Religious Wars…No, not RSS

You thought that we techs could be fanatic about our likes and dislikes, loves and hates, you should see photographers and their cameras.

The Online Photographer reports on the responses to his review Leica M8:

Well, naturally I’ve gotten raked over the coals in many of the Leica forums this morning, for insufficient worship… of the M8. I’m getting called names, insulted, denigrated, accused of name dropping and bias and of having no qualifications, and of course everything I wrote was outrageously wrong in nine kinds of ways—one guy called my report “piffle” and another jumped in and listed the several specific kinds of piffle it was. (To another it was “tripe.” Well, which is it, piffle or tripe? I’m afraid that’s something they’re going to have to work out amongst themselves.)

I sometimes wish I had started out with a different camera. I like my Nikon, but I’ve never felt particularly passionate about my equipment. I wonder if that’s what’s needed to do good photography–you have to feel passionate about your equipment?

My main fixation as regards my camera is stress with having to clean the camera’s innards and really hoping not to drop my telephoto. Both of these are directly related to my ability to afford replacements. If someone were to tell me that what I’m using is shite, I’d probably nod agreeably, and then go back to stressing about cleaning the sensor.

This is worrisome…I must not have the true soul of a photographer.

Read the Online Photographer’s Leica M8 reviews: part 1 and part 2.

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11 Responses to Religious Wars…No, not RSS

  1. Ethan says:

    Why I dropped out of photography class in high school, illustrated. Nothing has changed since 1986 but the technology, apparently. :-(

    (Hint: Being [jerks] about camera equipment is a fantastic way to turn people off to actually learning how to take better photos, let alone becoming an artiste.)

  2. Ethan says:

    Crap – I was too cute with the formatting of my comment. I added that my “hint” is not directed at Shelley, lest there be any confusion.

  3. Charles says:

    Leica snobs are in a class by themselves, as I learned back in the 1970s while attending the Leica School of Photography seminars with my Hasselblad.

    Photographers do generally have a special connection to their cameras, but there is a logical reason. You have to know your camera intimately in order to get the results you want. This is the old “previsualization” topic that I keep promising to write a long essay about.. in fact, I was just discussing this yesterday with my old photo professor who taught it to me so long ago. I really should write that essay.

    Anyway, I do see similar trends in other artists, painters are sort of like that, get them in a discussion about what are the best brands of oil paint and you will see the same sorts of arguments.

  4. Shelley says:

    I really need to finish my comment updates for adding back in editing, don’t I Ethan?

    I really do need to spend more time on the mechanics of photography. To be honest, though, I don’t enjoy it that much nowadays. Maybe it’s my Nikon.

  5. Laura says:

    There are many “gear heads” in photography that rely on the heavy investment in and superior knowledge of their gear to sell themselves to the public and clients. I’ve personally missed all of the brand loyalty floating around the photography community as I was taught not to be limited by my equipment. You never know when you’ll come across a beautiful moment and hold only a hot pink Jazz 207 (K-Mart Blue Light Special $3) or a poloroid camera in your hand. To my knowledge “gear heads” tend to be less confident in their abilities without said gear and in fact are less of a photographer for that. The proper camera and lens when paired with the right lighting scenario and moment can yes, yield splendid results. But the key in my experience is versatility and open mindedness. You never want to tell an aspiring photographer that until they drop 2 grand, they will amount to nothing. It simply is not true. I do, however, tend to prefer film cameras in backing up this analysis.

  6. Marcus says:

    I disagree about needing to be passionate about your equipment in order to take good pictures. In fact, I feel the exact opposite. I also can’t afford a lot of equipment, but I’d rather take interesting pictures often than worry about damaging it too much.

    I believe as a general rule of thumb that unless you’re camera is regularly “at risk” (carrying by hand, poor conditions, etc) then you’re probably not taking great pictures very often.

  7. Charles says:

    I’ll tell you a good camera tech story. Back when I was first in art school, we had a visiting photographer give a lecture and a print showing, it was somebody about-to-be-famous, I forget who. But she was known for her incredibly luscious B&W prints. One of the students looked at her prints intensely, and when the Q&A session came, he said, “Your prints have such accurate exposure! How do you do it? Do you use spot metering, incident metering, or what? Just what is your secret?”
    She stunned us by replying, “Oh, I don’t use a light meter, I just use the exposure guides printed on the little sheets that come with the rolls of film. The student looked crestfallen.

  8. Shelley says:

    Charles, that’s a funny story!

    Marcus, your point is very good: we can’t really worry about the camera equipment, and if we do, we’re not doing our best photography.

    I wonder if it wouldn’t be a bad idea for me to grab one of Laura’s “Blue Light Special” and just go out have fun? Maybe I am too worried about damaging the lens or the camera.

    But Laura, I don’t think I can go back to film. I is spoiled now.

  9. ralph says:

    I detailed my adventures with cheap toy cameras in my comment on your other post about photography today, but I have to say here than anyone who is so focused on the gear is missing the point of photography, which is why I love my Holga and Diana and Agfa Clack and all the other cheap ass cameras that you can find for a song. It’s not about the gear, it’s about the picture, and that’s a big part of what using my $1 Diana taught me.

  10. ralph says:

    One other thing that occurred to me. If you want an antidote to the gear porn that so many of the photography magazines and web sites traffic in, I can’t recommend Lenswork magazine highly enough. There’s not a damned thing in it about the gear, just about the motivation, the experience, the meaning and the art of photography. I recommend picking up a copy at your local Barnes & Noble or Borders or whoever else carries them. Lenswork editor Brooks Jensen is something of an iconoclast, and the magazine is better for it. Jensen also produces a couple of fascinating podcasts that are generally short (3-4 minutes each) essays about art and the process of making it.

  11. Shelley says:

    Ralph, I thought of your fun with your cameras when I wrote this. You’ve had such fun with them. I’m not sure I’m ready to go back to film, though. Got rather spoiled with digital.

    I think I’d seen Lenswork once, but I’ll check it out next time I hit the bookstore.