Gear Acquisition Syndrome, or GAS* is an issue that many photographers have struggled with at some point. My troubles began in May 2011. After deliberating for many months on what camera to purchase, I finally bought a Canon 400D with an 18-55mm lens from eBay.
To anyone starting out in the world of photography, those suffering with GAS think only of buying better camera bodies and new lenses with the view that these items will improve the ‘quality’ of the photo. Using the 400D, I remember feeling I was being limited by its ISO capabilities and lack of resolution. Of course, all cameras have their limitations but the real issue was more my lack of knowledge about composition and light.
I continue to hear the professionals say it’s not about the gear. Their advise is usually to invest in learning and to undertake photo projects, but when starting out without any experience it is hard to believe the clichéd mantra that it is the photographer rather than the camera which takes a good photo.
So after buying the Canon 60D, Canon 5D Mark II plus multiple lenses and flashes, I now realise that while a full-frame does have its advantages – shallower depth of field, improved ISO performance, and more content in the frame (compared to crop sensors) – it is what you do with it that counts.
So my advice (reiterating most photographers) is to buy whatever camera you can afford and invest in good lenses. Starting out, buy a 50mm 1.8 and you’ll be able to have a shallow depth of field (if required) and use your feet to zoom, plus these lenses are usually sharp.
Learn to cope with the limitations of a fixed focal length lens (not a zoom) and also learn to understand the cause and effect of shutter speed, aperture and ISO on exposure. Being able to assess exposure is a continuous learning curve. I for one am just another amateur on that progressive journey.
* The consistent need to purchase more gear, sometimes with the assumption that the gear alone will make you a better photographer.