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Hell they're only tools - aren't they?

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I enjoyed Walter Kirn's down-to-earth viewpoint from Montana in

Time magazine. Writing about how huge, gas-guzzling SUVs are

copping flak for destroying the planet, he said "...as it grows

increasingly unacceptable to show intolerance to any group of

humans, it becomes more tempting to condemn inanimate

objects. They can't defend themselves. They can't hire lawyers or

take out full-page ads. So whether the butt of the latest

self-righteous crusade is a cell phone, a double cheeseburger

or a bottle of malt liquor, it has no choice but to sit there and take

its beating."


I wondered whether this might not apply to cameras, whether it

is intolerance against huge battery-guzzling SLRs, a crusade

against gimmicky over-featured digital point and shoots, or

animosity from the digital modernist brigade towards classic



They're just tools. Yes. But what's wrong with liking some of

these objects if we want to? What harm are they causing?

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Unless they have a use for those 4 ton behemoths, they look to me a bit dim to be running the local errands by themselves in an SUV or truck. That's just my opinion though. Sucking down the fuel at 8 mpg doesn't help the US dependence on oil, which is why we're licking our chops at Iraq. It's their oil though, dammit, they should be able to reap the benefits it allows.


Nothing wrong with the latest object lust- the MP. A lot of forumners seem to be swept up in the craze, to me it's just another M with some retro design (including that unacceptable shutter speed dial). FUNCTION over form! Though it did give me pause for thought. Seems the Noctilux falls into the category that evokes feelings on either side, I like it so doesn't matter too much what others opine, although I appreciate the viewpoints.


Anyway, I'm rambling a bit...

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Well, it would be interesting to do an environmental/social cost audit of digital vs. film. I imagine they're both pretty appalling, but film/chemical/paper consumption is potentially unlimited per camera, so presumably the film option is actually more damaging.
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Maybe it's not the inanimate objects themselves, but the less-than-ideal behavior they bring out in the people who use them?


SUV's, due to the fact that they sit so high off they ground give the driver a rather detatched sense of the road and ironically encourage drivers to speed faster than their ox-cart chassis' capabilities.


Is there anything more self-centered and clueless than using a cell phone loudly in public?


A digital camera seems rather tame in comparison. Much as I dislike plasticy, electronic cameras, the harm they do seems limited to the person using them.

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I rather suspect that a lot depends on the user, wether it's cars or cameras. I used to live on a farm in Devon and our neighbours split neatly into two groups - those who used Landrovers and Range Rovers as second tractors and those who fitted ordinary cars (we're talking small, European models here) with deep tread tyres and used them as if they were Landrovers. Just to be different, we had ordinary cars with ordinary tyres, but luckily, we had very helpfull neighbours! We all used to have a good loud laugh when a 4WD (SUV to our American friends) appeared without a speck of mud on it. We knew without being told that the driver was lost!.


Cameras are the same. There are good photographers who carry small unassuming cameras (in which group I include Leicas) and other good photographers who carry big noisy SLRs because they need the facilities they offer. And we can all have a laugh at the chap with the shiny Nikon F5 that's clearly only put one film a year through it.


Mobile 'phones are a slightly different matter. I truly hate weird ring-tones and people who shout into the damned things. On the other hand, they can be essential to people solving real problems in the real world (I speak with feeling having just come off a twenty hour shift). The nonsense about banning their use in cars is just popular hysteria in action. If we're going to do that let's ban radios, cassette decks and smoking - all of which have caused more crashes than mobile 'phones, as far as I can see.

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What kind of camera would Jesus use?


It seems to me some people confuse being judgemental with using good judgement. We don't know the motivations, circumstances, pursuits or life-requirements of strangers. How presumptuous of us to condemn them. But it's easier to be judgemental than to think.

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Regarding SUV's then cameras:


SUVs: I'm getting sick of selfappointed saviors of the world's oil condeming SUV's as Satan's magic dipstick to destroy our resources (re: "What car would Jesus drive?"). I am just as much of an environmentalist as any member of the Nature Convervancy, however...


My wife is recently disabled, can not walk long distances, and she needs to transport her electric scooter so she can get to doctor appointments and, heaven forbid, get outside for a "hike" now and then. We tried mounting it on the back out our economical Mercury Sable wagon with extra air suspension, but burned out the engine going over the Sierras...the scooter and lift were just too heavy for a small car.


We need a heavy vehicle for disability uses, so I used my camera money to buy her a Chevy Tahoe. I think that is a good reason.


Now then, let's get the car manufacturers to make safer and more economical SUVs and trucks. With that in mind, the SUVs and big trucks are tools, at least in terms of what I described. Try taking a load of junk to the dump in a Civic!


Believe me, I don't like paying double for gas, and I don't want to waste resources, but there's no other way for my wife to get out of the house, and improve her quality of life, which isn't real high right now!


Cameras: cameras are also tools and each has it own special use, from a pocket P&S to view cameras. However, some are just wonderful to own, as long as we don't sell the kids to buy them. Some people don't mind driving to work in a bland "looks like every other car on the road", but others enjoy the joy of driving a classic Corvette. I like to play with vintage cameras, and appreciate the beauty of the craftsmanship. I think that's OK too.


Thank you for letting me vent! :>)

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Todd, definitely a good use for an SUV, heck even if you didn't have, who am I to say. Opinions are the sole possession of the person. It is a bit illogical to have a whale of an SUV if you don't use it, what's the point? I'm assuming it's to be inefficient with fossil fuels and to block out my line of sight in my smaller vehicle (which btw is annoying at a stop sign and the SUV next to you just has to pull waaay up to get a decent view- as if they can't already see all around them). Most don't even take them off-road. Here in the Denver area if someone doesn't travel on roads that require a 4x4 (and Denver doesn't usually- there hasn't been a whole lot of snow and it melts the next few days) then what's the point of all the big SUVs? Compact SUVs in my notion are more explicable- the carrying capacity is needed by quite a few more people. But it's those larger SUVs that I see driven by urbanites that usually boggle me. Also, forbid they careen into another smaller vehicle while they're yapping on their cell phone, subsequently compacting it into a pancake fit for the junkyard.
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But, James, you do not know why people own large trucks or SUV's. Many, perhaps most, have valid reasons like Todd. It's almost amusing to see people get in such a stew over why other's do not think the same as they do.


I really hate spinach. I think it should be banned and all the crops, worldwide, should be defoliated. I like lettuce. Make those spinach-eaters eat that instead. I can't listen to rap/hiphop music. Pass a law against it and jail anyone who possesses any recordings of it. I like jazz. Make those rappers listen to that instead. I hate cigarette smoke. Send those tobacco plants out with the spinach. I hate SUV's. Pass laws to make them smaller. I hate Leica's.... It could just go on and on and on....

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But my Leica's never been rear-ended by a Nikon F5!


To each his own, but within reasonable limits. Most of the SUV's on the market now don't meet passenger car safety standards even though they're being used as passenger vehicles. Despite their size, most aren't even equiped with 5-mph bumpers, and the bumpers they do have are so high they override the bumpers and door guard beams on passenger cars. They crash thru window glass and strike the upper torso and heads of the occupants of those vehicles. Ask an EMT if you don't believe it.


Congress has historically allowed the pickup trucks on which most SUV chassis' are based to be exempt from federal passenger vehicle safety standards, since until recently they were mostly used on the farm. If congress simply started classifying them as the passenger vehicles they are, then they would be forced to meet passenger car emissions, mileage and safety standards. The automobile industry lobbies heavily against this, naturally, since in the short term anyway, it would adversely affect profits.


I think the relevant standard of human behavior is: "Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins."

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I was nearly rearended today by a very angry lady who didn't like the fact that I was going 75MPH and she was driving a tiny toyota with me in my tiny Dodge Avenger. It's not just big cars that are threatening!


However, the accident that disabled my wife in 2001 was when we were rearended by a huge commercial van on Hwy 99, and we were driving a Ford Taurus wagon. He hit use at about 75mph+ when we slowed to miss hitting a dog, and he left a 40 foot skid mark, so he was distracted way back (on the phone or looking at work orders). That was a big vehicle and it injured my left neck and shoulder making wedding photography more and more difficult (painful). My wife's whole right side was damaged, so I do know what big vehicles can do.


Anyway, I think there are good reasons for having SUVs, vans, and trucks, but status is not one of them (the bigger the better idea).


We must have a strong vehicle to tote around my wife's mobility equipment...we have no choice. We both would prefer a much smaller vehicle.


Interestingly, the main Chevy Tahoe commercial pictures a photographer with a huge view camera going off alone in the pristine wilderness of shadowed light and misty waterfalls!


I do think some laws should be changed with regard to SUV safety and fuel economy. One reason we got the Tahoe is that it seemed to be safer than most we saw, and we drive it responsibly.


My next statement's gone to really get me in trouble, but the fuel wasted from SUVs and big trucks will be a tiny drop in the bucket compared to what will be used if we go to war with Iraq. I often wonder how much fuel is wasted by the military daily just playing war games.

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Again: being judgemental rather than using good judgement does not make your observations correct. How am I being hypocritical? If you believe everyone who drives a large truck or SUV is an idiot who endangers others safety and the environment, you are being judgemental. Not to mention narrow-minded, bigotted and wrong. Would you willingly allow others to make such uninformed judgements concerning your lifestyle, your preferences or you personal pursuits?


When I was in college in the 1960's we used to say such things as, "Come the revolution, we'll put people like that in concentration camps." It was a joke. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to think there's a whole bunch of folks out there who would take that seriously these days.

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I was wondering how to bring this discussion back to photography, and then remembered that Ansel drove a wonderfully large (for his day) wooded station wagon in the early years with a big platform on top and also owned a nice big Caddy with a Zone V license plate. Those were not a real gas savers! Many photo workshop teachers bus their students around in large vans, and I don't think too many serious nature photographers (who are serious enough about it to earn their living that way) drive Hybreds into the wilds. I'm really against over regulations and I will drive what I want to drive, and keep the politicians out of our lives as much as possible! Any thoughts?
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Lee your opinion is the most purely logical on the forum, I bow to you. Anyone who says anything in contrast to your stated bequeathments of intelligence, wisdom, etc., are branded some odd unsavory characteristic, as it must be. hehehe...oh yah and btw I love personal freedoms as well, I just happen to opine that a lot of mammoth SUV drivers are missing the point. :D
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Well, I guess that question was kind of disingenuous, but I am

fascinated how inanimate objects can generate so much

passion! Yes, of course some products DO cause more harm

than others, though how much may be a mute point. Personally,

I'm not keen on SUVs either. I live in New Zealand and we have

loads of them, same as the US, and most never go offroad. I'm

not so fussed on cell phones either. Too stressful when they go

off every five minutes. But should either product be banned?


We also have lots of classic (some just old) cars in good

condition. Is it a sin to drive a car that does only 15mpg? Oil may

be all used up in 25 years anyway. But hey, there's a silver

lining: all our oil reserves may disappear, but at least the Leica M

will still be going strong!

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I, for one, was not commenting on your personal choice of vehicle, so I hope you didn't take any offense from my remarks. It's none of my business what you or anybody else drives. It is my business, though, how my government works.


The auto companies are making big profits selling SUV's because trucks are cheaper to make than cars. So far, they have successfully lobbied Congress to keep them from closing the loophole that classifies these vehicles as 'light trucks' and exempts them from a whole host of regulations that passenger vehicles are supposed to meet. If the loophole didn't exist, SUV's would be required to get better fuel mileage, lower emissions, and have bumpers within the same range of heights as on other passenger vehicles. It's no accident (no pun intended) that all modern car bumpers are at the same level; it took years of work to get automobile manufacturers to meet these standards. It's just a shame that the people buying SUV's view any attempt to get these vehicles to comply with existing laws as an attack on their personal freedom.

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