More satisfaction from worse gear?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by tkbslc, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    I've been noticing something lately. It seems like I get a certain sort of satisfaction when using lesser gear that I don't with nicer gear. If I get a really amazing shot with my phone, or an old compact, or a kit lens or whatever, I feel like I beat the odds and made something happen. If I get a really great shot from my expensive primes, well, yeah, it was supposed to be awesome and I'd be mad if it wasn't after spending the money. The sense of accomplishment is not there as much, I guess.

    Now I get a lot more good images from my better gear. Certainly a larger percentage of keepers. And if I'm shooting something that counts, I don't want to use a POS camera. But I'm more proud of the good ones I've made from my lesser gear. I have a portrait of my daughter on my wall that I did with a Canon kit lens and careful lighting and every time I walk by it, I think of all the work I put into it to make it look great.

    I don't know if that makes any sense to anyone else, I was just thinking about that this morning.
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  2. Christop82

    Christop82 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 10, 2016
    Definitely a lot more to it than the gear. Some of my best shots were with a sony a300 with the kit lens. Still having a hard time outdoing some of those images.
  3. ionian

    ionian Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 20, 2016
    Kent, UK
    Generally, I don't think I notice whether the gear makes a difference but the more work I do for a shot the more I feel invested in the result - and I guess the camera or (more likely in my case) the lens has its part to play, usually when using manual focus.

    Having said that, I suppose I get a different level of satisfaction if I get a decent result with film. It's more amazement than satisfaction tbh...
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  4. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    I agree. I enjoy getting more from less. I'm upgrading my 21 year old bike instead of buying a new one, I turn vinyl on a 1950s rebuilt RCA turntable, I've renovated 3 run down homes since 1998, the list goes on. Using older "inferior" gear and getting good results from it always makes me smile. I do have newer gear for certain use cases, but when I have the time, I like coaxing the best out of "lesser" situations. I still wonder if I want to re-aquire an EP3. Limited use case, but it sings in what it does best (good colors at low ISO and good B&W).
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
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  5. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    In general I'm not sure I feel the same way, and often I look at the pictures that I take with my little TG-850 tough cam or my smartphone and think, "geez, I wish I had had my GX7 with me for this..." I guess that's mostly because I hate the JPEG processing that the manufacturers use, though. The smeary, flat, artifact-y, water-colour look typifies my dislike for small-sensor cameras more than the actual quality of the sensors themselves. I actually really like the DNG RAWs from my smartphone...

    On the other hand though, I do really like the results I get from film cameras. I'm much, much more willing to forgive technical imperfections, and almost embrace them - knowing that there was a real physical thing that determined when that moment was captured makes the little mistakes feel honest and endearing in a way that I don't get when I have rapid-fire digital photography at my disposal.

    I guess where I do get the satisfaction is when it comes to using MF lenses on my digital bodies. It's sort of a compromise for me between film cameras and the technically immaculate quality of modern AF lenses and cameras. So I guess I can see your angle when I look at it from that perpspective. I am also a sucker for punishment on this front. I just recently converted a Schneider Super Cinelux 82.5mm/f2 projector lens with a focusing helicoid so that I use it as a taking lens. No aperture, but pretty darn sharp wide open despite that, and absolutely beautifully smooth OOF areas...
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  6. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    I certainly think that a lot too. I'm not saying I prefer the output from those kinds of cameras, just that when I get something good out of them, it seems extremely satisfying. Maybe even more satisfying than a razor sharp shot from the nicest gear.

    It's also more frustrating much of the time. I guess the higher highs come along with the lower lows when using crummy gear?
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  7. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    I certainly think that a lot too. I'm not saying I prefer the output from those kinds of cameras, just that when I get something good out of them, it seems extremely satisfying. It's also more frustrating much of the time. I guess the higher highs come along with the lower lows from using crummy gear? :)[/QUOTE]

    That's how I feel. Not getting crappy results from bad equipment, but getting the results you want (with a lot more effort though) from an "outdated" tool. Some of my favorite shots are from an M42 Pentax 50/1.4 with radioactive elements
  8. I always tell myself that I am much happier with lesser gear when I can't afford to upgrade. :doh: YMMV.
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  9. longviewer

    longviewer Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 22, 2015
    SW Washington (Longview area)
    Jim R
    Sad but true - I stepped back from GX7 to GX1, and most of my images don't show a detectable change. Of course my primes need more care with no IS inside, but the OIS lenses are doing pretty much the same as ever.
    Even with minimal effects I still miss that GX7.. and the GX85 I've never had, &c &c :boohoo:
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
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  10. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    One of the reasons I took on photography as a hobby was for the journey of developing the skill and mastering the processes of various facets of photography, and mixing that with artistic vision. I love how deep that development can go, and how there are so many different things to try.

    Sure, I like playing with nice gear too, but my main satisfaction comes from knowing that I've gotten better, and that it has allowed me to create something new and interesting. If my camera did everything for me, and I just pressed a button, where would be the fun in that?
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  11. MoonMind

    MoonMind Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 25, 2014
    @tkbslc@tkbslc I think I can relate; I still mourn the loss of the E-PM1 ... Though honestly, in my case it's not necessarily *lesser* gear, it's *simpler* gear; the less unnecessary features, the better. That's the main reason I'm totally taken with meterless mechanical film cameras at the moment. Crucially, the less things that go zip, zing or ping out of turn, the better. Current favourite: the Voigtländer Vitessa A v5 - looks strange, works great (a true rangefinder!):

    It's all Sunny 16 from there ... They weren't lesser cameras in their day, but they provide just enough technology to make shooting a fluid and straightforward experience again; no blinkenlights, no fidgeting, no cacophony, just straight honest image taking.

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  12. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    I can certainly see where your coming from. Most of my extensive photographic kit is definitely on the budget side of things, I think my average price for a lens is well under £50.
    There can be a lot of pleasure in meeting the challenge of using gear with less automation.
    With faster paced subjects I wouldn't want to be forced to go manual (shutter speed, aperture, & especially focus) but when there's time it can feel very rewarding & perhaps we can even add sunny 16 metering too!

    I have to admit when it comes to macro I wouldn't want to loose the TTL metering, calculating effective apertures just gets laborious.
  13. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    I've been experiencing something along a similar vein.

    For the last 6 months or so I have been in something of a artistic rut. I keep shooting, but I just don't feel very inspired and I don't seem to be getting results that seem very inspiring to me. My gear has changed a little in that time. I had access to the Oly 12-40 up until May. I like the images that it made, but I just didn't feel artistic in its use. I tried out a Fuji X-E2 for a couple of months While I did get some outstanding images with it and my Leica R glass, it was pretty frustrating to use. Also, I picked up the Panasonic 100-300 for some help in nature/wildlife/bird shots. I replaced the Fuji with the Sigma 30 1.4 and some other gear, and returned the 12-40.

    Somewhere along the way I just lost my artistic eye. Although I don't think it was all of it, but I think some boils down to not using my adapted manual lenses as much. The manual lenses make me slow down, think about aperture and FL which leads to more time considering composition and other things.

    Where does that leave me? I found that I do really like the 100-300. There is something about the compression and ability to get nice bokeh with it. The Sigma 30 really does help in low light. But I think I need to take the time to really work with some adapted glass. I also think I need to look at new places and things to shoot. I have a few places that I like to shoot. But I need to find something new that challenges.

    Any other ideas for inspiration?
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
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  14. Snowonuluru

    Snowonuluru Mu-43 All-Pro

    This thread is so timely for me! I got more immersed in taking photographs after a long lapse when "flipping through" my old "albums" on my hard drive, I found the vast majority of the images I have accumulated with various POS and OMD EM5 uninteresting, because I got so used to letting the "idiot proof" technology work - in the EM5 case, I used iAuto almost all of the time. I then started looking at other people's works on-line, and thought if only I have better gear I could take good pictures like them. That took me on a "safari" of youtube reviews on various gear, and eventually bought oly Pro's and Primes to use with my old EM5, meanwhile actually reading the manual from page to page and playing with various settings for the first time (having owned the camera for 5 years). I was on the point of buying the brand new em1 mkii, but then came across MU-43 forum, and thought, why there are some incredible pictures here with em10 and even ep-x etc.

    Sharpening skill became the top order of the day instead of newer and more expensive gear. Since then I discovered the adapted lens thread, and that gave me more pause. And I think pause is the key word. With technology, one easily defaults into an extension of the machine, instead of the machine being a tool which is an extension of the human. Using adapted lenses with manual focus slows things down and has led me to take more care. After a while, when taking out the Pro or Prime lenses to shoot birds for example, I find my awareness of what is within the frame a little better than before and has given me a few more satisfactory shots.

    I think great pictures must have emotional content. This can only be captured or created by the artist. I suppose either thought or feeling or both must be in play in that process. When one gets to the stage of using a tool as a tool, and master it instead of following it, then I think the type of tool one uses is only a matter of choice to suit the subject and situation.

    Well I have been mulling over this for several days, and writing the above seems to clear my head a bit. I will keep playing with the collection of MF lenses I already accumulated, as a way to sharpen my skills, my eye, and hopefully eventually learn to take great pictures with fully automatic fast lenses. The ease of taking a shot with auto lenses should liberate us from the technique and move us into the creative. I think that should be my aim for a while.
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  15. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    I can relate. I mainly shoot film now, not because I think the results are better but rather it makes me think different. I can also see its not for most people. How would this look in B&W (acros or hp5+)? Going down the beach.. sounds perfect for Ektar, night time - better try some Cinestill. I think in emulsions now, you could do the same with a set of presets I guess. It makes me slow down like manual lenses does for you and I get most satisfaction from the results. But in the end I just have more fun.

    I'm keeping my m43 gear for those times I just need to get the shot, but I don't find I need it very often. Plus who knows what I'll be doing this time next year.
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