Overcoming GAS { guide}

For many years I’ve been struggling with GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) and some form of denial on this subject.

Occasionally I would even give sound advice to similar folks that I had encountered with the same symptoms. Heck, I might have written similar notes on this problem all the while being an addict to it.

Overcoming gas in Malaysia
The must have item

Our mind are truly instruments of awe and wonders. My mind would cook up various reasons why I needed that camera, that lens, one day it can be due to better bokeh, next month it is because of size, then comes that Leica glow, the list goes on and on.

Here is a list of excuses, maybe you might find some of these to be familiar :

– inspirational tool

– back pain

– corner sharpness

– wider is needed

– saves me money cause I would have bought Y that cost 3x the price

– fps I needed that for capturing natural portraits or moving subject

– most of my buddies are using brand X, we could share

– compression shots, I need that telephoto

– this build quality will last me a lifetime unlike that one

– this sharpness and micro contrast makes all the difference

– the shutter is so much more subtle (even though the current camera have electronic shutter)

– discreet on the street

– evf so I won’t be blinded

Cause Vivian Maier uses it

Coincidentally I notice that everytime I acquire the gear, I would go out and do some shooting to justify the purchase. Did the new gears helped with my photography, maybe…. Could I have done better with the other gears already in the collection, of course!

Like the war between the Jedis and the Sith Lords, the force is a tension that exist because of actions favoring one side of the equation and it seeks to balance it. That is why Luke decided to avoid keeping in touch with YL camera or eBay is the best decision.

Ha ha ha, ok that was just nonsense, but I hope u get the point. The endless cycle begins when we desire something that we believe would contribute to our happiness index in photography only to realize that the problem has nothing much to do with gears.

My dragon is better than your M6

Don’t get me wrong, good gears are essential in achieving good results, some photogs have been shooting kit lens and wonder why they can’t get any bokeh yet all the while refusing to get a bigger aperture lens. That is just silly.

However, when you already have cameras and lenses that could perform well within your genre and your mind keep selling you that next gear… You have a case of GAS.

Bow before the most advance rangefinder with F1

There is a special incident that kind of woke me up to look into the mirror closely. I had a friend that ammased tons of film cameras, particularly large formats, pack films and Polaroids bodies. One day his favorite 35mm Leica m3 fell to the ground while we were chatting at a cafe and that broke something in him. The next day he went on to make a listing of his inventory and put them on sale.

That incident didn’t stop my GAS but I became more self aware of the situation. Buying lesser and imposing more red tapes to my mental process of buying. I setup some items to sell off in Carousel and realized how hard it was to sell off gears that I easily acquired.

Those common lines in the thought process of “get it, you need it, you only live once, it doesn’t cost much anyway” were slowly replaced with “I rather spend it on experience or going to more interesting places. Shoot more. I could buy 100 rolls of film and do 100 session instead of buying that”.

They are useless in the dry box. Take them out (mixed owners)

The last gear I acquired was the F2-DS which I used as a prop repeatedly rather than a gear and it’s been the longest time now without any new GAS lining up.

A collection of books can be shared

I guess everyone have their own poison on what they want to collect. I m just betting that we would stop collecting if we realize the futility of it.

There was once an argument between two business men on who deserves to sit next to the king for dinner.

The first man exclaim “I have in my collection, 2000 watches handmade by the finest craftmen in the region. Surely my display of wealth and taste in quality deserves my seat next to His majesty”

The second man countered “I have acquired 100 limited edition cars of which 30 are anniversaries release. I could easily sell half of these and I could build a theme park if I wanted”

The king looked at the two and seems reluctant to give a decision. He then asked a random guy in the crowd “How about you, do you collect anything?”. The guy replied “I have bought but a collection of books and wines so that I could share with guests and visitors”

The king chose the guy to be seated next to Him. The two other business men were furious and the king explained “your collections serves no one except yourselves, while this guy’s collection brought other’s joy”

the perfect camera {portraiture|film}

film portraiture
fuji 400h pro. 35mm zeiss.

Every three months, we get spammed by the release of new cameras. New features. Record breaking iso’s. Another 2 ev on dynamic range, another 2 stills on fps. If you are a hobbyist like me who paid for the gears yourself, it feels almost like an addiction, GAS they call it.

Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji and Olympus. The allies of the digital age that survived the transition of film to digital, only to be bested by digital’s natural trait, “convenience”, in the form of mobile photography.  As of this writing, Iphone 7 have a dual camera in the pipeline with the latest and greatest technology empowering its new flagship phone, the DSLR killer.  Yeah, heard that one, but coming from Apple, it warrants attention. Can a brand survives if the common folks, the hobbyist turns on mobile phones for all its images and leaves DSLR’s and compact camera for only professional pros?

They can’t.

The mobile industry is not much different from the camera industry. Each model promising something that show case the creativity of marketing at play. It becomes very obvious that cameras are what everyone is selling, even in the phone. After all, we got tired of Microsoft’s new Office Word when we were already suffice with Word 6. Some knew of this sufficiency yet the rat-race, enclosed in a circle of upgrades and peer recognition, funded the Babylon merchandise.


It’s like waking up in the Matrix, taking the red pill. When i decided this on my photography. Suddenly, there is peace. I realized that every shot costs me. In digital they ended up costing me something more precious, my time, digital upgrades and processing, more storage, editing and figuring out the tones. In film, its a direct cost per click, no beating around the bush, no marketing shenanigans.

Every shot counts. Think about it.





Photokina 2014, how to fight the GAS.


Photokina is here again, with some brand new Leica lusts like the Medium format Leica SE, Leica X 23mm 1.7 Summilux and the M-60 Edition. Samsung NX1 and Canon 7D MKII probably have some folks sleepless over them.
Previously i wrote that a camera without an LCD is high in my wish list, but its definitely not $18,500 high. Nevertheless i find myself very different now, compared to the last two(2) years when it comes to handling GAS.

Here are five(5) reasons why GAS addiction has lost its grip on me. Hopefully they would be of help to you, before you click on that buy cart. Brew that coffee, have a sip and read on.

1. I tried film
In my last few posts, its mostly about shooting film. Frankly, 35mm film has nothing on Digital, digital has way surpassed film in any way you can imagine but film has an “X” factor that surpasses whatever digital throws at it. Today i passed a roll of Fuji Superia 200 to my friend Stephan. He was struggling initially and complaining and was blessing the fact that he uses the digital Fuji X100s. But an hour later, he is still shooting film and was running all over the street.
Why? Because Film causes you to enjoy the process but at the same time makes you realized that whatever digital camera you have now is already God sent.

fuji GW690ii
I took my Fuji GW690II with me today to the streets, shot 7 shot after 6 hours. I could actually recall each of the7 shots. If you think you need a new gear or whatever photokina is offering, try film. It will reset your GAS and you be so happy with your digital that you have now.

2. That gear in your hand.
I have the Sony A7r with tons of vintage lens. I can have all kinds of bokeh with this camera, but i have also come to appreciate that i don’t need any special bokeh. I just need to shoot simple stuffs and focus on light,subject,composition and idea. The Xvario that i had was given a firmware update and its the camera i rather take to any trip.
As MingThein (a prodigy) always says “we have long passed the point of sufficiency” when it comes to digital camera performance. Although he is a victim of GAS too, he is the smart type, he makes money from GAS. We don’t.

Xvario at iso 800, 1/15, zero edit.
In my drawer and box is the nearly unused Titanium M6, the Kodak Retina II (type 011)

3. I sold off unused gears
While it was easy to justify buying, try selling. Today i sold off my Sigma SD15 and two(2) lenses. Selling them off is such a relieve because it frees the physical space its occupying in room and also, more importantly, it frees me mentally to focus on using whatever that is left. I am selling off some of the best lenses i have for my A7r collection too, reason simply is because reality is, i don’t need them.
Try selling your unused gears, you will have less inclination to get new ones. The responsibility associated with getting rid of items before getting new ones, would probably gives you resistances to acquire new ones.
I have plans to sell off the Titanium M6, Kodak RetinaII (type 011, 47mm f2) and all other lenses too, keeping just the Voightlander 28mm f2 and Leica R 90mm 2.8 for the Sony A7r.

4. They don’t really help.
Lets look at it this way. I am impressed with the Film Medium format results and focusing than i was ever with any 35mm digital’s autofocus and result. What this tells you is that, digital lure will just be a big circle of marketing and features that clearly adds nothing to your results. In fact, the experience and process of shooting is probably more important than result itself. Leica knows about this very well, thats why they are selling inspirational tool and is feature crippled in every way and still sell film cameras at Martian prices.
Do you need that new 23mm 1.7 Leica X? Your current fuji Em with 35/1.4 is so sufficient that you should use half of that savings into tutorials and education to improve your shooting. Heck, its probably enough to hire models for a year for your practice.

5. I stop reading Steve Huff’s site, or any gear lust site for that matter.
Steve’s a great blogger that writes excellent, salivating articles on gears just like many other sites. I have come to notice though that if you visit those sites with some small gear lust in your head, they will just ignite it for you, complete with links to buy now. Almost every new gears that is reviewed comes with subtle “buy” reasons such as “filmic grain”, “leica colors” and really nice images samples. As one old saying around here goes, “don’t visit the bar if you don’t intend to drink”.

If you don’t currently own any Camera, well that is a completely different story, drop me an email and your preferences and i will give you loads of free advice.

GAS Alert?
Free yourself and while ur at it, u see that coffee button up there on the right, buy me a coffee will ya. 😉