A Picture is Worth a Thousand Dollars in Purchases

Tools make the man.  The more tools a man has, the more versatile he can be.  Or at least that’s what I’m trying to tell myself as I drop dollar after dollar into a new pseudo-hobby, photography.

Anyone that is into photography is probably nodding or smiling right now.  I went for quite a while without being bitten by the gear bug.  And I sometimes scoffed when I’d hear of people buying lens after lens for their addiction.  Meanwhile, I was getting by with my little Nikon D40 and the kit 18-55 lens.  Getting by, yes, but I was a little bothered by not being able to shoot at anything distant.  Looking at telephoto lenses, I was rather freaked out that a single lens cost more than my whole kit did, and that is what kept me grounded.

But then, another hobby began to intersect with my photography: autocross.  Cars are always a popular photography subject, and guys love seeing their cars in action.  This could be some way that I could contribute to the racing club. (I am finding that a lot of my ambitions involve contributing or giving.)  So I made my first purchase of a new lens, a 55-200 f/4-5.6 telephoto for $150.  It was a little painful, but the price was decent.  The lens has served me very well, and when I saw the quality of the pictures I could take, the kit lens never went back on my camera.

But then, another subject came along: roller derby.  My first attempt at shooting fast-action sports in a low-light setting was filled with blur and fail.  Of the photos I was able to salvage, I termed them “artistic”, pretending that the small in-focus area and massive out-of-focus areas were by design.  This inadequacy forced upon me a new lens purchase, one that hurt greatly.  I bought an 85mm f/1.8 lens for $500.  After two sessions with this lens, I’ve learned to get some impressive shots and am getting very positive feedback.  After all, like cars, women are always a popular photography subject and women love seeing their bodies in action.

I suppose this is a natural next step for amateur photogs and it’s one I’m just being proactive on.  But now, in the very beginning stages of being viewed as the team photographer, it’s extremely likely I’ll be asked to take promo photographs.  It’s something I’d be happy to do, as a contribution to the team.  However, my gear isn’t suitable for high-quality portrait shots.  The kit lens could work in a pinch, but wouldn’t have the quality of what I’d been doing with the other lenses.  Sigh.  So now I’ve bought a 35mm f/1.8 lens for $200. 

I hope that I’m done now.  I have short, medium, and long ranges covered.  The only things I feel I’m missing (and things I don’t need at this time) are ultra-short (macro) and ultra-long (300mm) ranges.  The short and medium lenses are nice and fast.  The telephoto would likely always be used outdoors, so its speed is acceptable. 

Grand tally so far for this minor hobby, $1200.  Looking at it a different, more positive way, I have a nice investment in lenses that can be carried forward if I get a new camera body (please, let me not need a new body soon).

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