This blog is intended to be a safe space.
This whole photography and blog thing serves as a distraction and as therapy for me. None of it is to be taken all that seriously. I am of the opinion that none of this should be taken all that seriously.
As I often state any opinion stated here is just that. Opinion. Personal preference. I attempt to never question the personal preference of others for obvious reasons. Should be obvious anyway.
None of this really matters. Why are so many so serious?
Distractions are fine.
It is natural. Humans are forever looking for distractions. Real life can be stressful and these distractions are a welcome break from the action. Some follow sports. Some follow art. There are countless other distractions out there. Nothing wrong with that. I used to Google random made up nonsensical organizations occasionally for giggles and would often come across actual groups that came very close. Like I tell my kids.
Everything is a thing to someone.
But what happens when those who share a similar distraction create an environment as or more toxic than life’s realities from which we seek refuge?
A long-winded way of saying that “People can be the worst.”
Why do I bring this up?
In real time I usually find photography folks to be a mostly affable bunch. Camera shop. Co-workers. Random folks out and about. While I have come across the odd jerk here or there out in the wild most I run across are quite friendly.
But online? Oof.
Recently left a virtual photography group because some folks there were quite caustic. Had to do with a photo of a young celebrity wearing a pretty cool pack film camera around their neck. My thought? Cool. Not all others, but enough showed their uglier side that I no longer wished to partake. Ranging from mockingly stating “Who is she?” to accusing her of being a poser many comments were quite obnoxious. What? Just plain why? Are you ok? Looked at some other posts and after further consideration, I left the group. Was not the fault of those who created or managed the page. I have seen it before. Sometimes the trolls exert their dominance and take over a space. But ultimately any online social endeavor is also a voluntary exercise. And I am careful about what I voluntarily expose myself to.
I just do not get it. Why would one be so miserable regarding something ostensibly meant to capture brief glimpses of beauty?
Recently posted a high-end vs. entry-level gear comparison recently.
Mainly for fun. The main point landed where it usually does. High-end gear A is better, of course, but entry-level gear B did just fine also. This led someone to respond relaying to me how much time they spend taking in reviews and declaring gear C, not mentioned by me, is superior to A and B and seemed to argue that it was the only correct choice.
Great choice. Enjoy.
I wrote a thing. Had fun doing it. If others killed some time perusing it great. My intent is never to say that is bad, this is good, or that you should get the other. To each their own. That is why I include the phrase, “Your mileage may vary.”, in many gear posts.
It seemed he was determined to have a virtual argument. Of which I wanted no parts of. After a few back and forth comments where I kept basically saying “I was glad he was happy with his choice” I believe he realized that my opinion was not meant as an indictment of his personal choice. It was simply my opinion. Carried on with a friendly exchange after that. I have no business attempting to approve or disapprove of another person’s gear choice… To each their own.
In my opinion the difference between ultimate and good enough is nowhere near as large as some would make it out to be. Those who take the shot may see the difference. Those viewing afterward? Likely not.
Take a look at these two shots.
While visiting my local camera shop Manu and I decided to take back to back shots between the two cameras we happened to have on us at the time. Manu had his film Pentax 67 (bottom shot) and I was sporting a digital MFT Olympus PEN-F with the 75mm f/1.8 (top shot) hanging off of the front. Do I see a difference? Yes. When compared I prefer the amount of and the quality of the background blur the Pentax 67 produces. But a casual observer after the fact would likely not have an issue with either image viewed in isolation. Neither would I for that matter. From two wildly different image capturing solutions.
That being said I do freely admit that gear matters.
There are use cases where a certain spec or even a brand may offer an edge here or there. Especially specialized niches like sports or wildlife photography for instance. But more often nearly any camera, brand, spec could be used if one were so inclined. The professional photographers I have interacted with adhere to this way of thinking more than many armchair gear reviewers or enthusiast gear acquisition aficionados. Me? I fall more into the latter two categories than the former. Most all professional photographers I have had the pleasure of meeting are:
- Salt of the Earth folks who are patient and giving individuals.
- Free in dispensing with advice. Rarely putting down the gear used by others. Don’t have time, energy, or interest in snark or being rude.
- When able to they are typically happy to give positive constructive criticism. In general they seek to build others up rather than tear them down.
- Often the least latest and greatest gear obsessed photographers I know happily using old gear they know like the back of their hands.
- Gear agnostic for the most part. Sure, they have preferences, and will join in debates for fun, but will also admit that at their skill level they could complete a given task with nearly any tool.
But above everything else in those moments of clarity between gear acquisition fits I must acknowledge a simple truth.
Yes. Gear matters to a point. But…
- Not nearly as much as some would profess.
- How much gear matters largely depends on the use case…
- And budget. No one need bust the bank.
You do not always need to upgrade just because they released a new model.
I recently test drove the new Sony A7IV. Great camera. Better than my A7III? Yes, but I am good as is. As primarily a stills shooter there is nothing that the A7IV will allow me to do that I cannot accomplish with the A7III I already have. This is my situation. But I can think of reasons why one would buy the A7IV:
- You are starting from scratch or have an older body like the A7II.
- You do not need the extra MP of the slightly more expensive when on sale A7RIV.
- You are looking for a one camera solution or you do not have another camera geared towards video (Fully articulating screen and video Eye AF for instance.).
- You just want to upgrade. Nothing wrong with that at all either.
I was perhaps my happiest when I knew no better about gear.
Focusing on the overabundance of great gear options available can have you more concerned with what you are taking photos with than what you are taking photos of. Some of my favorite shots were taken because I was there and aware, not because I had camera a or lens b.
My first interchangeable lens digital purchase years ago was a very humble set up. Started with an Olympus E-PL5 and kit zoom. This is all I had the very next day after purchase when I chaperoned my daughter on a school trip to Washington DC. Some of these images are favorites of mine to this day.
It was a perfect combination for the day. While I am not a huge fan of the mechanical collapsible kit 14-42mm kit zoom it was small, light, and fast allowing me to take many shots while keeping track of my daughter and her friend while being two day mule walked by the grade school around DC. Soon after I “upgraded” from that kit zoom to a still very humble Panasonic 14mm pancake lens and Olympus 40-150mm zoom (Perhaps the best bang for buck lens I have ever owned.).
A very lightweight kit that fit in two cargo pant pockets.
Pack a couple of spare batteries and I was ready for anything I came across. Even used that two cargo pant pocket set up while running around Mahattan via subway and on foot with a bunch of kids. No camera bag needed. Some of my favorite pics from both lenses below.
For most photos I have taken with intent nearly any camera and lens would do.
To cut to the chase I have used nearly every digital camera brand on the market. If you count film I have used every brand that I am aware of. Save digital medium format I have used every digital sensor size. If you count film the only outlier is 8×10 since I have shot 4×5. And for my purposes I could make do with almost any one of them.
Formal portraits of honorees at a family reunion with a medium format film camera? Even though I have perfectly good digital cameras at my disposal? Sure. Why not?
Cart a beast of film camera to a garden in mid-summer heat when a point and shoot or other smaller camera would do? Sure.
Shoot one of my most favorite candid photos ever with a camera mount that has gone the way of the dodo? Sure.
Here are some shots from a brief visit to digital Nikon town (film and digital) a while back.
We have my many Fujifilm jags, film and digital.
A bit of Olympus film action to add to the MFT shots up top.
Next up Leica film and digital.
Can’t leave Canon out (film and digital).
There have also been other more obscure jags I have gone on like Russian knockoffs…
…and a favorite film point and shoot.
Why have I shared so many photos from so many brands and cameras? I am seeking to make a point.
The difference between ultimate and good enough is nowhere near as large as some would make it out to be. It is definitely nothing to get into your feelings or in an argument about.
Do you like a brand? Great.
Love a certain lens? Fantastic.
Really prefer AF or perhaps a fan of rangefinders? Nice.
Prefer a certain film format or digital sensor size? Good for you.
For the life of me, I cannot sort out why people engage in virtual fisticuffs online.
I have not tried varying types of cameras trying to figure out what is best. I tried them and kept a few because I find it to be great fun to capture images with different tools.
Again, the few professional photographers I have talked with could get on with a few brands or options. And while shooting for leisure of therapy it does not really matter.
Use what you like and leave others to do the same.
My favorite images have had little to do with what I used to take them. While searching for a cityscape Facebook page theme image to post recently I came across a favorite image of mine.
One of my favorite captures.
I could remember where it was taken from. During a NYC visit from my sister in law’s window in Co-Op City, The Bronx looking towards Manhattan.
What I could not remember?
What I took it with.
The camera? No idea. Lens? If I could not even sort out the camera how on Earth would I know what lens I used. Brand? Sensor size? Same answer as the lens.
For a few years now I have indexed my photos by using albums in Flickr, but this was uploaded 7 years ago before I started doing that. What about EXIF data then. I am not sure how I uploaded the photo to Flickr, but it was stripped of EXIF data. Only last week did I realize I had added hashtags that solved the mystery. The camera used was a Pentax K-3ii and the lens was a Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8. While I do really like both I must admit something.
It still does not matter. On this day under these conditions, any number of cameras and lenses could have managed a similar result.
Sidebar: As much as I enjoyed using all the gear listed above none are a part of the camera systems that I eventually settled on. Nothing wrong with any of them at all. Just chose a different direction in the end. Would happily use any of them again. Great times. Many great choices.
When folks start arguing about this or that regarding gear I exit stage left. Pointless.
Now let me put a finer point on it.
Discussing and debating camera gear is great fun.
I am specifically talking about those occasions when folks start putting down others personal preferences or attempting to outline one thing or another as superior to all others. At the end of the day it is cameras we are talking about here.
Why so serious?
Welp. That about wraps it up.
I am just having fun. Hope you are also.