Photography gear fora… that menace!

I frequent many (MANY) online fora that cater to photographers and camera owners, the latter being a group that generally thinks it is part of the former… but this is another ball game to be played later!

Let’s start at the top:

  1. People love gadgets
  2. Cameras are (increasingly more so lately) gadgets
  3. People get GAS
  4. People need to quench their thirst for more / better / newer / latest / greatest gear
  5. People buy cameras
  6. People go on fora to justify their purchase by bragging about their new gear and read others’ comments doing the same

That’s all fine and it is no skin off my back. I have done it too (not the bragging, just the confirmation), but luckily I have grown out of it.

What people have not signed up for though is another line of commenting that they find on these fora (forums if it still sounds better to you!): people nagging and complaining about gear they own (or not), which may be the exact same gear others need purchase confirmation for… Oops!

So, these fora are frequented by all kinds of people: knowledgeable and not so knowledgeable, eloquent and not so eloquent. Now, there is a combination that is particularly harmful and this is the “not so knowledgeable, yet oh so very eloquent”… People that don’t REALLY know what they are talking about but they do it in a very convincing manner that gets those seeking reassurance for their recently acquired gear really perplexed and confused. Have they made a mistake? Are they doomed to bad photography? Should they take a hit and sell the bad cam and get another one? OMG!!!!

Even those that are knowledgeable, eloquent or not, have an impact on the fora members and their feelings about their gear. Surely, if an experienced photographer says that their new camera is not good, they must know something.

All this is very disturbing. Let’s get one thing straight: There are no bad cameras. Not anymore. There are cameras for different needs and levels of proficiency of the art of photography, there are cameras in different price brackets, but in general, in 2021, cameras are capable of producing good images easily. Hell, smartphones can produce good images easily.

It is easy to take cheap shots at cameras and their makers because they have not incorporated the one feature we would absolutely love to have on a particular model, or because the high ISO noise is unacceptable, or because they do not shoot a zillion frames per millisecond, or for whatever reason. The truth of the matter is that every camera is targeted to a specific audience and, as such, it is always a compromise. This means that there will always be things that are left out or not implemented the way we would have liked. This is true of entry level cameras and it is also true of high end cameras. It has been true in the past and it will be true in the future. So, let’s live with this and get on with life.

This is not to say that there are no differences (quantifiable or not) among cameras, but, as we say in Greek, “the best is the enemy of the good”. The point is to get out and enjoy the hobby you have picked up with the camera you have in your hands at the moment. Let me let you in on a little secret: chances are that the camera is not our REAL limitation, it is probably our mastery of the art and the camera itself and its capabilities.

Suggestion: if you have already bought a camera and you like it, stop reading the fora and start getting out more with that one camera in hand and shoot. Investing time and effort in your mastery of the art and the gear will yield more results sooner than investing on new gear. This may be counter-intuitive but, trust me, it is time-tested and true.

If you still frequent the fora and your purchase is being second-guessed by any combo of knowledge and eloquence, please think this: nearly all the great masters of photography through the years have made masterpieces with cameras that had a fraction of the capabilities that today’s cameras have, including yours and mine. Now, go shoot something!

(Another harmful group is that of brand fanboys. If you happen to stumble upon their ramblings before you purchase a camera, you may be led to believe that the camera in question may be something like the Holy Grail; rest assured it is not. It does not possess magical qualities that will turn you into HCB or Ansel Adams instantly. Buy whatever is within your budget and broad use case and leave the marketing lingo, company or fanboy, aside.)