Be smart, buy S-Mart.

I think Terry Pratchett said it best when rhapsodising on the “injustice of the boot”: People who require good shoes for their job often can’t afford The Best™ and need to buy a new pair each and every year. And those who are better-off usually don’t need boots this sturdy, as their soles mostly grace carpeted floors. But shelling out 10x as much, one time, can tide them over until the grave. That is, with one pair of boots. In the end, well, ending up having spent less on shoes than those who can’t afford proper shoes, but would be perfectly served with the best the market provides.

Much the same can be said about photography. But for some reason many hobbyists – in above metaphor the carpet grinders who are not really dependent on their tools – choose to buy cheap, repeatedly, again and again. Even though they would have saved lots of moolah if they just went with what they really wanted to begin with. Not what they needed, as hobbyists are beyond such petty concerns. Still, in dilettante photography, burning money seems more common than thinking about what one’s after, and then going for it, within reason.

This has to stop. Seriously.

Dudes and dudettes, you’re indulging in a hobby. It doesn’t matter whether you can write off your gear when doing your tax returns. It doesn’t matter if you can justify the expense to anybody other than yourself. It’s your hobby, and you obviously have the funds: Otherwise you couldn’t replace camera bodies once a year or shell out a grand for a speciality lens you’ll use three to four times before storing it in The Closet. Next to all that other gear you procured on a whim and never use again after your great-aunt’s 80th birthday party.

You know you enjoy photography. You also know what you’d really like as a tool to this end. Still, you start with compacts, bridges, then a crop camera. Then another, better one, with higher ISO or faster auto-focus. You invest thousands of quids in lenses for said cameras – while in the back of your head there’s this tiny voice screaming about full-frame or middle format or whatever. But 6k sound too expensive, not reasonable.

So you settle for camera bodies for € 1.000, a couple of lenses for another couple of thou, and yet a refresh of the same body every couple of months/years. If you’re really into photography, it will take you about one year to spend more on gear you don’t really enjoy – rather than biting the bullet and going with your dream to begin with. Even if this means you’ll need to save up for it.

Is it GAS? Perhaps. Maybe gear acquisition syndrome is what drives Canikosonic camera sales. You’re enjoying shopping for The Best Bang for the Buck™ more than rationally looking at the numbers and accepting you’ll end up with The Best no Current Expense Spared™ in the end anyhow. It‘s the new shiny toys that drive you, and you rationalise the expense by telling yourself: This will make my photography easier / better / whatever, and it’s a reasonable upgrade. Again and again, again and again.

Remember, it’s your hobby, it’s a dream, something to indulge in because you can afford it, both money- and time-wise. Otherwise you collected stamps or dried horse manure or something. Buying boots each year, for many years, rather than getting that one pair that will serve you a lifetime is not sane behaviour for a dilettante. It’s often a necessity for a professional, but please – you’re not. So for bugger’s sake stop this nonsense, for your own sake and peace of mind of your spouse.

On the other hand, this makes the after-market more interesting for those who know what they want or need. Hrm. The jury’s still out on that one.

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