We’ve all been there – you have multiple lenses and sometimes there’s one or two that you hardly ever use.
What is it about getting new gear that makes it so irresistible? Truth be told, I’m not sure what it is about acquiring new gear but it definitely gets to me like it does to so many others. You know how it is – there’s that one lens that you’re so sure you’ll use before you buy it only to go through with purchasing it and months later, you find that you hardly ever have it on your camera. Indeed, for many film photographers, myself included, we own several cameras since for such a long time they were relatively inexpensive. In such cases where photographers have multiple cameras, there tends to be one or two that get 90% of the use and the rest just sit there making the shelf they sit upon look interesting. Should any of the above describe you at all, I would argue that you should make a point to get out there with your little loved gear.
Why force yourself into a situation that’s out of the norm? I would argue that the most important reason is to force yourself to be see things in a different way. That, by removing the opportunity to lean on the lenses you’ve become accustomed to, you’ll put yourself in situations where you’re forced to be creative and think differently than you normally do. Further, I would go so far as to argue that if the overwhelming majority of your work is done with the same 1-2 cameras and/or 1-2 lenses, you may well be using those kits as a crutch, keeping you from adapting to new perspectives.
There’s also a financial incentive to taking out your little-used gear. Namely, if you own a lens or camera that only very rarely gets used, then taking it out and getting some use out of it helps rationalize the money you spent on it in the first place. Secondly, should the experience be quite painful and you realize just why you rarely use that gear, you would presumably also realize that you don’t need it and could potentially sell it to support other endeavors or gear that would better suit your needs in the present.
Personally, for so long I had found myself always gravitating towards 35mm lenses for everything I did. So much so that whatever camera had my Nikon 35mm f/2 on it was the camera I would likely pick up to take out. In fact, when I picked up my first 645 camera, I was sure to pick up a lens that had approximately the same angle of view. After a couple years of swearing off 50mm lenses, I made a point to use my 50mm equivalent lens on my Mamiya 645 (80mm) for a couple rolls of film. After a while, I decided to pick up a 50mm for my digital camera and at this point, I use it more often than any of my other focal length lenses. Had you told me that’d be the case last year, I would never have believed you!
What about you? Do you have a camera or lens that you don’t find yourself hardly ever using? When was the last time you took that gear out?