It’s not something you hook up to the BBQ, add to your tank in the car, or use antacids to combat. G.A.S. stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome, and it affects, guitarists, audiophiles and photographers alike.
Now I like reading about new cameras and photo equipment as much as anyone. But there is a big difference between looking stuff up on the Internet and actually putting out the cash to buy it. Here’s an example:
This is my Lumix ZS50 from 2016. I’ve written about it before. It’s been on a number of holidays with me and generally works well. It has a smallish sensor that can be noisy in low light, but it also has a huge zoom lens, is lightweight, features a viewfinder unlike many cameras in its class.
Panasonic has put out a few newer models but they mostly upgraded the video capability and that’s not something I use much – if at all.
Where I have problems with G.A.S. is when trying to take these low light photos such as this one inside the Gesu in Rome. Once in a while the combination of very high ISO, slow shutter speed, and wide aperture doesn’t work and I get blurry or very noisy images.
Panasonic has come up with another model that has a bigger sensor. In theory that should make the lower light photos more practical. However:
- The camera is significantly more expensive, heavier, and doesn’t have as good a zoom range.
- I already have a camera which would completely solve the problem of low light. It’s a DSLR that is bigger and much heavier – but I don’t want to travel with a heavy kit any longer.
- I am lucky to get photos as good as the above in low light. 20 years ago, even with a heavy film-based kit, I would not have been able to take a photo in the church. at all. I was constrained by low film ISO and slow zoom lenses.
There are creative ways to take an image in low light inside a church. I could use a slower shutter speed, lean up against a pillar, take a few exposures to see if one of them is less shaky, or prop the camera on a chair or front of a pew. Lots of options to avoid G.A.S.
This picture was taken without flash by my nine-year-old granddaughter Veronica. She didn’t like my focal length so zoomed in a bit.
Veronica has an aptitude for photography – but let’s face it – if a kid can get decent results with a camera I already own, what’s the point of upgrading?
There is no one camera that can combine light weight, good low light performance (larger sensor), long zoom range, fast lens, and affordable price. Such a model would defy the laws of physics and economics.
Since I already have a good model that features affordability, compact size and great zoom range I’ll have to make the creative compromises to use it in low light situations.
If and when the camera needs to be replaced, I can revisit the list of criteria above. In the meantime I’ll do my best to avoid G.A.S.
Besides, I already have another way to get creative; I can figure out how to take good pics with my smartphone.