I used to think that in order to be a serious photographer, I needed the best gear. The best gear usually translated to the heaviest gear — large aperture lenses, big camera bodies and a big backpack to hold it all. I lusted after this gear. When I get that 70-200 mm f/4 lens with the super nice image stabilization, I told myself, “I’ll finally be able to take a shot of that deer that I see every night at dusk when I’m driving home from work”. The problem is that when I actually got that lens, I never had it with me when the moment struck to pull over on the side of the road and get the shot. It was always at home, in the backpack, waiting for a weekend photo outing.
You always hear that in order to become a great photographer, you need to have your camera with you all the time. I always wanted to be that guy, the guy who carried around his DSLR all the time, but to tell you the truth, I already carry a backpack, lunch bag and gym bag out to my car every morning. I tried to carry my big camera bag too. It worked for a few weeks, but inevitably I’d wind up putting it in the car each morning, and then taking it out (along with the three other bags) when I got home…with no photos on the memory card. Then the next day I forget to take it with me or just not feel like it, and kick myself when the sunrise/clouds/sunset/rainbow/storm/light/fog/foliage on the Hudson River looked amazing and I had no gear with me.
After coming back from a trip to Paris in the summer of 2013 and lugging more photo equipment than I ever had in the past, I started to give some serious thought to the emerging world of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. As photographers I think we’re always trying to get the best quality we can in the smallest package, without sacrificing control. I really wanted to do more, with less! Was it possible though? Smaller usually meant that you were sacrificing something…mostly image quality, low light performance or lenses that will give you a “professional look” in your photos. Trust me, those were all worries of mine! But, I did some reading and after a few days of research I settled on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and initially paired it with the 12mm f/2.0 lens. Since I shoot mostly landscapes, I thought a nice wide prime would be the best to start with. What I didn’t expect was that 5 months later the OM-D would be my go to camera, and I would only grab the DSLR a handful of times.
Less gear doesn’t mean that I still don’t lust after camera gear. Trust me, I love knowing what new lenses are coming out, and what kind of tech is going to be in the next camera body. It’s my sports. I take the bus down to New York City every October to check out the photo expo and see all the new gear. B&H Photo is still a place where dreams come true! But, now I do all this and carry a small shoulder bag (which is so small that it actually fits inside of my laptop bag that I carry to work each day!), with an extremely capable camera and handful of lenses and feel 100% ready to tackle any photo I’d want to take, while at the same time not drawing a lot of attention to myself. I’m able to do more with less, since I no longer feel like the camera is an impediment, but rather a beautiful little tool that I can bring out when I need it, and quickly toss back into my bag.