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Author Topic: Your Camera Does Matter  (Read 186979 times)

Nick Rains

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« Reply #40 on: March 13, 2008, 09:38:08 pm »

OK, I'll bite...I can't resist picking apart flawed reasoning.

Ken Rockwell is 'putting the cart before the horse'. Looking at great images and finding out they were taken with low level gear does not lead to the conclusion that low level gear takes great photos, only that it can under certain circumstances and in the hands of a good photographer.

The point here is that in many quoted cases the camera was chosen for a specific reason to get a specific effect by a master photographer, ergo the camera is indeed critical to the end result.

There is a talented photojournalist here in Australia called Michael Coyne who took two Holgas to East Timor to shoot a serious piece on the people of that war torn country. The reason he used the Holgas was not because he is a great photographer who can take great images with any piece of junk but specifically because the cameras evoked a different reaction from his subjects.

Pointing a top of the line Canon (worth a year's wages) at a 3rd world war victim is one thing, but pointing a 'toy' camera at them was actually amusing to the subjects. Michael's images show people in far more natural poses that a gun Reuters guy might have shot. The choice of camera was a deliberately creative one - a considered choice of tool for that particular job and critical to the intended outcome.

Regarding pots and brushes, yes people do agonize about the minutiae of such things. All activities involving tools have this aspect, it's human nature to one degree but, more importantly, it is critical to a master of any craft to understand exactly how a given tool will behave. Only master craftsman can fully appreciate just how important the tools are to the job in hand.

Anyone who says the camera is irrelevant simply does not fully understand their craft.
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Nick Rains
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Farkled

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« Reply #41 on: March 13, 2008, 09:47:13 pm »

The creation and use of tools is arguably that which separates us from lower animals.  That we discuss them endlessly seems to be both natural and normal.  In the end, however, people have to use those tools.  The difference in results is not a function of the tool.

I enjoy reading Michael and Ken - for different reason and with different mindsets.

Some random thoughts:  

Check out a woodworking site and see how many words are expended on chisels.

A professional is one who does his best work when he doesn't feel like it.

Despite the high cost of living, it remains highly popular.
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Nick Rains

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« Reply #42 on: March 13, 2008, 09:57:45 pm »

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The difference in results is not a function of the tool.
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I don't entirely agree with this.

Objectively, different tools must make a difference, simply because they are different. Subjectively I agree, tools don't always make a difference.

Objectively, one lens can be sharper than another; subjectively, this may not be important to the outcome but, if it is, then the choice of tool is vital.
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Nick Rains
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barryfitzgerald

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« Reply #43 on: March 13, 2008, 10:20:39 pm »

Whilst I am no super Ken Rockwell fan, he sure does have a point.

I am puzzled as to why the LL would put up that article. I don't take KR that seriously, and I dont think he does either, but he says some good things at times (and some not so good ones too)

I think what he was saying, is that the persuit of gear, and in many cases premium stuff, in itself means not a whole lot, rather obvious thing to say..but how true. We all get what we need, can afford etc. And we all like gadgets to a point. But the real meat is the photographer..and everyone knows it. How many of us know the keen new shooter who has loaded up with L lenses and high end stuff..only to produce somewhat lacking shots.

I feel there is a "snob" element to some photographers, in regards flashing off gear etc, this is not directed at anyone in particular.

Not that I suggest buying cheap stuff, but I think we all know what the argument is. And what does really count. I know KR's site has some iffy articles, and you could question the "tone" of some of his remarks, I find them somewhat refreshing in their no holds barred kinda way. Mind you, slightly OT, and dont take this the wrong way, but I am not sure this site is 100% on its articles either. DOF one is a bit lacking IMO, and the metering one avoids any mention of trying to explain how modern cameras work. So we can pick hairs if we want to.

Sorry Michael, I am with Ken on this one ;-)
« Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 10:22:39 pm by barryfitzgerald »
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Nick Rains

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« Reply #44 on: March 13, 2008, 10:39:19 pm »

Quote
Whilst I am no super Ken Rockwell fan, he sure does have a point.

Sorry Michael, I am with Ken on this one ;-)
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I think everyone knows what Ken is trying to say, it's his arrogant proclamations that are so irritating. Reasoning out and debating issues is worthwhile but he takes the line of "I'm a free thinker and won't be caught up in all this mainstream stuff - oh and by the way if you do this or that then you are wrong"

He is a good example of what is bad about the Internet and his 'spoof' excuses simply will not wash when he must be aware that people do take him seriously when they don't know any better. He is trying to have his cake and eat it.

If you look at his home page, and click on Updates:

"Observation #2: I ticked-off a Canadian gear-oriented site with my classic Your Camera Doesn't Matter article, which has resonated with such deep truths worldwide that it is now available in fourteen languages.

I guess they've never seen good photos made with bad cameras up in Canada. I know I sure have, and linked to some, which settles that one.

I sure know I've also seen far more really crappy photos made with great equipment, in fact, I've made thousands of the crappy ones myself with great gear! "

(My italics)

I think this makes my point.
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Nick Rains
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barryfitzgerald

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« Reply #45 on: March 13, 2008, 10:52:43 pm »

I know what you are saying Nick, and I am not here to defend Ken's sometimes questionable use of words. He tends not to pull his punches, sometimes that is good..other times not so good.

And I def do not agree with everything he says. But being a DP forum veteran, I am well used to strong arguments! I tend not to take things so seriously, esp websites and forums. I am sure both Micheal and Ken are nice guys, and both can have their view on this.

The problem I have is this..I honestly feel, IMO..my best shot was taken on a cheap beaten up Olympus compact, it didnt have the sharpest lens, it didnt make the best exposure. It is just, far and away my best ever shot (and film too..sorry!)

That kinda tells me something, whilst I would def have got a sharper better exposed shot with a leica, what counted is, I got the shot. That seals the deal for me, on a personal level, and really does say..that what you pack, matters a whole lot less, than what you get.

Ansel Adams said "There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept"
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Ray

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« Reply #46 on: March 13, 2008, 10:55:26 pm »

It's always important, and interesting, to present prevailing arguments for or against some issue, and then examine the reasoning.

Seemingly wise sayings are often meant as an antidote to excessive concerns in the opposite direction. They are like parables. If you take such arguments literally, you can always pull them to pieces. At least I can   .

Ansel Adams' pithy aphorism, 'There's nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept', is a perfect example. Of course there's something worse; a fuzzy image of a fuzzy concept. That really is totally useless; no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

At least Ken has done his best to present the 'for' case that the equipment doesn't matter, and his argument was good enough to provoke a rebuttal by Michael   .
« Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 10:59:09 pm by Ray »
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Nick Rains

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« Reply #47 on: March 13, 2008, 11:30:09 pm »

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and his argument was good enough to provoke a rebuttal by Michael   .
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Actually I think it was exasperating enough to provoke a rebuttal!

 
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Nick Rains
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Jonathan Wienke

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« Reply #48 on: March 13, 2008, 11:34:04 pm »

Of course the camera matters. How much depends of the shooting situation. If you're shooting in bright sunlight, a digicam may produce results nearly indistinguishable from a 1D-III when both are printed 8x10 inches. But if you're shooting action in a dimly-lit gymnasium, the choice of camera can make the difference between good quality captures and noisy, unusable crap, no matter who is behind the camera. High-end, expensive cameras don't sell just because photographers have an incurable mine-is-bigger-than-yours complex (although that does factor into some camera sales), but because in many situations they offer capabilities that make a measurable difference in the quality of the final result. These may be improvements in image quality, autofocus speed and accuracy, handling, or ergonomics or "feel". In some cases these differences may be insignificant to the average person, but if those differences are significant to a paying client, then they may very well justify spending the additional money for the more sophisticated camera.
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BernardLanguillier

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« Reply #49 on: March 13, 2008, 11:35:24 pm »

Quote
The problem I have is this..I honestly feel, IMO..my best shot was taken on a cheap beaten up Olympus compact, it didnt have the sharpest lens, it didnt make the best exposure. It is just, far and away my best ever shot (and film too..sorry!)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=181284\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Sure, but was that best shot meant to be an answer to a RFP for a coffee book on the architecture in Venice or an add for the new BMW M3?

Had you in mind an exhibition in Kualalumpur where the requirement for print size it at least one meter high?

I know that the answer to these questions is NO, and I also know that if the answer had been yes, then the best shot would most probably not have been shot with an Olympus.

That's all Michael is saying.

Cheers,
Bernard

Ray

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« Reply #50 on: March 13, 2008, 11:46:23 pm »

Quote
Actually I think it was exasperating enough to provoke a rebuttal!

 
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Okay! Exasperatingly good enough.  
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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« Reply #51 on: March 13, 2008, 11:55:16 pm »

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Okay! Exasperatingly good enough. 
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No, I'd say "exasperatingly stupid enough."

What I got from Ken Rockwell's piece was --

1.  He must be a pretty inept photographer if he can't get better results from his 5D than from a P&S.

2.  He totally misunderstands Ansel, who never said that the only think that matters is what is 12 inches behind the camera.

I am a bit surprised that Michael dignified it with a reply.
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Ray

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« Reply #52 on: March 14, 2008, 12:04:04 am »

I think we all really understand this issue. The only reason it keeps cropping up is because there's an 'artistic' perception, a way of seeing and looking, that is independent of the technology that enables the final product.

There's a strong 'association' tendency in human affairs. You see a Porsche with a scantily clad lady draped over the bonnet and your subconscious thinks that maybe the lady comes with the car, although your conscious reasoning knows that that is not necessarily the case, although it might be the case if you later come across a lady that is mightily impressed with your Porsche.

To a certain degree, there can be a placebo effect taking place when someone buys a Porsche-like camera. It's possible that such an effect might motivate a photographer to take better photos than he/she otherwise would. But let's not go there. It's too disastrous on the bank balance.  
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J.Russell

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« Reply #53 on: March 14, 2008, 12:23:12 am »

My take on Kens post is:

Context is important. He is obviously not talking about or to professionals who require professional gear. The post is for those using a camera such as a D40 or D80 who shoot casual photographs, be it of the family, city or landscapes. Not photographers but people who own a camera and take photographs as a casual hobby.

A D80 and a 18-200 is a great combo for them, it covers a wide range, they can get some nice results and they have not purchased above their skill or needs level. They donít need a $3000 camera and a $3000 lens, it would be a waist of money.

They donít really know that much about photography, they enjoy taking photographs, they occasionally take something quite nice, they might visit sites like DPR to get some information, ask some questions. At sites like DPR they are told that the Nikon 18-55 is a bad lens and that if they only spent $3000 on the f2.8 17-55 they would start getting good photographs. Photography is all about gear they are told. You must have the latest Canon/ Nikon/ Pentax/ Sony/ Olympus and you must have professional lenses. Without good gear you are only an ďAmateurĒ, the lowliest of the low in the world of photography.

So, these people get caught up in the freakiness that is gear fetish worship. Will a $3000 lens make them a better photographer. Unlikely.

Would $3000 be better spent on a fast lens or spent on such things as some life drawing lessons, learning how to observe and see the world, some decent photography books, both technical and more importantly, books of images by the greats such as Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe, Julia Margaret Cameron etc etc and lets throw in a workshop with a local photographer or photography school for good measure.

There are too many people on the net, on sites like DPR, that believe that gear is the answer. You look at their gear lists and they have ridiculous amounts of money invested on gear and you look at their photographs, if they have a link to their images, and the images may be sharp (sometimes) but they lack life, vision, art, soul.

Gear most certainly has its place, I like a good piece of kit as much as the next person but it wonít make you a good photographer. I believe Ken is trying to show new hobby photographers that in the context of a casual hobby a $500 lens is just as good as $3000 lens and I agree, for many casual hobby photographers that extra $2500 would be better spent on other things.

For a professional, be it commercial or fine art, a dedicated enthusiast, then yep, it's a different conversation, different priorities, different needs. But his post isnít aimed at them.
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David Hufford

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« Reply #54 on: March 14, 2008, 12:38:59 am »

My mother is right after all. She often tells me, "Your camera takes good pictures."
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mminegis

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« Reply #55 on: March 14, 2008, 12:49:15 am »

Meanwhile, looks like somebody else tuned into this thread tonight:

http://web.mac.com/aaronandpatty/What_the_...mic_Strips.html

Love it!
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Ray

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« Reply #56 on: March 14, 2008, 12:51:24 am »

Quote
My mother is right after all. She often tells me, "Your camera takes good pictures."
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Wow! I want a camera like that.  As I sit by my pool side swigging a beer, I'd like to tell my robotised camera to go take some award winning photographs.  
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Nick Rains

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« Reply #57 on: March 14, 2008, 01:00:23 am »

There is also a lot of value in working with a piece of equipment that is finely made, of excellent quality and that you get a sense of pleasure using. Fine tools are a joy to use and allow a craftsman to relax and enjoy the process, rather than wasting creative energy struggling to make a poor tool perform beyond its capabilities.

I think James makes a good point. If it is true that KR is aiming at warning off amateurs who fall into the DPReview gear fetish trap then he makes some sense, but he goes to far with his dogma and only confirms his already flaky reputation.
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Nick Rains
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Ray

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« Reply #58 on: March 14, 2008, 01:05:48 am »

Quote
There is also a lot of value in working with a piece of equipment that is finely made, of excellent quality and that you get a sense of pleasure using. Fine tools are a joy to use and allow a craftsman to relax and enjoy the process, rather than wasting creative energy struggling to make a poor tool perform beyond its capabilities.

I think James makes a good point. If it is true that KR is aiming at warning off amateurs who fall into the DPReview gear fetish trap then he makes some sense, but he goes to far with his dogma and only confirms his already flaky reputation.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=181330\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I agree. There is value in working with a finely tuned piece of equipment. I bet Ken Rockwell also knows this. He's jsut presenting a case; being provocative as usual.
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JeffKohn

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« Reply #59 on: March 14, 2008, 01:24:57 am »

What annoys me is when there's a technical/gear discussion and somebody just has to barge in and spout the cliche that "the camera doesn't matter, it's the photographer behind the camera". Such posts are IMHO annoying and pointless. Who are you to say that just because people are discussing the techinical merits of equipment that they have no talent or interest in the art of photography? Yet by making one of these cliche posts, you're implicitly accusing the other thread participants of being talentless hacks interested only in equipment.

IMHO people who make such posts are usually either (1) trying to feel superior, or (2) have a case of sour grapes.
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