It was not my intention to hyjack this thread, just to make a point the best of the best of the best of piano's (for example) is nothing but firewood when in the wrong hands.
That's not quite true, JJ. A piano can be a fine piece of furniture, as much prized for its external beauty as its beauty of tone. It can also be a symbol of the musical aspirations of the owner as well as a status symbol.
However, the analogy breaks down at some point, as most analogies do. There's little chance (in fact, really no chance whatsoever) that the inexperienced beginner on a piano could knock out a beautifully executed rendition of a Beethoven sonata. But there is
a chance that an inexperienced person behind a camera could take an award-winning photo as a result of being in the right place at the right time, because the lighting just happened to be perfect and because the camera was able to capture the dynamic range of the scene, either in one of it's automatic modes or because a manual setting the camera was on just happened to be appropriate for the scene.
The camera lays the groundwork for the picture. It is in fact the most extraordinary picture-making tool ever invented and it keeps on getting better and better. It's no wonder we are fascinated with the hardware. All the operator has to do is point the thing in the right direction and press a button at the right moment. What could be easier?
Even when things go wrong and the flash doesn't fire, as in the shot below, the picture might still be worth looking at. If this shot had been from a film camera, I would have automatically junked it. However, the automatic settings in ACR gave it a full +4 stops of EC and I decided I liked the result. I like the ethereal glow and tapestry effect. The noise floor of the Canon DSLR has at last served a purpose . (The shot's of an ancient temple in Ayuddhya, taken from a riverboat at night - during a spare moment between the Green Curry Chicken and the serving of the coffee).