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Is anyone else here an "Equipment Minimalist?"

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by SoCalBob, May 23, 2007.

  1. SoCalBob


    Feb 9, 2006
    Riverside, CA
    Just wondering. Not unexpectedly, the Cafe's most prolific and tremendously helpful contributors seem to be either extremely dedicated, devoted and very expert hobbyists or professionals. Despite the fact that I simply lurk most of the time, I love the camaraderie here. The Cafe isn't just another website, it really is a family.

    But I'm always hesitant to post my photos here because the vast majority of them simply can't compare with all the others that I see. Mostly, though, I lose interest sometimes when discussions turn to the relative merits of this or that lens that costs $1000 or more. More power to those who can afford expensive cameras and equipment, but I'm not in that league. I'm a simply a hobbyist now (even though photography has been my primary interest for 50 years), and I try to make the best of what I can afford.

    So I am what you might call an "Equipment Minimalist." I consider myself a reasonably capable photographer technically, but really just a hobbyist at this time, nonetheless -- not a truly "serious" photographer or pro. In that context, I like to travel light these days, and not be weighed down by a gadget bag full of assorted lenses like I once was. So when Nikon announced an 11x zoom with VR and the reviews looked very good, I was immediately sold on it.

    My prayers for one "do just about everything" lens were answered when the 18-200VR came out, and my preference was to spend "big bucks" (at least on my budget) for one lens like this instead of choosing 2-3 different ones that I'd have to carry around and change all the time.

    How light do I travel? Here's all I carry.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Nikon D80 with 18-200VR attached, 50mm f/1.8D, Canon 500D closeup lens, spare battery, memory card, etc., all packaged in a very small, well-padded camcorder case that I bought at Wal-Mart for $20. It's all I need to take pictures.
  2. Are you joking Bob ? All of us know that it's impossible to take a good portrait without a "portrait lens", a nice landscape without a "landscape lens", a macro without a dedicated "macro lens" !!!

    We also can't take an image if not using a tripod, with the latest most expensive "ball-head", and -well, maybe not everytime but for 99% of the cases-, an SB-800 flash !!!

    How dare you ask such a naive question ???

  3. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    I envy your kit Bob.
  4. First let me say that your self discription fits me as well.
    Second I wouldn't call myself a "Equipment Minimalist," but lately the only things that I carry with me are the D200 w/18-200 lens mounted and a 50mm lens in the bag with a microfiber cloth. I call it my "oudoor/indoor light setup".
  5. Great humour JPS, but you are right... we all envy the time when we weren't hit by the lens lust :)  :)  :) 
  6. yes ......and.....no

    Whilst I have a fair bit of kit in my main bag (kata R-103), I will be mostly using my minimalist kit - which will be a D70 with 18-200VR, Nikkor 50 F/1.8, canon 500D and SB600 all housed in a Slingshot 200

    Nice and light, covers most situations.
  7. Wow, that's commendable.
    I'd have a heavier wallet if I didn't have as many lenses to carry. The tradeoff, I suppose.

    For walking around town in the daytime, I'm good with the 18-135 and 60mm.
    For evening walks, I normally take the 35mm by itself, maybe the 50mm will come along as well.

    I try to go with only 2 lenses at a time. The 18-200VR would probably suit me very well but I'm just not sure I would be happy with the IQ given how I'm used to the quality of prime lenses at this point but I could be convinced easily. Once the wallet agrees, of course :wink:
  8. bob swanson

    bob swanson Guest

    :cool: Although I shouldn't be considered a "minimalist" since I have to outfit 4 wedding photographers every weekend, I do travel fairly light when shooting for fun. My kit is similar to yours. D-70, extra battery, 18-200 and 1.7 extender. If I have a specific objective (zoo) than I'll more than likely add my 80-400, tripod and a flash. If I'm shooting flowers, than the only lense I use is a macro. Remember that line from the Godfather? I don't want him coming out of the mensroom just holding his #######.
  9. jcovert

    jcovert Guest

    I'm not sure if you're looking for opposing discussion, but I honestly feel differently than you about the whole thing. Ever since I was a kid, every time I dipped my toe into photography (usually by purchasing some highly-advertised P&S), I was always attracted to the beautiful photos they showed in the ads, only to be dissappointed later by the results.

    My first camera was a Kodak 'Disc' camera. I hung it around my neck, had little circular film, very handy size to use. Pictures were not magazine quality however! :biggrin:

    Then, I got a CoolPix 5700. If the shooting conditions were good, it produced images that *almost* looked like magazines.

    Then, I got the D70+18-70Dx. It too produced images that were *almost* magazine, but at least it could do it in poor shooting conditions for a change.

    Then, I got a 35mm F2 prime, and I got what I always wanted. Technically High-quality pictures under poor shooting conditions.

    I can understand not having the money for the expensive lenses. I doubt my budget will allow me to soar much higher myself. But I can appreciate, at the image level, what those lenses do. And I'm just a hobbyist. And I don't have a lot of $$. I just don't think you have to be a pro to appreciate those images. And there's no such thing as 'too much' image quality to me.

    I can understand either going all out with dSLR and the best glass you can afford (and the associated extra effort in your picture taking as well), or getting a highly-capable P&S that's small enough to wear as a necklace. But I don't understand the middle-ground very well. SLR's seem like too much trouble unless you REALLY care about IQ.

    Just my .02 of course, no offense intended.
  10. Minimalism OK as long as you keep it simple.

    I once went to Europe with just one body and a 35mm f/2 lens. Worked out fine, although sneaker-zoom kept me pretty busy.

    Last time I went I took just D2x and 12-24 DX and 28-300 G lenses, plus a D70 body as emergency backup. Also worked out fine.

    I tend to travel with just a couple lenses, but those lenses can vary quite a bit from the available selection. For trip to Florida in March I took just three lenses, a D200 and a D40 body for emergency backup.


    (sig is sort of a joke)
  11. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Bob :

    I've done it both ways, minimalist and "gearhead", and it's worked and failed for both cases.

    The minimalist approach has worked better for me whenever I've been on a vacation that's not photographically oriented, and I plan to take good photos, but not to have photos be a major or the major reason for the trip. When the focus (pun intended) has been the experience and the time away, minimalism has worked pretty well, but I've almost always sacrificed shots I simply couldn't sneaker-frame or backstep, or otherwise arrange my position to address, or where low light and no substantial tripod simply meant a lost shot. I didn't have the 18-200mm for the last one I did of these, but I was fairly successful with the 24-120mm VR/AFS.

    The "gearhead" approach has been excellent when I've had photography at the top of the list for the trip, and planned interesting shooting of say, wild birds, or landscapes, or night city shooting, and certain lenses were essential for the subjects. It's been a pain to lug gear around, but then, I had the lens or tripod at hand to land some shots when I simply couldn't manage otherwise. I won't bother with a laundry list of lenses, but I would have a big backpack filled for all of this. You simply can't shoot at, for example, the Bosque del Apache with "short glass" and get closer photos of the birds. Even your 18-200mm lens would come up short.

    There is, of course, a middle ground, with a minimal kit for expected conditions, but not the absolute minimum of one body/one lens. I carry this around for day-to-day and some travel, and I get a darned good percentage of the shots that I'd like, missing some, but capturing images I couldn't if I just went with one lens (e.g., low light evening shooting with one "fast lens" when I was in Japan and Korea). I can do an awful lot with three lenses (e.g., 12-24mm, 24-120mm, 28mm f/1.4 for Japan/Korea), and even a fair bit with two lenses in such kits.

    Thom Hogan's written some pretty good articles on this subject, and further commented on his mentor's - Galen Rowell - manner of addressing this issue. Thom's one of the more knowledgeable and thoughtful commentators on Nikon gear, and I've found his discussions pretty illuminating and interesting.

    The entire zoom vs. prime debate also plays into this in a major way for some people. I can walk around with a 12-24mm, 28-70mm, and a 70-200mm and capture almost any situation that's not distance wildlife, or pack a 28mm, 58mm, and a 105mm for similar conditions. The zooms will give me flexibility, while the primes will give me lower light capability. Depends on my mood that day what I might do, but then, I'm not one of the people who considers that I have to work exclusively with just primes or just zooms.

    What it comes down to for me is appropriate choices for the conditions I expect. I don't find myself feeling that I have to lug every lens that I own around with me, but I also don't feel that I have to leave all but one home either. Heck, there are even times when I don't have a camera with me at all ! :wink:

    John P.
  12. I've already started down-sizing my kit and just can't bring myself to let lenses go, even the ones I don't use......terminal sickness I think, or mental unbalance
  13. I have a foot in both camps. When it comes to paying jobs, or times when I think the pictures are going to be used in an important way, I'll bring the whole kit (with a two umbrella lighting kit soon to be added to that! :biggrin:) . However, there are times when I don't want to be burdened. For those, I'll bring my camera and one lens I think will work best. Or, lately, I'll bring my old Minolta SRT101, a 50 1.7, and a couple rolls of film. That's minimalist for me!!! :smile: I will not be paring down my gear, though. Even when I want to "go light", I like to have lots of choices!
  14. wbeem


    Feb 11, 2007
    Sanford, FL
    William Beem
    When I was a kid, I loved my father's tools. A bunch of wrenches here, another set of screwdrivers, a set of socket-wrenches, etc. After he passed away, I made sure I got that toolkit. I wouldn't want to carry it around with me, but it's nice to have the right tool for a job.

    I think I'm taking the same approach to photography. The tools are much more expensive, but they last. I don't have to collect everything at once, and I don't have to carry the whole kit with me on each outing. However, I do love that I have some choices. I've developed some favorites that I use more than others, but there's also a little joy in picking up a tool that I rarely use and engaging it in the right task.

    My name is Bill and I'm a gear-aholic.
  15. Minimalist for me is a Pentax SV, no lightmeter and 50mm f1.8 Takumar...
  16. I am one

    Bob, I use to want a lens for everything, to think I started with a D70s and the 18-70mm which I made great pictures with. The equipment is not the most important part of the equation, the person using it is.

    You found what works for you and I ma sure you take stunning images. I am still looking and I do miss the days of one one camera one lens, these days I seem to favor one lens over any other and I have only one camera body.

    I am down to two lenses one of which will be sold within a couple of days. Like you, this is mainly a hobby for me.
  17. John I like the way you put it, I should leave my camera at home more often. I am going myself towards a mix of lenses zoom and primes, I hope to have no more than 5 lenses one of these for Macro pictures, knowing full well that in most situation one lens will suffice for me for the type of shooting I do, as such two lenses would more than suffice for me however for some pictures I'd need faster or more flexibility....
  18. Well, for once, I'm glad I'm poor! Since I don't have much money, I didn't buy all the lenses I wanted. It's a good thing. When I grab a bag to go, it has my D70 and usually my 50/1.4. Sometimes it'll be the 28/1.8 instead. On very rare occasions, I will take both. I have been thinking about a D50 and a Sigma 30/1.4HSM. And using that as my point and shoot, carry everywhere kit. When I am in the film mood, I take the N6006 and a 24/2.8 or the 50/1.4.

    So...I was forced into being a minimalist and I am happier for it.
  19. nancyr


    Feb 14, 2006
    La Jolla, CA
  20. :biggrin:
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