I admit it:  I own quite a lot of camera gear.  Currently four camera bodies, well over a dozen lenses, a whole selection of tripods and heads, and camera bags filling an entire closet just by themselves.  It’s not that I’ve got Gear Acquisition Syndrome…I certainly don’t purchase lenses and cameras just because new lenses and cameras become available.  I would rather put the money into travel and time in the field.

I don’t haul around all my gear, which is a problem I’ve seen with some photographers attending workshops and tours.  They have so much stuff with them that they spend more time deciding what to use than time actually spent taking photos.

Even though I like camera gear I’m not emotionally attached to it.  I don’t keep stuff I don’t use.  And I don’t believe the rational that “well, I might use this sometime so I had better keep it.”  If I can’t rationally justify actual usage of the equipment, then it’s gone.

So why do I have so much stuff?  (Off topic comment:  anyone else remember the George Carlin “Stuff” routine?)  As a professional photographer I shoot all sorts of nature subjects, from mountains to mosquitoes.  Subject matter dictates camera and lens choices.  A few months ago I was is southern California for the “superbloom.”  As I write this I have about a week before I leave for the Pantanal in Brazil, which will be basically a long lens critter session.  I drove to California, so I could load my truck with whatever gear I though I might need.  Getting to the Pantanal entails three long flights and two all-too-lengthy airport layovers for a total of 30 hours nonstop travel time from my house.  I had five lenses with me in California, and will be hauling four lenses to Brazil.  But the only significant bit of equipment common to both shoots:  a D850 body.  I will add the battery pack — not needed for California flowers — in order to increase the frame rate for bird and mammal action in the Pantanal.  I’ll even have a different tripod and head, and a different camera pack, rather than what I used in California.  Horses for courses, as the saying goes.

I wouldn’t expect an auto mechanic to have only one wrench, or a surgeon to have only one scalpel.  Cameras and lenses (and tripods and tripod heads and filters and all the other things) are just tools.  You pick the right tool for the right job and for the right results.

Notice the last three words as they are the important ones:  the right results.  If you are satisfied with what you get from your cell phone camera, then by all means use your cell phone.  If you’re pleased with images from your 28-400mm lens, then go right ahead.  If you like what you get from your M4/3 or other format, great.

While I want to remain competitive in the professional market, most of all I want to please myself.  I’m happy with my gear, and happy with the results.


  1. ANTONIO BIGGIO July 8, 2019 at 1:31 pm #

    “You pick the right tool for the right job and for the right results”
    When the GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) take me, the question is: is for my heart or for my head? :-).

  2. Lizz Bartlett July 11, 2019 at 8:15 am #

    I have always loved that Carlin routine! Your house is just a place to keep your stuff and when you get more stuff, you need a bigger house.

  3. Patrick McMillan July 11, 2019 at 6:00 pm #

    This post makes me wonder who else might be using this. Canon 500D coupled with Nikon 200-500 via step-down ring. This combo yields ~.45x at 200mm when mounted on my Nikon D500. VR and AF make it hand- holdable to about 1/250 second (1/150 on a good day) with non-intrusive working distance but it gets heavy quickly at least at my age. Spray and pray for critical focus on small mobile critters, tripod when it makes sense. I had purchased the ring to mount a polarizer but a couple of weeks ago I decided to document the invertebrates (42 species so far) inhabiting our milkweed patch we cultivate for Monarchs and found that the 500D combo works quite well.