Michael Reichman once used the phrase "the Photoshop tax" in a conversation with me about imaging software. That is, every so often Adobe upgrades PS, and you're suddenly behind, so you have to pay a hundred and a half to upgrade and get yourself back to zero. It's a regular if intermittent expense. You know it's going to come around again, like rainy season. The "Photoshop tax."

It got me to thinking. What else is a "tax"?

The "film tax" might be one. You can protest all you want about how great film is and how great your prints look, but like it or not, when you use film, every time you release the shutter you incur costs. Every time you click, it's like throwing a nickel in a can. Or a fist-wad of dollar bills, if you're shooting 4x5 color neg. The "film tax."

There's the "upgrade tax." I know of a few photographers who have been using the same view cameras since Cher had two names, and I talked to one blissed-out guy online once who'd been using one single screw-mount Leica since 1948. He'd never bought himself a second camera. He was still happy with it—this was in the '90s, as I recall—and felt no need to think about a replacement. For the rest of us, well, it's more than a little ironic that we spend so much time arguing about how long our cameras will last. Who wears out their cameras? Before digicams came along, not very darn many of us. No; we get wandering-eye and buy something new, just because, well, we want something new, darn it. My little bro' has a budget line for things he calls "non-recurring recurrables." You know. Like "the upgrade tax."

There's gotta be a "camera-bag tax." Who has just one camera bag, and who lets the fact that he already has ten stop him from buying one more? It's like we can't help ourselves. Like every untried camera bag we run across is the green grass on the far side of the fence. If I just had that camera bag....

So what else is a "tax"? What else do you just keep spending money on in this silly hobby, with no end in sight? Anybody got another one?


Featured Comment by Chris: "There's the LBA tax, at least for me.

"Over on the Pentax forum at DPReview, LBA is the acronym for 'Lens Buying Addiction.' I seem to have acquired a fairly bad case of it.

"No matter how many lenses I have (in multiple formats) there's still another one on the horizon that I just gotta get. Places like eBay and KEH are not healthy for me...."


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