10.11.2013

Every now and then old gear MUST get cleaned out to make room in my brain.


I know, I know, you are a genius and able to compartmentalize everything in your life so that no sub-routine in your brain intrudes on any other. I'm not wired that way. There's a part of my brain that keeps track of where every piece of gear I own is right at this moment, what state the batteries are probably in, how long it's been since I shot with said gear and approximately how much money I've made (or lost) shooting with each camera and lens. It's a blessing and a curse. More of a curse if someone moves one of the cameras or lens to a different place. But the biggest problem with gear that spans technological generations is that each piece in some way or another anchors my brain into a magnetic logic that keeps me from thinking totally in a new way.  I can remember almost every minute of shooting with the Kodak DCS 760 in the image above. I did some remarkably fun print campaigns with that camera and several campaigns we did made use of the images for large display graphics. Big lifestyle shots that were used as large as five feet on the long side.

But as long as those older pieces of gear remain in inventory there's a mischievous part of my psyche that wants to pull the stuff out and do jobs with it just to prove how good we were and how much we were able to squeeze out of these cameras. The problem for me is that in some instances the tools start to mould the way I would shoot a job. I self limit. And just having these objects in the space seems to fence me in creatively. I keep reaching back to the way we used to style something or the way we used to solve a problem.

I hit a tipping point this morning and I started going through the drawers and pulling stuff out. Digital Photography machines I hadn't used in years (in one or two cases, literally a decade...) and I started matching up batteries, chargers, lenses, owner's manuals and accessories. A partial list of stuff that left my orbit today includes: The Kodak DCS 760, the Kodak DCS SLR/n, a Nikon 900, Nikon 950 and a Nikon 990. I got rid of two Sony APS-C cameras today, the a58 and the a57. I got rid of a stack of dedicated APS-C cropped coverage lenses from Sony, Tamron and Sigma. All of the Sony Nex (four bodies and ten lenses) equipment is gone. All that remains  of the Hasselblad equipment is a 150mm Sonnar that I use with an adapter on the full frame Sonys. Gone are all the assorted battery powered flashes that no longer fit any of the cameras I owned. Gone are the first and second generations of LED lights. A Nikon 200 body I forgot I had and several older, less productive lenses that I had squirreled away for it. It wasn't a Spring cleaning, it was a purge. A palace insurrection.

What have I ended up keeping in the studio? What's my plan and what am I using? Might as well go over that as well.

I have two Sony a99's and one Sony a850. I have some groovy, full frame competent lenses from Sony and Sigma for those cameras. I have a Pentax K-01 for pointy shooty art stuff. And I have a loaner case of Samsung stuff that doesn't really count because I'll probably have to give most of it back when I'm finished doing my evaluation and tests.

That's as light as I've been on cameras since.....well, since I started shooting twenty five or so years ago.

What am I planning to add? Well, of course there is the second Pentax K-01 that's coming tues. but that hardly counts because it's cheap and silly and fun. And they are as much art as they are tools.

The one addition I did make today was to buy a Panasonic GH3 and a 25mm Leica lens to go with it. I bought it for video projects. My friend, Frank, bought one and used it to shoot some video projects and the imaging is  much better than what I've seen from the Sony a99 and the Canon 5D3 (unhooked) that I felt like I was buying a video production camera and not another still camera. That and the fact that we've still got a drawer filled with juicy Pen F lenses and adapters standing by.

Well. There it is. A giant purge. A feeling of freedom and fewer subroutines running in my head.  Staying current is good. Collecting depreciating stuff with decaying batteries and slowly deteriorating capacitors and oxidizing circuit boards is so last century...


19 comments:

Bill Beebe said...

Actually, the slowly oxidizing circuit boards are so this century. By going leadless in the solder, the circuits are tending to develop tin whiskers that lead to shorts.

David Herman said...

Kirk
As I gazed into my crystal ball today, I thought I saw an OMD EM-1 in your future...
At least maybe a trial loaner ?

Dave Jenkins said...

So you sold the Sony Nexes. Well, well!

Markus Johnson said...

a) Well done!
b) What? I mean...huh? You mean no more 501C/M? Or F4? Wow...that must be cathartic. Ballsy.
c) Hmmm, now there's room for that new K-3. Nah. But the lenses will also fit my pointy shooty. Nah, let's enjoy this cathartic moment. But it is so unique and fits the hand so well, and ya know Pentax makes some great lenses, old and new. I shouldn't. But I will still have less gear than we've had in decades. ;)

Joe Gilbert said...

If only Domke made camera gear... Timeless creative comfort.

Carlo Santin said...

Wow you don't spend much time with your gear do you? I tend to spend a long time with my cameras before I move on. It takes me at least a year before I start to feel really comfortable with a camera or lens. I tend to keep my cars a long time too, and I tend to get emotionally attached to stuff that I really shouldn't.

Andrew Lamb said...

Wow. It only seems like five minutes ago that you bought the A58. That's quite a purge.

Claire said...

OMG ! Gone all APS-C (Alpha and NEX) Sony ?!? You mean bye bye NEX 7 ?! I just can't bring myself to do it. I guess the 7 is to me what the K-01 is to you, just something that gives huge pleasure to hold and shoot. But I'm also parting with all Alpha stuff, hence might sell the LA-EA2 though it did serve me well. I'm just waiting for the 16th to actually see what the A7 looks like and its specs sheet. Then depending on that I'll be considering the new 70D to add to my bag for action stuff, the NEX 7 will stay for portraits...

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I reckon changing your gear is how you keep photography fresh for yourself.

Looking forward to seeing what you can do with the Pentaxes - their lenses are lovely and I'm sure you'll have fun.

Steve said...

GH3 is a really great camera for both stills and video, though quite big and heavy for a micro 4/3. Love mine, and the camera I've used most in the last couple of weeks, with the 25mm lens and 35mm 4/3 macro with adapter. I've got quite a good collection of other micro 4/3 lenses, plus adapters to fit some other lenses. I generally prefer the controls on the Panasonics to those on the Olympus equivalents, such as the E-P3 and E-M5 (both of which I'm fortunate enough to own as well).

Tom Judd said...

So how did you actually get rid of that old stuff? Did somebody actually pay for it, or maybe trade in, or just into the dumpster?

Don Parsons said...

What about your Nikon V1?

Craig Yuill said...

I am not surprised that you did a big purge. I am a bit surprised about two of the items.
1) The Kodak DSLRs, which you have waxed eloquently about having some of the most-amazing color you've seen from digital cameras.
2) The Hasselblads, which were some of the few cameras you said you were truly happy with, and insisted were going to become highly-sought-after collectors items.
I guess, given your plunge into using cameras connected to the Internet, that these relics are baggage you don't really need. I could (should?) probably do a similar purge. Mind you, I was using an old MF Tamron 24mm lens I acquired around 18 years ago with my fairly-new DSLR, and I very much like the photos I shot with it last weekend. Looking at the local craigslist Photo/Video equipment page indicates it can take a while to unload gear. I don't know if anyone wants to weigh in on this, but when getting rid of old gear is consignment a better option than trying direct sales? Trading in? Perhaps donation?

Pat said...

No more 501??? I believe you've gone mad.

Corwin Black said...

Damn, I would love to have that Kodak equipment. :) Shame USA is a bit.. distant in my case.

Otherwise I understand that, cameras even old and lying around are quite tempting. Easy to become sorta camera hoarder..

arg said...

The connection to brain space is dead right!

I see a bit of a move to m43 by our gracious host, and very sensibly so, quite consistent with your recent posts on the being practical about the direction of photography.

Anton Wilhelm Stolzing said...

Didn't you want to concentrate on picturemaking instead of gear considerations? The "purge" is also about stuff! :-D

Anonymous said...

Kirk what do you think of the new A7 FF cameras from Sony?

Dave Wyman said...

I would never give up my NEX 7 - unless an NEX 7N or 8 comes along.

I like to hike and bike and so far I haven't seen a camera I like more for those activities than the NEX.