It's true that I frequently test and use a wide range of gear. With numerous options at our disposal, not all gear is of equal quality. I'll readily admit that I've made some rather regrettable gear decisions. Reflecting on my inventory, I've chosen to revise the list of items that turned out to be poor choices.
Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6
This Canon zoom lens hails from the earlier days of EF USM lenses. Initially, it appeared to be a solid option, providing a broad focal range within a single lens and incorporating image stabilization to counteract hand tremors. All of these enticing features came with an affordable price tag of approximately $200 on the secondhand market. While I believed I had stumbled upon a gem, reality proved otherwise. The issue with superzoom and zoom lenses in general is their compromised sharpness — greater zoom often correlates with reduced sharpness. Moreover, the 28-135mm lens was designed for the entry-level market, not catering to professional users. My error was acquiring a secondhand lens with subpar build quality. This is a practice one should avoid, as budget lenses are prone to rapid wear and degradation, particularly if their prior owner wasn't gentle with them. Around 2-3 months into its use, signs of dysfunction began to surface. In certain zoom ranges, the aperture failed to close, triggering an error message in the camera. An examination revealed a broken flex cable connecting the aperture and the lens chips. I was forced to retire the lens after minimal use. It was replaced by the much more reliable 24-70mm f/2.8L, a lens I employ in every shoot to this day.
Canon 50mm f/1.8
I've expressed my opinion on the overrated status of this lens, and my stance hasn't changed. The 50mm f/1.8 is a rite of passage for many novice photographers, often owned without a thorough understanding of its potential or the capacity to truly appreciate its capabilities. Countless web pages are dedicated to photography with this lens, and let me assure you that most images bear striking similarities. One of the perks of being a novice photographer lies in the multitude of experimental opportunities with gear. Discovering your preferred focal length becomes much more manageable with a zoom lens. Over time, you'll likely realize that a substantial portion of your work is captured at a consistent focal length, even with a zoom lens. This realization led me to contemplate prime lenses — specifically, a 50mm f/1.4 or even an f/1.2 — given that much of my work revolves around this focal length. Nevertheless, investing further in full-frame lenses seems questionable, as the market offers enticing medium-format alternatives. To sum it up: refrain from splurging on primes when just starting out. Beyond the lackluster build quality of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, its focal length also fails to inspire and bring anything interesting to a beginner photographer. With that in mind, there is an appeal of 50mm, and funnily enough, most of my work is done at around that focal length. Nonetheless, if you want to play around with various composition ideas, the 50mm is not for you.
This remains unchanged from last year, and the years before. I still possess the Loupedeck I acquired in 2019, and it has gone untouched for the past four years. Initially, it appeared to offer an excellent solution for my editing workflow, allowing physical adjustments to every setting on an image. It seemed akin to an audiovisual deck. However, despite its promising concept, it fell short of my expectations for seamless adjustments. Transitioning from Lightroom to Capture One restricted the usability of the product, as it relies on simple keyboard shortcuts for incremental modifications—a functionality that doesn't seamlessly translate to Capture One. Even if I were to remain loyal to Lightroom, the basic adjustments facilitated by Loupedeck would still be limiting rather than time-saving. I've now streamlined my workflow by creating customized presets. The latest Capture One update features intelligent presets that consider aspects like exposure and temperature. This enables me to apply uniform adjustments to an entire shoot with just a few clicks in the software. I suggest updating your mouse and keyboard to get better results. Personally I use the notoriously unpopular Magic Mouse and Keyboard, and I love them.
Manfrotto 1004BAC Light Stand
This is an anomaly for me, but upon revisiting the assortment of stands in my possession, the Manfrotto 1004BAC stands out as a particularly pointless acquisition. In straightforward terms, it lacks the sturdiness and reliability of a C-stand or the larger Manfrotto 007 CSU stand. While these stands do pack away neatly and are easily transportable to on-location shoots, the advantages end there. The 1004BAC stand is unable to reliably support significant weight. Placing a light with a precision modifier such as a snoot renders it quite unstable. This stand's sole practical use lies in supporting backgrounds or carrying a light with a small softbox. If given the option, I would readily exchange my 1004BAC stands for C-Stands anytime. If anybody is seriously interested, shoot me a mail.
Camera Sling Bag
This item arrived in my mailbox, and although it seemed viable, it ultimately proved fairly impractical. It's possible that my camera isn't an ideal fit for this type of bag, but the concept of a sling bag appears to be inherently inconvenient. Such a bag, draping across your body, disrupts your appearance and accommodates fewer items compared to a conventional backpack. Presumably, when purchasing a sling bag, the intention is to carry a small camera, which, by itself, can be managed without a bag. After all, if you're shooting with something compact like a Leica or Fujifilm, carrying the camera without a bag is often simpler. A backpack offers greater practicality, even if it's slightly larger.
That concludes my list of poorly curated gear purchases. While the items themselves are not necessarily bad products, and there are markets for all of the ones mentioned in the article, they just don't work for my current setup. What are some gear acquisitions you've come to regret? Share your experiences in the comments!