Gear Acquisition Syndrome is a dangerous condition which leaves individuals bankrupt both financially and morally, able to communicate only through hyperbolic arguments, tech jargon and buzzwords, and makes them generally insufferable company in any hobbyist setting. Its onset may also be difficult to detect until it has entered advanced stages at which attempting an intervention is inadvisable and dangerous due to the elevated risk of uncontrollable sperging. And while GAS is more common than hemp farms in Helsinki and affects nearly any hobbyist setting where the activity has any sort of dependency on manufactured goods, I think the only field where it’s even worse than in photography would be the murky realm of audiophiles. Crazed hifi-enthusiasts’ quasi-religious drivel has long been one of the most recognized form of GAS and therefore it’s no surprise it was picked as a theme for this week’s Akiba’s Trip. I raise my hat to whoever wrote this scene, because it walks through the different steps, and ends in the eventual moment of reconciliation. Like so:
Step 1: Initiation
Step 2: Ascension
Step 3: The Unthinking Depths
Step 4: Absolution
Remember, aspiring photographers: The madness is only an inch away once you give in. Bear witness to gear threads and despair. What you see is an untold number of people engaging in a daily routine of arguing about gear and why their personal pet brand is the best while the rest are garbage. In photography I think part of the reason is that digital shooters are restricted to very few systems these days, the most popular of which by a huge margin are Canon and Nikon (an argument could start over which one was mentioned first, so let me clarify that I mentioned these in alphabetical order). Digital camera lenses are expensive and naturally not really cross compatible, so people are married with whichever system they choose especially after acquiring the essential set of lenses. The cameras also differ in control layout, menus, processing algorithms and so on. This brings forth an endless supply for pointless arguments where no one ever changes their mind and they never ever ever end. If you get dragged into this kind of situation, the important thing is to remember is that the only winning move is not to play.
Then what’s gearfaggotry and what’s not? My favorite take is from Hunter S. Thompson, here’s a direct quote (source):
That’s my idea in a nutshell. When photography gets so technical as to intimidate people, the element of simple enjoyment is bound to suffer. Any man who can see what he wants to get on film will usually find some way to get it; and a man who thinks his equipment is going to see for him is not going to get much of anything.
The moral here is that anyone who wants to take pictures can afford adequate equipment and can, with very little effort, learn how to use it. Then, when the pictures he gets start resembling the ones he saw in his mind’s eye, he can start thinking in terms of those added improvements that he may or may not need.
Do you need new gear? Your photography will tell you. Do you want more gear? Hell yes you do, you damned consumerist monkey, but the human wants are endless and nothing will ever sate that hunger. I learned this personally from a photographer unwittingly turned collector who had over 1000 articles of photography gear he was trying to get rid of. One day he just sat on his massive pile of junk and realized “What the hell am I ever going to do with all these?” It’s fine to experiment with different kinds of gear you’re interested in, and indulge in many different alleys of photography or whatever else hobby for that matter, but if you find yourself in the maelstrom of a gear thread arguing away like a lunatic spouting out latest technical buzzwords and jargon while simultaneously mocking the opposition for it, it’s time to stop posting and rethink your life choices.
PS. By the way, those funky seashell speakers cost around $50,000 upwards a set.