Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Do you have Gear Fetish

She strode purposefully across the bedroom floor, her hand with long red fingernails grasping tightly the black leather whip handle. Her fingers squeezing the leather firmly, making a scrunching sound, the tip-tap of her stiletto heels echoing around the room. She fixed her eyes upon her prey, nearing, getting ever closer.

No - not that kind of fetish. This is a photography/business blog after all! I'm talking about the fetish many photographers seem to have for photography gadgets. Every few days, if you watch the photography forums and photography club websites, people start talking about buying new toys without ever having used their existing toys to the utmost of what they can do.

Back in 1965, Feininger wrote in his most excellent and praiseworthy book (page 29, The Complete Photographer) "...the photographer who is a gadgeteer, his interest being more in shiny photographic hardware, leather, and chrome than in pictures. He collects cameras and lenses as other collect postage stamps. He often owns more, and more expensive equipment than many successful professional photographers. But he never uses it for taking photographs apart from making "tests". I'm sad to say that this is pretty well exclusively the kind of person that uses internet forums and joins camera clubs. This is, of course, why I don't join any clubs or societies.

Today on one forum I was perusing the list of recent discussions/rants and there was at least one person debating the merits of changing camera systems with no evidence that he had used what he already had to its utmost. Several others were discussing different lenses for different tasks. One fellow wanted to take bird photographs and was listing a long list of lenses and wondering which was best. The answer to that, of course, is the lens needs to be the same make as the camera and the lens needs to be the longest that fits his budget. That's it - no discussion needed.

It doesn't matter what gear somebody owns. I used to get poo-poohed all the time because I used and still use an 8 megapixel digital SLR. The slight always used is "but you can't print very big with that". The fact is that I have printed to large sizes several times. I don't normally print and have no intention of printing most of the time. Similarly, I get poo-poohed because of the lenses I use. I don't use "L" grade lenses. I have no need for them nor do, I suspect, the vast majority of "L" owners.

Going back to what Feininger wrote - people tend to collect rather than to use lenses and cameras. Worse than that even, they sell them in order to part pay for buying the next model - without ever having used the equipment to its utmost.

It was widely stated that the Canon 18-55 non-IS lens was the worst lens Canon had ever made. Thus it became my personal mission to produce some of the best, most stunning images ever produced using that lens.
I don't think you can get more stunning than a bullet frozen mid flight after it has passed through one crayon and is passing through a second before destroying all 3. This was taken with the much despised Canon 18-55 lens on a camera body that was much derided at the time - the Canon XT. I don't see any problems with the lens or the camera - do you?

So, let's put this gear fetish to bed once and for all. Instead of moaning about not having the right lens or the right body, how about using your equipment correctly and getting the most out of it?

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