The weight of gear, and lightening the load

Every piece of gear has two specific weights.

The first is the physical weight. How heavy the thing is. The second is far heavier. It’s the weight of potential.

What is the purpose of a camera?

It’s a way to make art. It’s a machine that keeps memories. It’s a device that stops time for a fraction of a second and makes that instant last a century. A camera is a tool. Something we can use to capture our environment. A camera’s purpose is to take pictures. Nothing more. nothing less.

So if you’re not using the camera for its stated and designed purpose, what are you using it for?

I looked at my shelves recently, and realized, I have cameras that I am not using for their purpose. I have to get rid of some of that weight.

So I began to make phone calls, send text messages, post on Twitter.

People I knew who admired this or that camera for this or that reason got contacted. They were offered, and they were given. Further decisions made.

What’s left?

Two medium format cameras, a SLR and a rangefinder. Two 35mm SLRs and a scattering of lenses. Three 35mm rangefinders. Two of those are XAs, and together take less space than one full size. One large format I use sporadically, a second under construction. The others were given away. Fewer things will be sold. Every instant film camera I have will be gone.

One of the 35mm SLRs will either be repaired or replaced. The other is in my walk around bag and gets regular exercise when the weather isn’t brutal. It turns out not buying anything new for a year was a good warm up for this exercise.

Keeping a camera and not using it is denying it’s purpose. If you want to get something and just sit it on a shelf, get a rock. Rocks are OK just sitting on shelves. Don’t do that to a camera.

Here’s the odd thing, after I realized the true weight of my cameras, I started hating them.They were taking up space, holding me down both literally and metaphorically.

I want to move forward with less weight on my shoulders, with a lighter step, with less weighing me down. And with less dead weight, I want to move forward with more purpose. Purpose that will benefit from better concentration on fewer things, and the better results I think that will give me.

 I’ve got a few more to give away, at least one to sell. I’ll always offer on Twitter first.


  1. March 8, 2018

    I shed all my dead camera weight in the last few years. I used to pack like four formats and a pile of lenses with me on every trip, and realized I missed more shots because I couldn’t settle on the right camera to capture the scene I was about to miss. Good job simplifying!

    • Andrew
      March 9, 2018

      Many thanks!

  2. March 8, 2018

    Hey! I’m always interested in a film camera. And I don’t do Twitter.

    • Andrew
      March 9, 2018

      Twitter is pretty much all I do. I’ve abandoned FB since no one actually saw what I posted there anymore. Ello never caught on. Blogger is way too quiet. Instagram doesn’t allow much interaction. Not a lot of great choices anymore.

  3. Rei
    March 17, 2018

    I don’t believe in dead weight. Nostalgia perhaps, but my collection of vintage cameras speaks to my love of the medium, whether I’m using them or not. I’m inspired to keep shooting when my Yashicas and my first 35mm Stare back at me.

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