The last 12 months have been nothing but pure chaos. The relentless work regime since the lifting of national "stay at home" restrictions for property industry employees and suppliers at the end of April 2020 has meant that my professional gear has been stretched to the absolute limit in terms of enduring constant, heavy use, and taking knocks through accidental drops, collisions, and handling. With no visible end in sight to the seven-day a week routine, I had to take stock of the state of my daily-use equipment, and decide what to replace, repair, and dispose of. My kit list is extensive (see this previous post), and it seems as if there's a pile of stuff that just doesn't get used any more. Selling some of this unused kit could finance replacements or repairs of some of my ancient gear that has been in the bag for over 15 years now.

The first priority is my mainstay wide angle lens - The Nikon 14-24mm, which is used for 95% of all my interior jobs. This workhorse gets handled for hours every day, knocked occasionally, and a few months ago it was dropped onto a concrete floor while attached to my old Nikon D3 when shooting the inside of an apartment building which was under construction in Gosforth. The effect on the lens was instant - the zoom ring became scratchy, the focus ring got knocked out of alignment, the rubber on both zoom mechanisms came off, and the lens hood had a chunk knocked out of it. Ever since, I've been battling away with the damaged lens, and it's getting noticeably less sharp, blurry on the left hand side, and causes horrible flare/contrast reduction when facing any window. This is a complex piece of imaging equipment with lots of lens elements and moving parts, and should one bit get knocked out of place by a fraction of a mm, then the whole lens becomes unusable. Repairs would probably cost £400-£500, but would require me to hire a replacement for £250. A second hand replacement in excellent condition would be in the region of £700. A brand new one costs £1500. 


The Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR lens is used maybe once or twice a year for the same shots every time: Pictures of Durham cathedral or Bamburgh Castle (never anywhere else) from the windows of properties from which the aforementioned landmarks are visible, (but extremely diminutive), and which contribute to some ridiculously tenuous selling point in the property details of the house. This lens was irrevocably knacked during a PR shoot at the side of Newcastle Airport's runway years and years ago, when it was dropped onto the concrete and snapped off the camera body. It was repaired at the time, but was never the same again. Further dings have meant that filters or the lens hood won't fit on the end nowadays. The images are soft and lacking any contrast using this bit of gear. 


Next comes the flash heads I use regularly. I have 2 Godox AD200's (£200 each) - one of which is rendered almost useless because the cheap plastic on/off switch has knackered, and has to be kept at on. This means I have to insert and remove the battery pack in order to switch it on and off - a total pain. I have 8 separate Nikon SB80 DX speedlight units (£80 each second hand), which are all damaged now due to the same reason of being dropped off the tops of doors onto bathroom floors. that is ALL of them damaged for the SAME stupid reason. The battery doors don't close, and need to be clamped shut with cable ties or whatever. I bought two Amazon Basics flash guns to get me by, but they're so shite it's unbelievable. In the garage, the big guns lie unused - four Bowens 500W studio strobes, and two generic brand 600W strobes powered by mains electricity, and a heavy duty battery pack for the Bowens remote-use. None of these have been used for several years so it seems like they can be safely sold as seen to someone who can put them to good use. The radio triggers that fire the strobes are also lying completely unused thanks to my Godox pro trigger system. 


My list of supportive equipment - tripods, brackets, clamps, and holding devices is as long as my arm. The stupidly expensive Manfrotto giant camera stand and motorised remote-control pan/tilt head have now become completely redundant with the purchase of my tiny DJI Mini 2 drone which can do the job in 3 minutes instead of the 50 minutes involved in erecting, and packing away of the 27ft monstrosity that requires a car the length of the Forth Bridge to transport anywhere.


Now for something a bit bigger to worry about - my motor. The Nissan Nana has been hammering through 2500 miles a month for the last 4 years, and hasn't required any major interventions......until now that is. Not having monthly car finance payments is a lovely feeling, but generally speaking, as soon as the payments are finished, then the troubles begin. Cars are basically a bunch of high speed metal chunks being forced to clank together under massive pressure and temperatures, and it's an inevitability that six years of constant heavy use will eventually bring them to their knees. My old-lady car has had two sets of tyres, two services, and a gear linkage replacement in the last few months, and it's only a matter of time before its conks on the road somewhere really inconvenient. I've been looking at longer-range electric cars, but their eye-watering prices mean they're only available to pensioners and estate agent directors. The picture above shows the EV that the director for my main client drives - he assured me that if I work even harder and longer throughout the coming year, he'd be able to get an even better one. An enticing prospect.

I have my eye on a leasing deal for a Kia model, but can't commit to pulling the trigger until I have a bit of confidence in the coming year's prospects. My nana car is back in the garage at the end of June to keep it alive in the meantime.


So that's the plan for refurb of the essential bits of equipment that I need. Now to try and persuade my clients to give me the money I've earned within an acceptable period of time so that I can actually pay for the stuff. For now, I've just invested in a tiny bit of moulded plastic to keep a USB cable attached to a camera - probably costing less than a penny to manufacture, but retailing to me at £14.99 plus a fiver postage. Wish me luck.

Brian Young (that's me) shoots all aspects of the built environment for a range of clients throughout Northern England and the Borders.


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