Photographer Shares 9 Pieces of Gear He Wished He’d Never Purchased

Aug 24, 2015

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

Photographer Shares 9 Pieces of Gear He Wished He’d Never Purchased

Aug 24, 2015

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

camera-gear

Many people suffer from gear acquisition syndrome (GAS), regardless of occupation or hobbies.  It’s part of living in the materialistic Western World.  The problem with photographers is, however, that we often feel justified in our purchases because we’re “making money” with our new toys, rather than simply allowing them to collect dust in the garage.

But, how many of you GAS-sufferers actually put to good use every piece of gear you buy? Allen Murabayashi of PhotoShelter wrote a great piece where he fessed up to having made ridiculous purchases that were never put to proper use.

In his nine-item list, Allen included a variety of items, from lighting to lenses to card readers, that were purchased while he had GAS.  Some seem like no-brainers, while others surprised me a bit.

Allen’s list consists of:

  • Strip Boxes – Great if you’re working the studio, but the only times he used them was when he grabbed them by accident.
  • 24mm f/1.4 – The focal length was too wide, and he ended up just going back to his 24-70mm f/2.8.
  • LED Light & Video Support Rig – Never used them as expected, one light still unopened.
  • 50mm lens – The focal length was too tight (getting a little picky there, eh?), so it sits on a shelf.
  • Circular Polarizer – It only works if you remember to bring it.
  • Best Buy Card Reader – Total piece of crap that was purchased in a pinch.
  • 86″ PLM Umbrella – Unbelievably gargantuan and never yielded that promised “wrap” lighting that everyone always talks about.
  • 4×5 Camera – Wasn’t compatible with his available film, so it’s still waiting to be properly used.

But, Allen has learned from his lessons…  “There will be no drones, 4K video, or gimbals in my future,” although he confesses that his GAS has now shifted to audio equipment.

As we’ve said many times on this blog (about as many times as we’ve written the word “drone” in the last six months), more gear doth not a good photographer make.  It’s not about what you have but how you use it.  For me, I’ve never had the financial luxury of being able to suffer from GAS, but I have definitely fallen prey to camera shame as a result (but we’re recovering nicely…).

What about you?

If you could list one, two, or three pieces of gear you have needlessly purchased, what would they be?

[via PhotoShelter | Title image by Scott Symonds]

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

34 responses to “Photographer Shares 9 Pieces of Gear He Wished He’d Never Purchased”

  1. Jason Killian Avatar
    Jason Killian

    Your reason was: “It only works if you remember to bring it”?

    Does most of your equipment work if you leave it home? I forgot a spare battery the other day, but I’m not going to class it as something I wish I’d never bought.

    1. Albin Avatar
      Albin

      CPL is the only filter I know that can’t be replicated in software. The guy may just have bought something for photography he doesn’t do.

      My regret is a Gorillapod, that I carry with but actually use much less than anticipated. On the other hand, I keep the flat mount for it on my pocket camera, which won’t stand up by itself. Not worth the price of the whole pod, however.

      1. Mike Avatar
        Mike

        Yeah, I bought a Gorillapod thinking I would just stick it in my bag and always be ready. While it is light, it is too awkward and takes up too much space. And when I am planning stuff out, I usually know if I am going to need a real tripod.

        The only time I ever use it is when I use it on top of my car. Works pretty good for that, actually. Especially when I am doing a timelapse at night so I don’t have to worry about accidentally kicking it over or bumping it.

    2. mike Avatar
      mike

      Yeah, I don’t understand this at all. It isn’t the equipment’s fault if the photographer forgets to bring equipment.

      Buys a camera incompatible with the film he has? What is this the camera’s fault?

      What is the point of this article? Don’t buy stuff if you are not sure if you are going to use it?

  2. stewart norton Avatar
    stewart norton

    For me it’s –

    Set of ND filters used once.

    50mm prime, only use mounted on extention tubes for macro stuff..used about twice.

    Afore mentioned extention tubes.

    A d3100 as a small walkabout camera, lack of functionality drove me mad went back to d300.

    Although saying that I would never get rid of any of it!

  3. Jim Johnson Avatar
    Jim Johnson

    Usually, over purchasing equipment is done by people who don’t do enough shooting. If you shoot all the time, you quickly realize how current your equipment serves you and what its limitations are. GAS comes from speculation on what your future shooting MIGHT be.

    Equipment is only as good as your need for it. You should need it BEFORE you buy it.

    1. Black Chili Avatar
      Black Chili

      Totally agree. I have also some stuff that I speculated that it would be good but not used enough in reality. For example the ND filter set (works well but used 3 times). And also I was needed a bright wide lens for wedding photography (mostly for the party-time, taking pics between dancers from close) and found the Sigma 24mm 1.4 Art and it’s now definitely my favourite lens for that with fantastic results. :)
      I also don’t use my 50mm lens from that time when bought the 85mm for portraits…

    2. mike Avatar
      mike

      Certainly is this for astrophotography equipment for me. There is a good 3-4 months of the year where I can hardly do any shooting, and that is usually the time I buy a bunch of new equipment.

      In my head I say I will get the new equipment in the winter, test it all out, and be ready to go when the weather gets nice. Instead, I spend a bunch of time every spring sorting out new gear instead of shooting.

      I do manage to get really nice images in August, though. :)

  4. Janno Jahisoo Avatar
    Janno Jahisoo

    You know its gonna be a solid advice when you see the 50mm on that list.

    1. Josofa Harris Avatar
      Josofa Harris

      Sarcasm I hope…

  5. Frans Fourie Avatar
    Frans Fourie

    What a lameass.. I love and use many of these things… The 24 70 is a great very sharp lens any day as sharp as a prime on high apertures… But the 24 1.4 makes amaaazing pbotos in itself. I realize that this is my opinion but this list is also opinionated.

  6. Bob Vest Avatar
    Bob Vest

    9? I’d say he’s doing pretty good with that few.

  7. Jasmijn Decuyper Avatar
    Jasmijn Decuyper

    I can only think of a crappy ND filter I once got. Other than that every single thing in my bag has been used at least regularly.. Just think before you buy, most of these wrong purchases could have been avoided…

  8. Austin Marti Avatar
    Austin Marti

    annnd unfollow/unlike.

  9. Eric Schleicher Avatar
    Eric Schleicher

    Confusing that a 70-200 is in the pic, but not the list.

  10. Josofa Harris Avatar
    Josofa Harris

    The pic has little to do with the article other than it being gear, or did I miss something.

  11. Colton Wilie Avatar
    Colton Wilie

    I mean if you dont bring it then it doesn’t mean it sucks it just means your lazy.

  12. CRM Avatar
    CRM

    So it’s his list? What doesn’t work for one person might work for another. I use my 50mm lens constantly.

    1. TheBoatDude Avatar
      TheBoatDude

      Yes, but remember, his 24mm was “too wide” so I guess the optimum focal length would be…lessee, uh…50 – 24 = 26. Divide 2 is 13. Add that to 24 and…BANG! Yes, the optimum focal length for this guy is 37mm.

  13. echomrg Avatar
    echomrg

    “but the only times he used them was when he grabbed them by accident.”

    so he actually used them when he did bring them along, even if by error, they aren’t so useless…

  14. Laurent Roy Avatar
    Laurent Roy

    Well, the 24mm f/1.4 could be used for wide angle AND small DOF… :-)

  15. Leandro Avatar
    Leandro

    Do you even read what are you posting? this is so inaccurate/helpless/amateur. I’ve lost total interest in this blog guys. This happens when you loose focus and passion for what you do. Sorry. Leandro

  16. Rob Julien Avatar
    Rob Julien

    The root of your problem: “…if I remember to bring it”!!! Really. Dig head out of A@s and get your act together. I bring all my gear everywhere. I bought stuff for a reason. To USE IT!!!

  17. Stereo Reverb Avatar
    Stereo Reverb

    The strips are one of the most important things i bring on every shoot- they provide hair/kicker/rim/flare light as well as a nice fill light for shadows on the subject’s face. That extra bit of light illuminating a subject is what makes a “just ok” photo into something incredible. (Although looking at Allen Murabayashi’s port, he does very little portrait photography, with the entire majority being landscape and street photography, so in his defense, yes for him, strips were not what he should have purchased)

  18. Jaime Avatar
    Jaime

    Mmmkay. I use my 50mm lens more than anything.

  19. Steve Duffey Avatar
    Steve Duffey

    I like David DuChemin’s tag line in his YouTube videos, “Gear is good, but vision is better.”

    1. mike Avatar
      mike

      However, gear is useful. The people that go on about “ohh, I don’t need all that fancy gear to get great results” usually have a 5DmIII. Sure.

  20. Ronny Tertnes Avatar
    Ronny Tertnes

    This clarely is NOT a photographer… ;) regret getting a CPL? I gust got a 24mm f/1.4 and it totally rocks… to mention just a few…

  21. Gerhard Emil Schjelderup Avatar
    Gerhard Emil Schjelderup

    I saw the original post on petapixel, and it featured his 24mm Nikon Lens. How come this version is illustrated with Canon gear?????

  22. Mike Avatar
    Mike

    I have stuff I don’t use as often as I expected, and things that work but weren’t quite worth the price I paid.

    My only real regret is the pinwide. That plastic piece of garbage performs worse than a lens cap with a hole drilled in it. “Artistic pinhole photography” my butt. I should have got a Holga lens instead. Still worthless but at least it is a real lens.

  23. Josofa Harris Avatar
    Josofa Harris

    Interesting how it turned into 9 items here, and 8 items with proper photos on the Petapixel article, yet I still count only 8 items listed in both.

  24. TheBoatDude Avatar
    TheBoatDude

    This is rather subjective, no? I mean, a lot of folks like the 50mm and can find use for a large format (which is what the 4 x 5 is…not sure why he didn’t refer to it as such). It just depends on the person.

    Now, do I suffer from GAS? Yes and no. I’m a hobbyist of varying degree of skill, hence I have no set frequency of gear usage to determine whether something was “worth it.” Do I have more cameras than hands? Yes – but I shoot all of them. Not all of the time, but I rotate through them. Any regrets on stuff I bought? I probably could have passed on a polarizing filter I bought for my rangefinder (hard to adjust that properly, when you do not have TTL focusing). Maybe the money I spent on a speedlight could have been better spent as I’ve done most of my shooting in the daylight, but even then I figure sooner or later I’ll need it, and there it will be. Besides, while certain items can be rented, how is one expected to experiment and see what works without buying a few items on spec?

  25. mrz80 Avatar
    mrz80

    “…shifted to audio equipment.”
    Just remember “big blue wattmeters” and you’ll do just fine. :)