Monday, 1 December 2008

Wanting what we don't need

Park bench, Scheveningse Bos, The Hague, November 2008
Taken with a 1958 Balda-Bunde Baldixette I

The recent discussions and reviews at TOP had me off thinking about some stuff relating to images, kit and G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome). This relates as much to me as the rest of you out there. this is a collection of ramblings on the subject.

It seems that we all hanker after the stuff we can't have or don't need or can't afford. The latest Sony and Nikon cameras have been attracting a lot of attention and a lot of discussion. Expensive cameras with a load of features but fundamentally the same old dummy behind the viewfinder.

Why do we need ever better high ISO performance? As Mike J pointed out, the latest crop of cameras can see better than we do. Is this really necessary? I've also been struck by Mike's great ability for subtle low light photographs. I don't think you need to get much beyond EI1600 to make similar pictures. Any more and you are turning night into day. I've seen stuff from theatre photographers who say they need the better low-light performance but that seems a pretty small niche for a mass-production camera.

Why do we think so much ino the future an what we might do with a given camera? I know this went through my mind when I bought the RZ67. I'd been thinking about a possible future digital back. Fat chance of that happening. And of course, by the time I got there, I'd be able to afford a different body and lens system anyway. In hind sight I'm sure there would have been better MF cameras for what I wanted to do right now. So is it with the latest and greatest. No point sweating over performance you might want in several years' time, by then it'll all have changed anyway.

How about some mroe focussing on what our cameras can do? Photographers have been creating great images since the birth of photography and worked to get what they could. less thinking about the shot we can't get and more concentrating on the ones we can.


  1. Yep, intellectually I do know, gut feeling is different and a lot of the time tending towards G.A.S. - and seeing all the discussions going on about rumors of new cameras, I am definitely not alone.
    It is something special to photography, different to other creative skills, and it has not only to do with the immense impact gear can have on our results but also with the joy of posessing and unsing high tech gadgets, probably also with the joy of being able to aquire expensive gadgets. It gets boosted by human tendencies to deduct self-worth from your posessions and all the fan-boyism you experience on the web is just an expression of this simple fact. Nothing bad with it per se, just human, and therefore it is difficult to overcome.
    And discussions on the web get so much more attention if you debate about technical issues than about pictures and their qualities. Here I do not exclude myself: it is a lot easier to write 50 lines about technical ramblings than 15 intelligent lines about a picture. And don't forget: mentioning the newest NiCanOlSonAx in a blog entry yields probably 10 times the hits than even an outstanding picture does.
    So all of this is understandable, and many of us are paying only partly attention to those technical discussions and still focusing on creating with the gear we have. That's where the results come from that allow us to think about improvements, also on the technical side. My guess is that the tech aspects get just more attention and are easier to percieve then all our efforts to create.

  2. I have to agree with you there. Certainly here my hit rate is much higher for the tech stuff than any of the picture making.
    I still think the best photography comes when one gets to forgetting about the gear.

  3. Your last sentence is definitely right. But it took me almost a year to learn not only the limitations of my camera - and this is what most tech talk is about - but the capabilities of my gear and to make proper use of it. This and the corresponding results have lowered my G.A.S. cramps a lot.


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