The Slippery Slope of Equipment Upgrade

A while back, I wrote a post about figuring out the right time to gear up. It's been quite a while since I bought new equipment. Aside from a portable tripod I bought for my Project: 90 Days, I haven't bought any camera equipment in over 5 years. It's also been over 3 years since I bought a computer. I'd been wanting a new camera since the first Canon 5D came out and really wanted a new camera when the Mk II was released. I've rented 5Ds and 1DS's for magazine shoots so I could really appreciate what I was missing with my 6-year-old 20D. I'd hear photographers say ISO 800 is the new 200 and be thinking, "not for me".

I recently was hired to shoot and edit two videos for a paving company. I was planning on shooting it with a rental 5D Mk II. I priced it out at the only camera rental place in Phoenix at a whopping $650 for the week (double the price of renting it in NYC). I started thinking about how much I had spent renting the camera and made the decision to use the job to fund some much needed equipment updates.

One of the first images I shot with my new camera and Lensbaby lenses.

Here's where the slippery slope comes into play. I, for one, can clamp down on spending when it's absolutely necessary. But, once the wallet is open, I have a hard time shutting it again (some people have this issue with drinking). Unfortunately, that is not the only pitfall along the path. I discovered, once I upgraded one piece, glaring inadequacies were revealed on other equipment. This led to a little shopping spree that burned through the revenue from the video job and then some. I had a little buyer's remorse but (almost) everything I bought was needed and will be used regularly. And, most importantly, everything was bought with cash and not put on a credit card.

Here's the result of the shopping spree:

Canon 5D Mk II - I love, love, love this camera. I love the way it feels, the way it sounds and, most importantly, the way it shoots. Being a film shooter originally, I was coveting a full-frame camera. Love shooting with my 17-40mm lens as wide as it will go (17mm for those not paying attention) and actually being able to see the lens vignetting that was cropped off on the 20D (I also love vignetting). I also love the low-light capabilities of this sensor, especially compared to my 20D. And, of course, the 1080p HD video has added a new dimension to what I can create.

MacBook Pro 13" - I started trying to edit HD video on my 3+ year-old MacBook and quickly realized it was not up to the task. I had upgraded my hard-drive and memory but that wasn't helping. I couldn't even record audio with Garage Band. I've been wanting an iMac but I knew they were getting ready to come out with a new version (which they did, today). So I decided to go with the small MacBook Pro to use until I was able to get a new iMac. I put 8GB in it and now I can record audio and edit HD video no problem.

Lensbaby Portrait Kit - I would say this is the frivolous part of my purchases. I didn't need these lenses but wanted to give myself a little creative boost and also put a little directional spin on my style. I had my eye on the Composer but looked at the portrait kit and decided on that. I hate to admit, but I was seduced by the special edition red Scout that was exclusively offered with the kit. These are fun lenses but will only be used sparingly.

G-Raid Mini - I had photos all over the place with some backed up and others not. I needed to get them organized and backed up. So I got the G-RAID mini and set it up for mirrored RAID. I am protected against mechanical failure but if something happens to the entire drive (theft, water damage) I'm not. I have it backed up on another hard drive for now but I have other plans for back-up.

Various accessories - Most notably, I needed to get some higher capacity memory cards. I had 2 1GB cards because my 20D was only 8 megapixels so that was enough. Now, with 21 megapixels and 1080 HD video, I decided to get three 16GB cards. I also got a Hoodman loupe kit for the camera. This is mostly used for video but the loupe can be useful in checking focus, especially when I use my manual lenses.

A video I did while playing with my new camera and Lensbaby Composer lens.

But I'm not done yet. Here's a few more things that are on my list for this year:

iMac - I'm going to wait, at least, until the new Mac OS (Lion) comes out to get this one because the completely new Final Cut Pro will be released at the same time. I've been wanting to get a desktop computer for a while. I currently use my laptop more as a desktop with an external monitor, keyboard and Magic Mouse.

G-Safe - This is a great drive for redundant back-ups. It has two drive bays with removable drives. I'll be using this to backup and store all my important files. I'm going to reconfigure my G-RAID mini drive to be a striped RAID for speed and use it as my working drive.

Lenses - Now that I have a full-frame camera, I have some significant gaps in the focal lengths that are ideal for what I do. My top two priorities are the Canon 50mm 1.2L and the 24-70mm 2.8L. I would like to get the 50mm first but will probably end up getting the 24-70mm because it is less expensive and more versatile.

Like I stated in my previous post: "if you can't afford it, you probably shouldn't buy it." I'm paraphrasing but I'm also walking the walk. Any of the future purchases I want to make will be on a cash basis because, at this point, I refuse to get into debt when it is not necessary.

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