Two Different Ways of Looking at Cameras

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by entropic remnants, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    I had a sudden revelation about my approach to cameras and why I often get impatient with some gear discussions. It's a little odd how this came about but it's the result of a discussion about small cameras on a Russian board that referenced some of my work and you can see that discussion here.

    Maybe it was reading it in translation, but I did notice something about what I think are two different ways of looking at a camera:

    • What can this camera do?
    • What can I do with this camera?

    I definitely fall into the latter category. No matter what you put in my hand, I'll likely take it and go try to do the kinds of photography I most like to do and see if can make "my images" with it.

    Ultimately therefore, it really matters less to me what the technical specifications are than whether I can coax, stretch or beat out of the camera an image that's what I want. Ergonomics will play some part in that -- but few cameras are totally unusable.

    This means that it's likely my type of camera review will always be positive in some sense: I will take the camera and do something I like with it. It doesn't mean I won't like some cameras a lot better than others -- but if I can use it and get what I want, I'm not sure i'm ever going to hate it.

    How do you look at cameras? Which of the two camps above do you fall into?
     
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  2. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Latter too.

    I'm really very shallow: Is it attractive enough so that I want to pick it up and use it?
    Otherwise, they're all much of a muchness to me. So long as the shutter works, and whatever lens I'm using focuses properly and isn't grossly soft, the rest I really don't care about.
    I've lost all interest in "IQ" and all the whizz-bangery. I just don't bother reading camera reviews, they're of zero interest to me.
     
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  3. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Ha ha! I get more and more like you all the time. Both of my last two reviews I've written are really making the point that the things I wrote about are really quite good, even though technically they might not measure up.

    Sometimes, when those arguments about technicalities become heated (and seemingly endless) I want to shout, "JUST GO TAKE SOME PICTURES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!" -- lol
     
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  4. Fiddler

    Fiddler SC Veteran

    241
    Dec 5, 2010
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Colin
    The main thing I want from a camera is intimacy. It close to me, and me close to it.
     
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  5. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    OOps I had no idea you wrote reviews john, sorry if I put my foot in it!

    I've taken a lot of snaps and looked at a lot the last couple of years, but all online and rarely printed. None of the ones I still have from my old IXUS750 (SD550) look much different at 1024x768 from my E-P2's, although there is a bit of a noticeable difference with the DP2S; when I see "pix taken with a (whatever camera)" thread, I really can't see the difference between (say) an X100 and whatever else, unless I start peeking into the shadows at 100%. ANd at that point any aesthetic merit of the photograph in question is lost.
     
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  6. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Ha ha! No, I respect your opinion on reviews. I write them on my blog because I talk too much, and because they help promote my photography.

    A camera needs to get to a certain point where I can make my large prints from it, but even the LX7 would let me make some very nice 16x20 inch prints -- even though the popular wisdom is that 10 megapixels isn't enough. For normal print viewing (without your nose touching it, lol) a decent quality image will look fine if the photo looks fine in general.

    I like having high quality and more megapixels primarily because I can adjust my more than occasional "failure of real-time composition". That is, I look at the shot and post and realize how much stronger the image would be if I cropped it. Having a sharp image with "too many pixels" gives me leeway which I sometimes need.

    There are those who are adept at pretty much always nailing composition in-camera -- but I have to admit failings in that area though fortunately not all the time!
     
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  7. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    Funny you bring this up today, John.... earlier this afternoon I was thinking similar thoughts about prime lenses, the constraints (can this lens do what I want it to do?) and the liberation (what can I do with this lens?)

    Mostly, I fall on the "What can I do with this camera?" side tracks.
     
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  8. john m flores

    john m flores SC All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2012
    Whenever I pick up a new camera I think to myself, "Where are the cats?"
     
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  9. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    excellent!
     
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  10. Yeats

    Yeats SC All-Pro

    Jul 31, 2012
    New Jersey, USA
    Chris
    Heck, I think that every day I wake up...
     
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  11. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    The third question that I ask myself is:

    Do I want to use this camera when I have access to and can reasonably carry something that I feel is better or more appropriate for the situation?

    That's essentially why every camera I own I consider to achieve a reasonably similar level of technical quality even though they each deliver it in different ways. If I give myself the option of lo-fi and hi-fi, I know from experience that I will choose hi-fi every time.
     
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  12. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    I think that's mostly me too. I don't have any desire for toy lenses and so forth. I've seen some nice work with that stuff but it simply doesn't interest me.
     
  13. wrangler

    wrangler SC Regular

    121
    Jan 11, 2013
    SW Minnesota
    Dennis Ulrich
    cool topic guys. I just posted on a wood working site about simplifying my life and unloading tools that I don't use. Over the years I have used a 4 x 6 view camera, a 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 twin lens reflex, 35 mm SLR's and 110 point and shoot cameras. I love the digital age, because I can better visualize on the LCD display of my Pentax K-01 and I love seeing the image immediately on that same screen. I'm all about what I can do with the camera. It's just another tool for heavens sake!
     
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  14. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    LOL :rofl:

    Don't forget the brick walls!
     
  15. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    I look at my camera, it looks at me. It says, "Let's go for a walk. I can do wonderful things with you." I think of all of my other responsibilities and I say "Maybe tomorrow camera. Maybe tomorrow."
     
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  16. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    LOL (the cats)

    I guess if I am required to be pigeonholed I am more of the former. I already sorta know what I can do with a camera ... I'm looking for what can the camera do for moi. I'm looking for the camera to make my life easier. I find it harder to capture the exceptional image with "lesser" equipment. Generally, the better the hardware the easier to get 'the shot', the 'decisive moment' ... the exceptional image. And ... better equipment improves my consistency ... my keeper rate. In a review my primary focus are the specs, FPS, focus speed ... with a glance at I.Q. stuff, sensor size, high ISO, et cetera. Maybe I'm somewhere in the middle between your two statements.

    My biggest disappointment from all the ad hype and reviews was the OM-D. The OM-D just doesn't want to CAF and even if the CAF did work, the EVF refresh rate blinds the photographer for most of the burst.

    Gary
    The Contrarian

    PS- Now I'm off to see what the Ruskies have to say about you John.
    G
     
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  17. entropic remnants

    entropic remnants SC All-Pro

    Mar 3, 2013
    John Griggs
    Ha ha! Well, I can see your point on all but the E-M5 -- it works fine for what I do.

    Mostly they just argued the same way all forums do, lol.
     
  18. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    I think I am, once again, of the latter school. For a while after joining SC, I jumped ship, but then I realised that it was all a crock (for me), and because there are particular kinds of photography I like to do, the cameras must suit that. I think I have enough to cover it all, now. Proud to say I have bought no new camera since November of 2011, and no lenses since October last year (and that was a second hand K 55, not new). I still want more lenses, but am happy with the crop of cameras I currently have. Doesn't mean I don't look to see whats coming, but I find it easier now to say no to myself, when what I do is well served by what I have. And, like Yeats... its the cat :) (and seascapes etc)
     
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  19. Gary

    Gary SC All-Pro

    Aug 19, 2012
    Southern California
    Gary Ayala
    They seemed to like your LX7 stuff, but not so much the cows.

    I love the OM-D, it is a little jewel of a camera. I like it so much I have two. I just wish it would CAF.

    Gary
     
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  20. john m flores

    john m flores SC All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2012
    All cats aside, I sometimes enjoy the challenge of having the less than right camera for a situation, as it pushes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to think differently, and if the stars are in alignment, to think more creatively. It's not fun on a paying gig, but when I'm shooting for myself I'm apt to try different things in order to capture something of interest.



    p.s. - And since I shoot Pentax, I always have the wrong camera. At least that's what some Canikons tell me LOL!
     
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