Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

Started Feb 2, 2014 | Discussions
abelits
abelits Contributing Member • Posts: 764
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

Aberaeron wrote:

I don't just believe it, I know it to be true. These people aspire to improve their lives.
That, however, is a different subject altogether from the delight in using and the utility of older tools. We are fortunate to have the choice.

"Those people" produce what your "consumer society" consumes. And at least they can produce things -- "consumer society" is an economy so much driven into the corner, it can't build any everyday object without crashing itself. Respect those who still make something that others can enjoy, be it cameras, photos or vacuum cleaners.

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Aberaeron Senior Member • Posts: 5,949
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

abelits wrote:

Aberaeron wrote:

I don't just believe it, I know it to be true. These people aspire to improve their lives.
That, however, is a different subject altogether from the delight in using and the utility of older tools. We are fortunate to have the choice.

"Those people" produce what your "consumer society" consumes. And at least they can produce things -- "consumer society" is an economy so much driven into the corner, it can't build any everyday object without crashing itself. Respect those who still make something that others can enjoy, be it cameras, photos or vacuum cleaners.

The people who actually make things are the relatively wealthy that can generally afford things that others cannot. They are at a completely different end of the economic scale to all of rural China, Vietnam and other rural areas in the region where the vast majority of people live and work, mainly on the land. Vietnam, for instance, grows most of the Western World's instant coffee and it is their highest earning crop, yet the growers live in abject poverty, frequently tilling land littered with live ordinance which still maims and claims lives, where a camera, any camera at all, is a massive luxury.

You obviously missed my post where I illustrated that the people have the same aspirations to something 'better' that we have in the West and where possible they embrace technology and higher standards of living with gusto. Examples are everywhere, but as nations that have transformed in recent times, South Korea stands out like a beacon, where living standards are generally high and the highest levels of cutting-edge technology thrive. Far higher levels and usage by the general population than found anywhere in Europe or North America.

Do not make the mistake of romanticising poverty. People do not live in poverty through choice.

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abelits
abelits Contributing Member • Posts: 764
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.
1

Aberaeron wrote:


You obviously missed my post where I illustrated that the people have the same aspirations to something 'better' that we have in the West and where possible they embrace technology and higher standards of living with gusto.

Yes, everyone aspires to be a cowboy from Hollywood movies with technology of other Hollywood movies. When reality shows up, things end up very much different from your friendly corporate propaganda picture.

Examples are everywhere, but as nations that have transformed in recent times, South Korea stands out like a beacon, where living standards are generally high and the highest levels of cutting-edge technology thrive.

South Korea has healthy industry and the most oppressive society you can possibly imagine without going into "Enemies!!!" frenzy (that would be North Korea that is actually very, very poor).

Far higher levels and usage by the general population than found anywhere in Europe or North America.

You have missed a word indicating usage of what you are describing, but I am sure, it's not "random stuff people do not need but society with dying economy needs to move it to keep salesmen employed".

Do not make the mistake of romanticising poverty. People do not live in poverty through choice.

It's not poverty, it's normal, healthy life. What you have is gluttony and constant manipulation of people's desires by advertisement, people chasing what is being presented to them as a cure for their meaningless existence, and then trying to convince themselves and others that they are happy. Seriously, this is how your society looks for anyone who was not born in it (I wasn't but I live in US for two decades, so don't give me this "they don't know it").

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amalric
amalric Forum Pro • Posts: 10,839
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

I would like to bring back the debate in topic. To me it is clear that present cameras are towers of babel - they have an excess of features which is disorienting - if you compare them to film cameras. Have they increased creativity?

I think it was Ming Thein and excellent photog and blog author writing that  an artist needs  to limit its gear  to what is strictly needed by his work, any excess reflecting negatively on the work. Artists have always known this, even choosing artificial limitations, to test their skill.

I have a camera so complicated it took me months to get familiar with and that seriously limited my activity. Sometimes I wish I had a Leica, not for prestige, but because it has kept its native simplicity. Of course I don't have the money

Am.

Aberaeron Senior Member • Posts: 5,949
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

amalric wrote:

I would like to bring back the debate in topic. To me it is clear that present cameras are towers of babel - they have an excess of features which is disorienting - if you compare them to film cameras. Have they increased creativity?

I think it was Ming Thein and excellent photog and blog author writing that an artist needs to limit its gear to what is strictly needed by his work, any excess reflecting negatively on the work. Artists have always known this, even choosing artificial limitations, to test their skill.

I have a camera so complicated it took me months to get familiar with and that seriously limited my activity. Sometimes I wish I had a Leica, not for prestige, but because it has kept its native simplicity. Of course I don't have the money

Am.

Just because they have all those functions available, it simply does not mean you have to use them. At its simplest you could select intelligent-auto mode and concentrate 100% on your composition. Or buy the simplest camera you can find. You are spoilt for choice with both new and older used cameras, including film cameras. Most people choose something other than point-and-shoot even though the majority of owners of the simplest DSLR's have no idea how to adjust them. Some use A or P mode because they think that is the 'done thing' without knowing anything about how to alter the simplest exposure parameters. Of this majority group, the ones who consistently get the best results in terms of snaps are the ones using fully auto mode.

As I said in other posts, no matter what your wealth or status, people aspire to more and 'better', both for themselves and their families, even if they don't actually need it and even can't utilise it. It is human nature and what drives development.

 Aberaeron's gear list:Aberaeron's gear list
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amalric
amalric Forum Pro • Posts: 10,839
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

Aberaeron wrote:

amalric wrote:

I would like to bring back the debate in topic. To me it is clear that present cameras are towers of babel - they have an excess of features which is disorienting - if you compare them to film cameras. Have they increased creativity?

I think it was Ming Thein and excellent photog and blog author writing that an artist needs to limit its gear to what is strictly needed by his work, any excess reflecting negatively on the work. Artists have always known this, even choosing artificial limitations, to test their skill.

I have a camera so complicated it took me months to get familiar with and that seriously limited my activity. Sometimes I wish I had a Leica, not for prestige, but because it has kept its native simplicity. Of course I don't have the money

Am.

Just because they have all those functions available, it simply does not mean you have to use them. At its simplest you could select intelligent-auto mode and concentrate 100% on your composition. Or buy the simplest camera you can find. You are spoilt for choice with both new and older used cameras, including film cameras. Most people choose something other than point-and-shoot even though the majority of owners of the simplest DSLR's have no idea how to adjust them. Some use A or P mode because they think that is the 'done thing' without knowing anything about how to alter the simplest exposure parameters. Of this majority group, the ones who consistently get the best results in terms of snaps are the ones using fully auto mode.

As I said in other posts, no matter what your wealth or status, people aspire to more and 'better', both for themselves and their families, even if they don't actually need it and even can't utilise it. It is human nature and what drives development.

There was an interesting article by Petapixel on the trend in expenses by aspiring Pro photographers in the US in 2013.

It was duly noted that for the first time they chose to spend more in photography courses than in gear. That is v. sensible because whatever the camera your skill matters first. Even, to some point, the camera might become indifferent, or you might have several, depending on the tasks.

Remember also that HCB had only one camera, one lens, like most Magnum photographers. It wonderfully concentrates attention, the most precious of a photog.'s resources.

What consumers do I couldn't care less, they mostly use cameras (or phones) to celebrate family moments, which are uninteresting to others. Let them clamour endlessly for features, which might be quietly ignored  by one who has an art project in mind, with more strict requirements, and a more general meaning. That's the difference between considering a camera like a fetish, or a tool.

Isn't it a paradox that, in their retro drive, companies like Fuji long to find the original simpler ur-camera?

A niche market but growing. Perhaps we've had enough of consumerist fetishes.

Am.

abelits
abelits Contributing Member • Posts: 764
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.
1

Aberaeron wrote:


As I said in other posts, no matter what your wealth or status, people aspire to more and 'better', both for themselves and their families, even if they don't actually need it and even can't utilise it. It is human nature and what drives development.

Actually no, it's the nature of your specific mercantilist society -- it simplifies a job of people who sell products. You believe that it is universal because this is the only ideology you were exposed to.

It also masquerades as promoting production and innovation, but in reality it helps selling things at profit, and does little beyond that.

 abelits's gear list:abelits's gear list
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 14mm F2.8 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS +16 more
Aberaeron Senior Member • Posts: 5,949
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

amalric wrote:

Aberaeron wrote:

amalric wrote:

I would like to bring back the debate in topic. To me it is clear that present cameras are towers of babel - they have an excess of features which is disorienting - if you compare them to film cameras. Have they increased creativity?

I think it was Ming Thein and excellent photog and blog author writing that an artist needs to limit its gear to what is strictly needed by his work, any excess reflecting negatively on the work. Artists have always known this, even choosing artificial limitations, to test their skill.

I have a camera so complicated it took me months to get familiar with and that seriously limited my activity. Sometimes I wish I had a Leica, not for prestige, but because it has kept its native simplicity. Of course I don't have the money

Am.

Just because they have all those functions available, it simply does not mean you have to use them. At its simplest you could select intelligent-auto mode and concentrate 100% on your composition. Or buy the simplest camera you can find. You are spoilt for choice with both new and older used cameras, including film cameras. Most people choose something other than point-and-shoot even though the majority of owners of the simplest DSLR's have no idea how to adjust them. Some use A or P mode because they think that is the 'done thing' without knowing anything about how to alter the simplest exposure parameters. Of this majority group, the ones who consistently get the best results in terms of snaps are the ones using fully auto mode.

As I said in other posts, no matter what your wealth or status, people aspire to more and 'better', both for themselves and their families, even if they don't actually need it and even can't utilise it. It is human nature and what drives development.

There was an interesting article by Petapixel on the trend in expenses by aspiring Pro photographers in the US in 2013.

It was duly noted that for the first time they chose to spend more in photography courses than in gear. That is v. sensible because whatever the camera your skill matters first. Even, to some point, the camera might become indifferent, or you might have several, depending on the tasks.

Remember also that HCB had only one camera, one lens, like most Magnum photographers. It wonderfully concentrates attention, the most precious of a photog.'s resources.

What consumers do I couldn't care less, they mostly use cameras (or phones) to celebrate family moments, which are uninteresting to others. Let them clamour endlessly for features, which might be quietly ignored by one who has an art project in mind, with more strict requirements, and a more general meaning. That's the difference between considering a camera like a fetish, or a tool.

Isn't it a paradox that, in their retro drive, companies like Fuji long to find the original simpler ur-camera?

A niche market but growing. Perhaps we've had enough of consumerist fetishes.

Am.

While I agree with most of that comment, I think you misunderstand the latest craze for 'retro' cameras. They don't generally skimp on the latest technology within these cameras. The 'retro' part is almost entirely in reference to the camera style and the personal image that the aspiring owner wishes to portray of themselves. These retro cameras are no less sophisticated than their 'conventional' counterparts for the most part, yet they ignore the latest interfaces that have made modern cameras more convenient to use, preferring to fit multiple and confusing, sometimes unergonomic physical dials instead of, or in some combination with software adjustments.

 Aberaeron's gear list:Aberaeron's gear list
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Aberaeron Senior Member • Posts: 5,949
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

abelits wrote:

Aberaeron wrote:

As I said in other posts, no matter what your wealth or status, people aspire to more and 'better', both for themselves and their families, even if they don't actually need it and even can't utilise it. It is human nature and what drives development.

Actually no, it's the nature of your specific mercantilist society -- it simplifies a job of people who sell products. You believe that it is universal because this is the only ideology you were exposed to.

It also masquerades as promoting production and innovation, but in reality it helps selling things at profit, and does little beyond that.

I recognise abject poverty and the aspiration of people to rise above it when I see it.

 Aberaeron's gear list:Aberaeron's gear list
Fujifilm X20 Sony SLT-A57 Olympus OM-D E-M10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 Pro +21 more
abelits
abelits Contributing Member • Posts: 764
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

amalric wrote:

I would like to bring back the debate in topic. To me it is clear that present cameras are towers of babel - they have an excess of features which is disorienting - if you compare them to film cameras. Have they increased creativity?

To be fair, some features did -- for example, autofocus allowed photos to be taken in the middle of unpredictable action, high-sensitivity sensors allowed night-time and indoors photography in conditions that would require extensive preparations, lighting equipment, etc. that would distract the subject and alter the events. Even HDR given us photos of nature, images taken inside the buildings with bright windows with clearly visible landscape, etc. There are legitimate reasons and legitimate positive results that are based in some advances of camera and processing technology.

I think it was Ming Thein and excellent photog and blog author writing that an artist needs to limit its gear to what is strictly needed by his work, any excess reflecting negatively on the work. Artists have always known this, even choosing artificial limitations, to test their skill.

The photographer already has the strictest limitation of them all -- the reality. The camera won't record light that is not radiated or reflected by a real object. And viewer's expectation is that it's not just the image in the photographer's mind but the shape of something real, present in the world that he and photographer share, is reflected in the shapes he sees on the photo.

But how to capture it, how to select, emphasize, exclude things so they reflect something meaningful -- that's the task the photographer has to somehow solve, and if he really needs an unusual tool, there is no shame in using or wanting it. One just has to be aware that mere application of a complex tool or technique does not make the result interesting. At least not beyond the first use if the tool is extraordinary in its own right, but one is rarely the first to use something as common as a a feature of a camera.

I have a camera so complicated it took me months to get familiar with and that seriously limited my activity. Sometimes I wish I had a Leica, not for prestige, but because it has kept its native simplicity. Of course I don't have the money

It is debatable what is more complex -- design of a lens or design of a camera firmware that performs autofocus of those lenses, a simple-looking CFA demosaic procedure, automatic panorama assembly, or implementation of bracketing exposure with combining the images  to produce HDR. Simple things often have at very least plenty of math underneath.

 abelits's gear list:abelits's gear list
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abelits
abelits Contributing Member • Posts: 764
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

Aberaeron wrote:

abelits wrote:

Aberaeron wrote:

As I said in other posts, no matter what your wealth or status, people aspire to more and 'better', both for themselves and their families, even if they don't actually need it and even can't utilise it. It is human nature and what drives development.

Actually no, it's the nature of your specific mercantilist society -- it simplifies a job of people who sell products. You believe that it is universal because this is the only ideology you were exposed to.

It also masquerades as promoting production and innovation, but in reality it helps selling things at profit, and does little beyond that.

I recognise abject poverty and the aspiration of people to rise above it when I see it.

You recognize abject poverty in every person who has $10 less than yourself.

 abelits's gear list:abelits's gear list
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 14mm F2.8 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS +16 more
abelits
abelits Contributing Member • Posts: 764
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

Aberaeron wrote:

While I agree with most of that comment, I think you misunderstand the latest craze for 'retro' cameras. They don't generally skimp on the latest technology within these cameras. The 'retro' part is almost entirely in reference to the camera style and the personal image that the aspiring owner wishes to portray of themselves. These retro cameras are no less sophisticated than their 'conventional' counterparts for the most part, yet they ignore the latest interfaces that have made modern cameras more convenient to use, preferring to fit multiple and confusing, sometimes unergonomic physical dials instead of, or in some combination with software adjustments.

This is not necessarily true. Fujifilm made "retro" X-Pro1 with conveniently placed manual exposure controls that are more convenient than menu-diving of "modern" cameras, and in the new generation of those series added split-image focusing based on manual focusing aid present in old film SLRs and implemented as a part of phase-detection focusing similar to modern DSLRs (as opposed to magnifier-and-peaking of the original X-Pro1/X-E1). Those are genuine advantages. On the other hand, video recording is blatantly half-assed in the whole series.

 abelits's gear list:abelits's gear list
Fujifilm X-Pro1 Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 14mm F2.8 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS +16 more
Samaistuin
Samaistuin Contributing Member • Posts: 833
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

tko wrote:

I took a thousand photos yesterday

I think you should think a bit more before pressing the shutter.

Samaistuin
Samaistuin Contributing Member • Posts: 833
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

Aberaeron wrote:

These retro cameras are no less sophisticated than their 'conventional' counterparts for the most part, yet they ignore the latest interfaces that have made modern cameras more convenient to use, preferring to fit multiple and confusing, sometimes unergonomic physical dials instead of, or in some combination with software adjustments.

Now that's what I call technological snobbery.
But if it's new it must be better, huh?

Aberaeron Senior Member • Posts: 5,949
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

Samaistuin wrote:

Aberaeron wrote:

These retro cameras are no less sophisticated than their 'conventional' counterparts for the most part, yet they ignore the latest interfaces that have made modern cameras more convenient to use, preferring to fit multiple and confusing, sometimes unergonomic physical dials instead of, or in some combination with software adjustments.

Now that's what I call technological snobbery.
But if it's new it must be better, huh?

Especially if it just looks as if it is from a bygone age. They call it (retro) 'style', and there's a demand for it. Until the next fashion season.

 Aberaeron's gear list:Aberaeron's gear list
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Aberaeron Senior Member • Posts: 5,949
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

abelits wrote:

Aberaeron wrote:

abelits wrote:

Aberaeron wrote:

As I said in other posts, no matter what your wealth or status, people aspire to more and 'better', both for themselves and their families, even if they don't actually need it and even can't utilise it. It is human nature and what drives development.

Actually no, it's the nature of your specific mercantilist society -- it simplifies a job of people who sell products. You believe that it is universal because this is the only ideology you were exposed to.

It also masquerades as promoting production and innovation, but in reality it helps selling things at profit, and does little beyond that.

I recognise abject poverty and the aspiration of people to rise above it when I see it.

You recognize abject poverty in every person who has $10 less than yourself.

Que? I do not recognize the type of poverty that I have described within the UK at all, apart from when it is self inflicted through substance abuse (mainly), or mental incapacity for instance. Your statement shows a basic lack of understanding of the issue and the differing standards within regions of the World. Even a lack of empathy and understanding for your fellow men in different circumstances to your own, from whatever strata you inhabit.

 Aberaeron's gear list:Aberaeron's gear list
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amalric
amalric Forum Pro • Posts: 10,839
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

abelits wrote:

Aberaeron wrote:

While I agree with most of that comment, I think you misunderstand the latest craze for 'retro' cameras. They don't generally skimp on the latest technology within these cameras. The 'retro' part is almost entirely in reference to the camera style and the personal image that the aspiring owner wishes to portray of themselves. These retro cameras are no less sophisticated than their 'conventional' counterparts for the most part, yet they ignore the latest interfaces that have made modern cameras more convenient to use, preferring to fit multiple and confusing, sometimes unergonomic physical dials instead of, or in some combination with software adjustments.

This is not necessarily true. Fujifilm made "retro" X-Pro1 with conveniently placed manual exposure controls that are more convenient than menu-diving of "modern" cameras, and in the new generation of those series added split-image focusing based on manual focusing aid present in old film SLRs and implemented as a part of phase-detection focusing similar to modern DSLRs (as opposed to magnifier-and-peaking of the original X-Pro1/X-E1). Those are genuine advantages. On the other hand, video recording is blatantly half-assed in the whole series.

Yes, that's exactly what I had in mind. OTH I agree with you on technology helping to catch the decisive instant that otherwise might be lost.

Fuji chose a clever in between, stating intent of imitating Leica, where the triangle of exposure is apparent on the body.

Note that I don't have a Fuji. I have an Olympus, which is excellent but has one of the most long winded series of menus of the Industry. Many of them I will never use and they clog visually the LCD. Instead I could do v. well with the Fuji simplification.

More generally I prefer the camera as a tool, than as a jewel. If say half of the public is a collector instead of a photog. I can cope with that, but I still need a tool which is more streamlined.

A way out of this problem might be to feed the camera from a laptop only the functions you need, while providing as a base the triangle of exposure in physical dials.

I am not a luddite. I would probably choose to have auto HDR, which Fuji  provides, I think, and auto Time Lapse, which only technology provides.

I would instead avoid the 'Spray and Pray' functions as dangerous to photography. It is subjective I know, and people would load functions according to their favourite genre, instead of accumulating help for all possible ones.

This however is a reasonable proposal for a tool and not for a jewel. What sense does it make for a collector to have all possible functions he will never use? And yet companies cash on that, making thing more difficult for photogs. who need short reaction times.

Until you come to the paradox of Leica, who probably has the maximum quota of collectors/photogs, and yet it is still v. much used by the latter as a tool.

A paradox worth considering.

Am.

The Incredible Hoke
The Incredible Hoke Contributing Member • Posts: 894
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

I find myself agreeing with the camera as a tool argument and I usually just want mine to do what I ask without menu diving. My favorite cameras I use are old manual film cameras, as they have a minimum of controls. For me, this usually results in more clarity of purpose, less frames used, and ultimately better photographs.

That said, depending on your digital camera, you can approach the same way. I normally use my FF Nikon DSLR, with its endless menus and options, in a very simplistic manner - manual or aperture priority with front and rear command dials as the main controls. I've got a button for ISO and WB if I need to switch either. I can't remember the last time I've had to open the menus of my DSLR. It's all in how you choose to use it.

-- hide signature --
amalric
amalric Forum Pro • Posts: 10,839
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

ShawnHoke wrote:

I find myself agreeing with the camera as a tool argument and I usually just want mine to do what I ask without menu diving. My favorite cameras I use are old manual film cameras, as they have a minimum of controls. For me, this usually results in more clarity of purpose, less frames used, and ultimately better photographs.

That said, depending on your digital camera, you can approach the same way. I normally use my FF Nikon DSLR, with its endless menus and options, in a very simplistic manner - manual or aperture priority with front and rear command dials as the main controls. I've got a button for ISO and WB if I need to switch either. I can't remember the last time I've had to open the menus of my DSLR. It's all in how you choose to use it.

-- hide signature --

Yes, I do the same, but it helps if the maker has the same purpose of the user, hence the success of Fuji as a Leica redux.

I am not familiar with FF that might have a more professional approach in the sense of simplicity/tool. I remember the old Nikon F or the Hasselblad which were marvels of simplicity, and as you mention sped up the photog.'s purpose i.e. the shot.

In this sense I compare v. much the camera to a bow, as in the art of archery, or perhaps to hunting with a bow. One must limit the controls to the strict necessary in order not to lose the target. Some things help, notably with low light, but then as in a modern weapon one might add them like night vision on a Picatinny, and ignore them when not needed.

(Nikon F did it even for the Exposure meter, which I found v. funny and distinctive - might be worth collecting

At any rate we are clearly discussing about a tool, not a jewel, although some tools might become works of art.

Am.

bruxi
bruxi Regular Member • Posts: 318
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

tko wrote:

I took a thousand photos yesterday

I think you should think a bit more before pressing the shutter.

Could be shooting action or a wedding. I've taken 1000 photos at a track meet.

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