The Stories We Tell Ourselves (III) – I’ll Just Test One More New Camera, Then Sell The Ones I Like Least…

It fascinates me how a convincing and impassioned story can sway our beliefs, opinions and decisions.

Not least of all when it’s us telling the story to ourselves.

This is an occasional series about some of the stories I’ve woven to myself, to justify a certain decision or purchase.

See all posts in the series here.

Today’s story –

I’ll Just Test One More New Camera, Then Sell The Ones I Like Least…

For a five or six year period, once I’d realised the two main types of camera I liked ((D)SLR and compact), I was, at first unconsciously, buying and testing dozens of cameras to try to find the perfect or best camera for my needs.

This was of course before I realised perhaps what deep down I’d always known, that, as with most things in life, there is no single perfect choice.

Instead, you pick one that fits very well, and commit to getting the best from it, and enjoying it to the fullest.

Because I never had any intention of building a large collection of cameras and lenses, there was a story that ran through this whole period.

I’d buy a new (to me, but old) camera or lens, with a view to testing it in comparison to what I already had that was similar, and then planned to sell or donate the one(s) that I liked least, leaving me with just my absolute favourites.

Then, over the weeks and months, I’d hone down ever closer to a core arsenal of gear I absolutely loved using.

But most of the time this story was just that, a work of fiction.

I’d end up keeping both cameras or lenses, partly because I liked them both, and partly because (and this increased exponentially with time) the thought of photographing, listing and selling even one of them seemed such a hassle.

So instead they’d just stack up on shelves and in shoe boxes.

And this is the power of stories, that even though I could plainly see I had, say, a dozen 50mm lenses of very similar capabilities, I’d still buy more, espousing that same mantra, that after I’d fully tested this latest acquisition, I’d be a strong position to evaluate and choose my favourites, and sell everything else.

I guess I did reach some kind of breaking point, and over a few months did finally sell off most of what I had gathered over the previous few years.

The uncomfortable feeling of having gear that was laying unused, and the increasingly overwhelming decisions in what to choose that I faced each time I want to go on a photowalk, combined to prompt a major purge.

And I haven’t really looked back.

But for those few years, it was such a powerful story.

How about you? Do you relate to this story – buying new gear with the intention of selling something once you’d tested it enough to compare with your current favourites? But then holding on to all of it!

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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23 thoughts on “The Stories We Tell Ourselves (III) – I’ll Just Test One More New Camera, Then Sell The Ones I Like Least…”

    1. That’s a good idea, especially for more expensive stuff where you don’t want to make an investment you regret. The gear I use has always been too old to be available to rent, ha ha. Also, aren’t you scared you’ll damage it? Is there a kind of excess agreement like with car insurance, where you have to pay the first agreed amount of any damage?

      1. The optimal accidental damage and loss insurance on the US$1800 lens I rented (twice) was US$10. If I pay $5 more, I cover theft.

        I’m sure the rental company has insured their gear, and offering some insurance to customers reduces their risk and costs.

        A few years ago, they posted a short article on equipment damaged by a solar eclipse. It was illuminating. Pun intended.

      2. If the sun did that to camera equipment I shudder to think what it would do to someone’s eyes. I remember some years ago there being an eclipse over here, and a common recommendation was to view it through a CD. They look solid and opaque but when you hold them up to a strong light you can see they’re like strongly tinted sunglasses, and the idea was this would protect your eyes sufficiently.

        Unfortunately some people misinterpreted the advice, held their CD up to the sun, and looked through the hole in the middle of the CD instead, which of course is just a hole, and offers no protection whatsoever. Yikes.

  1. Where I am there is not many persons that purchase cameras, and apparently from those that purchase them very few of them use them. I am always happy seeing you know your cameras through photographs, because I feel it fulfills the goal of the camera.

    1. I like cameras that are individual enough that I know just by looking at the photographs, which camera I used. The Ricoh GRD III is a great example, plus my Pentax Q, especially with the lo-fi mount shield lens, very distinctive.

      That said, on the flip side, I like just looking at photographs (my own and other people’s) and not knowing or caring what gear was used, just enjoying the images.

  2. Ciao. Possiedo una collezione di reflex e obiettivi analogici. Li ho comprati per passione e per testare nuovi (ma vecchi) prodotti che non conoscevo. Poi una volta provati li tengo a disposizione (come trofei acquisiti) anche se so che nel corso del tempo li userò molto poco. Però faccio una selezione dei pezzi preferiti per dilettarmi nei momenti opportuni con quella specifica attrezzatura. Reny

    1. Thanks for your comments Reny. I think as long as you have a use for a camera or lens, even occasionally, and love using it, then there’s always a place for it.

      My gear got so there was so much unnecessary duplication. Not that I had multiple copies of the same camera/lens, but many that were so similar as to be equally good for the purpose. I didn’t need, say a 50/1.4, 50/1.7 and 50/2 Pentax-M lens, plus the same in Pentax-A, and a couple of older 55/1.8 or 55/2 Takumars.

  3. I had the intention of selling off superfluous equipment, then ego-Bay labelled me Public Enemy Number One. Selling is too much of a hassle, so I guess I’ll just keep what I don’t even use and try to refrain from buying more unless it has a clear purpose.
    Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
    Wasn’t that funny?

      1. Immediately upon my listing my first item (the Nikon W100) they arbitrarily declared me a “threat to the community” and permanently suspended my account, no explanation given. When I inquired (twice) they just terminated the conversation.

      2. That is bizarre, and so frustrating. I guess those with a business and livelihood dependent on eBay must be at the mercy of something like this happening any day. I’ve been very lucky as a buyer and seller with eBay in my time with them, which, quite shockingly, is now over 19 years!!

  4. Camera-wise, to me the perfect camera has been a combination of two cameras… the K200D for mostly good light, and the K-S1 for when I need higher ISO (mostly my kid’s sports, where I can’t get away with a low shutter speed).
    Lenses wise… it’s hard to argue with my Sigma 30 1.4 Art, but my Pentax DA 21 Limited has really been showing its versatility and good results, so it’s been used quite a bit.
    How about you? Did you find that perfect camera and/or lens? Or is it also a combination depending on the purpose?

    1. Could you get the benefits of both of those in one camera, or do some of their attributes contradict?

      I really like using my K-30, and arguably it’s (even) better to hold than the old CCDs, and with a bigger better screen. But I love going back to the simplicity of the CCDs, and of course the sensor output.

      I don’t have any single perfect camera, but a collection of half a dozen that are close enough to perfect to be keepers for a long time. Ricoh GRD III, Pentax Q, Pentax K100D (and/or K-m and/or Samsung GX-1S), Lumix LX3… The little Lumix XS1 is pretty great too, and way smaller than anything else I have!

      Yes it does vary depending on the purpose. I gradually oscillate between DSLRs and digital compacts too…

  5. I’m afflicted with LBA, so I have more lenses than I ever thought were ‘necessary’ – there are a core group, with the outliers occasionally put up for sale…

    but not very often…

    camera bodies are less of problem for me, with currently four in use (and a fifth of the way – for ‘evaluation’ purposes)….

    1. Thanks Dave, LBA = something like Lens Buying Addiction?

      Yes there’s far more variation in lenses, if I just had one Pentax DSLR there are still hundreds of different lens options out there in K mount, and probably even more in M42 mount, which I use with a simple adapter.

      1. Yes I went through an extensive phase of this when I bought a Sony NEX 3N, around 2014. I must have shot about 150 different lenses with that camera, across six or seven different lens mounts, via adapters…Great fun to a point, until you realise you’re doing the same thing over and over with rapidly diminishing rewards.

  6. My story behind with the words ‘if I have this camera and lens, then I will be able to be more creative’

    Like you Dan, I simply love experimenting with different gear but I may have found a solution to curb by excessive gear acquisition habit in the form of long term projects.

    Over the last couple of months I have purchased a Canon 5D Mark 2 and a 50mm lens, with the intention of seeing the world through 50mm for the foreseeable future.

    After a recent purge of the gear that was no longer getting any use, I am doing my best to not fill those now vacant spaces with more.

    1. Thanks Andy. I think one of the tricks is to not see there being empty spaces in your arsenal, and being content with, and mastering, what you have.

      I remember a few years back thinking I needed every focal length from 24mm to 200mm covered by some lens or other, to be able to be prepared for any composition. Seems really foolish now.

      In reality, once you buckle down with one focal length for a while you start to find the images and arrangements you like best, and become far more proficient in finding them. I much prefer the approach of having, and getting used to, a certain focal length and lens, then seeking out the compositions that fit it best, rather than trying to photographing anything and everything with a range of lenses. The former approach is finding the scenes that best fit your lens. The latter is finding the lens that best fits the scene, which could be anything, depending on which part you look at, your preferred outcome and any number of other factors. Just too many variables!

      This doesn’t mean you only use one focal length for the rest of your life, just one at a time, and for long enough to really get to know it and find how it works best for you.

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