Are These the Most Absurd Photography Purchases You’ve Ever Seen?

Photography might well be the most gear-intensive pastime on the planet, which means that while there is some incredible gear available for purchase, there are also plenty of duds to waste your money on. Are these some of the worst photography purchases you've seen?

I'm not an impulsive buyer by any stretch of the imagination. When I get an inkling that I want something, I tend to go through a pattern of extensive research followed by even more intensive vacillating. So when I finally get to the stage where I'm ready to lay down my hard-earned cash, I'm generally confident that I won't soon get a case of buyer's regret. However, I have made some horrible purchases over the years. I think my worst was buying a camera bag that could hold my entire range of lenses. It had more pockets and nooks than an underground tunnel network. But as soon as I got it, I knew I'd stuffed up. After I'd put all my gear in, I could barely stumble out the door because it was so heavy. And why on earth would I need every lens on a day trip? I've made a few other embarrassing purchases that I'd rather not own up to, as well.

And that brings us to this great video by Henry Turner, in which he shares seven of his most absurd photography purchases. It's important to note that at the outset, Turner is at pains to say that it's an entirely subjective list that may differ for everyone. One of the most interesting purchases he speaks of is ND grad filters. The reason he says it was a terrible purchase is that you can do the exact same job in post-production, or in-camera through bracketing. It's a hot topic these days with all the AI advancements suggesting the day might come when photography is little more than data manipulation on software. He has a few other good ones too. Give the video a look and let me know some of your worst photography purchases over the years.

Iain Stanley's picture

Iain Stanley is an Associate Professor teaching photography and composition in Japan. Fstoppers is where he writes about photography, but he's also a 5x Top Writer on Medium, where he writes about his expat (mis)adventures in Japan and other things not related to photography. To view his writing, click the link above.

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I once saw a guy in a camera store, clearly knowing nothing about cameras but having lots of money and wanting to impress, amble over to the medium format display, point to a 645, and ask, "How about that one?"

If he can afford it, it's his choice, right? You don't have to be a racing driver to buy a Ferrari

You do if its their F1 car.

Was that worth adding? How exactly does it fit into the topic of discussion?

Of course it does, hugely expensive medium format camera systems are seen as the pinnacle of photography hardware, in the same way that the F1 cars (and possibly the FFX which also cant just be bought and used on a road, it has to be track only, but can be purchased by the ultra rich) are the pinnacle of Ferrari's hardware.

Both cases should be left to purely specialist use, and in the case of the camera, it being available to the public doesnt change that.

"...should be left to purely specialist use"

So, as a hobbyist photographer who has the means to purchase whatever he desires, I should not be ALLOWED to buy a 645 camera? Or, I should feel somehow undeserving because I am not at the pinnacle of medium format photography? I would thank you to not tell me how to spend my money.

Thanks for completely missing the point. At least you got the Walter Mitty part right.

You're welcome. There was a point?

Oh, and in case you are wondering, my birth name is Wendelin Mitterbach. I was adopted by an American GI and his wife after I was orphaned in Germany. It is the nickname that my parents gave me to remind me of my heritage. So, it is not an allusion to Thurber.

Nah, you're just another sad no life troll on this website, with zero content and nothing of use to contribute.

There really wasn't a point to be made. If it's in a shop and someone wants to buy it and can afford to then they will.

Nobody is saying that you cant physically do it, just questioning the reasoning behind why someone would want to do it.

We cant sit here and deny that certain people will walk into a shop and say 'whats the most expensive item in the shop, ill have that'... if this wasn't true, Balenciaga wouldn't exist.

We also should be able to call out that behaviour as incorrect, because it is.

It's not 'incorrect' for an amateur or anyone else to buy a medium format camera. You should really check that envy, it's a nasty trait.

As a photographer I have needs & wants. The needs come first and it always based on dollars invested verses dollars returned. I own all my needs & I have no desire to upgrade to the latest technology. At 70 years of age all the high tech is not going to make me a better photographer.

I disagree about the graduated ND filters. There are times when you have to get the image in one shot. Range is too big to do it in post processing in one shot, and stuff in the scene may be moving. This guy is concentrating on landscape, but it can apply there. Vegetation moving on a windy day, and waves on water moving are examples. You can come up with others that aren't technically landscapes, but are shot outdoors. That car going past on the highway. You want to stop its motion. You have to nail it in one shot, tame a sky than can't be handled in post.

The remote trigger is good when you don't want to be close to action that can be dangerous, or you don't want to disturb your subject. You can come up with numerous situations such as for wildlife. This guy is speaking from a landscape point of view, but not all of us shoot only landscapes.

"This guy is speaking from a landscape point of view, but not all of us shoot only landscapes". Yep that's the danger of internet "tips".

On the graduated filter, this guy is absurd. I can see people who want to get as close to what they want in camera. That may not be me, in fact I don't do any landscape, but getting locked with your decision is pretty good thing to do. I will always respect someone who plans and makes it happen.
On the remote, give me a break. Shooting tethered is the same as shooting with a remote and plenty of us do this in advertising. Additionally if you want to combine photos in landscape, the remote will be your friend. Or you can use AI and let it alter the photo for you but again, it's matter of planning before rather than planning to fix later.
The real problem is that this sites should categorize the articles. There is no generic photography in the real world.

"Are These the Most Absurd Photography Purchases You’ve Ever Seen?"

Well, it's not a video of me falling for yet another camera bag, so no.

I hear you've you been looking for the ultimate camera bag... Can I interest you in....

"Can I interest you in...."