What Do You Do When You Have G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)?

Do you need Nikon’s 45.7 megapixel, crop-less $4k 4k shooting D850? Canon’s new trio of TS-E tilt-shift lenses? Or, even, just alone, that luscious red around the glass used by “the pros” for a hefty price?


At some point, yes. Those products have purposes that help people achieve their creative goals.

But, for most of us, we all just have G.A.S. and are fearful of admitting it to ourselves.

Known as “gear acquisition syndrome,” or G.A.S., it can be identified with the sudden and irresistible urge to burn cash whenever a new product flabbergasts the marketplace.

That upsweep in the flurry of fanfare, that tinge of materialism intermixed with the vestiges of necessity define the quirks and pains associated with a gassy photographer or videographer.

(See neuroscientist and writer Joshua Sarinana’s take on G.A.S. at Peta Pixel here).

While searching Craigslist for used Canon DSLRs, gawking at the Panasonic GH4 price drop, and lamenting the discontinuation of Black Magic’s 2.5K cinema camera, I noticed that I had done something to make me gassy.

While I wish for the Sony A7s2’s performance in dimly lit settings or for the GH4’s high-bitrate widescreen 4K, I do not need those features at this time.

I have a 4k-capable Panasonic G7 and Canon FD glass paired with a speedbooster. If anything, what I need is a client or two.

The quality of what we shoot is not determined entirely by the quality of the equipment, just as the quality of a film is not determined entirely by the budget of the special effects department.

Storytelling is key. Documentaries shot on potatoes in the 80s can still draw tears like pulling water from a flooded well.

Wedding videos without the bells and whistles of [insert just released product] evoke just as much of the emotion as one with all horns tooting full blast.

If anything, before you click the purchase button on a new lens or body or anything seen as an enticing upgrade from what you currently own, watch what you have made previously and ask yourself, “What do I notice?”

What do you remember from Transformers? Story or explosions?

Are you invested in the story? Do you feel something? Are you gawking at the lack of cinematography, or crispness, or dynamic range? Where does your current attention fall, and does this focus of attention advance the story?

Then ask, “How will what I am about to buy advance and not advance my storytelling?” Be honest with yourself. If you can come up with reasonable answers, then you may just be feeling guilty of having G.A.S. without actually having it.

If you cannot come up with an answer, then, before fluttering away like a loose balloon with the drop of your wallet, buy yourself something small that will aid your creativity.

A book of poetry.

A guide on film technique.

A set of movies from a director/cinematographer/editor/etc. that you have been meaning to watch.

Another tip would be to search on travel websites using the same budget as for the product you are about to buy. Would you rather own that product or spend a week in English countryside?

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