How I Stop My Head Exploding – Narrowing The Photography Obsession

The world is a vast place.

It’s impossible for any one person to follow any more than a tiny fraction of the subjects, developments and information that’s constantly changing.

The same reasoning applies even once we choose a single topic.

Let’s say, photography, for example.

The number of styles of photography, equipment available, and even the settings on any one camera again are all almost infinite.

So we need to hone down further to get some kind of comprehension, some route, some direction through this otherwise unending maze.

For me, this narrowing process has taken a couple of routes, broadly speaking.

One is with compact digital cameras, the other with DSLRs.

Let’s look at the latter.

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My first DLSR was a Pentax K-x, and whilst I’ve since had a couple of Sonys and a Minolta in between, I have now settled on Pentax as my core DLSR and lens system.

I love Pentax, and right now I’m quite happy to not explore whether Canon, Sony, Nikon, Minolta or any other brand have possibly made an even “better” camera for me than Pentax.

Then, whilst that first Pentax was a K-x, the first I really fell for was a K10D, a much older camera.

Indeed it was a grand 11 eleven years old when I bought it in 2017, positively ancient in digital terms.

Though I no longer have the K10D, I do have a K100D, also from 2006, and a K-m, from 2008.

All of these cameras have an APS-C CCD sensor, which deliver lovely colour JPEGs (in my eyes) straight out of camera.

The K100D and K-m are both relatively simple for DSLRs, and I could probably tell you what every function in the menus does, and when/why you might want to use it.

This then has set another sub-framework, another hierarchy, within that wider one of “DSLR”, then “Pentax” – the CCD sensor, the age, and the simplicity of the camera. 

If these were my only criteria for DSLRs I would still have a choice of perhaps 10 – all made by Pentax with a CCD sensor, over a decade ago.

It’s not exactly cameranogamy, but it narrows it down vastly from all the digital brands and cameras available. 

I confess my boundaries are allowed some flexibility, and you may recall my on and off relationship with the K-30 I bought perhaps a year ago.

This is a CMOS sensor camera with a wholly unnecessary 12MP (edit – it’s actually 16MP, I set it to 12MP when I first got it then forgot the sensor has an even higher maximum MP!) and from 2012, so still a child at just eight years old – even though some would scorn anyone using a camera older then a couple of years old let alone approaching a decade or more.

But thousands of photographs later, the K-30’s benefits (viewfinder, handling, build quality, custom colours, still relative simplicity and ease of use) make it appealing enough to slightly stretch the edges of my criteria without it blowing my whole slippery grasp on restraint wide open.

And yes, there are a few other Pentax DSLRs I’m also curious about, some of which do have old 10MP or less CCD sensors, and some which don’t.

But overall my checklist is pretty strict, considering all of the potential DLSR options out there.

And without this kind of discipline and structure, this way of blinkering myself like a racehorse and hunkering down into a steady rhythm round the track, my head might explode.

I literally couldn’t handle all of the possibilities available to me, the anxiety from all that freedom I’d have without self-imposed constraints, and I’d certainly be a very unsettled and unhappy photographer, constantly second guessing my choices rather than enjoying and trusting in the camera in my hand.

How about you? How do you narrow down your choices to stop your head combusting with all the camera options available to us these days? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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15 thoughts on “How I Stop My Head Exploding – Narrowing The Photography Obsession”

  1. Purely from the POV of equipment selection, I look at it as a matter of “how will this add to my photography repertoire?” This eliminates a whole lot of cameras and lenses. Price and availability weeds out the rest. There have only been a couple of mistakes from those criteria, and both were because the cameras didn’t live up to minimum quality image production.
    After having owned and used hundreds of cameras you learn the equipment may be interesting in its own right, but when it comes to producing the picture there’s not that much difference between them.

    1. Marc, that’s a pretty sound plan I think. I’m coming back to that, looking now for unusual lenses that don’t duplicate anything I already have. I agree overall with your last comment, yes I’ve probably had 25 different 50/55mm lenses and there’s not a huge difference between the very best and the very worst.

  2. My main interest is bird photography, for that after shooting with entry level camera for 3 years I have upgraded to pro crop sensor body D500 which I wouldn’t change for along time to come as it has all the features I desired. With lenses I have restricted myself to buying only from selling other things i own as I would rather spend money on patrol to visit new places which has different birds/better surroundings.

    For my other types of photography I have also set a rule of buying used gear, since my lumix lx5’s wheel started playing up I’m now looking for another pocketable camera and your review of xs1 has me interested in that. Although I wouldn’t mind buying something with a bigger sensor if I can fetch good money for my other camera I’m about to sell due to it’s not being pocketable hence it mostly sits at home.

    So my kit will be of things I mostly use a D500 and a compact point and shoot. Plus my film camera Minolta 7s whenever I feel like shooting up a role of film and a Polaroid 1000.

    I may add a medium format film camera if I find a cheap deal mainly to try 120film but If I don’t like anything I’d straight away sell it.

    For people who’s main hobby is photography i reckon they should spend some money on it as after some failures you’ll realise what you’re into really. Once you figure that out buy the gear you’d use the most and focus more on spending money on something that would improve your skills that are independent of the gear I.e. buying photo books or attending seminars.

    1. Like Marc wrote too, this is a sensible kind of approach. If you’re going to have multiple cameras/lenses, then make sure they are all really different and don’t duplicate each other.

      Yeh you have to try a range of options to see which route you want to take. It’s like going round in an ever decreasing spiral, getting closer and closer to your dream set of cameras/lenses.

      And yes I also agree Bhumit about spending some money on photography “education” likes books!

  3. I agree and I mostly just keep myself in the Pentax fold which makes it easy to not be lost in keeping up with what’s new out there. Nowadays Pentax only releases a new camera every couple of years anyway 🙂
    My newest camera is from 2014 so almost 6 years old now – and I bought it 4 years ago. Things haven’t changed much since, honestly, in terms of image quality.
    Part of me resisting the M42 lenses is also to keep this simplicity. There’s not just Takumars – M42 was an universal mount and a lot of manufacturers made lenses for it. With just Pentax APS-C cameras and K mount lenses, I don’t have to keep looking around – in my case because my uses are all covered by the existing cameras and lenses. If I felt that there are things that the Pentax doesn’t provide, then I’d have to start looking in other systems.

      1. Yes the K-S1 is my newest… honestly, I can’t tell the difference between the results from that sensor and the newer CMOS sensors. The K-30/K-50 is also in that range. The improvements since the K-5 and D7000 (which were both ground breaking, as these introduced a Sony sensor similar to the K-50/K-30/K-01) are all within one stop of high ISO use – and in base ISO, there’s not much improvement other than the megapixels increased from 16 to 20/24/26 in newer sensors. What is advertised as higher ISO performance is just “cooking the RAW files” by processing.
        The main reason I don’t have Taks is I would want to shoot them at f8 and the viewfinder would be too dark. A second reason is the lenses I like most (like the 55mm and the 35mm f/3.5) exist with the exact same formula and the latest coatings, as K series lenses with a K mount.
        The way I’m seeing things, I’m trying to stay under 20 lenses… my objective is not to be over 12. But that ship has sailed 🙂 So every new lens should be an improvement over another lens I have and should replace it. I don’t think a Takumar 50 1.4 would replace my Rikenon P 50 1.4 (very sharp wide open unlike most 50 1.4 lenses) – and I also have the K 50 1.2 (with dead fungus but still a great performer!). My SMC-M 100 2.8 is fantastic and I honestly don’t think a Takumar 135 3.5 would be an improvement over my Takumary Bayonet (K-mount) 135 2.8.
        So what Takumar would I want when the older K-mount lenses feel just as good and are sometimes optically better?…

      2. I’m really curious about the K-01 as it’s mirrorless, but still K mount, but I believe it’s the same sensor as my K-30. So I could essentially ignore the viewfinder on my K-30, use Live View and it would be almost the same. Hard to justify £200+ on a different camera then.

        Aside from that, nothing after the K-30 really interests me. I’m more likely to pick up an old *ist D or GX20 or something!

        A dozen lenses is always something I’ve aimed around too. At times I’ve probably topped 25 and it’s been silly, and so much duplication, like perhaps 15+ 50 or 55mm lenses that all give very similar results in most situations. Now I’m trying to just keep lenses that are unique and somehow special in a way no other lens I have is, like the Helios 44-2 or Jupiter-37A.

        I really like your reasoning about how Takumars probably wouldn’t replace what you have.

        It all sounds very sensible. But… I’ve had plenty of M series and as lovely as they are (especially the 50/1.7), they don’t quite compare with a Tak for build and smoothness of use. That’s what appeals to me.

        I’ve just bought a, for me, rather unusual and perhaps impractical preset aperture 200/5.6 Tak from the late 50s, and it’s absolutely delicious to use. And, like most of the Taks, for its focal length, it’s one of the most compact lenses available. I’ve just not felt any other lens quite has that class and presence.

      3. I find plenty of appeal in the newer bodies. A KP, for example, would be a dream come true in terms of body controls. It seems the sensor is pretty sweet, too, though not CCD…
        But for now, there’s a K200D sitting in a truck somewhere, making its way to me… 40 dollars shipped was not something I could resist 🙂 And that sweet 10MP CCD sensor in a smaller package than the K10D…
        As for Takumars, I once bought a 35mm f/3.5 at a pawn shop. It was immaculate. But instead of buying the adapter, I came to my senses and just sold the lens instead… but yeah I will agree with you that these things are little jewels and they are a marvel of engineering. True gems.

      4. I’m not as familiar with the model line up as you, I thought the K-m (K2000) with the same 10MP CCD as the K10D, superceded the K100D with its 6MP CCD? Did the K200D come in between these two? Either way, the K200D and K-m sound very similar and no doubt have that same lovely sensor. I had a K10D and GX10 as you might recall, and both were fabulous but just a bit too bulky and heavy. I prefer the smaller CCD bodies like the K100D, K-m et al. There’s nothing they lack, for my needs, that I’d need the K10D for. Sounds like a good deal with the K200D, I don’t think I would have resisted either!

    1. Pick the right camera and it will outlast you! Like Doug who often comments here and still uses, I believe, his father’s Leica from the 1950s (or perhaps older).

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