From the vaults: The journey from want to need (21/11/2011)

imagesActually, that should be “Need”, the inverted commas being of greater significance than the word itself.

Generally, I’d consider myself to be of a not particularly materialistic disposition: home cinema systems, giant plasmas, cars, smartphones, designer clothes*… all leave me pretty cold. My wife would concur: she often tells me my preferences are immaterial.
There is , however, an area of exploitable weakness: gear and gadgets which could generically be grouped as ‘outdoor-related’. And I am at my most vulnerable in the area of cameras and binoculars.
Of course, there’s a ritual dance I have to perform, purely for my own benefit – hence the title. Typically I’ll have had my pair of Opticron 8x42s hanging around my neck for a few hours, started to feel the weight and begun to reflect on the fact that there are lighter binoculars out there. There are also of course Leica binoculars out there but, in deference to domestic harmony and dull old economic reality, they’ll have to remain ‘out there’ from my point of view. Pity.
All the same, I could justify a new pair of Opticron 8x32s, shed a bit of weight without sacrificing much in the way of image quality and, to be fair, I have had the old ones a few years and they don’t owe me anything. And that’s it in a nutshell: once you’re at the point of using phrases like “They don’t owe me anything” resistance is pretty much over.
But danger lurks just about everywhere for the willing victim. Chris Townsend’s blog is a mere mouse click away, camera reviews waiting like baited traps. A DSLR plus lenses is too heavy for the hills (especially when I’m already burdened with those binoculars – see how easy it is to warm to this task?). He does seem to really like that Sony NEX-5 he’s been using for the last 12 months and he obviously knows what he’s talking about. And if Chris can go to the trouble of carrying out an intensive 12-month road test, the least I can do is listen to the advice; it’s only polite. My old Lumix compact has served me faithfully but – and I’m trying to be objective here – I have had it a few years and it doesn’t owe me anything.
So I’m nearly there: just need to rehearse the rationalisation a few more times to get the wording absolutely right, repeat it to myself a couple of times for effect and I’ll be home and dry. Then it’s simply a question of consulting the shortlist of items I don’t really need and making a selection.
* Why, as a contender for the title of ‘Scruffiest bugger in the country’, I found it necessary to include designer clothes in that list, frankly escapes me.