3 Key pieces of photo gear reviewers never talk about

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by WT21, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    From SC, I clicked on the Ming Thein review of the X20 and Nikon A

    Quick first thoughts – Nikon Coolpix A and Fuji Finepix X20 – Ming Thein | Photographer

    And for some reason, it suddenly clicked for me. A thought said "hey, I don't need to read this review at all!"

    Since I've been pursuing the "perfect" compact camera for several years, I've been chasing gear. In chasing gear, I've read reviews. In reading reviews, I see some excellent work (Ming Thein is one great example) and some not-so-good-stuff (looking at you, Kai!).

    After reading reviews, I dream of wheeling through the day, clicking away and making pictures like Ming, the guys at LL, or others, or even BurneyMeister from DPR (if you haven't seen his Canadian Rockies shots, you should!).

    It's been slowly growing on me, and Ming's review made it all click. All these folks that I admire have 3 pieces of critical camera gear that I lack. Until I can afford these, I will stop chasing gear and other people's vision. These 3 critical pieces are:

    1) cojones (for street shooting, or shooting in questionable urban areas)
    2) very willing subjects (be they paid models or people who are not yet tired of getting the camera pointed at them.)
    3) a travel budget

    IMO, these 3 critical pieces of gear help these reviewers out. btw, that's not to say that many of them aren't also great photographers, but with my basic technical knowledge and so-so eye, I bet I could get a lot of "great shot" comments on a blog post if had the travel budget and cojones to shoot in an urban vietnamese marketplace. Just sayin'

    Any rate, that's my realization for the morning. And here's my next step on my 12-step recovery from camera gear obsession:

    Hi, I'm WT21, and I realize now I am basically a family vacation and travel shooter, with some local landscape and streetscapes thrown-in. Though I can appreciate his work, I realize now I will never be Mike Kobal.
  2. swampduck

    swampduck Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 29, 2013
    Taneytown , MD
    Real Name:
    Excellent points all. You don't need a travel "budget per se. Before I had a wife and kids, I would sometimes just jump in my car and drive until I saw a good photo op. This would consume hours of my time, which I no longer have. So one to add to the list, is making time for our ob-passion.

    Oh and one more thing WT21, I have seen your gallery and "great shots"...really I mean it.
  3. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Real Name:
    Sean Rastsmith
    I think the most important piece is the one that is about 6"-12" behind the camera. The three things you listed are nice, but depending on what you like to shoot, not required. Overall, the vision is the most important.
  4. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Yes, vision is important. What I was mentioning was the sometimes unmentioned stuff. And some of these reviewers have some of the above, without vision, yet the pics make the cameras look good.

    Much as caulking covers a multitude of sins in home repair, so exotic locales (or models, or bravery) can help in photography.
  5. juangrande

    juangrande Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 2, 2012
    Maybe you could start one of those online "help me achieve my goal" money beggin' thingies for traveling the world in 80 days to realize your photography passion. I'll throw in ten bucks!:2thumbs:
  6. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    That's funny... we must be on a similar wavelength. I had 2 similar thoughts over the last week or so:

    1) I really like certain types of photography, like portraits and model shoots, but I'm highly unlikely to ever pursue them myself unless it's part of a club shoot or a class/seminar. It occurs to me that perhaps some types of photography are destined more for appreciating, without necessarily participating in them.

    2) The missing element in my photography lately has been interesting subjects. All of my best and most productive photo periods are while traveling (which is what got me into photos originally), attending events, or otherwise getting out and doing something. That's one of the best things about photography; it encourages me to go out and find interesting things I might not otherwise.

    I've been gear churning and stagnating photographically in the past couple months, and I think it's due in part to not having had time to go and actually take photos. I'm selling my OM-D off, getting back a GX1 and going to try to sit pat for a while and focus on making photos instead of accumulating more gear. :thumbup:
  7. shizlefonizle

    shizlefonizle Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 21, 2012
    Definitely agree especially for traveling. I think many amateurs have the same thought too. When the question came up "what would you do with $5K" on another photo forum, many people opted for older bodies with a modest prime lens or 2 and spending the rest of the money on traveling rather than getting the latest camera with expensive fast zooms.
  8. owczi

    owczi nareteV 34-uM


    I think your point #1 is the key, and the #3 only applies to some situations. I don't even want to think about the amount of shots I lost as a result of my lack of #1 (and #4 - below).

    However what I find even more important in street photography is being ready and always being prepared (#4). I find it that more often than you're looking for street shots, the street shots find you. The best street photography works out there were created this way.

    P.S. Agreed with the comment re. Kai's work. I don't find his reviews any more useful than those gadget shows on TV. "This is is camera X. It's very nice. When you press this here button like so [close-up on camera], it takes pictures. It can also autofocus and record video. When compared with camera Y, the results clearly show that it's a different camera because it's not the same camera." Then stretch that over multiple minutes. But for some reason people seem to like that stuff, so let them have it, I don't care.
  9. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    Not that I have unlimited budget, but the bigger problem for me (and, I suspect, most people with day jobs) is time. Even if you can afford to travel, taking off a week here, a week there is pretty tough for most people for logistical reasons.

    Something I read a while back that was interesting was an article of "weekend trips" on a budget, basically a whole bunch of places you could go for short photo getaways without breaking the bank or using vacation time. It's an interesting concept... that is if I could manage to free up my weekends either :tongue:
  10. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    @owczi - Your summary of Kai's reviews cracked me up.

    @WT21 - Access to a subject and passion for the subject. It all comes down to that I think.

    I have an appreciation for the "street photography" kinds of shots that many of these reviewers go for but absolutely no interest in doing the same myself. As such while I enjoy their reviews they are often not particularly relevant to me. But it is easy to get fooled into thinking the right gear will suddenly make me passionate for a subject I actually have no interest in.

    As to travel I can understand that. My passion is deserts and desert landscapes. I now live in Baltimore which is rather inconvenient. If I wanted to shoot the destitute and urban blight I could shoot everyday. I've found just because I live near it doesn't mean I have any passion for shooting it.

    Our yard is full of flowers, something blooming every month from now until July. If I liked flower pictures I could walk out the door every day and find a shot. I have no passion for flower pictures.

    We do now have a daughter, and she is around every day. I do have a passion for that subject and have quite a nice collection of excellent shots. The audience for this material is rather small though, family and friends love them but the internet is overflowing with baby photos. I never share them on forums as a result. But it does mean I shoot much more frequently now.

    I have discovered one can artificially create a subject and passion. A few years ago I decided to try a "photo-a-day" for one month. I had a relatively new LX3 to play with at the time. This actually worked pretty well, the "subject" was actually the project itself which I did have some passion for. Finite duration was key here, that particular project would go stale if done too long. Exploring a particular landscape through out an entire year might be something that would extend longer.

    I've gotten the sense from my own experience and reading forums and blogs that often times new gear acquisition becomes a mini-project for a lot of people. They have a passion for playing with the shiny new gizmo so they go out and shoot a lot and the passion for the new toy is reflected in their shots.

    So while I'll still be trying to carve out time to travel to my beloved deserts, I think I should also try creating some local passion with some focused or artificially constrained local projects. This seems to work, I just need to think carefully about how to define the projects so that they are fun rather than burdensome.
  11. owczi

    owczi nareteV 34-uM

    Fully agreed. In my case I barely have time to take pictures, but what's really frustrating is that I don't have the time to sort them and process them! I got back into photography in 2010 with an E-P2, and I still have pictures on SD cards from that period.

    Paradoxically it's working out better for me with film! In the last year I got more C-41 B&W pictures developed and printed than digital! I have loads of silver-gelatine waiting to be developed but the C-41s I just take to a shop and collect them on the next day.

    Sorry if I'm venting my frustrations too much out here but I sometimes feel like it will be my children or grandchildren who will discover this stack of SD cards in my attic with pictures that have never seen the light of day. They will probably be using light field cameras with 30EV DR, 14-600 f/1.4 lenses, and no noise at ISO 10^6.
  12. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:

    Very true.

    This worked very well for me in the past, and I agree 100% that limited duration to keep things from getting stale is a a key factor. Sometimes for me local opportunities might be as simple as planning a walk in a downtown area of a nearby town, trip to a garden, museum, outdoor event, etc.
  13. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    In that case, start culling! Go through the images and dump the ones you know you don't want to keep to narrow it down. Import the rest into LightRoom or whatever you use for PP in a catalog. Then you can go through and edit a photo or batch of photos when you have a little free time, but no opportunity to shoot. At night in front of the TV is where most of mine gets done .

    Once you start processing the older pics and being able to post them or print them, I think it'll become rewarding and you'll find yourself more motivated to tackle the backlog :thumbup:
  14. scott

    scott Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 15, 2010
    I think some people are mentally wired for getting in peoples' faces and somehow not getting yelled at/cussed out/brutally killed, and some aren't. I'm not, so I don't feel bad for not doing that kind of photography.

    I have a long-lived suspicion that a *lot* of people whose work we all admire (not just photographers--novelists, painters, dancers, whatever) have had some sort of financial advantage to provide the time to get where they are. Not all, certainly, and lots of people struggle and starve along the way, but the one question you never see in interviews (right after the Great One's advice to beginners to "practice, practice, practice") is "So, how did you pay for that extended period of writing/traveling/composing/thinking that led to your famous work?"

    Oh, definitely. Not that I can afford FF gear, but even if I could, I'd rather take a trip to Costa Rica with m43 gear than stay home with a D800.

    Scott's Tiresome Pet Peeve #47: The Conspicuous Consumption of Free Time. It's really frustrating trying to work and stay ahead and somehow find time for what you really are into and then have people with apparently unlimited free time ramble on about all their pet projects and talk about how more people ought to live like them.

    This is a good idea--I need to work on something similar.
  15. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    I've done this in the past, too. Good reminder. Like many who are responding to this thread, though, perhaps a true #4 is time. Having 2 kids, a wife, a job and charity work, I think one of the reasons I buy/sell gear is because I can do that from computer while "multi-tasking" (or not, lol) during the work day.

    Photography is a hobby that makes me long for retirement, but I just don't want to get any older to get there :tongue:
  16. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Drift alert

    Yup, forcing myself to just go out and walk slowly looking seriously at every little nook and cranny and looking wide at the big picture ... what was once familiar and boring suddenly bits of interesting start to peek through. Somehow find new eyes and look again at what is around.

    Or grab some models and whisk them away to exotic far away places ... preferably warm beachy type settings.
  17. owczi

    owczi nareteV 34-uM

    Yep, that's what I'm doing. I decided to do it one shoot at a time (one set), mercilessly removing the sh#t ones and flagging the keepers. I'll leave the processing for when I get a decent monitor, my laptop's lcd is going pink and everything looks crap on all other monitors :) The backlog is huge but I'll get there. I'm in reasonably good health so I don't even get a sneaky man-flu day off every now and then ;)
  18. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    No offense, but judging from your avatar, that's not happening any time soon :wink:

    (said one family man to another)
  19. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Wait ... let me get this straight ... you've realized that there is more to photography than hardware ...
  20. Bokeaji

    Bokeaji Gonzo's Dad O.*

    Aug 6, 2011
    Austin, TX
    stop reading camera gear reviews, start reading hotel reviews in interesting places... and save up for THAT!