...Just a quick question, for fun. Another "mental exercise," or theoretical question, or thought-experiment:
...If all your equipment were stolen, and the insurance settlement was very generous and you got more or less all the cash out of it you could (but it's still real money, and your money), and you had to start all over—begin again from the beginning—what would you buy in late 2016? Which direction would you go? Clean sheet.
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Ned Bunnell: "That’s a great question and sure to prompt a myriad of responses.
"For me, it’d actually be easy. First, my wife would probably be ecstatic. She’s always chiding me for having all this gear that I seemingly never use. She still has not fully comprehended why I recently had Kanto Camera Service in Japan completely overhaul my M4 and repaint it in a sumptuous black. She’d probably tell me that losing all my equipment was ironically a good thing. We’re retired and actively trying to reduce all of our possessions.
"I’d immediately get another Ricoh GR. Since it’s been my primary camera for the past four years and fits my hand like a fine glove, there’d be no reason to consider switching cameras. For me it combines the best in compact size, wonderful one-hand ergonomics and a lens and sensor that is still sharper than many new SLRs. I also thoroughly enjoy its 28mm FOV. But above all else, I love its discreet profile. For me, it’s the ideal take anywhere camera. And since I’m at the point in life that I have nothing else to prove photographically except enjoy that act of shooting what I like, there’d be little ROI on getting a whole bunch of new gear.
"I recently posted a photo and a few comments on my Instagram feed about smaller sometimes being better. It also touches on reasons why my iPhone SE and the GR just happen to be perfect for me."
Ed Hawco: "That actually happened to me in 1993 when I was a part-time student in the faculty of Fine Arts at university, majoring in Photography. Although I was also working full time, I was dead broke and was working with a pile of failing and mismatched Minoltas and third-party lenses. Until the fateful burglar struck. I cannot believe the insurance company just coughed up, because it was so perfect I barely believed it wasn't fraud myself. That time I went full Nikon (F90 body, FE2 body, 28mm and 50mm primes, and whatever the 80–200mm zoom of the day was.)
"If it happened now I'd go full Fuji. I'd get an X-T2, the best kit lens available for it, and a couple of standout primes (a 28mm equivalent and a very fast 'normal.') And I'd also get an X100T that I'd probably use more often."
Robstrong: "This happened to me once, in 2008. I fell in the ocean at a wedding rehearsal dinner (the next day's wedding was the first one I ever shot professionally). Short term, I raced to Best Buy the next morning and bought a Canon 40D kit. Long term, insurance and eBay paid me handsomely (some people like buying saltwater damaged lenses, as it turns out), and I ditched my photojournalist-standard zoom kit (16–35mm, 50mm, 70–200mm) in favor all primes: 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 100mm, and eventually 135mm, which is my arsenal to this day."
Hugh: "Canon 35mm ƒ/1.4L Mark II, 85mm ƒ/1.2L Mark II, 135mm ƒ/2L and the 5D3 or 4. Exactly what I have now. No thinking needed. It just works."
Edd Fuller: "I would probably set about replacing the gear that was lost. Life's too short. I want to spend my time making photographs, not learning my way around a new system."
BERND REINHARDT: "This is a very difficult question I've had to ask myself lately because the value of some of my Leica gear has skyrocketed since I got it. I would definitely buy Leica rangefinders and lenses again, but maybe not as many as I already own. My problem is that one of my lenses in particular is a highly valued collectible and it is also the lens I use the most. I am not sure whether I would get the same lens again, or replace it with a newer non-collectible version of the lens (which unfortunately has different rendering.) My biggest issue with the high value of my gear is that I need to pay the hefty premiums to insure it properly or take the risk of loss."
Mike replies: I vote: keep using the expensive lens. Being used is a better destiny for a lens than being precious.
Kalli: "Oh, here's a real answer, which I'd probably never be brave enough to implement in the real world. Turns out one can order the Sigma SD Quattro. With the Sigma 30mm ƒ/1.4 as a kit lens, it's not an expensive package compared to a lot of other stuff I'd be looking at. Having to change image processing software would be a pain, though…."
Kenneth Tanaka: "For me the question is better framed as what system would I keep if I had to jettison all but one. Without a doubt my answer would be my Sony A7 cameras. They represent, for me, the ideal nexus of technology, features, compactness, superb image quality, and, most importantly, flexibility and adaptability. They have established the new standard in generalist photographic instruments.
"I could jettison nearly every other camera with few practical consequences. The exception is my Panasonic Lumix GX85, which has become my favorite small, go-anywhere camera this summer. I love this thing and would truly suffer practical consequences from its loss."
Wes: "Ask me again at the end of September."
Nigel: "I would stick with Micro 4/3 without hesitation as it has proved to be perfect for my needs. So it would be a couple of E-M5 Mark II's plus 7–14mm, 12–35mm, 35–100mm and the 60mm macro. I hike, and so the weight factor with Micro 4/3 is very good.
"I also do a lot of dark old Italian monument interiors. IBIS has proved a miraculous winner for these places where I cannot use a tripod. Lastly I like to have a camera I have learnt to use without having to think about where things are, how it works and what the output will be like."
Gordon Cahill: (partial comment): "Fortunately, as a working photographer with too many cameras that would be a big cheque. :) So.... Leica SL. The best all-'round camera I've ever worked with. It's fantastic with the Canon tilt-shift lenses I use every day."
David Brown: "Anybody that steals all of my camera gear is going to have to work at it. Stuff is stashed all over the house and darkroom (separate buildings). As for the original question: I don't know. Everything I have (even the digital) is relatively old...."