Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) Is To Be Enjoyed. Unless…

Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) is relatively common among amateur photographers.

The basic definition of GAS is the compulsion to keep buying additional cameras, lenses and associated paraphernalia, even when you already have more than enough to be able to enjoy photography and make satisfying pictures.

Online forums and blogs often speak of GAS alongside feelings of guilt, or embarrassment.

But I say there’s no shame in it all.

Unless, GAS in your life means –

  • You’re spending most of your time looking at new (to you) equipment rather than enjoying what you have.
  • Your physical collection of gear is having a negative impact on your enjoyment of your home – and/or others you share it with.
  • You’re putting yourself under unnecessary financial pressure to attain stuff you don’t need.
  • Having so many cameras to choose from actually causes anxiety, rather than a sense of freedom.
  • Whichever camera/lens you choose, you then spend the photo session wondering if a different camera/lens would have been a better choice.
  • Your relentless collecting of gear is putting strain on close relationships that are important to you.
  • You’re using it as an excuse to avoid and deny your own limitations as a photographer, insisting if you just had this new camera/lens/flash/bag/etc your photography would reach a whole other level.

We’re all friends here, and I don’t want to come across like a preachy ex-smoker.

Your GAS is your business.

But I’ve been in a place myself where I had way too much kit and wasn’t enjoying any of it, and nearly all of the above rang true. I know how limiting it can be.

So I also know how liberating it can be to radically strip back to just a few cameras, rather than a few dozen, or a few hundred, and just get on with your photography.

If you’re a collector more than a photographer, and that’s where your passion and enjoyment lies, then great, collect on!

But if the gathering of gear is inhibiting your love of photography in any way – as well as crippling your development as a photographer – it might be time to rethink, and simplify.

How about you? What are your experiences of GAS, and is there anything you’d like to change?

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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21 thoughts on “Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) Is To Be Enjoyed. Unless…”

  1. I waited about 5 years to buy my new Nikon Z7. I wanted a mirrorless buy waited until the technology had been proven good and the price not too bad.. I gave my old D610 to my son. I have 3 cameras. A Nikon D750 plus a Sony Rx10M4. I use all 3 at different times. I doubt that I will buy any more equipment for many years to come. I don’t think I have GAS. I use my cameras a lot and believe that justifies the expense.

      1. If in 10 years time they have come out with something amazing I might be interested. By that time I will not have money to buy another. For now I can’t imaging needing another camera.

  2. I have found that the more photos I take (in terms of frequency), the more serious my GAS gets. If I’m uninspired or lazy in general, I don’t get excited thinking about new gear either. However if I find myself able to use six or seven rolls of a film a month, it often ends up so that I’m thinking about how I can make MORE photos, better photos, different photos (perhaps even of the same subjects) and it drives me to procure gear at an alarming rate because I’m just so interested at that point.

      1. I’m sorry I didn’t get the point across in my initial comments.. the more cameras I get the MORE I shoot and I thoroughly enjoy using every single one I have. I love the process of picking out the appropriate cameras (depending on size or the lens or functions) for each photo walk or trip. I just want to repeat I love using every one of them and I enjoy it just like your very first sentence in this post, haha!

  3. You’ve nailed it.
    I recently bought a camera that I “didn’t know I needed” and it has worked out well (the Canon G11). I also did not buy several bargain-priced Nikon ‘D’ series offerings because I just couldn’t see where/how I’d use them no matter what the price.
    And there we have it: I’ve officially transitioned from ‘camera collector’ to ‘photographer’.

    1. Yes, exactly, I’ve found the same Jim. You can’t fully enjoy something until you give yourself enough time to fully to do so – without keep switching to something else.

  4. I suffered a light form of GAS when I discovered photography. I bought my first camera (a Minolta X300 with a 28-70mm zoom), then a 50 mm lens, and after that saw that I could (should?) use that filters, maybe a tripod, and also that it would probably be better to get a f801 (second hand!), and also a flash, and why not this one which is much better… Well, sure I strongly appreciated the f801 and the 50 mm. But I almost never used all the other stuff. It was just cool to know I have it… Fortunately I was a student at the time and there was severe financial constraints on the GAS! What is funny is especially the flashes, because I never liked using artificial light and even in dark situations I always preferred the natural ambiance (I did not used the flash of my LX3 a single time). At some point the GAS disappeared, and also my interest in photography (maybe with some relationship between the two? Like if getting new gear fueled the interest in photography?).
    I became again interested in photography some 20 years later, but that was a completely different story. I took time to think about what I really wanted, then bought a LX3, and that was it. I enjoyed it for years without any additional gear. Then forget it a bit for 2-3 year during which I mainly used my phone, and rediscovered it recently. But I had no desire at all to change it or get new things.
    So I think I’m now immune to GAS.
    However I sometimes wonder if GAS had not been replaced by a different form of it: the need to find all information regarding a practice I discover, a gear I have, something related to using the gear. It could be how to optimise the setup of the camera, or the position on the bike if we speak about cycling. Of course this is much less a financial problem, but it takes times for example, which can be time I should have used for more essential or important things, or simply time which could have been devoted to photography (or cycling). Also I cannot say that I will really use all of the information I collected. So despite I’m quite happy of becoming immune to GAS, I find it amusing that maybe there is a replacement. At least it costs no money, and does not last for so long as I always end up having read most of what is available on the subject!

    1. I’ve never succumbed to the surrounding gear and accessories, but yes there are plenty of “experts” that will tell you that even if you have an amazing camera you can’t do anything unless you also have the right case, tripod, flash and everything else. Then they conveniently have an ad in the sidebar of their site where you can conveniently buy all this stuff…

      We’re blessed in how much we can learn online these days, it’s quite incredible how much research we can do from the comfort of our own keyboard!

  5. I sold three film cameras recently. I’m planning on selling one more. That will leave me with one digital and two film cameras. But then I just remembered I still have three old Sony digital compact cameras to get rid off. Or maybe not. Does my iPhone 11 Pro count? 😳

  6. I’m afraid I have this, but not with cameras…. I have it with art materials! I cannot stop buying them, and I already have far too many. And now I’ve started buying craft materials, too (namely paper and soon-to-purchase waxed thread, as I’m making notebooks and notepads for myself.)

    Some part of me feels guilty about it, but a lot of me doesn’t as I know that even if I don’t use them all very often, they are there for when I do want to.

    1. Thanks Val. I can relate to this, from when I shot film, maybe five years back. I would always be seeking out new “materials”, ie rolls of film. On one hand you can argue there’s no harm in stocking up, if it will all get used. It seems more logical and sensible than buying gear/equipment that you may not use. The problem is when you have too much in the way of materials. I got to the point when a rough calculation revealed that I had enough 35mm film in my freezer to shoot for nearly three years without buying a single roll more. That’s when I started to sell and donate some and get it back under control!

  7. I’m going through a change in my gear… and after I’m done, I’ll have to sell a few lenses and maybe give away a body or two that aren’t fully functional anymore (5 DSLR bodies is just too much…)
    I just got the DA 70 Limited, it should be here next week. Then the next one hopefully will be the DA 21 Limited, and I’ll have the ability to go out with 3 primes (21,30 and 70 or 21,35 and 70) whenever I want to. At other times the DA*16-50mm f/2.8 is enough.
    As for bodies, I think the K-3 as the main “serious” body for family outings and such, plus the K-S1 as a small body (once I get it fixed) and a K200D should be enough for me. But the K-50 just feels so right and is small and was given to me for free, so I’m finding it hard to part with it…

    1. I agree five DSLR bodies is way too much. I only have four! Ha ha! I’ll be very interested to hear more about the 70mm Limited, that’s a lens I’ve been curious about for a while, but it’s way beyond my budget.

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