yourself as a photographer, either by pursuing your intent or hide behind cameras. I chose the later option. The better the camera, the better pillar it became for me to hide behind.

Buying more and more as insecurity
I then realized what was happening, I was insecure in my photography so I was finding it in cameras. When you get a new camera you feel like you can take on Eugene Smith or somthing. But after the high, I needed my next fix to hide my insecurities. That’s why I could never have enough cameras, I needed more and more stuff to hide behind, to validate myself. I needed to look at a camera and say “Don’t worry man, you’re a photographer, you have a camera, you’re a photographer……” It was of course rooted in my insecurities. Now I am secure in my own photography because I know my intent and work towards it, I’m getting better everyday. I don’t need a camera to feel secure, because I now trust myself to actually deliver.

How I remediated
So the question is, HOW did I remediated? That’s for tomorrow’s next episode folks. Suffice to say is that it was an addiction, I couldn’t help it. The first thing I did is realize I had a problem, there’s no hope  if you can’t admit you have a problem while everybody else sees it. I knew I had a problem since day 1, but I never ADMITTED it to myself, therefore I didn’t try to fix it.

Read part 2 || Read part 3

  • Benicio Murray

    whoa, now that was a full blown GAS addiction! great read mate.

    • Ingy

      I also am very guilty of this and not only with camera’s, I have lost thousands of pounds which could have helped me now in my retirement. I used to be a full time drummer and must have bought over 40 kits {crazy!!) The pleasure you get from it is very short lived then regret & guilt comes in, but then I just go out and do the same, this goes for camera gear and cars as well as drum gear. Many years ago I did the very same thing with hi fi gear costing a fortune. I have been very stupid and selfish. I thought it was just me but clearly not and I don’t know about others but I hate it. Back in the days when smoking was a cool thing to do, i used to smoke about 100 a day then one day I realised I only enjoyed about two out of each packet and the rest just made me feel ill, then one day I just came to my senses and never smoked again, a few time i nearly went back to it but managed it and that was about 30 years ago and never had one since nor would want one. Now if I could only do that with my other addictions my life would be so much better.

      • Michel

        Oh yeah… I know this addiction very well too. It got crazy, heavy, expensive. Then, one day, I decided RX100 Sony, and that`s it. I`m happy now. One camera for all. In my pocket.

        • china_man

          good choice

  • Rommel Mendoza

    thanks for writing this up. i am on the way to becoming a gear addict myself. after reading this, i realised how many cameras I currently have (I have 3) along with my addiction with gear I don’t use as much anymore. you are right, the idea of owning an object becomes the primary motivator instead of using it as much as possible. and although my dollar value losses are not as significant as yours, that is still money i could have placed in my savings. again, thank you. this was an eye opener and now making up my mind not to buy new gear until 1. i reached the limit of what it can do and 2. it breaks. thanks again!

    • Nigel Wilkins

      This is part of the problem though, there isn’t really a limit to what your camera can do photography wise. You’ll invent a limit & buy a new camera.

  • Randy

    Sad story. Most of us are GAS addicts to some extent and unfortunately it has to do with ego and rarely with a real need.

    Solution? Facing reality, accepting our ego issues and deal with it.

    Most gear is stored and not use often and yet we spent thousands to get it. What’s wrong with us?

    Am I a GAS addict myself? Frankly I used to be. Bought an expensive body with 3 very expensive lenses until I realized the stupidity of it. The good question for me was: what did I do with that stuff the last 3 years I could no have done with a more basic gear?

    I sold the whole thing. Lenses keep their value… That was the only good part of the story.

    Now: 1 mirror-less body and 2 small lenses, no flash, no big zooms anymore. Good quality stuff, less gear: less weight, less $, less space, less worries, less noticeable in the street, etc.

    Less is more very often

    • andrea

      interesting story but I could call it experience…

      and experience it is the result of several attempts

      photography like a journey… many different places…


  • Binky

    Laziness keeps me using cameras light & small that i can carry, so luckily i can’t spend that much! (currently a Sony rx100)

    Can see the attraction though. New gear is exciting, and every iteration does more things better. And I think once you have a DSLR you will need the lenses, the flash, the viewfinder, the bag, the tripod, the blah blah. Its easy to justify the extras on the base of the original spend.

    I take loads of pics though. I think really a gear nut like this guy needs to make the time to use the cameras and that will make him feel he got his money’s worth out of them. Every weekend a trip somewhere photogenic. That will improve his self image a lot.

    Nothing wrong really with spending money on a hobby… its cheaper than smoking.. As long as you get value to satisfy yourself, and you can afford it. If its what you love then its what you love. Just – use them!

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  • momochi

    A very timely article! I was about to plonk my money into a Hasselblad recently but then I took a step back and looked at my already full-to-the-brim dry cabinet and told myself “No I don’t need this, nor the 5 or 6 other cameras sitting in the cabinet”. It’s easy to succumb to GAS so nowadays I avoid going to the gear forums and instead, dwell more time on proper photo sites and books. But of course, nothing beats using whatever I have and going out and shoot.

  • George Pahountis

    same experience here, I have owned over 20 professional cameras and many many lenses and lots of studio gear, I m trying to close my eyes and wallet to things that are not anymore necessary.
    Great work can be done with simple ways and little gear theese days..

  • Jeoffrey

    Most recognizable story ever. I guess I’m quite the addict myself. Nikon d800, canon 5d mark ll, 7d, sony nex7, off course with a bunch of good glass too. Couple of weeks ago someone broke into our car and stole my nex 7…first I felt like crap during the first days of our holiday only to realize I didn’t really miss it and found out that in good light I had a brilliant photographic tool in my iphone 4s. Lightweight and as said in good light I’m convinced the quality of the pictures is perfectly fine. But the junky I am I soon started to look for the replacement of my lost sony nex ( read loss of mirorless camera) only to discover that the perfect replacement didn’t exist, so I cut waisting time on the forementioned gear blogs and ordered a new sony nex kit with 2 carl zeiss lenses (I had a voigtlander and kitlens with the other one). So yeah I gained one extra lens, again. But actually I couldn’t be more happy with the combo. In fact…I started to realize: what the hell do I need that 70-200 f2.8 lens for, and I do own the canon and nikon counterparts, that’s about 8 pound off glass and metal together. I guess I am on that turning point to. I think I would always keep 1 dslr with a couple of good lenses because sometimes I just love the IQ and to grab hold of a proper camera. But I should get rid of the rest and get more creative. Thanks for the inspiring blog!

    (If there’s anything wrong with my English please forgive me, it’s not my mothertongue, that would be Dutch)

  • Jim

    I was in the same boat. I had a rx100 (small sensor), nex5r (no evf), nex6 (small sensor), RX1 ( slow AF), then got an a99 (too big). I have sold off everything in the past two weeks and today feels good (sold off the nex6) and I do not have a digital camera anymore.

    I just have 2 canon film cameras and 4 rolls of fuji 400 films to hold me over until the end of the year. I will make a final decision to go with a rx1r, new nex, or new alphas and then call it quits. I just have to realize I’m just a casual snap shooter and any camera other than a cell phone is good enough for me. Probably will save a ton of money if I just buy the new rx100 ii next month.

    • china_man

      get the rx100 II

  • Alex Masters


    Aside: *lose thousands. Not ‘loose’.

    • Olivier Duong

      That’s some stuff you have!
      Aside: Can I make an excuse I’m french-vietnamese-creole and english is not my mother tongue? =)

      • tombawest

        Yeah, give Olivier a break on the grammer.

  • DrJ

    Excellent cautionary tale…I am a new enthusiast, and although I have not collected that much yet, (just a Canon 600D, kit lens+ 50 mm 1.8) I could easily be on my way. I waste a lot of time on the web looking at photography review and shopping sites and they make you want to own everything. Ebay is particularly tempting, particularly for small items like filters, etc. The only saving grace is that I live in Israel and things are expensive locally, and Ebay orders take 2-3 weeks to arrive, so I have a “cooling off” period. Thanks for writing this!

  • Wee

    “wasted” not waisted

    • Olivier Duong

      You are my new auto-correct bff, thanks =)

  • Lennert

    Very recognizable. Although I don’t really hide behind my gear. I tend to buy my gadgets for the short period of happiness it will bring. And with the large amount of funerals (parents, grandparents, uncle, aunt and friends) I attended in the past few years (I am only 31) I really needed to cheer myself up and the only way I know how is with gear or food both not the best options.

    The downside is that I got a tad depressed and I had a hard time getting motivated to do anything let alone hobbies. Luckily lately I started picking up photography again through tutoring enthusiastic starters and this is starting to reignite my own enthusiasm.

    That being said, I do have too much gear with 4 high end slr bodies an and more then a dozen premium lenses and various other gear as well as a x100 that I love due to it’s portability and the challenges the limitations bring.

  • pitt

    great article ! so I am not alone in this addiction.. ! olympus EPL1, EP2, E620, SONY A580, RX100, FUJIFILM X10, various lenses, flashes, etc…etc.. Each camera makes me fantasize long distance vacations in exotic places where I could take hundrends of amazing shots …. like the pictures seen in National Geografic Magazine…..Actually I never had the time for such long vacations and I try to take picts near my city every weekend mostly… maybe for me, each camera represents the lost trips that maybe one day I will make.. maybe on my retirement.. and given that I will be cured from my addiction by then to save money !!

  • Dave

    Work on your grammar. Also, G.A.S. stands for “Gear Acquisition Syndrome.” If you’re going to call it by that well-known name, you might as well use the correct terminology.

    • Olivier Duong

      I’m on it, thanks for making me work harder

  • Jom Ilao

    I can totally relate. And thank you for posting such article. Made me realize I was going that way.

  • David

    Brilliant. I went through the same dilemma last year, I came to similar conclusions but I fear I am not cured (yet).

  • Gideon Luke

    Aha someone had the guts to put it in writing! Well done. Strangely when I became a pro photographer the addiction took a twist with studio gear but that was OK as it paid for itself. Now I’m semi pro I lapsed into G.A.S. however I now have a strategy which works for me – primary SLR for serious work (Nikon D7100), a camera where I have to make time and be deliberate about my shots as I love it’s output (Fuji X-E1) and finally something for my pocket that produces lovely stuff – Sony RX100. Finally down from 15 cameras to 3 and it feels good – plus selling the others paid for the stuff I actually use. I think we buy cameras and kit when we should use them – better to spend money on a trip to take photographs than buy more kit. Enough said

    • Olivier Duong

      15 to 3 is a huge step! The danger when I was going pro is to label everything as an investment, it was GAS disguised as investment :)
      I take that same route as you, one camera for commercial purposes (Nex 7) and one in the pocket (GRD IV)
      Saving for a trip is much wiser :)

  • George Richardson

    I dont think that its totally Olivers fault.
    Camera manufactures deliberately put new amazing gadgets in front of our noses.
    Each new gadget is better than the last one which came out 7 days ago.
    If i had more money i would most probably change my camera each month….mobile phone each week, computer every six months, wife every week (just joking as it could be the other way around).
    Just look at Samsung… gadget every few days.
    The painful truth is that when a camera manufactures comes out 3 months later with a new (lets say) DSLR like the new Canon with its amazing revolutionary focusing system…..hold everything,,,shall i get one…or maybe 2.

    We can’t win.

    Oh by the way ….have u seen the new Nikon zzz it has karaoke built in, so u can sing to any melody whilst taking a picture….only $150.
    Id better get 2 for the stereo effect.

    • Olivier Duong

      Manufacturers do what they can to stay alive! I personally take full responsibility for my actions because in the end I am the one that makes the choice.
      Enticement towards oh so sexy cameras is no a crime =)

      • George Richardson

        Not correct.
        You THINK that u are the one making the choices….but clever promotion, and marketing is what gets into out heads, and makes us do the things that common sense tells us to keep away from.
        There was a chap in Germany once who was good at that.

        • Aaron Hwang

          George you’re not wrong in that environment is the biggest influencer in behavior. But shifting responsibility for one’s choices to external influencers is a quick path to self destruction.

          The ones who survive and prosper are the ones that can adapt and make good choices.

  • Wagner

    i’m with you buddy but to take great photos you need a good camera and good lenses. everyone is saying you don’t need a camera or lenses to make great shots. that’s utter crap.

    • Olivier Duong

      I take the position that every camera is good enough. I say enough because you are in the end limited by your gear, if it can’t focus well then you will have blurry pics

    • irisman

      Nobody claimed that you don’t need a good camera and a few good lenses, but mid-priced stuff will be good enough for all but the most demanding applications.

  • Wagner

    but i want to add that i admire your courage to tell the manufacturers to go and f##k themselves. yeah!

    • Olivier Duong

      Huuuuummmm not really :)
      I takes 100% responsibility, manufacturers do what they need to do to survive, and I love them :)

  • Mannishboy

    hahahahha:) hilarious!! i shud say i am currently at some mid level here. thnks thnks thnks so much!!!!! for waking me up!!! damn NIKON u made me one NIKON addict.

  • aardvark7

    Partially correct, but you still miss a main cause of G.A.S. and it is the one the camera manufacturers play on.

    Basically (and here is where I slightly disagree with you) the aim, as well as having shiny new toys, is to be a good photographer and take great photographs. However, every time you get a camera or lens and put it to use the results always fall short: exposure not quite right, focus not quite spot on, too much noise, etc.

    In addition, there is a fear that if you find yourself in a position to take the great shot, but the gear falls short (not fast enough focussing, not enough resolution, etc.), it would be a disaster!

    And so the virus begins. We always look to solve the problem that isn’t the problem, or has never actually happened yet. Soon we have all this gear which still doesn’t allow us to take great pictures.
    Mainly because the biggest factor is the man behind the gear, but we are always too weak to admit it!

    • Olivier Duong

      Ah this is true! Something more to think about!

  • Rubbish Dumper

    Duong … I thank you for your bravely to open up this topic for G.A.S. confession .. it is indeed a hot-topic! I was such an idiot myself especially in the late 90s … I got myself a full range of Canon “L” and Zeiss lens, and later went into Medium Format thinking that the sharpest images only come from such gears! It is only when I had spent tens of thousands and not really getting what I want to achieve that lead me to do a reality check on myself! At the end, I figure out a big part of photography is all about our vision, techniques, creativity and more importantly … digital darkroom technique that make one’s photos look like a Pro.

    Today, I do a lot with less … I don’t even have a single “L” or Zeiss Len in my bag … and I always go with entry-level gears like the 50 f1.8, 85 f1.8 and the Tamron 17-35 f2.8-4 and 70-300 f4.5-5.6 VC. When people look at my photos now, they will ask … which “L” or Zeiss len you use … it is so f.cking sharp & detail and the color is so rich?!!! And I smile … thinking … “they will laugh at me if they know what is in my bag”!

    At the end, we paid to learn our lessons … and discover how not to get suck-in into the world of marketing .. and the best is the most expensive!!!

  • Rubbish Dumper

    Duong … I thank you for your bravely to open up this topic for
    G.A.S. confession .. it is indeed a hot-topic! I was such an idiot
    myself especially in the late 90s … I got myself a full range of Canon
    “L” and Zeiss lens, and later went into Medium Format thinking that the
    sharpest images only come from such gears! It is only when I had spent
    tens of thousands and not really getting what I want to achieve that
    lead me to do a reality check on myself! At the end, I figure out a big
    part of photography is all about our vision, techniques, creativity and
    more importantly … digital darkroom technique that make one’s photos
    look like a Pro.

    Today, I do a lot with less … I don’t even
    have a single “L” or Zeiss Len in my bag … and I always go with
    entry-level gears like the 50 f1.8, 85 f1.8 and the Tamron 17-35 f2.8-4
    and 70-300 f4.5-5.6 VC. When people look at my photos now, they will ask
    … which “L” or Zeiss len you use … it is so f.cking sharp &
    detail and the color is so rich?!!! And I smile … thinking … “they
    will laugh at me if they know what is in my bag”!

    At the end, we paid to learn our lessons … and discover how not to get
    suck-in into the world of marketing .. and the best is not always the most

    • Olivier Duong

      Thank you for your compliments! You remind me of one of the best deals out there, the Sigma 30mm 2.8 and 19mm 2.8. Great stuff but without a name,
      I had the same realization too, gear is only one part of the equation, not the equation itself.

    • Nick Gleitzman

      Brilliant. The singular of ‘lens’ is not ‘len’. One lens, two lenses.

  • jn

    I feel sometimes I have to have the latest camera fortunately I resist simply because of lack of money. Looking at these new Pens and GR, I think Ricoh will make it to my garage anyway….
    PS. A note to myself: stop reading DPR and you’ll ve OK…..

  • bawboh

    So, I don’t have it as bad with cameras (I have 2 DSLRs, one as a back-up, and have taken thousands of shots with each, and I actually use all the gear I’ve bought on a regular, almost daily, basis – tripod, lights, and bag). My issue is with smartphones. I’m currently on a Lumia 920 after owning an HTC One X for a few months, to which I’d upgraded from a Galaxy Nexus that I owned for a few months, etc,etc. Tablets are a problem for me as well. I now realize this, and will make better purchasing decisions in the future (especially when the Lumia 1020 releases). Thanks for this article! It’s opened my to my own problem…

    • Olivier Duong

      You are welcome… that you’ve opened the can I had quite the number of tablets myself! Guess I was more messed up than I believed!

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  • Luc Dewaele

    Extremely interesting words! I’ll use your testiominial to convince some of my students…

    As a professional I’m a fuji x100s user and happy to be one… (although clients demand at least the use of a Nikon D800…)

    • Olivier Duong

      Thanks and thanks for the honor! That’s my fear, that some clients start requiring a DSLR from me :(

  • Nic Franco

    Sorry but i have to say i know this G.A.S Syndrom very well. Happy to be not alone :)

  • Anthony Papagallo

    lovely honest article. Thank you. I bought a D2Xs in 2006, after sticking with film up to that point and Im still using it half a million actuations later.
    As for Lens’ I have a couple of ‘Antiques’ to my name, a 1999 purchased 28-70 F2.8 Nikon (the one that Ken Rockwell really rates) and a 1985 80-200 F2.8 ….and thats it !
    that set up and a rack of old Bowens paid my mortgage, put my daughter through private school and bought me a nice American SUV.
    When the D2Xs dies I will pick up a secondhand D3X and run that to death, the Len’s will work til they die or me which ever comes first.

    • Olivier Duong

      That kind of attachment to gear is one of the things I do to fight gear, thanks for sharing!

  • NancyP

    My name is Nancy, and I am a GAS addict. On the other hand, I do have a rule that I need to learn how to use each item as I go, which works fine for items such as lenses. Where I fall down on the job is on software. I buy software, often very inexpensive because I get an academic discount, and it takes me forever to learn, because I have OTHER software that I am learning at the time. LR 4 is my main program, but I am stumbling my way through a new pano program (the free one crashed often), a new astro program (the free one crashed often when given stars, it was really designed for moon and planetary image alignment and processing), eyeballing the nearly virgin Photoshop CS6 (hard copy, not CC), not even eyeballing the extra Nik programs given to purchasers of a single Nik program (Nik HDR Pro, which I do know how to use). I do need to stretch the capacities of Sigma Photo Pro RAW conversion and processing program for their Foveon sensors (my always with me camera is a DP2 Merrill). The Software Acquisition Syndrome and related Book Acquisition Syndrome take some of the edge off the G.A.S..

    • Olivier Duong

      That’s for the 3rd article, for tomorrow =) I know what you mean!

  • NancyP

    G.A.S. is not universal in all sufferers. My cell phones get updated when they die (have had exactly 3 since the dawn of cell phones). My cars get updated when the parts get too dam’ hard to find or when they threaten to need repair costing more than their value – my current car is age 16 years, previous car was age 19.5 years, and these were ordinary cars. I am not a pro, so I don’t really NEED to have more than one camera in use at one time, but I do have 3 mid-level digital cameras (Canon 60D and 6D; Sigma DP2M), in addition to my retired film SLR and a bunch of lenses.

  • Pierre

    Merci Olivier. J’ai hâte de voir la suite.

    • Olivier Duong

      Merci a toi, la suite est prete!

  • Zos Xavius

    You can never have too many lenses or cameras! Yes I know, I’m totally hopeless! LBA is a disease. :)

  • Olivier Duong

    Didn’t want to repeat myself so, thanks guys for sharing your camera list! I understand you and thank you for sharing!

  • Arnold Newman

    Interesting post and discussion. I love buying lots of gear but the big difference is that I do use it. From my perspective, your point that all gear is somehow a compromise is the key. For example, sometimes low light capabilities trump weight considerations; other times they do not. Buying different cameras for different uses is a reasonable way to deal with this dilemma (assuming your budget accommodates it) and perhaps a better solution than buying a single camera that compromises on both aspects.

    • irisman

      You have to know what your actual needs are, and they are probably different from the next guy’s. You can spend a lot of money and still not get something that will suit your needs any better than something more moderately priced.

    • Peter Böhi

      The key message is: “do use it” – if you have stuff you don’t use, part with it. I went through a brief GAS period when I thought I needed every lens remotely useful for me, in the meantime, I have sold every lens and body that has been sitting idle on my shelf. I even refrained from buying the next upgrade to my camera because I still get satisfying results from my old ones (Nikon D3x and D3s), instead I focus on the artistic part of photography, buy books and attend courses. I find myself to use only a few lenses that I feel comfortable with. As a rule of thumb, start out with a basic setup and get familiar with it first. Wait until you run into limitations of your photography, before you start to fill the gaps in your camera bag.


    Thanks to GAS I was recently able to buy a Mamiya 645AFD II with a Leaf digiback and a whole bunch of lenses (with only a few hundreds of clicks) for very little money! I rarely buy a new camera or lens, I just wait for a gas-victim to sell some of his gear!!!!!! Thank you lord.

    • Olivier Duong

      Made my day =)

  • Etienne Muller

    Great observations. My problem is probably on the other side. I buy quality and expect it to last for ever.

    I finally retired my trusty old 1969 Nikon FTN (still going strong) a couple of years ago for a 5mp Lumix which served until now. Still use the old Nikon Lenses though, which never seem to die.

    I do art repro with 4×5 and have a 44 inch printer, so was waiting for an affordable digital camera to do it justice. The D800 fit the bill, but somehow I don’t think it is going to serve me for another forty years like the old FTN.

    With film a camera could last a lifetime. A strong body and good glass and you were set for life. All the tech in new cameras, and in the new lenses, is going to limit their longevity. Like everything else they have become consumables.

    I do have GAS though. I have what is known as “kayak builders syndrome”: addicted to building kayaks. I currently have nine boats, and one in planning. I can only use one at a time, but I have to have a shed to accommodate those in the rack. I need help!

    I suspect most of us have GAS in one form or another. With my wife it is shoes.

  • Dave

    Mirrors my experience with Headphones, earphones, amps, and DACs… scary.

    • Olivier Duong

      Yeah music folks can have it hard too, I know a dude that dunked more than a grand on a mic. My second question was if he was a singer or pro. Not by a longshot.

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  • genocidal_maniac

    Eh, yeah. Basically, buying something triggers some sort of pleasure center in the brain. You also get to play engineer without actually having to sweat the annoying little details. You get to be the big-picture guy, evaluating different approaches to solving the problem and then choosing the *right* solution. Except you’re paying money.

    To each his own.

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  • John Harvey

    Yeah, I have G.A.S. – However, partly because these manufacturers refuse to make the right camera. M9 in quality, built in EVF, full frame, 18-24mm – interchangeable lens (Basically a full frame XPro1 type of camera) – but none of them do it. Sony will be close so I’ll try to do my best and wait. :)

    • Olivier Duong

      The thing is, even if you have the best cameras, you will always find an excuse to buy more. Your body might be stable but the lenses will start looking reeeeal good…

  • irisman

    I’m an optical engineer, so I have a pretty good idea of what a camera and lens can do. Modern digital cameras have tremendous capability, but you have to know the craft of photography to get the most out of them. It’s also worth the time and effort to to become fluent in Photoshop. The camera companies and photo mag writers always try to convince people that they need a Nikon D 800 and an assortment of $3000 fixed focal length lenses to make good pictures, but that’s not true. We should remember that the great masters like Ansel Adams used primitive equipment by today’s standards.

  • G.

    Hi Olivier. I liked very much your article and I must say that unfortunately I am more or less still in the same position (addicted). But I know what you meant by “How did you remediated” – it is only God that can take us out of this misery. And this is valid for any other addiction as well. Important is that we sincerely recognize this problem and let Him deal with it. Praised be the Lord! And thanks to you for this text!

    • Peter Böhi

      It is not the Lord – if there is one – it is YOU! The first step is to acknowledge the addiction, then change something. Seek help if you cannot deal with it on your own. If praying helps you, so be it…

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  • sniper

    I realized it is NOT the gear but the photographer & his nice moments the day I left EF-S-10-22 at home and gone to Italy with a P&S (alone; no family). 2 months ago I still used the same P&S (that time with my whole family). I didn’t mind taking all those shoots with a P&S. I also didn’t miss 10-22 at all (because I was busy living the delicate moments)
    It is like hunting with bare hands and a knife! Once you do it, you are freed from this GAS (which is pumped with all these consumption madness).

  • Tommaso

    i usually reapeat to myself “life is too short to master all types of photography for which each camera is suitable and that I could buy”

  • Melissa

    I work in the retail consumer electronics business. I can tell you this is very typical behaviour of >50% of our return clients. Its sad, actually. Because they never really are happy with the gear….they will also nit-pick the gear like crazy, for a piece of dust in the VF and I ask “did it show up in the pictures’ and they respond ‘I haven’t taken any yet’… has always puzzled me. Oh, and those with the best gear NEVER have the best pictures. Or no pictures at all…

    Ive worked in the industry for over 15 years, and I am always poked fun at because I don’t own much gear (I can borrow any high-end equipment I need, anytime, so why would I?). I have an old Mamiya 645D with an 80mm that was given to me by a client, and I have a Sony NEX-3 that I won in a contest. And my Iphone 4s. That’s it. And I shoot with all almost everyday. I’m might be leaving the industry soon so may decide to get a Nikon D800 and a 35mm F2.0D (because I don’t need the 1.4 despite how beautiful it is!) and that’s it!

    Reading some of the comments here, I really feel like people are wanting to place blame on manufacturer’s and retailers…..but the truth is, these companies are just people who love gear and tech as much as anyone! When they make a new discovery, they want to see it come to life in a product and for people to fall in love with it as much as they already do. Sure, they are trying to make money as money helps R&D. It is a case of self-reflection. You need to decide what you want and what you need. And TRY FOR YOURSELF. Review and Blog site slaves are often lost and confused.
    Thanks for the article :)

  • Jaedo Tae

    Olivier, Thank you for sharing what I had to hear for a very long time. As only an amateur started digital photography with Leica Digilux 1 coming from Leica minilux, I now like to label myself as LAS (Leica Acquisition Syndrome). However, my situation is a bit different. Instead of hugging the gears, I only bought a new gear after selling my gears one after the other. I repeated the vicious cycle many times a year. I was only a student when this “syndrome” took my soul. I couldn’t stop chatting about gears after gears in forums and blogs in many different sites. I am only to blame I know but the questions like, “so I am looking for a perfect camera, what should I buy?” didn’t help me get over my weakness. I would advise someone to get a certain type of camera or gear, then I would buy them as well in few days. Now I have zero camera but a smartphone with terrible sensor in it. I started looking again, but now I am sincerely afraid of losing the passion of photography all together. Plus my wife will say something as well I am sure. You are dead correct on insecurity. My suggestion is GAS brotherhood. If we can come together like AA meeting and help each other, that would work in my opinion.

  • Zeus

    Good Read! Found myself nodding my head in agreement! Even though I lost my job, i still fight myself trying to justify another purchase of gear. It’s not easy. Like others here, I also have the RX100 and HATED reading about the flip screen on the new RX100 Mark II. It’s what I have been missing on my RX100… We need a support group.

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  • moss1310

    What a sad disorder it is. I am an Enthusiast and suffer daily because of my GAD. The second I see the problem, , I re-justify it again and start planning my next purchase. I love my X-Pro 1, but wouldn’t my creative journey be so much better with a Leica M-E? Better yet, how about an M 240? And though I have already bought and sold a whole range of fixed lens film cameras, quickly feeling limited by them, I can;t stop fantasizing about their digital counterparts? A Ricoh GRD V. No, an X100s. Or perhaps an RX1-R. And won’t a a collection of different sized camera bags make my hobby run much more smoothly? I won’t even mention the film cameras I own in every possible format. Ugh. Thanks for this article. Acknowledgement is the first step towards recovery.


    I am a wedding photographer and have 3 cameras, nine lenses and a couple of off camera stuff. But all that great weighed me down and I have felt that they actually hindered my creativity.

    So….I leave most of them in the car just as a backup, take only two camera- a 5dMkII with Tamron 24-70mm VC and 5D classic 85mm F1.8. ( The 50f1.4, the 24mmf1.4, the 100mm macro and 70-200 zoom stay in the car most of the time) and one 580EXII with battery pack.

    And have i told you ….that I love my 5D classic even more than the 5DmKiI? Its so simple and works just like a camera should with an added benefit of LCD screen.

    Thats it! and my photography actually improved considerably after I left the idea of mentality of prime and bokeh is the answer to becoming a great photographer. I noticed if i relied on just one or two primes, my composition would look too “forced to choke on prime” ….like so many current photographers out there.

    I was forcing myself to use the F1.4 everytime or most of the time and the photos looked so boring after a while. Now I am very happy and content with a competent F2.8 zoom and a 85mm for the portraits.

    The rest will just stay in the car :)

  • ma9ical

    thank you

  • Ernest Aquilio

    This was a wonderful read and hit close to home. I did have GAS at one point too, in my college days. At one point it got so bad I had four tripods…four! Now I have minimized my gear and keep looking for a way to minimize it further without sacrificing client needs. Thanks for writing this and I hope people will heed what you’ve said. Really all you NEED is one camera…one lens :)

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  • Peter

    Hello, my name is Peter and I’m an addict. I suffer from advanced G.A.S. Anyone want to buy some of my stuff to help me? Alone I wont make it! ……… We should create an A.G.A.S.G (Anonymous Gear Acquisition Syndrome Group) and meet once a week, now that we know, we are not alone. Cheers

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  • Daniel

    I have GAS and also TPS – Trophy Photography Syndrome. With TPS you tell yourself you have to go somewhere like a “National Park” before you can do any great photography. That you have to travel to Africa to photograph a lion rather than the cat in your back yard. An eagle in Alaska rather than a crow. And the reason you can’t take any great pictures is no “vacation time” or no travel money. It was Ruth Bernhard who gave me the insight to stay home and photograph what I know and what I care about.

    • Olivier Duong

      Sometimes the best images are right under your nose, I know exactly what you mean tough!

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  • lowela

    Just lucky to read this article, ive used my first generation 5d to every shoot from wedding, fashion event , look books and till now i have no plans of changing it… they say if it aint broken dont fix it.

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  • Gennaro

    This means a Leica M-E will not help me taking better photos? :D

    • Olivier Duong

      Not as much as the Leica M Type 240 will :p

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  • Serhan Oksay

    GAS is good… it motivates you take more photos with the new gear, be experimental.. GAS <3

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  • TrueColours

    Pleasure seeking gives you a thrill but being happy just lasts. My kids make me happy, my photography I enjoy, it’s the framing recording and printing. Don’t really enjoy the digital darkroom. Man all that kit. You should have bought some books then you could have got some pleasure out of looking at the photographs and it introduces to different ideas. Yes definitely limitations make you more creative. The hard bit is not just find something that works and then just not to keep regurgitating it.

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  • Mel Snyder

    You’re not an addict – in my book, you’re not even a social drinker..
    This is about 80% of my collection. The many MF lenses I use on my NEX-6 and A7, and my M4P aren’t here.

    • Olivier Duong

      Me? Choir boy!!!

  • Talia

    Ha! Ha! I totally recognized myself into the PEN acquisition need, lurking at the EP-5 right now. So help me! Is it good enough that I’ll want to stick with it. :-). Truth is I could probably do everything with the Sony RX100 III,so what about this one ;-))

  • Pierre

    Great article ! I’m fairly new to photography, but I already know what GAS is.

    Personally, I don’t think the manufacturers are guilty for anything. They’re creating new stuff, trying to develop markets, and sure, sometimes, you feel like they’re really pushing it hard on you, but in the end, you know they’re just making their job, and you turn a deaf ear to what they say. What photographer still believe in the marketing bullshit ? There are so many websites that test new gear that I’d say none.

    No, the most guilty people are the ones with GAS. Those who always write on forums you can’t take great pics without a FF and a Canon L lens (which will, surprisingly, not be enough anymore when you have acquired it since MF is much sharper, and has a better 3D effect), while they’re not able to take decent pictures themselves. How many people always compare their gear on websites like DPreview, trying to convince others (and themselves) that they’ve made the best choice ? Sometimes, you wonder if photography, to them, is about taking photos, and not just having the best gear and defending it on the web. How much time to they spare for “real” photography ? If more than one or two hours a week, I’d be surprised.

    Also, there are those websites, where a guy who is just not that good at photography, but good enough to be paid for weddings (yeah, there’s one website like this), explains that if you want to have pro results, you have to have pro gear, i.e. D810 + lenses that dwarf the price of the camera. I remember when I spent a thousand and some hundreds bucks on my camera and lenses, I was feeling a bit unhappy for compromising, and feeling like, well, I would have to keep it amateur because I couldn’t spend more. Standing back now, I just feel like slapping myself in the face ! I feel like saying to myself: “You’ve spent more than a thousand bucks in a camera plus two lenses, how can you not be happy with what you have now ?!! Who can spend that amount of money in those days ? Sure it is not “the best of all time”, but hey, it’s good, and more important, it’s at your disposal to take pics, and maybe some “amazing” pics. How can you feel unhappy about it ? Just go out and take pics !”

    Now, I’m not a great photographer, I must admit. However, with some experience, I tend to give less attention to those who push GAS on others, because they feel insecure with what they have. I can differentiate, now, a great photo from a “meh” photo, and I know that most of the people who spend so much time criticizing gear are not that great in what they should do, i.e. taking great pics (by the way, great bokeh doesn’t always mean great pic). Also, it helped me living with a true pro photographer, being paid for shootings by magazines, who was still using some 2007 camera with a simple 70-200 f4 all the time, and loved using my tiny mirrorless camera when his camera finally died. I’ll always remember his advice “You have a great camera, more than enough to take great pictures, so now, all you need to do is to go out, take pictures, and make sure you always have your camera with you wherever you go”. Well, enough said I guess, but I really feel like all major sites dealing with photography should have an article like yours about GAS. It’s really instructive, and I feel like it could make photography more enjoyable for loads of photographers who start photography being anxious about the gear they’ve bought, and not being happy about being able to take pics (even though they may have some limitations).