The Long Hard Grind to Buying Camera Gear

Shanti gives a blessing at Ananda Sangha. DEEP CROP of photo taken with the Canon EOS 6D and 135mm F/2 L lens.

For those who walk the spiritual path, acquiring high-tech gear can be fraught with dangerous pitfalls and bright advantages.

The pitfall is when we let our egos, or our desires, drive our purchasing decisions. This is invariably a dangerous mistake.

Case in point: when I sold a Canon full-frame 6D body and two wonderful lenses (135/2 and 24-105/4) because I was swept off my feet by the attractions of a small mirrorless camera, the Fujifilm X-T20. (This was 3-4 years ago.)

Whereupon I promptly fell for a Craigslist scam that ended up costing me $1100. In retrospect, it’s clear to me that I should have stopped, prayed, listened, and offered the camera-swapping decision fully into God’s hands before plunging ahead, driven by glowing rainbow clouds of emotional enthusiasm.

No, make that “I should prayed and then listened HARD and CONTINUOUSLY….”

I suppose the lesson to be learned from my unfortunate experience is obvious. Normally I would NEVER have fallen prey to those internet scammers, but my discernment was strangely clouded. Conclude what you will; I believe the takeaway is that every penny in all of the three created universes is contained wholly and entirely in God’s purse, and needs to be spent with appropriate care.

The advantages, for spiritual seekers, of buying tech gear the “right” way is that it can greatly help us in our service to God’s work. And for those who have savored the sweet nectar of service, that makes useful and usable gear highly attractive.

Swami Kriyananda urged us to be very careful when seeking God’s guidance, even as we do our spiritual “due diligence” — praying and meditating with utmost sincerity, and then keeping an ear open and unobstructed by personal desires as we act. Swamiji advised us to take one step forward and then listen again — never presuming that God’s counsel, once received, will be unchanging for an entire course of action (like an all-day amusement park pass).

After the fiasco that I mentioned above, I ended up selling the Fuji camera because, although the pictures were sweet in their way, they could not match the splendors of the photos taken with the older full-frame Canon 6D. I’ve now used my second 6D with its second-generation lenses for about two years happily, and I would be MOST reluctant to part with it.

For video, I had used a tiny GoPro Hero 8 Black camera for several years. It was wonderful. It was tiny — I could hide it in a fist — yet it produced spectacularly good 4K video and had fantastic built-in image stabilization that made the footage very smooth. It was also cheap at $400. But a major obstacle with the GoPro was its size — the screen was just too tiny to allow me to shoot all manner of scenes of life in our Ananda community and Sangha in reasonable comfort and effectively. Adding an external monitor was not a viable solution, as users reported that there would be an unsatisfactory delay between the image being recorded in the camera and appearing on the monitor.

In short, after lots of prayer and careful thought, and after studying dozens of YouTube videos, I chose to sell the GoPro and acquire a Canon M50 mirrorless camera.

I’ve had the M50 for about two weeks now, and so far it has served very well. I’ve shot two events — a community garden market day, and Asha Nayaswami’s surprise birthday celebration — and I will no doubt have a lot more to say about it as we go along.

For now, camera-savvy readers may be interested in a few initial reactions. I wrote the following in response to a video on a favorite YouTube channel, Tech Gear Talk. The host asked us to comment about our experiences using various lenses with the M50, including full-frame Canon EF lenses adapted for use with the small mirrorless body. Here goes —

Hello Sagi. I’ve only had the M50 for two weeks, but in VERY brief testing I’m liking what I’m seeing from the full-frame EF 135mm F/2 lens adapted with the Canon EOS M2 adapter or Viltrox speed booster.

The 135 is tremendous on full-frame camera bodies for portraiture and stage, and it’s so extremely sharp with wonderful micro-contrast that it makes photos that are very pleasantly croppable. Which means that on FF it gives me the equivalent of a 300mm F/2 (480mm F/2 on M50? Yikes!).

I’m looking forward to further exploring what the 135 can do on the M50. I realize it’s an “exotic,” one of those lenses that yield results so very pretty that you might not use it often but you adore it when you do.

I bought the M50 largely because of your enthusiasm and have not been disappointed. Am finding it exceeds expectations for video. I used it to shoot two events handheld, the first with “mobile” tripod, the second with a Sirui monopod – both worked well, but the Zhiyun Crane handheld stabilizer is looking tempting. I also use a Segway MiniPro for video – “ride and gun” for lots of fun, but not best in tight spaces or on rough terrain.

Thank you again for these very helpful videos.

P.S. I got the EF-S 10-18 and LOVE it for video – it’s wonderful for capturing people close-up while including some of the surroundings; also for shooting in tight spaces, e.g., indoors.

P.P.S. Audio is surprisingly “not too bad” on the M50! Good to know when I’m too lazy to attach an external recorder and sync the audio in post, or just want to travel light. That said, the M50 with Sony PCM-M10 handheld recorder mounted on top is cute! 🙂 (The long-discontinued M10 is phenomenal – audio pros love it. Price is still ~$230 on Ebay.)

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