My thoughts on photography gear – how much photography gear is too much?

I was drafting out a post about a recent foreign trip. Not a photography trip.

A holiday.

Sure, I took my camera, and my Peak Design Everyday Backpack, which by the way is also my hand luggage/ day bag. 

I only took two lenses. No tripod. Just my Platypod.  

I barely filled half my bag. 

And did I miss all that other lovely photography gear? 

No. Of course not. And this made me think (Oh no is the cry!).

I only used the one lens as it happened, and spent more time looking around and not so much time taking photographs, which was nice. 

I hear so much technical talk about gear on the photography podcasts I listen to, and the photography publications seem to be full of reviews of this and that gear, which I rarely if ever read. 

I have a cupboard full of photography equipment, lots of which I never use. I have my go to gear which I use all the time, plus a few lenses and other funky accessories that I have picked up along the way.

I also have some unusual gear such as my painters’ poles – yes, I have two of them – with an adaptor so I can stick my Canon 6D (less than £1000 now on Amazon!) 5m above the ground if I want to.

I guess the point I am trying to make is this. This is how I look at photography gear.

Will a new piece of gear help me to take better photographs? If so then great. If not, I don’t buy it.

Sure, I still make the odd impulse purchase, and buy things that did not work as I had hoped they would, but in the main gear is not top of my list.

Not anymore. And yes, it was once. I seemed to be forever buying new bits of this and that.

Now I happily use what I have, which is principally

Canon 6D (Mark 1 – not the new one)

Canon 17-40, 24-105, 70-200 and 24mm tilt shift lenses.

Manfrotto tripods and geared tripod head.

Platypods (I have two of these now which I use regularly).

Lastolite grey colour calibrator.

Pec Pads and Eclipse lens cleaning solution.

Spudz lens cloths.

My red North Face hats.

And that is my main gear, which goes in my Peak Design Every Day Backpack.

When I go on a commercial shoot I take everything else I have with me just in case, in three bags and a toolbox. A spare Canon 5D, spare tripod, tripods, stands, flash, more cleaning gear, various tools to fix anything else.

Spare everything basically.

And various clamps, brackets and arms.

See - I do have all the paraphernalia, but it is a happy day I have to say when all I use is my backpack and a tripod.

And there is of course my iPhone and iPad which always go with me.

So back to the question.

How much photography gear is too much?

In my humble opinion it is too much

  • When the gear takes priority over taking photographs.
  • When the gear is a distraction.
  • When we spend more time on the gear than the photographs.

I have been using the same set up for a few years now, and know my photography gear so well I can assemble, disassemble, adjust, change, adapt in the dark. I do not need to be able to see my camera to know where everything is.

I do have the odd moment of course where I can’t find a button but most of the time it is instinctive.

And when you get to that point the gear is the tool you use to take the photographs. And when the gear is a tool that you use you can then concentrate on, wait for it

  • Taking photographs
  • Seeing what is around you
  • Enjoying yourself
  • Enjoying the environment

I love taking photographs, more so now than ever. In part because I have the freedom to enjoy where I am taking pictures, and do not need to worry about my gear. The scene comes first, and the tools I need to capture the scene are just that.

OK – rant over, but I hope you get the point.

Concentrate on making photographs.  And on enjoying making photographs.

Rick McEvoy Photography