Random Brain Waves, vol. 13

There are over a dozen photo sites – blogs, review sites, rumor sites, etc – that I visit on a daily basis. There are many others that I visit sporadically. Sometimes I come away with valuable information or insight. Other times… not so much. The following is a list of the things I’d be happy to not read about nor experience for awhile whilst visiting these sites.

1) The Sony a7/a7R twins – I get it. Full frame sensor in a small, mirrorless body. Very exciting. Until you realize that once again, you have to buy all new lenses… and as of now, there are unfortunately only two available. I hope you really like the 35mm and 55mm focal lengths. Oh sure, you can use just about any lens via adapters, but I wouldn’t be too keen about using adapted lenses on full frame high resolution sensors with a short lens flange to sensor distance. Just about any lens under 35mm is going to have issues – corner softness, vignetting, color shifts. Furthermore, you obviously lose all automation – autofocus, image stabilization, various exposure modes. Sony fans have been gloating pretty much non-stop since the introduction of THE GREATEST CAMERAS IN THE HISTORY OF FOREVER, but they’ve failed to realize one very important fact – anyone can do what Sony has done. As long as a company is willing to introduce a new lens mount, they can build any kind of camera they want. What’s to stop Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic or Pentax from introducing their own full frame mirrorless camera? Nothing. In fact, I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see at least one manufacturer join the mirrorless full frame bandwagon in the next 12 months. Next year is a Photokina year. Photokina is the world’s largest photographic and imaging industries trade fair, and manufacturers love to introduce “impact” products just before this biennial event. Were Panasonic or Olympus to stick a full frame sensor in one of their mirrorless bodies, with their superior autofocus, responsiveness, and outstanding lens-making capabilities, the Sony twins would suddenly appear considerably less invincible. Sony makes great sensors, but not necessarily great cameras, nor great camera systems.

2) Pixel-peeping full frame mania – Not everyone photographs black cats in coal mines at midnight. If you do – that is, if for some reason you find yourself constantly shooting at ISO 6400 and above, then why are you even looking at crop sensor cameras? Stop complaining about their high ISO performance and go buy a full framer. For the rest of us who only occasionally go to ISO 1600, and rarely go higher, m4/3 or APS-C cameras are more than good enough. This irrational lusting over full frame cameras is like those who drool over Porches in a country where the speed limit is mostly 55 MPH. A camera is for making images – buy what you need, no more, no less. When we begin seeing cameras as status symbols, we begin to appear embarrassingly immature and/or insecure. Those who ridicule any camera, or any camera user for lack of a full frame sensor, risk the appearance of a smug and condescending buffoon. If I wanna hear from smug, immature, condescending buffoons, I’ll go watch C-SPAN.

3) Those horrible, horrible, puppy-kicking Olympus camera menus – Olympus camera menus are vast, and mind-numbingly complex. They are also not very logical nor intuitive. I accept all of this to be true. On the other hand, such vastness and complexity affords an extraordinary amount of camera customization – an Olympus camera can be set up to compliment virtually any shooting style. Furthermore, once the camera is set to your liking, you rarely need to venture back into THE OLYMPUS MENU OF DOOM. I frankly don’t recall the last time I accessed the menu of my E-M5 to do anything other than reformat the memory card. So really, I don’t get what all the whining, snark and hate is about. Interestingly, much of it comes from those who don’t even use Olympus cameras. Which leads me directly into #4…

4) THIS CAMERA SUCKS!… even though it hasn’t been released yet, and no one’s actually shot with it – Maybe, just maybe we could actually shoot with a camera before declaring it to be an affront to our senses. Or at least wait until it’s officially announced. I’ve actually read incidents of rumored cameras being verbally attacked. Also, try to remember that just because a camera does not appeal to you, that doesn’t mean that it sucks. One man’s trash is another’s treasure. Maybe I don’t need 200 cross-hair focus points, or a 40 frame per second burst rate(you probably don’t either Mr. THIS CAMERA SUCKS, but you know, it’s a status symbol thing). There is no such thing as a camera that does it all. Cameras are not just tools, they are specialized tools. Some are great for landscapes, some for sports, some for weddings, some are even great for shooting video. To say, for instance, that the Nikon 1 series cameras suck because their small sensors aren’t so great at high ISOs is like saying your toaster sucks because you can’t use it to power wash your driveway. Judge a camera by the niche it was intended to fill, not by what you want it to do.

5) The useless user review – In recent times there’s been something of a backlash against the kinds of exhaustive technical camera reviews performed by the the likes of dpreview.com. The current fad involves user reviews, which describe in more casual terms what it’s like to actually shoot with a specific camera. In theory, this is a good idea. However, such reviews often fail because they’re written through the prism of a reviewer’s shooting style and personal preferences/biases. In fact, one semi-well known blogger’s shooting style and preferences/biases are so unique/extreme that they all but render his opinions useless to the vast majority of readers. If you’re going to review equipment for the masses, then you have to consider how others might use it, and what might or might not be important to them in terms of features and performance. Otherwise, your opinion is only going to be relevant to the other three people in the world with the exact same shooting style and likes/dislikes.

6) Smugness – Yes, you’re good at what you do. You’ve been doing it a long time. You’ve photographed celebrities, CEOs, star athletes. Great. None of that grants you the right to be a rude, insensitive, opinionated ass. It’s not constructive. It’s not nice. And you’re not that good.

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