Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chasing technology

I was reading the personal columns, bulletin boards and forums about the new Nikon D700 camera and all it's features and capapbilities, especially in comparison with the Canon 5D. I have no doubt it's a terrific camera, which in the hands a of good or better photographer is quite capable of delivering awesome images (sorry, to me film are photographs, digital are images), especially raw with its (same size) full-frame sensor and faster continuous shooting.

Anyway, it seems there is a small group of professional photographers who along with their other interests seem to like to test and promote the latest camera and lenses. This isn't saying they're chasing technology, that's a whole other group of photographers who always seem to think the latest camera technolgy is always the best and will always make them a better photographer, forgetting photography is about the photographer, not their equipment.

I'm referring to those photographers who chase technology to describe and/or promote it. They buy the latest as soon as it's available, test it for a week to a month, the write some column, article or post on boards or forums their pros and cons and their comparisons to other cameras, especially seeming to write the older cameras just don't measure up to the new one and maybe the other camera companies need to play catchup.

Unfortunately photographers have been doing this for 40 years now, that I can remember (I bought my first camera in 1969), when there were quite a few major camera companies vying for the top spot in the camera world for professionals, serious and amateur photographers. So why is now any different? It's not, only now the time between the introduction of new models has shrunk and the immediacy of communications has made promotion faster. But to whom?

The Canon 5D has been around for about 5 years now, and while there are rumors of either a 5D Mk II or an intermediate model between the 5D and D1s Mk III on the horizon after Canon's introduction the latter last year it's still a terrific camera. The only real criticism of it by people are the slow continuous shooting (3 fps) and price, which I also choked at spending more for one camera than my entire collecton (14) of Minolta cameras.

The 5D, however, is still good and still used by many photographers. But my point, really criticism, is that while we need the reviews of new cameras, we don't need the hype and denigration of older cameras in comparison simply because it's handy and fulfills someone's ego how smart and cutting edge they think they are. I have no doubt folks will think these guys are geniuses, but are they really?

No,they're just more experienced at testing cameras. Hell, almost any photographer could do that with a modicum of experience or breadth of interest in the range of types of photography to know what to check and test with the camera. And some are impressed how expansive they're knowledge of cameras is except they forget it's what these guys have been doing for years if not a decade or more.

They chase the technology to be on the "cutting edge" of cameras and the market. In many cases they're rich and can afford to buy or lease these cameras or they have connections to be provided with them by magazines or companies. Their job is to market and promote cameras and make you feel less with your older cameras. And you want to find the money, or the credit, to buy one to make you a better photographer.

I've never been there. I've upgraded to newer cameras because I wanted the technology in them, except in every case I've always been a number of years behind the times, usually 2-3 years after the camera had been introduced and sometimes 5+ years later. That's me, and I just find all this technology chasing stupid but it is the reality of the world we live in and have been living in photography for nearly half a century.

So, take a deep breath and get your camera out and enjoy it. Use it as if it you just found it. And don't buy the magazines promoting technololgy simply because it looks cool. Remember most photography magazines are there to promote technology chasing. Just say no.


  1. Great commentary!

    I'm a tech-geek but am one of the first to note that the latest/greatest technology isn't going to make you better at anything.

    As an example, If I'm a computer programming and I buy a state-of-the-art computer for $5000, I'm really not going to be any better at programming.

    Technology doesn't make you better. It may enable you to do things you couldn't do with 'older' technology, but it doesn't inherently make you better.

  2. The Sony DSCW830 is a budget-friendly and one of the best cameras for amateur photographers. This point and shoot camera comes with a 20.1-megapixel sensor and a Zeiss lens (8x optical zoom).