When I Buy A New Camera I Feel…

As you know, I used to have more cameras than items of clothing, and a significant factor in reaching that point was how buying a new camera made me feel.

After months without even looking at eBay, in the last six weeks or so I seem to have bought five new cameras.

So that I’m better prepared when that camera lust strikes once more, here are the prevalent feelings that drive me to buy, along with additional thoughts that have come from the wisdom of not wanting to be an serial victim of decision fatigue.

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When I buy a new camera I feel… Excited, at the possibility that this camera will finally be the perfect one and with virtually no faffing on my part will create masterful images.

The downside… I want and enjoy having a conscious creative input into the images any camera makes. This comes from shooting enough photographs to know what you want, then choosing one or two cameras you can can set up just how you want them to reach this end.

When I buy a new camera I feel… Curious, about what the previous owners have made with it (I’ve only bought one brand new camera in my life), what the camera’s eye has already seen, and how my images will compare.

The downside… While this is an interesting story to ponder, you don’t need to buy a camera to wonder what its past might have been. You can browse in an antique shop or charity shop or online and do the same. It’s not a great reason to keep buying old cameras.

When I buy a new camera I feel… Victorious, if I’ve won it on eBay, that my auction experience has enabled me to snatch a bargain from under someone else’s nose.

The downside… However much of a bargain it was, it’s still a spend I didn’t need to make, for a camera I don’t need to own. It’s like those sale ads that claim because the item is now £200 not £250, they are doing you a favour and saving you £50. Guess what, if you don’t buy it all, you save £200!

When I buy a new camera I feel… Remorseful that once again I’ve succumbed to the addiction, the same root habit that used to make me swipe to refresh my email/Instagram/WordPress every two minutes just in case something incredibly exciting and unmissable has just arrived.

The downside… As with the chacking (checking and chasing) habit for social media, once we build up our resistance and only check these things a couple of times a day (or ditch them completely), we wonder why we needed to do it so much before. With camera buying it’s even easier because there’s no need to keep chacking on eBay. Just don’t use it – remove the temptation entirely from your radar. This has worked for me for months at a time in the past. I just need to stay away for the ‘bay!

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When I buy a new camera I feel… Powerful, that I have the means and connections to do so. It’s a reminder of the very priveleged life I have, and whilst in Western terms I’m far from a millionaire, I’m in the top 2.5% richest people in the world.

The downside… Spending is a lame exercise in appreciating your life and wealth. Much better to not spend it on something you don’t need, or feel even better by donating it to a person or cause in much greater need than yourself.

When I buy a new camera I feel… Invigorated at the opportunity to explore a new set of controls, body, lens and so on. Even if the new camera can’t do anything any other camera you have can do, there is an appeal and challenge in trying something different.

The downside… Unless you’re trying radically different cameras, it’s not likely that the appeal will last very long, and you’ll realise this is 95% similar to other cameras you have or have had, and ultimately prefer. The time you spend trying to learn everything about a new camera could have been invested in getting out and taking even better photographs with the camera you already know and love. Or modifying it to improve it further still.

I accept that buying a new (old!) camera does still have its allure, mostly for me this is around it offering excitement and newness.

Anyone creative needs some kind of fresh stimulus, but look at the greats of the past in any artistic medium, and very few bought new tools every week or month. They simply bought (begged, stole or borrowed) what they needed, then got down to the work. This is far more the approach I want to take from here on in.

How about you, how do you feel when you buy a new camera? 

Please share your thoughts below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.

14 thoughts on “When I Buy A New Camera I Feel…”

  1. I can completely relate to this. As a creative person I’m finding the ‘need’ for different style cameras for different photography ideas I have which ultimately becomes extremely addictive and before you know it you suddenly have a growing camera collection 😬 I’m now at the point where I think I have more than enough and it’s time to really focus and appreciate the cameras I own rather than buy more.

      1. This is a tough one as I love all my cameras for different reasons. However, the main three are my Olympus Pen FT because I absolutely love half frame cameras, the full manual controls and the quality of this camera and the lenses in my opinion is fantastic. My Asahi Pentax K1000 because again, I love the full manual control of this camera, the sturdy build and the fisheye lens I use for it which I think is great and really creative. My Lomography Sprocket Rocket camera because it’s really easy to use, pictures come out surprisingly well for a plastic toy camera (providing I use a 400 ISO film) and I love the picture coverage over the Sprocket holes which again I find creative and a bit different to standard photos. I begrudgingly paid full price for that camera from Lomography (around £70) which I still think is a lot of money for a piece of flimsy plastic which I still fear will melt if left out in the sun! But I can’t deny the amount of use I have got out of this camera as it’s so lightweight to carry around with me. It’s certainly in my top three of cameras I get the most use out of right now. Lastly I also love my instant cameras (and currently own three different types) but right now I’m completely obsessed with vintage Polaroid cameras and the creativity I can get from this instant style camera. I recently purchased an old 80s refurbished Polaroid 600 to get me started and I’m loving the results I’m getting from this camera (which I’ll be blogging about soon!).

        1. Just curious about the Sprocket Rocket film – do you scan yourself? One of the main reasons I bought a film scanner was because there wasn’t a local lab that would, at the time, scan my experimental rolls of 35mm film shot in a modified Holga 120N.

          1. Yes I do scan them myself using my Epson V600 scanner and a 35mm Digitaliza from Lomography which shows the Sprocket holes. Lomography do offer a Sprocket hole scan service but you have to post the film to them if you don’t live in London and their fee is around £18 for develop and scan only. My local lab offer the service of scanning sprocket holes but they charge £24.50 for develop and scan only because they have to do it manually. Since I have my own scanner I only pay £5 for development at my local lab, so saves me a lot of money in the long run. Plus I’m planning to start developing my own film in the near future which should save even more money in the long run. Also, I wasn’t overly happy with the scanning results that Lomography did when I got them to scan my first roll before I invested in my scanner as the borders were slightly off on some of the scans.

          2. Scanning custom film like this is one of the strongest arguments I think for having your own scanner. Even £18 to develop and scan a single roll makes it unfeasibly expensive for many who might otherwise be curious about shooting film.

          3. Yes that’s when the stats geek in me starts calculating the cost per photo and reaffirming that I can’t justify shooting film any longer.

  2. Hi Dan, Nice post as usual, there’s plenty there is can relate to… but I have recently decided to give up buying cameras/lenses full stop. I’ve way too many that would only sit in a draw somewhere gathering dust, heaven forbid I leave the batteries in one…..so the time has arrived…. to be happy with what one has and leave the GAS game to others…. The idea being that not only will I become more “at peace” but also I’m hoping that it gives me time to learn the “true” worth of the camera at hand…. I’ve actually cleaned and packed away all but 2…. I’m now using just the Pentax Q10 and the Ricoh GX100….. I must say that since doing so I’ve noticed that I’m only using 1 lens with the Q10, and the GX100 is also only being used on 1 setting….making it all very simple but effective…. I am at the point where my confidence in both cameras is growing… what next?? To get to the point hopefully where everything comes as second nature when exploring “other settings” without hesitation…. and trying to also be “at one” with the camera, reaching that pinnacle we all strive for…

    1. Lynd, two fantastic choices if I say so myself!

      The thing that’s great with cameras like the Ricoh and Pentax is they have that certain amount of programmability, so you can have one setting for say moody, grainy b/w shots at ISO800, and another for vivid sharp colour at the native ISO. With the click of a switch/knob, it becomes a whole different camera in the same body.

  3. Wellllll….nowadays when I buy a “new” camera, I feel great. Excited. Amped. Joyous. Juiced. And I revel in it, because to do otherwise is to descend into a welter, a thicket of misery and dissonance and guilt.

    Someone, someplace – maybe Dan, on ’35hunter’ – makes tempting reference to the unique piquancy of a heretofore-unknown image-making machine; the nostrils distend, and the brain just ignites with salivary prospect. And then begins the research-plunge: what *is* this thing? what *are* the specs? what did DPReview have to say about it, back in its youth? how bitter the banter and vicious the combat among early adopters and early detractors in ancient forum discussions?

    *What was the shocking original MSRP, and where can I now get one, and at what laughably-low price?*

    And let’s face it: that’s fun.

    And once one accepts that this is legitimate, that the absorbing pleasure of reading-up on, of pursuing and capturing and owning, handling, possessing a certain camera, the fun does not fade.

    How ever would that not be legitimate? To say that because such a thing cannot be afforded by ninety-something-point-something percent of all the people in the world is as irrelevant as chicken lips, and does not automatically render it decadent nor its owner Bernie Madoff. What fades the fun is our demented post hoc agonizing.

    The usage conundrum – how will I ever select which camera to take afield on a given day? Well, you can’t go by me: between 2008 and 2013, I went through sixteen different motorbikes, as many as six at a time, 50cc to 750, and each a unique thing unto itself a *specific* joy, and often just to sit and look at.

    Because there are two different things at play: the making of images and the devices that make them.

    Cartier-Bresson was an art guy, strict image man. He shot right through his allotted frames until he reached the back of his cupboard and his shooting was done and he left it for the sketchpad and pencil, finally declaring that drawing was the superior form.

    And then there’s cameras, bought and sold, owned, possessed, collected as beloved things and that is the big unspoken frisson, the sparkplug of the industry and commerce of photography, yes? That there are very many more cameras than there ever was talent to use them. There are more sports cars than Juan Fangios, but cameras as objects of industrial design have their own value and appeal.

    So. When the blush is off the rose and the formerly lusted-for fades into Grandma, sell it. Buy and sell, as your passion for this one or that waxes and wanes. You will lose some money; you may gain some, but just the personal trade is fun and keeps the lovely pipes flowing.

    For one thing, and to those who may chide the person with thirty different fifty millimeter lens on his shelves, how else is he to *know*, absent personal hands-on, clicked-through experience? He will not, not from reviews or sample images on the Web or the partisan squabbling on forums. And it is in the finding-out, for oneself, that the fun also lies: every man his own lab.

    My preferred dealer – who has the best, fungus-free, unscratched, fully-functional equipment at the very best prices – is my go-to venue, a seraglio of glowing and healthy temptation, and his online listings are glorious viewing. eBay is a souk … a casino, an economy of pig-in-a-poke, from which you may emerge besotted with a happy grin or hungover, beaten and robbed. But both are great fun to pore through in the odd hour, and relieve the soul of its burdens.

    Wherefore do not agonize, mes amis; age quod agis. Disruptive questioning is pointless; don’t step on your heart.

  4. Buying another film camera is a bitter sweet experience. Sweet because it’s possible to buy cameras that once meant a sizeable investment for pocket money, bitter because the cameras represent a mostly vanished world. Also, film cameras are getting older with each passing year. New arrivals are rarely the pristine examples they were a decade ago.

    My preferences are for operationally quirky cameras represented by the Kiev rangefinder, solid manual SLRs like the Nikkormat, 90s plastic point and shoots and medium format folders that fit in a pocket. A mix of nostalgia and practicality.

    1. Blinx, this part I confess has a great appeal to me – “it’s possible to buy cameras that once meant a sizeable investment for pocket money” – whether it’s cameras, bikes, or anything else that as the years go back has an ever diminishing value to most. I get great satisfaction from having and using a high quality tool that perhaps costs hundreds, even thousands when new, for a mere fraction of that, and it still works just as well.

      I think there is enough of a passionate following of film cameras that many thousands will be in regular use for many years to come. The decline is more likely to increase in momentum if/when film processing no longer becomes economically viable for those who still wish to shoot film.

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