There is a disease that afflicts photographers called GAS, or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Some are able to resist it better than others, but all succumb to it sooner or later. It results in the sizable loss of personal funds towards the purchase of photographic equipment, for what are quite honestly questionable needs. Sort of like alcohol and drugs.
GAS has gotten pretty bad of late due to the release of new cameras from Sony and Panasonic in particular, with Fujifilm bringing up the rear and mopping up a lot of the stragglers not caught in Sony’s and Panasonic’s new-gear nets. And then, if somehow you do run the gauntlet of those three unscathed, you’ve got Nikon and Canon to deal with, ancient primal forces of the photographic universe that shape the entire industry the way that super black holes shape entire galaxies.
Even I have been caught up in it, with my purchase of an Olympus Pen F and a Panasonic GH4. But I could (questionably) justify both because the Pen F is a 20MP camera capable of 80MP high-resolution photography that was a recertified open box special, while the GH4 was marked down half price because it was no longer the new hotness after the GH5 came out. I got the GH4 because it still records some rather magnificent 4K video, and I thought I needed that capability. Regardless, I count myself lucky I managed to avoid considerable financial damage by not purchasing a GH5, a GH5s, or a G9, or the Sony α7 Mark 3 for the remarkable budget price of just US$1,999.99, body only. Not for lack of trying to justify any of those purchases, mind you. Regardless of how inexpensive equipment gets, I always hate myself when I succumb to GAS. Cue Joan Jett’s I Hate Myself for Lovin’ You.
Today’s camera photograph is of an original Olympus E-M5, taken with an Olympus EP-2 sporting the M.Zuiko 14-42mm EZ ED MSC Pancake Zoom. The black and white JPEG photograph came straight out of the camera. Notice how nice and rich the blacks are, that there’s a decent range of mid-tones, that the lens, zoomed out to 42mm and set to f/6.7, is sufficiently sharp. Not bad for a 12MP sensor in a camera released November 2009. I’ve taken tens of thousands of photographs with that camera, and still, it starts up like it did the first time I put in its battery. The shutter release is competent, the shutter barely makes a sound when it’s tripped. The only issue with the camera is that I need to use the VF-2 EVF. I can’t properly frame without it.
As far as dates for the rest of the gear, the EZ was released December 2011, and the E-M5 with the 1.8/17mm in March 2012. All of this is considered “old” gear yet it still works a treat. I even have an E-1 (yes, the original Four Thirds Olympus camera with the 5MP Kodak sensor technology) and it still works just fine as well. So what am I trying to say here? If you’ve still got camera equipment that is a vintage as some of mine, then you don’t really need anything newer, especially if you’re recording stills. The E-P2, with its humble 12MP sensor, is still quite capable of fine photography when used in what I would consider normal conditions, in light you can actually see the subject by. I have no need to photograph black cats in coal mines during a new moon, but tend to be around people and events that allow even the E-P2 to function. And of course, the E-M5, lauded a breakthrough camera when it was first released is still quite the camera, so jamb-packed with features that I still haven’t found the time to use all of them.
It’s an admission to myself and a call-out to others who will listen that we’re well past the point of sufficiency in digital photography, regardless of the sensor size. If you’ve still got a camera from the start of this decade, and it still works, then go purhcase a lens or two for it. Today’s latest lenses for any mount you care to name will make the whole system seem like a new camera. And then there’s the idea of just getting out and using what you’ve got in new and different ways. That can make an old camera feel like new as well.
Appreciate what you’ve got. Your budget will appreciate you.