A Photographer Lists the Gear He Regrets Buying

We've all bought things we either get buyer's remorse for, or somewhere down the line realize it wasn't a good investment. Here is one photographer and videographer's list of such regrets.

The longer you've been involved in photography, the more items appear on this list generally. I am far more restrained than I used to be. When I bought my first camera I used to do what so many new photographers do: I would look at the equipment used for a shot I like and attribute far too much credit to the items listed. Seldom could I afford to purchase them, but it certainly colored my purchases going forward.

I don't have any large regrets as I never spend any significant amount without a lot of thought and research, even during my worst period for impulse purchasing I didn't ever spend a lot. My worst purchase is without question the Canon 75-300mm telephoto lens which was extremely cheap second-hand for good reason. One of the softest lenses I've ever used, whether because I got a poor copy or it's just showing its age, it did not serve me well. I also bought an ultra-wide angle lens that was manual focus to do astrophotography, but couldn't do astrophotography anywhere near me. I don't have a single shot taken with it that I have kept, and I keep basically every image in focus.

What are the purchases you regret buying and why? Share them in the comment section below.

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28 Comments

LoL! I guess we all do that to start with. In my case, most of the stuff is forgotten except...

1. Tamron 70-300 non stabilised lens. My first long lens. The cheapest I could find.
2. Quite a few "macro" led flashes including multiple arms. Not used for years.
3. Too many diffusers. I don't use any of them now.
4. A couple of cheap tripods. Discarded.

I am sure there is more like filters and stuff, but, I have not used any such for years now. At the same time, I have always believed that there is a cost to learning and it happens...

I bought the Tamron 70-300 non stabilised lens for £40 and loved it for it's 0.5 'macro' or 0.8 on an APS-C. At the price I paid I can still get my money back.

I regret buying my tripod, I got it second hand, it's a Manfroto 055XPROB, it's a fine tripod, but so heavy I've only ever used it indoors or in the garden.

I regret getting the Laowa 12/2.8 with MSC. It's not that it isn't a good lens (short range; infinity focus with the shift converter is iffy) but I just don't use it enough given that I have a 12-24/4 and I'm doing real estate, not architecture.

Also regret getting a Canon 70-200/2.8 - it's not that it isn't a good lens, but I just don't really use it. Forced myself to go out and use nothing else for two days and feel like I missed a lot of shots I would've gotten with the 28-75. Cropping at 42mp is no big deal which makes this purchase all that more embarrassing in retrospect.

Also, I have DxO PL3 and don't use it at all. Got it for the prime denoise but I just use LR/PS for culling and editing and C1 for tethering (which I don't do much of, making it a questionable purchase for my own use as well). I'm using older computers and PL takes an impressively long time to export when compared with LR - could see using it more on a newer system.

Sometimes we can get lucky and avoid the expense in software. I purchased ON1, Luminar and Affinity and was about to get C1 and the DxO Nik 3 and Topaz apps, but, I opted for the trial versions first and am so happy I did :)

ON1 was the best purchase and am looking forward to the next update to see if they fix some issues there (which matter to me) and I would boot out LR and PS after that.

You really didn't find Nik 3 useful? I constantly use Silver Efex to make layers with brushed masks that get blended in luminosity mode to even out natural light and increase/reduce texture when I don't want to bother with frequency separation. To each their own, I suppose.

I do mostly wildlife and do only simple edits. Nik has still a long way to go to make their UI/UX consistent. I have the older version that does not work with the new PS, but, does not matter for my kind of stuff so far. No edits can make a bad shot good, and that has always been my intent. Get a good shot and make it better in Post.

Rick Knight's picture

Nitin Chandra Have you tried Pixelmator Pro.

I intend to do that soon...Got Affinity Photo and am experimenting with that first...

Mike Mantucca's picture

I definitely regretted buying the canon 7d mark ii. No matter what lens I used on it, I was never happy with the image quality. Had Canon look at it several times and claim nothing was wrong with it. It was a great day when I sold it for the 1dx Mark II.

I can relate to that...Never personally suffered, but, some friends got bad pieces of lenses and bodies which could never be corrected and had to buy a new one...

Ryan Cooper's picture

My biggest regrets were:

- Cheap Knock-off Speedlights (Yongnuo), all the reviews loved em, they were a source of endless headache for me.

- Nikon D750. I had heard all raving reviews so opted to go with it when my D800 died to save a few bucks. I've really regretted that one. The D750 is a fine camera but its poor AF coverage and lack of pro features really drives me nuts.

- Big tele-zooms. Anytime I get something like a 70-200, or 70-300, or whatever, I also buy it thinking about how awesome it seems, but it never leaves my camera bag. I've never used one that beats my primes in terms of IQ and they are a pain to hold while shooting.

- Eye-fi wireless tethering card. This thing was the definition of useless. Constantly dropped connection, even when 5 feet away from the laptop. Painfully slow transfer speeds. It was probably the biggest waste of money I've ever spent.

Agree with the Yongnuo part. Just a few shots with HSS destroyed it. Neweer is much better although, I use a Godox now.

Being a wildlife kinda person, 300mm is the minimum and not what I consider a big tele-zoom. I used the 70-300mm Nikkor for years and currently use the "GYM Certified Muscle Builder" Nikon 200-500mm. If I get really lucky I might get an overhead shot, with the 300mm it was a given...Nothing would get away!

Being a techie, I never even bothered with the Eye-Fi and variants...Thanks for justifying my thoughts :)

Your post about eye-fi brings brought back endless frustration trying to get it to work. I recently found those cards and cut them up with a scissor. Brought some closure but barely enough.

Videos I regret watching....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJTnepneDes

I don't get this guy. He regrets not buying one big hard drive instead of multiple drives. I would rather have data on multiple drives than one large capacity one especially a RAID system. I buy 3 drives every year and cycle one of them to an offsite location.

I also have a lot of gear that I don't use everyday but when I need it I am glad I have it. He says he regrets using the Zhiyun crane even though it paid for itself that assignment and one later down the road.

What more can you expect? I don't expect every piece of gear I own to provide a 10000x percent ROI.

LoL! Agree :)

Herco le Fevre's picture

I totally get it. I have had several HDD's of 1 or 2Tb laying around and lost overview. Now I've moved all my archives to one large RAID NAS that automatically backs-up to a Dropbox account. My working files are on a 2Tb SDD connected to my macbook and copied to the NAS every day. I have more overview and less worry...

Charles Mercier's picture

I'm not a professional but I regret not having bought better equipment in the past. Often I'm too cheap for my own good.

Same here and I guess true for most :)

Charles Mercier's picture

Not necessarily here! Another article referenced a "cheap" lens at $700! :-O

I've so far always bought cheap. I joined a camera club this last year and as an amatuer beginner, was a bit dismayed to be told they'd done away with the beginners section as the standards from modern cameras and the club members was better than beginner.
Any way by the end of my first year I got a highly commended photo ( not a first, second or third) from an external judge, so I recommend camera clubs.

Charles Mercier's picture

No when I say cheap, I mean $50 used 2 mp point and shoots.

I'd rather buy expensive with the reassurance that if I get in a pinch, I know I can get most of my money back out of it.

Charles Mercier's picture

Yeah - but when I bought $50 cameras - I still lost less than when you sold expensive equipment! LOL

Herco le Fevre's picture

Cheap tripods are the worst...

Swede Johnson's picture

A monopod.

On the upside, they're useful for all sorts of stuff. Like silencing that chirping smoke detector ;)

Herco le Fevre's picture

As we're all suffering in some way from Gear Acquisition Syndrome, this is sound advise: think before buying and usually your second thoughts are mostly right. Unfortunately in the Netherlands were I live, we don't have specialized rental companies such as Lens Rentals. The stuff you can rent here is mostly basic cameras and lenses. Not the specialty ones. I recognize the 8-16 Fujinon thing. Fortunately, I was able to rent that. Buying it first and selling second-hand wouldn't have been easy with an expensive and specialty lens like that. At least not here in the Netherlands.

My personal regret buy was a full set of Lume Cubes incl. all accessories. Even though it was not that expensive ($250 or so), I've never really used it. It's got nothing to do with the quality of the product, but with the perception that buying something will change your behavior or way of working. It rarely does...

One remark though. Gear doesn't pay for itself. You cannot say "I'm a carpenter and this $30 hammer made me a $40.000 cabin". It's the creative time you've put into it that made you the money. The gear is just the tool and though it's essential to the end result, so are many other things. Like the car you used, to drive over to the customer... your website and mail account... So when you do need to buy stuff for a one-off assignment and you cannot rent it, make sure it gets paid for for that assignment + for your time... (and resell afterwards).

Jon Miller's picture

By far the worst purchase I made was the Metz 76 MZ-5 digital with all the trimming for the Canon system, used it once and did not like it as it would not talk to my other flashes and that also taught me to never believe in a sales person.