Friday, August 12, 2016

I'm not a lard arse!

Reading today, one of the digital camera groups had an entertaining slanging match going on between  different factions over the size of cameras and the relative merits of the different varieties of cameras. To be blunt, the digital camera groups debate the same issues time after time in different forms. It gets very tiresome.

20 years ago I used to buy camera magazines because they had interesting articles. I stopped doing that after newer writers came into the magazines that didn't know much other than how to write an article. In fact they didn't really know how to research an article which meant that most of their work was of dubious to abysmal quality.

Long after the UK magazines had ceased to write anything but pap, some of the US magazines still had decent articles. I remember one suggesting the use of seed trays for developing prints as opposed to the proper print developing trays. It was an idea that would have worked as long as the print could reliably be kept from settling to the bottom of the tray.

Recently the magazines have been little more than gadget worship rags. In fact, that might be too much praise. They have become the equivalent of the television infomercial where a presenter demonstrates a product and says how great it is while trying to avoid smirking. I doubt I'd pay money for a magazine, these days. They're just too expensive to take to the outhouse to drag across your arse. That's all they're worth, these days!

The debates online seem to carry over to the articles written in the magazines. I wouldn't mind betting that the writers, in between burgers, do their research by reading internet abuse groups (can't really call them discussion groups).

Going back to the merits of different cameras, the whole battle started off with somebody asking whether people found their smartphones were taking over from other kinds of cameras. The answer for me is a resounding yes. Let me explain why...

  1. My smartphone takes darned good photos. 
  2. I can be assured my photo has been automatically uploaded quickly after taking it.
  3. Because my photo is stored in the cloud, it can be accessed and shared easily.
  4. I'm rarely anywhere without my smartphone.
  5. My phone is easily portable in my pocket.
  6. Each image is marked with time, date and location.
How about my DSLR, my mirror less camera or my elderly zoom compact? Well, they're all bulky. A lot bulkier than my phone. In order of bulkiness, my DSLR is the biggest and my zoom compact ties with my mirror less camera. 

To use the DSLR or the mirror less, I have to make sure the battery is charged. It's not something I use daily, weekly or even monthly so when I want it, the battery is usually dead. The zoom compact takes AA batteries but only gets used for VGA video due to the image quality just not being that great any more.

I was given the zoom compact back in 2004 when they were new for $500. Now I couldn't get $5 for it at a flea market. The DSLR I bought back in 2006 together with a ton of camera bits back when somebody abusively sold me on the idea of doing photography as a business. Since then I've managed to sell all but the bits I use. Having said that, the last time I used my DSLR was April of 2015. I did get a mirror less camera in the hope I'd be able to use that more yet it sits unused on my nightstand. Fortunately I bought it secondhand so not much money is invested.

The camera I use the most? My cellphone! 40 photographs this week. Thousands over the last few years. Would I regret selling my DSLR? I don't think so. I didn't regret selling the stuff I bought for the mythical photography business. What I regret the most is being hoodwinked and the money that was lost.

I would retain the mirror less camera. At the moment I'm unable to get the same image quality from my 2012 mirror less compact that I can from my 2005 DSLR but then I have not used it much and don't have the ability to manipulate raw image files for it. I had hoped that my elderly MacBook would do it but the operating system is too elderly and cannot be upgraded further. I'd hoped that the Toshiba Cambio device would allow me to load and manipulate raw files on my iPad but it seems the device just doesn't work. Thus, I can't get much out of my mirror less at the moment other than JPEG files.

So, where does that leave me? Definitely in need of a laptop upgrade in order to do anything further with photography. 

Where does that leave the guy/guyette  that left original question? Well, my answer is look at the numbers. The top two cameras used by Flickr users are phones. Of the top 42, most are phones. That tells me that we have achieved universally acceptable image quality on phones. These days, knowing what I do about photography, I don't think I'd ever buy a DSLR and certainly never anything brand new.
In the laughably abusive comments on the discussion group, it was suggested that Americans and lard arses were too wimpy to carry big DSLRs. The truth is as above, the equipment is hard to justify. Why should anybody go to all the bother of carrying a DSLR or mirror less camera or even a zoom compact when their phone produces really acceptable images? I'm not a lard arse nor am I wimpy. I believe in practicality.

Yes, a DSLR used correctly will produce a technically improved image but why stop there? Why not use a medium format digital by Hasselblad? Why stop at Hasselblad? Why not go for a digital view camera? "Cost" I hear you cry, all you who decry others choices to somehow validate your own. Does cost mean that a digital view camera is no good? No it just means the people on forums cannot afford a digital view camera and can only decry those with cameras they view as inferior.

I, for one, don't feel the endless sparring over cameras and worship of equipment furthers photography. Is it not better just to admire a good image? It does not matter whether it was taken with a box brownie or the latest marvel of technology. Some images are not even that great but are very noteworthy such as the photograph of Paris rooftops. Why is that so important? Only because it's just about the first surviving photograph

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