Gearheads Unite

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by ctirpak, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. Oh man! Let the flame wars begin!
  2. bmm


    I am a guitar player and have been for far longer than I've been a photographer, in fact for all but the first 5 years of my life.

    What is funny is that the IDENTICAL debates rage in that scene as do here. What thickness of strings, and are they to be nylon, nickel, copper or some crazy alloys? What woods to use - mahogany, rosewood, maple or ply? Pickups? Effects? Amplifiers? Post-processing vs'pure' sound? Blah blah blah

    And then the same counterarguments (from the sort of people that I imagine walking around in saffron robes in India and meditating rather than eating) that say that as long as you have studied more technique than Beethoven and Al di Meola and the entire Kings College Choir put together you can make a rubber band stretched between two half-empty beer cans sound like the best flamenco orchestra in Spain.

    I agree 100% with the link that you put up. Gear matters. And technique matters. And intuitive skill/touch matters. And application/blood-sweat-and-tears matters.

    We are in the business of creating art with technology. Thats the bottom line. It's not as simple as the either-or proposition argued so often.

    Thankyou for posting this. I think its valuable.

    Two additional notes:

    1. It always seemed arrogant to me for people to put down others who wanted guidance on purchasing what, after all, are expensive bits of equipment with lots of alternative choices and lots of marketing hype put out by manufacturers that ends up confusing the consumer. If I'm about to drop what ends up being between $3000 and $5000 on kit (and for some much more), I'll be really appreciating discussing and seeking advice on it from a community of peers.

    2. I'll always be fore an argument that takes KR to task. I made the mistake of over-weighing his stuff over other sites when getting my first kit. While I'm not saying avoid it completely by any means, he influenced purchasing decisions in 2 areas of my kit that I would have made differently with the benefit of hindsight and better-balanced advice. I wish I'd found this site before his, not after.
  3. Gear only matters if it can do something that another piece of gear can't do.

    I'd bet I can recreate every one of my D70 images in my portfolio with a film camera.

    In fact I recently bought an FE2 because I can't do some things with the D70.

    It's not about the equipment. It's about what you are trying to do with it.
  4. He sounds like a bitter old man...
  5. Chris, That's a great article. It's about time someone came down off their soapbox to say that equipment does matter. How many times do I have to be shot down for recommending a Nikon, Leica, Hasselblad, or Sekonic over some inferior piece of equipment that has either crappy optics or breaks under some amount of real use? If you haven't used good stuff, it's hard to explain it.

    I was flamed recently for suggesting a lomographic camera was a piece of crap. The "artistes" ripped on me for suggesting that someone couldn't make great photos with one. That wasn't what I was getting at. You sure can't make a living or hobby out of a camera that breaks in the middle of your artistic interpretation of your subject matter.
  6. Forget about those sterile disputes.

    Get the equipments you need, go out and shoot.
  7. An anonymous "Rebuttal" article...sure, take it seriously. Her/His two photographs are no
    more convincing. Moreover I think he disprove him/her entirely by taking such adequate
    photos from a 3.5k setup.
  8. >>the author disprove him/herself...
  9. I have found quite a few bits of interesting and helpful information from this fine website luminous-landscape. In this case I cannot avoid the impression that there is an answer to a problem that may not really exist .-P The article certainly does not end the discussion as the "optimistic" author hopes. Of course it is always fun to see someone argue abour KR's output :p Incidently the author may lower himself to the level of KR since there is not really any new aspect I could see.

    Anyway thanks to luminous-landscape for the many other useful pages in the WWW.
  10. One thing that's funny is that Rockwell, who is arguing against the importance of equipment, is continually testing and speculating about equipment.

    Bernard's answer above, describing how guitar players get into the same kind of gear-oriented arguments as photographers, reminded me of one of the great examples of someone ignoring the optimization of equipment. Jimi Hendrix, who was left left-handed and played left-handed, didn't even bother to reverse the order of the strings on his guitars -- the bass strings wound up at the bottom. If you've ever played a guitar you know how amazing that is. At the very least, it meant that he couldn't learn from anyone else's technique.

    Of course we need equipment, and we need it more than we ever had. In the days of film, you could take a beaten-up Nikkormat, put an appropriate lens on it and appropriate film in it, and make many of the same images which would be made by the latest Nikon film camera. Today there are important differences in sensors, and they will affect print size, the ability to shoot in low light, and overall IQ.
  11. Of course, gear matters. In fact, for many people, is the only that really matters. What`s wrong with it?
    There are many kinds of photographers: pros, half-time pros, encroachers, snap-shooters, academics, collectors and probably the most concerned about this topic, real amateurs.
    As you can read in bold in`s terms-of-use, "Don't Believe Everything you Read Here"..., etc. I like to read from some pros here which I met (internet speaking) time ago, and their posts along the time earned my confidence; the same for many posters, probably casual shooters, which I find more useful and with greater credibility that some "photo-guru" in the web.
    Some poeple, drink, others smoke, others like to watch football, I like photography. I`m not bothered about Beckham`s wife panties` brand but on the "N" technology of Nikon`s coatings.
    Hector -a very good name in photography ;)-, even in the old days, each model makes a difference with the previous one. The most important are camera shake and shutter precission. Look at the F line: each model improve considerably their predecessor. From the door-slamming, "indicative" speed dial original F to the almost negligible shake all precision F6. Probably that difference could be like a D200 to D300 upgrade.
  12. Paraphrasing the article: For a special task, I need special tools.
  13. People talk and fuss about gear because it's easy. Much harder to talk about creativity and skill...
  14. BTW, chefs talk about pans too. To think otherwise would be naive.
  15. LOL, thanks Peter. I cannot resist to copy and paste the first I have read. LOL LOL LOL.

    "Sorry about putting this into the "cookware" forum, but there wasn't a "placesettings" one...

    I need a recommendation for bowls.
    I specifically am looking for bowls for individual use when I serve either pastas, soups or stews. I have some from my Grandma that I love, but they just don't hold enough for a good-sized serving.

    I did have some great ones from Crate & Barrel, but nearly all of them have been tossed, due to excessive chipping.

    Do any of you have bowls that will hold "man-sized" portions?
    Also, if you can provide a photo or link, it would be so appreciated!"
  16. I wonder if they also have a "Casual Conversations Forum" bin like us...
  17. Creativity, skill... where can I buy it?

    In cooking, I thought they followed the "less is more" principle. Come on, let's discuss!
  18. It's foolish to think gear doesn't matter. I am a dedicated pinhole photographer and I would
    never use one of the cheesy kits so readily available. They are flimsy and unreliable with
    pinholes of questionable diameters. One either has to purchase the best (Zero Image, period)
    or craft one from the finest Quaker Oats box one can find. Gear doesn't matter? HA!
  19. While Hendrix just flipped a right-handed guitar around, he did have the strings set up conventionally, heavier strings at the top. This required reworking the nut on the neck and tweaking the bridge for proper intonation. However, it's been said that leaving the pickups stock contributed to his unique sound. Back then Strat pickup pole pieces were staggered to be optimized for each string's unique vibration. Personally, I don't give much credence to this theory. Hendrix played many types of guitars and sounded just as unique with a Flying V and humbuckers, which don't have exposed staggered pole pieces.

    I have seen photos of lefty players who didn't reverse the strings on their righty guitars, but Hendrix wasn't one of 'em.

    BTW, Jeff Healey, the blind Canadian blues guitarist who roared to fame in the late '80s-early '90s and then dropped off the radar, just died of cancer earlier this month. He was only 41. While I didn't care for the somewhat sappy tone of his later pop songs he was an incredibly gifted blues rocker.

    And, now, back to your regularly scheduled debates over camera trivia...
  20. the two of them should of course get togehter, and have a drink. drinks!
  21. it


    It's about the light actually. I'm working in Hong Kong these days. Going over to the Zero Image place on Monday to pick up a 6x12.

    I saw Healey in a bar when he was a kid. He did a 30 minute version of Voodoo Chile (the slow blues from side 1 of the vinyl) followed by a 30 minute version of Voodoo Child (Slight Return). Awesome musician and a great guy.
  22. I did not read the whole thread, so forgive me if I repeat something that has been aready stated.

    I have took great phoos (well, I liked them, say) with a 3 MP PS. I di with my wife's Nikon D40, and with my own D200. Same goes for lenses.
    But, would this mean that I would be in doubt whether to pick up the PS or the D200? Not for a second. Sometimes I'm in doubt between the D200 and the D40, but not if I'm going out for the clear purpose of taking photos.

    The point is that 1) you may take SOME great photos with the PS, but you will take A LOT more great photos with the D200 and 2) it is way more satisfactory to use the D200 than the PS, and if you need to do all the day long, this makes a difference.

    Of course, both points are somewhat dependent on what you do, and on how different are your two options. Surely the difference between my D200 and a D300 is far less significant than between the D200 and the PS (in fact, I'm not upgrading to D300), but at the end of the day, in my experience cameras DO matter. Less than skills, yes, less than "being there at the right moment", yes. Somewhat less than lenses, yes. But a camera that you feel well to use, that does not slow you down or fail you when it matters, is, and will always be the instrument I will want to use. And sice ever once in a while I may have to buy a camera or a lens... I suppose that trying to figure out which one fits me the best is then worth doing.

    Which does not mean spending all he time debating on the crucial difference between 0.35 and 0.42 seconds startup time, or 1/3 stop better noise or dynamic range. One is free to like speaking about that, provided he knows these things will have no impact on photography.

    I guess you should strike a balance... but squarely say that camera does not matter is plain wrong.

  23. 'He sounds like a bitter old man..."

    No, he sounds like an experienced smart man.

    In terms of actual photogrpahic knowledge Rockwell is like 1 mega-pixel level 3 sRGB Jpeg made with a cell phone camera from 2 years back. In other words he goes to the lowest common denominator and stays there.

    The entire point of Rockwell's site is not to actually teach anyone anything about actual photography . it is to make a lot of people stay at his site long enough to eventually order something from one of his advertising clients -- for which he gets a commission.
  24. A Luminous Landscape rebuttal of a Ken Rockwell article?

    Geez. Life is too too short...
  25. David Burnett. David Burnett. David Burnett.
  26. Jesus, I read about half of both articles and that was all I could possible stand. I want that five minutes of my life back.

    What is even the slightest bit interesting about either of these brain farts?
  27. it


    Dan is right. Burnett is exactly the guy I thought about when I read that crap.
  28. Ah, all good fun.

    Me, I think do whatever you want. Yes, great photographers will take better pictures than me more often than not (ok, pretty much always). Heck, a lot of mediocre photographers will take better shots than me. I know my place in the world. But I sure do appreciate every edge that I can get.

    I just really enjoyed his tossing out there that yes, sometimes equipment does matter and smacking around the folks who always say that it doesn't. KR just seemed to be the trigger but the thing was aimed at a lot of people.

    I look at it much like Bernard does. I am a pretty good mountain biker. I have raced some multi day races, 24 hour races, etc. I am middle of the pack in a pretty tough crowd. I could probably still beat most of the people I beat if you put me on a huffy. And the people beating me could do the same to me on a huffy. But when its close, the guy with the better bike will probably have an edge and take me or vice versa. But none of us would bother, it wouldn't be as much fun. A good bike is a pleasure to ride and use and in fact does help. Cameras are much the same way for people.

    Ah well, enjoy the weekend and get out and shoot, ride or both!
  29. Mark Ci ... you are scaring me now. everything I find you saying, I ask myself, didn't I write that? yeah ... but I think I can read what Rockwell meant to say. quit the obsession .. and invest more of your brain and soul, than your credit-card. Reichmann had to respond didn't he? after all, with a 100Mb back (soon), he'll really be able to finely hone his 'crop' tool.

  30. [[You sure can't make a living or hobby out of a camera that breaks in the middle of your artistic interpretation of your subject matter.]]

    How is this different than any other camera?
  31. This is so funny. The luminous landscape guy says it is a "recent" article. I'm pretty sure Ken's article or a version of it has been on his site for years. I like some of what Ken says but the end result of the LL article and this thread is to increase hits to Ken's website which generates money for him.
  32. If I publish a story or a magazine article or some such that someone likes, or doesn't like, I am never asked what I used to write it. Keyboard and computer? Typewriter? Crayon scribbles on a paper bag? No one cares. Nor should they. It doesn't matter. It's the finished product that must stand on its own.

    But if I come up with an image of any sort, even a so-so snapshot, someone, or several someones, will want to know what lens? What body? What film stretcher or what lens sharpener or what add-on doodad was used?

    Imaging of any sort is, to a great degree, equipment dependent. A craftsman reaches for quality tools whenever possible. But in the end, it is the image that matters. Or should.

    Those who see the tools as a means to create the image are photographers.

    Those who see the tools as an end in themselves are collectors.

    As long as you're having fun...
  33. What overkill.

    The Boy Scouts used to have something like this sort of discussion. I believe it was called a "circle" something.

  34. The truth is that equipment matters to a point. It clearly matters whether you have a pinhole camera or a DSLR.

    However it really doesn't much matter which pinhole camera you have if you want a pinhole camera or even which DSLR you have if you want a DSLR. Technically it matters a bit if you want to do something special, but the image is 90% the photographer and 10% the gear.

    Oh no....I feel and article coming on for my own website...must resist the urge...
  35. Do it Bob, do it!
  36. I visited LL today and chuckled at the debate. Then I found the links to the two new D300 reviews which I read with great solemnity. We are what we are.
  37. Just think what Edward Weston and Ansel Adams could have done if they had the latest,
    greatest digital gear. Heck even if Weston had a 2008 lightbulb over his contact printer what
    an artist he might have become.<P>From a 16th century rhyme, "Of what use are lens and
    light to those who lack in mind and sight?"
  38. "The Camera Doesn't Matter","The Camera Does Matter"

    Shoot! In truth, those deliberations are all about what we all love indulging in - 'Camera Chatter!'
  39. Lex,
    I've read the accounts of the set-up of Hendrix's guitars both ways, never got close enough to tell, but heard that he didn't reverse the strings from a good guitarist. Who knows what he was on when he came to that conclusion, though.
  40. Check the gazillion photos of Hendrix online and in books, or watch the movies "Monterrey Pop," "Woodstock," "Rainbow Bridge" or "Jimi Hendrix." You can see the strings on his electric guitars - mostly Strats, occasionally a Flying V - were normally oriented. Not sure about the 12-string acoustic but I suspect it was set up the same way.

    For awhile at least one guitar company made a Hendrix style Strat for righties. It was a lefty guitar, flipped over, with the nut and strings reversed for conventional playing style. It didn't catch on. Probably for the same reason Jeff Healey's lap style didn't catch on - true innovators don't always know why they do what they do, they just do what works for them.

    Robert Fripp once promised his secret new guitar tuning would revolutionize guitar playing. Dunno whatever happened to that. I suspect that it worked fine for him because of his unique talent, not because of the tuning itself.

    Pretty much like photography and all art.
  41. Yeah, Rockwell sure does own a ton of expensive equipment himself. I get the feeling he's trying to "pull the ladder up" after himself.

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