I believe that's it's more complicated than that. A car, for example, can be both a utilitarian device and a luxury. Without personalizing it, and and I ask this rhetorically and don't need a response, unless your car is anything other than the most basic four wheels, an engine and a seat, then you own what some would call a luxury item. Similarly with your apartment or house. What more does one need that a bed and a dry roof?
I have friends who own Timexes and friends who have $50,000 watches. I have friends who live in modest walk-up flats and others in 10,000 sq/ft mansions. I don't think any the more or less of them due to their situations.
We all see the world through mental filters which provide us with certain unique perspectives. But to criticise others for their interests, good or bad fortune, or choice of life style, is inappropriate as long as their means of achieving it and manner of action is not to the detrement of others.
Ps: Having done so myself here, I would ask that this thread not become one about life style choices, wealth or its lack. Watches are fair game (in this thread only) and so is the issue of making camera equipment purchasing decisions.
I realize that my second sentence above was ambiguous and unclear. Let me try again:
Choosing a lens or a watch is a question of individual preferences, perspectives and priorities, right?
Yes. And no. For certain people in certain parts of the world, it is exactly that. For other people (actually the majority of the world population), this is not true. They have no real choises. And this is a fact, whether they are hard working, talented and honest people or not.
This was my simple point number 1. My 2. simple point is that for a lot of people who can afford to have individual perspectives and priorities in shopping issues, it seems like this is something of an antropological fact, and not limited to their own group. Because they can afford real choises, this is part of the normal human condition.
But that is not true. And I didn`t intend to criticize their life style or wealth, just the way their experiences make them tend to forget that individual choices still is a privilege in this world, and not part of the human condition.
Pretentious talk? Beyond photography? Not more than your general statements about shopping choises, Michael; they imply some non-photographic issues.
And yeah, I think it is fine that LL is a photographic website, and not a political or sosio-economical site. But your statements begged for a little reply, specially since Luminious Landscape now has a world wide audience. And also since some of your pictures from foreign countries, and your organized photo safaris to some relatively poor countries have implications far beyond photographic equipment and beautiful scenery. To make myself clear: I don´t say that this is a bad thing, I just say that the implications are cultural, economical, and some times perhaps also political, or even religious.
I understand fully that you fear the consequenses of discussing controversial non-photographic issues with the rest of the world on LL. Photographic issues would drown in a lot of noise, misunderstanding, stupidity, hard feelings and fanatical positions. But sometimes it does not hurt to mention the world that we look at through our lenses. It is all about means and perspectives, right?
And for the sake of clarity: I did not talk about your life style and personal choices per se. But if you allow me to, I will do that now, and (I promise!) never repeat it: I think you are making a remarkable contribution to the photographic community, by generously sharing your thoughts and experiences of the equipment you have been lucky enough to own or try out, your broad experience as a photographer, and the expeditions that you have arranged.
Just a small P.S. to what you said about items being useful AND at the same time luxury items (like cars). Yes, I thought about it when I wrote my first comment, but if I start arguing how complicated things REALLY are, I am afraid no one is able to stop me! How many Canon shooters with the 85 mm f/1.2 are able to look at it as a plain and simple tool, and not also as a fascinating piece of equipment? And the same goes for the proud owners of a Leica with a Summilux or Noctilux, even if they are very useful tools in the right hands.
For some people, taking pictures and collecting lenses and cameras goes hand in hand. For others, it seems like they are less fascinated with photography as an art form, and more with the equipment. Nothing wrong with that – it is just to very different things, that some times get in conflict with each other. But that is a big and different issue.
Or perhaps a central point, when we discuss how to, and why we choose a certain lens or camera?
At least I think it is an issue safely within the context of a photographic site.