8.27.2018

Existential dilemmas related to camera selection and wretched excess.... When is enough too much?


Most of the photographers I know are swimming in cameras. They own many more than they can hold in their hands at one time. All of the cameras they've amassed are very good and highly usable for most work. They just want more. It's like a drug addiction. I guess the root cause of suffering really is desire. The idea of "must have features" is simply the modern way of rationalizing this rampant and largely unchecked feeling of endless desire. I don't know where "deal killer" fits in but I suspect it has to do with rationalizing brand tribalism and also gives a nod to the idea that any new technology must be good even if it was never necessary before. Perhaps we would all be better drivers had automatic transmissions never been invented. Automatic transmissions have largely been an excuse to use one hand to drink giant sodas and fondle phones while driving distractedly around town. What sins might excessive automation and feature creep have visited on the prowess and skills of photographers?

On the other hand I guess most new camera features fall more into the innocuous camp of TV remote controls..... Just laziness. We were all twenty or thirty pounds lighter, and faster on our feet, before the age of TV remote controls. Photographs looked better too....

All photos below are from a "single slot" Nikon D700, shooting with an ancient, manual focus Nikon 55mm f3.5 micro lens at around f5.6. You might get more resolution from a different camera but I'm not sure you'd get a better color file....






12 comments:

Russell Scheid said...

It's not that the "photographs looked better" as you say back in the day, they just look different, however subtle the differences may be. Many of your readers (like myself) have globbed onto the D700 not just because of the price point vs functionality benefit that you receive. For example, the color characteristics of the images that you receive from that camera are wonderful. I can understand why wedding photographers have had a hard time letting go of that camera as skin tones look amazing even at high ISOs. Likewise, if you go back further in the technology horizon and use film, you'll see even more differences. Shoot a roll of Tri-X 400 and make some prints and enjoy the beauty of analog. The key is to embrace the differences and not judge one technology as superior over another.

Kristian Wannebo said...

"Photographs looked better too...."
- and so did architecture...

( .. not your photos - including architecture, they are still going strong!)

In some phone cams "features" go way beyond TV remote controls, aids to help framing, aids to tell which photos are flawed...
Grrr !!

Well, automatic transmission can make driving more relaxed, as can cruise control, which allows for more attentive driving.

But I agree, learning to drive manually makes one a better driver.

Just as with photography!

Tom Barry said...

You are right. I've been trying to pare down my photo gear, with a bit of success. Since I am a lifetime amateur and now in my eighth decade, I don't venture as far afield as before. I like to shoot wildlife, occasional landscapes and architecture. Right now, I'm getting in a lot of informal portraiture involving mostly family (and an 8-month-old great-grandson). I'm not going to clutter up the living room when family visits with studio flashes and the like, so flash means on-camera and post-processing to de-clutter backgrounds. This necessitates a bit of creativity. Best shot I got during the great-grandson's visit one day last week was with an ancient Olympus E-520, bounce flash and superfine JPEGs with the in-camera monochrome setting.

Kodachromeguy said...

"Perhaps we would all be better drivers had automatic transmissions never been invented." I agree completely, because "features" like auto transmission let drivers pay less attention. But note that whenever there is a discussion on a car forum about manual transmission, the haters come out frothing and forehead-bulging about how they hate manual transmission. Then you find out they have absolutely no idea how to use a clutch and shift for themselves.

Now let's link this to photography. This is just the same as the guys who come out frothing about how they hate film. Then you learn most of them never shot film and have no idea how to use a light meter, set an f/stop, etc. Sigh....

Patrick Dodds said...

I've taken too much gear on a job or two in the past - it is worse, mostly, than if you don't think you have enough (you generally do - you just need to work harder or be more imaginative).

Roger Jones said...

Alright Mr. tuck that's it. You've done it now. You can insult me, but not my cameras/friends. These cameras are my friends, they talk to me, (mostly late at night, 3 am) they tell me not sell them. That I'd be lonely if I did sell them, so I don't. I can't, I need all 14 of them, the 28 lenses, 6 flashes, 20 rolls of (out dated film) film, 10 CF cards, 12 SD cards, not to mention the 3 27inch iMacs, and the 2 Pc's with 24 inch monitors and 2 printers and, wait for it................................ a full darkroom. Bad Kirk Tuck for saying "we have to much" never!!! They're mine mine mine I tell you, all mine!!!!

Ok, your right we have to much stuff, but letting go is sooooooo hard, but after 40 hours of therapy it gets easier. No it doesn't.

In all seriousness, it's hard to let go of tools you used over and over again for years, but after you let go and scale back it becomes more fun, like when you started out in photography.

Your right we've gotten lazy in our profession and fatter to, that's true and less limber. I agree 2 camera (one film one digital) 3 lenses a flash is all you need. It is hard to let go of what was, your not there yet, when you get there, if you do get there, I hope you don't feel a empty as I did when I first retired. (I hope you never get there) You think you can do things to fill the void, but you never stop thinking of what was.

It's better now, I've had 3 gallery showing, and I work out more. I still miss the old gang and the fun we had, but it is what it is.

Do I have to send back the camera and lenses a camera company send me to shoot an ad for them? It's only been a couple of months/years????

The one with the most toy at the end wins, right?
Have fun
Roger

Roger Jones said...

Also I'm back driving my Ford F150 with 6 cylinder and 4 speed. I bought it new 42 years ago on my 25th birthday. I paid cash. It looks and runs as it did 42 years ago. Still have my Minolta Hi Matic E as well.

Roger

Julian Behrisch Elce said...

Okay, disregarding the lens, while I agree that many levels of digital camera can yield comparable results, I don’t understand why the "look" of a camera or its "skin tones" or other "ways of rendering" are anything other than software artifacts, and therefore independent of the camera. If they’re not, please explain!

Over the years, Kirk, your excellent pictures have been incredibly consistent, no matter which camera you’ve been using. Hence my point. Thanks for the great blog!

Mark Davidson said...

"single slot Nikon"

What sort of animal are you?
You are scaring the children with talk like that.

Anonymous said...

echoing what Mark Davidson wrote: aren't you afraid to write stuff like this? We need people to buy stuff constantly. That's what makes the world go around? Right?

Anthony Bridges said...

I'm one of the many here with multiple camera. I have 10. The most used are my Canon, Olympus and Fuji cameras. And, yes, my main ride is a six speed manual Mazda. Just like my cameras, the Mazda is a lot fun.

It's not logical to have 10 cameras, it's just cool.

Rokrover said...

Perhaps the truth of this statement by Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis will help break the cycle of addiction to consumerism:

“As we have been shifting for 300 years now into a world where most production is done not to experience that which is being produced but in order to sell it for the exchange value that it can bring the producer, you have a gentle but at the same time brutal shift of values from the things that make you a better person, a happier person, allow you to develop, to grow as an individual…away from this towards “what’s in it for me?” And the delicious irony here is that…in the pursuit of more and more joy, happiness, utility, satisfaction…we become less and less satisfied.”