The Photos, The Kit, Both?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Hamish Gill, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    I had an interesting conversation today with a chap about hifi who speaks of it as a means to an end ...
    i feel differently, i love the music that my hifi plays, but i also love the hifi its self

    I notice on this forum that we have a considerable weight in conversation toward images and image content and little about the cameras them selves... i have no issue with that as such ... i just wonder, if like me, like with my hobby for hifi, anyone else appreciates the equipment they use in equal measures to the hobby of actually taking the photos.

    I have a broad understanding of the workings of cameras, excluding large format kit which i have never even touched let alone tried to use, i would fairly confidently say that i would be able to take a photo with pretty much every camera made between 1900-2000 (i find some digital cameras overwhelmingly complex to function - including my own gf1 which i still struggle with a full year after buying it - although this is mostly down to laziness and under use - i use it as a carryaround snapshot camera more than anything else and know the essentials).

    I feel that knowing how to use cameras as a whole, and appreciating them for what they are is an important aspect of being a confident photographer ... as larry pointed out in another thread the other day, familiarity with your camera is very important in achieving the desired effect.

    i find it bizzare that friends of mine that have attended university to do photography have come out lacking some of the basics in how a camera works ... one friend in particular wasnt 100% sure what aperture is for.

    so yeah, who likes cameras as well as the taking photos, and if not, why not? have you not seen a voigtlander vito b ...


    tis a mechanical masterpiece!
  2. Paul Lange

    Paul Lange Moderator

    Yeah, It does open up that old argument as to why there is so much crap in Hifi. Maybe after coming out the other side of the hifi hobby and just being happy with what I have I now just see the camera as a tool. I've contemplated buying something better than the D3000 but at the end of the day its capable of taking very good pictures. It's me thats the limiting factor, not the camera. Having a better one won't improve my photographic skills.
  3. Larry Bolch

    Larry Bolch Member

    It is the photographer, not the camera that creates the photograph. If your pictures are boring and of poor image quality, buying a fancier camera is not going to improve them. If you thoroughly understand the whole photography process and have a "good eye" an advanced camera can be very empowering.

    A beginner violin student will make equally intolerable screeches on a student violin or a Stradivarius. A set of the finest toe shoes will not turn a clumsy lass into a marquee ballerina. Ernest Hemingway complimented Irving Penn on his photography and asked what camera he used. Irving Penn complimented Ernest Hemingway on his novels and asked what typewriter he used. The medium is not the message, it is the messenger. The more fluent you become in whatever medium you choose, the more eloquent you become in fashioning your message. Good technique is invisible, but bad technique cries out for attention to the detriment of your content.

    Fluency in the medium means that you don't have to constantly stop and try to remember how to do what you are trying to do. To use the music example, the beginner is concentrating on playing the violin, but when fluent concentrates on making music instead. When going into a shoot, I do a mental rehearsal to define both goals and problems to be overcome. Prior to beginning the shoot, I will have selected the lenses and camera that will best accomplish the goals and overcome the problems. In the case of digital, I will set my ISO range, be aware of the lenses sweet-spot, set white balance and so on. When the shoot begins, I have faith in my settings and can concentrate on capturing the best content I can, barely thinking about the equipment. Fluency means I am not thinking about operating the camera, but rather making photography.

    The medium is not an end in itself - but a means to an end. I have never met a working photographer who is also a camera buff. None the less, we all obsess about our equipment, but in terms of how it will solve current problems and allow us to push the edge farther. We do appreciate designs that fit our hands and eyes, and don't get in the way. I deeply appreciate the power to make images with the D700 under circumstances that would have boggled the imagination just a few years back. Every time I pick it up, there is a sense of great satisfaction in owning it. When it comes time to replace it, I will let it go without a second thought.
  4. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    Larry, now you have met (at least as much as you can meet someone on the internet) a working photographer who is also a camera buff... Well to a point anyway
    I really like the things ... I have a real appreciation for what they do and how they work ... I like reading about re history of them and discovering rarities like the robot 1 - the first motorised camera - made in 1934 -
    And the tessina with all it's wonderful little accessories

    I know what you are saying that they are a means to an end to produce art, but I appreciate the art that is there creation as well ... I don't see that detracts from my skill, in fact as I said before, I think that understanding such a broad range of kit gives me a bit more knowlege in using my kit to the upmost of thier ability as cameras
  5. Larry Bolch

    Larry Bolch Member

    I really don't think we are wide apart on the subject. I greatly appreciate my tools and enjoy working with them. Though I have morphed into more of a multimedia content creator, I still think of myself primarily as a photographer. I have a substantial and well thumbed library not only of images but also covering the history of the medium itself. If I don't have the answer about a piece of equipment off the top, I certainly can find the answer quickly. I feel that if one is making a career of any medium, being educated about its history and breadth is just part of professionalism.

    To be a camera buff, is to see the camera as an end in itself. Many are collectors who never shoot. Beyond that is the fanboi, who I do run across on some more gearhead forums. They are passionate about Nikon keeping ahead of Canon and verging upon apoplexy if they perceive that the last bit of gear to be announced does not measure up to their expectations.

    "The D700 is WAY out of date, and should have been replaced six months ago. Nikon is going down the drain."

    "Unless the replacement has more than 32MP and is able to produce no noise at ISO128,00 and cost a lot less than the D700, they might as well hang it up."

    Their sense of self-worth seems to be linked to a product. Any comment that does not worship the product, is taken as a personal insult. Even more fascinating, I get the feeling that they don't actually own the equipment. Sort of like 13-year-olds going on about muscle cars with passion and fury, but no chance of owning one for a decade or more. Perhaps the camera fanbois are also tedious 13-year-olds. Hmmm...
  6. Paul Lange

    Paul Lange Moderator

    I thought this just happened on Hifi forums but it seems it is likely to happen for almost any commodity that anyone can get over excited about.
  7. Lee Webb

    Lee Webb Member

    I agree with what you're saying (regarding the photographer making the image, not the camera) to a large degree, but there are instances where having the right camera does make all the difference. There is a benefit, for example of having a camera that handles noise really well if your subject is usually shot in low light situations.
    To continue on from your most recent point Larry, there are too many forums where people spend all their time debating Nikon Vs. Canon (as you mention) and no time shooting! But surely that's the point of photography? To take photos...?
  8. Larry Bolch

    Larry Bolch Member

    People buy cameras for all manner of reasons. You and I buy them to create photographs, which makes sense to us, because that is what we understand cameras are for.

    Collectors buy cameras as a hobby or investment. Putting $13,000 into a Leica M6 "450th Anniversary of Bratwurst Edition" with genuine tanned sausage casing leather, makes perfect sense to them. It might be worth a lifetime supply of ground meat in tubes some day. No one would ever take one of these priceless gems to the street and actually expose anything—including the camera.

    Measurebators are fascinated by cameras as precision instruments, and prattle on endlessly about mean actuations between failures, lines per millimeter and the accuracy of shutters above 1/1000th of a second. Cameras are made to test and compare. These actually get used—to shoot resolution charts—that then are inspected at pixel level on the screen. They also don't get taken to the street.

    Calibrationists are cousins to Measurbators. They are convinced that all products are shipped defective. Anything that can be adjusted, immediately gets adjusted. If they buy an economical printer with good paper profiles, they spend four times the price on calibration tools to make better profiles—only to find out they can't. So they write to the maker of the tools for a repair manual, so they can fix the tools. My camera has adjustments to fine tune focus—but only if absolutely necessary. Of course, the Calibrationist will do this to every lens in the place, then complain since none will focus on infinity.

    Fanbois have a religious devotion to a brand. If a Nikon fanboi sees Canon come out with a camera with an extra megapixel or two, his life is in ruins. His life cycles from mania to depression and back, as each company leap-frogs the other. They yammer constantly in forums, taking any comment that is not an exaltation of their chosen brand as a personal attack. They are forever emotional 13-year olds. They don't actually shoot, since they don't have a camera. Their opinions have the weight of dogma, all gathered from other fanbois the InterWebs.

    Camera Buffs are crusty old characters with a touch of measurebator in them. If they walk into the camera club meeting with the "best" camera in the room, they are immediately the self-ordained Alpha. The camera is worn as jewelery, and represents an extension to their manhood—not their eyes and creativity. If a kid shows up with an entry level camera and a Sigma zoom, the Alpha will not hesitate to tell him it is crap in a voice that can be heard for miles. Once the meeting starts, the Canon owners sit together and snort at the Nikon owners who sit together and snort back. If the Alpha becomes obnoxiously overbearing, and you want to be rid of him, ask to see his photos. From zero to the door in under three seconds.

    Rich Dentists buy high-end cameras—well, just because they can.
  9. Lee Webb

    Lee Webb Member

    lol very true! As much as it is fun "canon baiting" I used to be a Canon shooter until just over two years ago when I moved to Nikon and adopted the D3 - I've had the mick taken for using Canon and now the same because I use Nikon! Pfft, shouldn't matter what you use! and how much of it is jealously?!
  10. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    When you have a d3 Lee it's all jealousy ;)
    Especially if your a canon owner ;)

    For once Lee, I think we have a forum where people get the irony of brand mocking ...
    Well everyone apart from me ... ;)

    Good to see you posting buddy ... I really need to show you round the studio ...

    How's things with you?
  11. Lee Webb

    Lee Webb Member

    Busy mate, surprisingly for so early in the year. Getting flooded with enquiries about weddings for this year and next! Just polishing my entries for this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition - I need to better being a semi finalist as I was last year! Highly commended, here I come!
  12. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    Hi Lee,

    Read this the other day and it adds a new element to the discussion -

    The author is definitely a "rich dentist" - well lawyer actually - but he is an extremely talented landscape artist as well.

    Good luck with the competition. What was you semi-finalist image?

    Oh, and I forgot to add that Leica is far better than Nikon or Canon 'cos the Queens's got one!! ;)
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2011
  13. Larry Bolch

    Larry Bolch Member

    Got all three bases covered here.
  14. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    Good news on being busy ... Got a few my self too ... Just been limiting mine to the sort of weddings I want to do now ... Which suits me well! It's all about the product photography for me now... Got some stuff for a furniture importer and hopefully a gift company lined up for the summer which I'm looking forward to... Although if it all come together it's going to be a hard slog!
    I've never entered any competitions my self ... I'm not sure my personal work is really the sort ofthing you get in competitions...?
    Anyway, good luck!
    Post some pictures on the forum if you can find the time!
  15. Dan Cattermole

    Dan Cattermole Dan Down - The Steampunk Womble

    Guys!! Guys!! Wow, amazing discussion. I think you should all lay your shooters to rest and get your self an Olympus!!!! Hahahaha!!!
  16. Thomas brookes

    Thomas brookes RPF Chief iPhone app Reviewer

    Dan your oly sounds like there's a mouse being squished everytime you fire a shot!!!
  17. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    thats actually how they work ...
    you press the button, a mechanical lever hits a mouse, the mouses jaw is strapped to the shutter, the lever causes the mouse to squeak ... in doing so it opens its mouth and the shutter with ot!
  18. Thomas brookes

    Thomas brookes RPF Chief iPhone app Reviewer

    HA!!! I wonderd why dan was filling the battery conpartment up with feed! Thanks hamish really appreciate your knowledge on these things!!
  19. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    I'd heard they were planning on bringing out an update model at Focus. Something to do with a Hamster I heard - apparently it's a lot quieter!! :)
  20. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    they are called olympus because they used to use injured cats
    "Oh Limp Puss"
    you see?
    but then they went down the road of tring to make all the cameras really small ... so they had to shift to mice
    but "Olymouse" sound a bit odd and if you translate it directly into Japanese it means
    "oh great one of the mouse land, i have gained the sense of the common man, i wish to buy a normal sized camera"
    which of course completely contradicted thier mantra of the day
    so they stuck with "olympus" .... cant blame them really ... it does mean "cat powered camera" which is obviously technically erroneous ... but it was better than the alternative

    anyway ... enough of this bollocks ... has anyone read my guide to aperture yet ... i want to know if it makes sense?

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