c. 1950 Nash Ambassador. Old U.S. Highway 27, Chattooga
County, GA. Jpeg from Fuji X-Pro1, 27mm f2.8 lens. I like the
way the X-Pro handles this very contrasty scene.
Many photographers would consider me underequipped. That's because my approach to photography is not equipment-centric.
What about you? Is your primary interest photography or photographic equipment?
For many of us, it's both. Owning and using fine, precision equipment can be very pleasurable in itself, and of course there are certain kinds of photography, such as action and sports that are difficult to do well without specialized equipment.
But if photography itself is our primary interest, most of us could get by with very little equipment. In the 1930s through the '60s, photographers such as Fritz Henle traveled the world with nothing but a twin-lens reflex. Their pictures can certainly hold their own in comparison to the work being done today. Edward Weston did most of his work with an 8x10 view camera and one lens, although he also used a 4x5 Graphlex single-lens reflex (we would consider it almost unusably primitive) for portraits. Henri Cartier-Bresson and Elliott Erwitt were Leica photographers who mostly used 50mm lenses, and travel photographer Gerald Brimacombe did great work with a pair of early digital cameras with built-in zoom lenses. The last time we corresponded he told me that he now carries one Nikon D610 and a 24-120mm zoom lens when he travels. Nothing else. Like those named above, he has adapted his vision to fit the equipment he uses.
I will confess that for most of my career I had Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS). However, being frugal (okay a cheapskate), I mostly indulged my addiction by buying, using, and selling second-hand equipment. It was fun, and didn't break the bank. Also, I learned a lot about how to buy good used equipment. In fact, everything I now use in my work was acquired second-hand and serves me well.
All the photographs in my just-concluded series of posts about our tour of the wild, wild west in 2018 were made with just three cameras and three lenses -- the Fuji X-Pro1, X-T1, and X-T20 bodies and the 27mm f2.8, 16-50 f3.5-5.6, and 50-230 f4.8-6.3 lenses. All were bought used through on-line fora. The workhorse was the X-T20.
However, I did run into one problem, because each camera has slightly different menus. I wrote about that here. I solved that problem earlier this year by buying a Fuji X-H1. Again, used, and again, through an online forum. I find the X-H1 to be just about the perfect camera for me. I'll also hang on to the X-Pro1 because the menu is relatively simple and the files have a special character that I love. The X-T1 and the X-T20, both lovely cameras, are now for sale.
With two bodies and three lenses I have what I need. I don't need anything else. And don't despise my cheap lenses. They aren't as well built, perhaps, as their more expensive brethren, but they don't give much away in terms of sharpness, as I wrote here and here, and they will probably outlast me. Also, they give me a great range -- 24mm to 345mm in full-frame equivalents.
So am I underequipped? I don't think so. I love cameras, but when I have the equipment I need to do the work I want to do, I'm more interested in what I can do with it than in the equipment itself. And I no longer have GAS.
Of course, there are a few things it would be nice to have. . .maybe the 60mm macro lens,
or the 56mm f1.2. . .
Blog Note: I post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at alifeinphotography.blogspot.com. I'm trying to build up my readership, so if you're reading this on Facebook and like what I write, would you please consider sharing my posts?
(Photographs copyright David B. Jenkins 2020)
Soli Gloria Deo
To the glory of God alone