Lens Love On The Rebound

After buying cameras for a few years, you notice patterns.

Indeed it’s not unlike relationships. Although they’re with different people, the common factor is yourself, so it’s likely that familiar cycles will repeat themselves, and hopefully these will be (or become) healthy and positive ones. 

Back to cameras, and one I’ve noticed in my own purchasing that usually doesn’t end so well is what I call “lens love on the rebound”. 

Typically I’ll have my eye on a particular lens, be watching it for a while (on eBay, of course, my old comrade/nemesis), and for whatever reason miss out on buying it to someone else.

Now it doesn’t have to be that someone sniped it from under my nose at the last second. Often it’s simply that the bidding goes beyond what I was willing to pay.

Either way, I’m left with a feeling of having missed out, an itch is unscratched.

So to satisfy that need, or fill that hole, I then turn to other, cheaper lenses.

Something I can buy (it now!) that will soothe some of that feeling of lacking.

This nearly always results in me buying a lens without much research and it turning out to be average at best, with me wondering why I purchased it at all.

Like most rebound relationships, it quickly becomes apparent it shouldn’t have happened and you move on as quickly as you can, hopefully with lessons learnt and no-one getting (too) upset or hurt.

So why does this pattern of lens love rebound happen at all?

I think as soon as you start looking at something that you don’t have, even for a small period of time, you start to develop an emotional connection with it.

We can go from being entirely oblivious to the object’s existence, to wanting it more than anything else, within a matter of minutes sometimes.

I know I’ve experienced this with certain cameras and lenses.

So although we don’t actually have the item in our possession, it already feels like we do.

It’s ours, we’ve seen it, we’ve longed for it, and in the case of a lens, we’ve already imagined how it will feel in our hands, the beautiful images we’ll make together.

So of course when circumstances conspire to snatch it from our grasp, we feel cheated and like we’ve lost out.

A simple analogy might be this.

You go to a friends house to catch up, and they offer you a cup of tea. You might expect this, but nonetheless be grateful.

Whilst in the kitchen preparing your beverage your friend calls out “Oh, I’ve made some of that amazing triple chocolate cake, there’s one piece left, would you like it?”

So, said chocolate cake being the best you’ve ever tasted, you agree enthusiastically.

Your friend returns to the room, and you see the cake plated up in all its resplendent gooey chocolatey gorgeousness, and your mouth starts to water.

A split second later, their dog crashes in, knocking the plate from your friend’s hand, then the clumsy canine just as quickly slathering their tongue all over the cake – YOUR cake – now upended on the carpet.

One’s natural instinct is perhaps not to think, philosophically, “Oh well, five minutes ago I didn’t even know they had any cake, let alone I might be eating some, so I haven’t lost anything”.

Instead we feel annoyed, perhaps enraged, at the ditsy dog that has cost us the delicious taste experience that was mere moments from our lips.

I’m not sure what the solution is with lenses, other than staying off eBay altogether, which I seem to be doing quite well in the last few weeks since my Lumix FZ38 arrived.

How about you? Have you experienced lens (or camera) love on the rebound?

As always, 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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12 thoughts on “Lens Love On The Rebound”

  1. I completely identify with this post, with vintage cameras too but especially lenses. I know that feeling of loss for something I didn’t have and didn’t need 🙂 Sometimes the feeling of loss turns to relief that I missed out on more clutter. I have managed recently to halt the tide of incoming parcels from eBay or FB Marketplace finds simply by asking myself if this adds anything to my large collection. I mostly already have something similar, probably awiting service or at least not sufficiently tested. I can identify with the loss of chocolate cake too, but in a good way, I was pre diabetic but now my blood sugar is below that danger level, partly by saying no to cake when offered! The missed ‘bargain’ or the missed cake still hurt sometimes….

    1. Richard, it’s that sense of loss that gets me. How is it possible to have been oblivious of the existence of something one minute, then aware of it the next, then five minutes later it feel likes it’s the only lens we need and essential to our life? It’s frightening how fast these feelings can manifest. But I guess it’s what’s at the heart of most advertising, trying to make people feel they will be missing out unless they buy a certain product right now.

      Oh and re the cake, yes I have a rocky relationship with it. I eat far less than I used too, and indeed cut out a great deal of sugar from my diet a couple of years back as my digestive system was way out of whack and not happy. But cake, especially home made, remains an occasional treat and a frequent temptation. Plus it’s so embedded in British culture, baking and eating cake.

  2. Hmm. This analogy holds up. After buying the Tamron zoom I was so disappointed I thought I’d never buy another lens again for the Canon. I took the chance on a new romance with the 40mm and it has proved rewarding.
    Should we be worried about this comparison at all? I mean if we stretch the metaphor our photographic equipment takes on the roll of a harem …
    Uh, no; let’s not go there.

    1. Well, a harem works in some cultures, as does multiple wives, but it’s not something I could handle! I’m not sure if it’s a good thing when we come up trumps and a lens we had mediocre expectations of excels them. Obviously it’s great we found something that’s better than expected, but for me that also fuels that drive to explore the vast eBay inventory to see what other hidden gems may be lurking awaiting my attention. Which is more likely to end in disappointment and wasted money.

      1. I know. I keep finding things I do not need at all but are really intriguing nevertheless. Left unchecked I could be back where I was years ago with hundreds of cameras in the house – but nothing much in the wallet! I really had to talk myself out of a Sony NEX-6 which is a nifty camera that doesn’t suit any of my purposes. :p

      2. I had a NEX 3N for quite a while. Super versatile for vintage lenses with adapters, and the tilting screen and focus peaking helped even more. Excellent image quality too, more than I need.

        But it always felt like the ultimate test camera to me, not a camera I could love. The rubbish handling (small grip, plus always so top heavy of course with old lenses and adapters) and cool colours that always needed processing eventually sealed its fate and I sold it.

      3. That’s good to know about the NEX. The colour issue is exactly the kind of info manufacturers never mention. Along with lens resolution. I got the same feeling from it, that it would be a good experimenting camera. But I don’t need one because the Canon serves that function very well. And I like the “thwack” of the mirror when I push the shutter release. It’s a nostalgia thing. 😀

      4. It’s not really a fault or anything with the colours of the NEX, I just didn’t like them much. But this is more typical of CMOS sensors. I gather that when digital sensors (CCD) were first developed and released commercially, the aim was to have the colours and feel as close to film as possible, so to attract those already shooting film to switch to digital without a major change in the look of their photos. I think as CMOS gained dominance the colours have become cooler and more clinical than the early CCD sensors.

  3. I have felt something similar but by different reasons. I thought I was just adding a bit of adrenaline through a purchase, from the lack of adrenaline in my profession because I was not doing what I would be really wanting to do. A time I would be chasing anything with a Zeiss label on it : D

    1. Thanks Francis, yes I know what you mean. Sometimes eBay – or even any direct purchase without the bidding drama – does seem to initially add a little surge of excitement. But yes there are usually better, longer term ways to find this satisfaction, and at a deeper level.

  4. Hi Dan,

    Over the last few weeks, I have spent a lot of time on Facebook Marketplace and KEH and Etsy, window shopping for vintage lenses for my Pentax and Minolta cameras. A FotodioX adapter makes them useful on my Fuji X-T2 as well.

    But then I realised that I really have too much gear that I don’t often use, e.g. the wrist breaking Pentax ES II and telephoto prime lenses. So I made a decision. I will keep one digital camera, my Fuji X-T2, and replace either my Pentax P3 or Minolta X-700 with a Pentax P3n or Minolta XD11. I will dump the m42 cameras and lenses.

    So one film camera and one digital camera for regular use.

    But what about my GAS? Back to Facebook Marketplace and Etsy and KEH. I made another decision. When I see the gear, I will buy it, use it for a month, and then put it back out for sale. Rinse, lather repeat.

    What do you think?

    1. I think this certainly works for some of us, and did to a great extent for me on and off for years.

      I still do this a bit, the camera I’m using currently I only bought a couple of months ago.

      My general approach has been try something new for long enough to give it a fair chance to make an impression and for me to make a fair judgement, then decide either to keep it as part of my core arsenal, or sell/donate.

      It’s a far more measured and controlled approach than just buying anything you see that takes your fancy, then not even using it before buying the next thing.

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