I often think that photographers are a lot like drummers, at least when it comes to Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS). You never replace your equipment, you merely add to it. A new lens here, another camera body there, filters, tripods, light stands oh my! It’s all getting a bit out of hand. And with the rising cost of living and higher inflation, most of us have less disposable income for wasting I mean carefully purchasing new camera equipment.
In this video, landscape photographer Mads Peter Iversen goes against the grain and tells us the things he thinks that we shouldn’t be wasting our money on. It’s so tempting to rush out and buy that newer gazillion megapixel camera thinking that with it our photographs will shine brighter, but sadly as well all know, that is seldom the case.
So which things can we do without and which things are actually worth investing in? Here are the top 3 things that you can save money on, according to Mads.
1. A big heavy tripod
Mads says that it is not worth spending vast amounts of money on a massive heavy tripod for most landscape photography. Of course, if you’re a studio photographer or you shoot lots of videos you most likely do want to invest in a sturdy tripod, but for most landscape photographers it’s simply not necessary and you’ll quickly get fed up with lugging it about. For anything where you’re going to have to carry all your gear and hike anywhere you’re better off investing in a small lightweight but quality tripod.
2. Camera and lenses
This one is fairly controversial! Mads poses the question: Do you actually need the biggest, baddest, most expensive camera on the market or can you compromise? Do you need 45 megapixels for your work output? Do you need full-frame or is it just a luxury? These are all questions that are worth asking yourself, and yes, I really do prefer shooting full-frame to APS-C. But, I must admit that it’s not always necessary, and I used to take plenty of great images on my older cropped frame sensor cameras.
Mads also suggests buying older versions of great cameras to save money. For example, I wanted to upgrade to a mirrorless camera but couldn’t really justify dropping $5000 on the Canon EOS R5. Sure, I would have loved it, but for what I need the Canon EOS R was more than enough of an upgrade. Right there I saved $3500 and I’m plenty happy with it. Similarly, buying used equipment can be a great way to save money as well. Spend the money instead on taking a course or workshop and improve your photography that way.
These days you don’t need graduated density filters because Lightroom and other editing software are so powerful and can do the job better, especially if you shoot multiple exposures. Similarly, variable neutral density filters are not worth the money because even the expensive ones are prone to cross vignetting. You’re better off getting one set of good neutral density filters in the largest size possible and getting a series of step down rings to fit all of your lenses.
UV filters are pretty much useless these days, modern cameras just don’t need them and they don’t protect lenses well at all. In fact, just skip them altogether and use your lens hoods if you’re worried about damaging your lenses.
The other things that Mads mentions are also worth considering, such as Lightroom presets (not necessary), shooting locally as opposed to flying around the world to exotic locations (also better for your carbon footprint), and generally adopting a growth mindset approach to your photography instead of a gear acquisition mindset.
Easier said than done. As a fellow sufferer of GAS, I know the struggle is real. How do you save money on photography?
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