The more technology advances, the less satisfied we seem to be.


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
[RANT] And the more camera technology advances, the more complaints we seem to hear. Going back not that many years, there were no auto-focus lenses, image stabilisation was non-existent, film speeds were measured in figures less than 800 ASA (as it was in those days) in B&W, film 'noise' at film speeds of 400 ASA would be unacceptable nowadays, film frame rates on the most expensive cameras could be numbered on one hand, and so on.

The funny thing is, no one in those days, from what I can remember, complained about technology at all. Medium format photographers looked down at 35mm photographers, large format photographers looked down at medium format photographers, while Leica photographers looked down at everyone (nothing changes). The biggest debates revolved around how you processed B&W film and subsequently B&W prints and what paper and chemicals you used. And in the coloured world, it was sometimes about whether Fujifilm provided better tones for portraits and landscapes than Kodak.

We now have cameras that cost $50 that can produce results that photographers of the 70s would have fallen over themselves had something like that been given them in those days. We have cameras that effectively cost way less (taking inflation into account) than they ever cost back in the 70s, that do things that photographers of the 70s wouldn't have even dreamed could be possible and produce images that exceed most photographer's gear of those days. Yet we still complain that we don't have enough, it's not good enough, it's not small enough, it's not plentiful enough, it's not cheap enough.

Exactly what 'is' enough? [/RANT]

Disclosure: I started photography in a serious way at the beginning of the 70s.


Mu-43 Rookie
There never is enough. Everything is continual evolution. There is no end. The only constant is change.

I recently went back to look at some macro butterfly photos I took when I first got a real macro lens. In my mind, they were a bit of a peak. But after 3-4 years of not seeing them, I saw the flaws I didn't even know about back when I was using my 6 megapixel DSLR. Did the photos change? Not really -- I was looking at some poor JPEGs on Flickr. I should go back and look at the RAW files (if I was using RAW) and try processing them again in Lightroom. But I changed. I learned more. And that is a good thing.


Mu-43 Top Veteran
It's the human condition! Cameras, cars, phones, places, people even. We are never satisfied... But we can learn to be if we notice this tendency and appreciate what we have....

It seems to have become more prevalent though with more and more choice. The illusion that there is a perfect and better choice out there fuels the market.

Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
I guess what I'm trying to get at is that we now have cameras that are capable of just about anything. In the film era, you were limited by the film, that was what predominantly determined what you could and couldn't do with your camera. Nowadays the limitation is your choice of camera. You can get a camera that enables you to shoot portraits under starlight, you can get a camera that enables you to shoot a cheetah coming at you full speed, you can get a camera that allows you to shoot underwater without a housing, you can get a camera that shoots video that rivals cinematography gear, you can get a camera that makes phone calls and so it goes. But it never seems to be enough.

I'm not against technology advances, far from it, but I'm happy to accept what is available, make do with what are today's limitations and not bemoan that my camera doesn't do what cameras x, y and z can do. If that were the case, I'd buy cameras x, y and z.


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Rant away! I started with a Kodak 110 camera and thought I was doing good. I sometimes used my mom's Polaroid and was amazed with "instant" images. Then I got a used Nikomat and several lenses and was in photographer heaven. I boo-hooed digital when it first came out but after it progressed I embraced it. Now after many digital cameras I am still awed with what each step brings. I do complain about the price but that is my penny-pinching nature more than anything, that and wishful desire that things were cheaper so I could have more. I can tell you that I am actually very happy and could easily survive the rest of my life with what I have. But I have noticed what you are saying and there are way too many people who are never satisfied and seem to get their jollies from complaining.
Ray I agree with your rant wholeheartedly. I to think back to my film days and am amazed by the equipment that we have available to us now. I remember when auto focus was first introduced and thinking to myself then that no camera or lens could ever pull focus as fast as I could. HA! I can't come close to pulling focus as fast as today's equipment. I had a Canon A1 with a motor drive that I thought then was fast for continuous shooting. Now cameras that cost much less (NOT including inflation) blow it away. I never liked shooting over 400 ASA because I didn't like the quality. Now I shoot at 1,600 without giving it much thought. I did my own B&W processing but I was dependent on a lab for my color work. Now with relatively inexpensive software I can do PP that I could not have dreamed of in the past.

I had GAS then and I have GAS now, I think that for most of us it's the nature of the hobby. However, I am extremely pleased with both the equipment that I own and what is available in the market should I decide I can't live without something else. I think that, by and large, the pervasive complaining today (about everything, not just photo equipment) is a result of two factors and they may be interrelated. A shift in societal expectations and the ease of reaching out to others through social media. In general I think we as a society expect things to suite us to perfection much more than in previous generations and we are much more likely to tell large groups of people that we have never met about it when it does not.



Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Deflecting attention away from the real reason our photos aren't all that great....
This ^^^

I think general public's satisfaction has actually gone up with the more technology that is available. While photographic equipment has transitioned from a boutique product to a consumable, the participation and interest in photos (I am careful not to say photography) has sky rocketed. Whether you see this as a good or bad thing depends on your perspective.

OzRay said:
while Leica photographers looked down at everyone (nothing changes).
Once again.. misinformation. Read up on the history of photographic film media and how 35mm started to surpass other formats in popularity. In particular, pay very close attention to how war photography evolved starting in conflicts of the 1930s and into the second world war. Cross reference with how Leitz was impacted by the fall of Germany. While much in debate, my opinion is the real turning point in 35mm photography was the US Korean war. If you actually talk to photographers rather than make generalizations and stereotypes of that time period, you'll find that much of the reputation was earned by people projecting their opinions (jealousy perhaps) onto those that decided to make a serious investment in the "toy" format with a serious camera to shoot.

Dude you really need to open your mind up. First the watch thread, then the one about DNG, and now this?

Granted present conditions are different... the Leica brand has moved into the boutique mode. But the "real" photographers that use Leica on a daily basis actually don't like it that much. Leica forums l-camera-forum have a lot of distaste for the special edition releases of today and in the past. BUT... they tolerate it because it helps support a company that by all accounts should have gone out of business a decade ago.

Bringing this back on topic..... I personally have found some technology a little distracting in the process of being creative. I work in technology and the one thing that is pretty common and from an engineer's eye is "gaudy" (for lack of a better term) is when technology is applied blindly as if it were the panacea of photography. When technology is applied to solve problems that really don't exist. Its difficult for me to explain. I guess a more fashion conscious person may experience the same distraction when surrounded by a bunch of engineers who have no sense in style... lol.


Mu-43 Top Veteran
Personally, I feel happy with my gear, there are some things I would love my GX7 to inherit from the GH4 but not enough where I consider getting rid of it.

Yeah I'm interested in the next major sensor for m43 but after using pretty much every camera south of Medium Format, I'm comfortable with what I got.


Mu-43 Top Veteran
Ray, you mentioned starting up seriously back in the 70's. I wonder if similar opinions might have formed differently if people had access to internet forums like mu43 (or one of the larger ones like POTN/DPreview) back in the day. It's interesting to see how much our decisions and opinions are formed by the information and wide-ranging, sometimes polarizing opinions we consume (or not) in our daily 'adventures' on internet forums and the like.

I only started in photography about 10 years ago, but I'll be the first to confess that much of my own G.A.S. in the mid-2000's was fueled by endless reading of gear and lens sample threads. Right now, POTN has close to 400,000 members, 1.3 million threads and well over 16 million posts. Can you imagine if a well-populated forum like POTN existed back in the day?

Yeah I'm interested in the next major sensor for m43 but after using pretty much every camera south of Medium Format, I'm comfortable with what I got.
William, I'm with you there.


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
It's interesting to see how much our decisions and opinions are formed by the information and wide-ranging, sometimes polarizing opinions we consume (or not) in our daily 'adventures' on internet forums and the like.
I recall (in retail) we tended to get one region that adopted a certain brand simply because the retailers in that area where working to promote a particular. Magazine authors really could also influence but for the most part the local mom and pop camera shop was the bigger influence. I used to go to one "region" buy up a bunch of used equipment then head to another to resell it. Canon's introduction of the 100-400L with in-lens IS was the first real technology driven change for me... I read about it first online (not a forum) and headed to the local store to try it out.
I think people are generally satisfied but bodies do seem to have a shelf life right now due to advances in technology.

For instance, I love my E-P5 but the truth is that 16MP sensor gets a little noisy when you crank up the ISO (gain). Right now I am happy but if a new Pen EP-8 comes out in a few years with a sensor that has ISO 50 and a significantly reduced amount of noise at high ISO, I will feel that my EP-5 is not good enough anymore.

One reason we can feel this way is due to the relatively low cost of the bodies. At some point, these advances will probably level off and many feel that things are good enough already.

I am trying to say that I can see both sides of the argument. Things are good enough but improvements are welcome....


Mu-43 Top Veteran
Well, one of the ironies of modern camera technology is that SOME old things get better! (eventually, after long periods of drought!)

For instance, My E-M10 has the BEST manual focusing of any camera I've used since I moved to digital photography. (I'm not saying it's the BEST manual focus out there, I'm saying it's the best I've used, and it is very good.) It is so good, that I find myself actually doing manual focus more than I have in 12 years or so. I really enjoy the fine control I have over focus. And I enjoy it in the FUN sense and not just the technical sense - even when I make focusing mistakes. I feel far more connected to the capture process with the E-M10 than I ever did with my E500 or my E30. And my Canon G3? The less said, the better!

We tend to think of film and digital photography as two sides of the same coin. And maybe that is natural considering they rise from the same source technology of optics and the nature of human beings. But in reality, they are two separate communications mediums. Things need to develop in their own way and in their own time with any technology. Maybe now is manual focusing golden era for digital.


Mu-43 Top Veteran
I think people tend to forget the bad things. I remember being frustrated with out of focus, grainy,mid exposed pictures, and it was a real PITA to change film, where sometimes you make a mistake and mess up the photos. As always, people romanticize the past. Also, we get a lot more feedback (often complaining) through internet forums. Before the internet you got filtered conversations with friends to go by,mainly.


This Space For Rent
...Exactly what 'is' enough? Disclosure: I started photography in a serious way at the beginning of the 70s.
Me too, Ray, my first 'real' SLR was purchased in 1969 and my 'fast' color film was Kodak 64 :biggrin:. B&W was all over the place, I shot whatever I could get my hands on at the time, including some military B&W that :rolleyes:

I was really impressed by the Minolta X700 "Program" mode and the Maxxum autofocus (the first camera I had with a/f) amazed me.

Now I can process at home without chemicals and water; I can store my 'negatives' in such a manner that I can find any one desired nearly instantly; I can print at home, on demand, with results that rival (if not surpass) prints that I got out of commercial labs in 1970), I can change ASA between shots w/o having to change film, I can have the equivalent of thousands of rolls of film in my pocket, all with equipment that, figuring in inflation, isn't much more than I paid for the original Olympus Pen FT!

So for me - it's enough.





This Space For Rent
Deflecting attention away from the real reason our photos aren't all that great....
Well, yeah, Arg; while my gear is much better than it was 45 years ago my skills haven't progressed correspondingly.

(I was lousy then, I'm lousy now :drinks:).




Mu-43 Top Veteran
I have to confess to not reading the whole thread in detail, just skimmed it, but by turning the argument on its head, isn't this desire for better (which takes many forms) the engine room for innovation! Without innovation we may have been happy and content with candles instead of light bulbs, or horse power instead of electricity, or film instead of electronic sensors.


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Yes, I like equipment, but I do agree. Do you think people like Lange, Tina Modotti, Weston, Smith or any of the other great photos (including Adams) thought about equipment as much as they did about the subject matter? Ray's post resonates with me as I just gave away a D200 and a Canon Vixia because have gear just sitting was a drain on my creativity. I feel extremely lucky to have the gear (including digital darkroom) as when I started in the 60's it was a different world for photographers. The art was still struggling to be recognized and it was very expensive to do color and it took a lot of skill to get really good black and white images in the home darkroom. With Photoshop and my Epson printer I can produce an archival print on different types of paper that are significantly better than anything I could produce or by back then. Its seems like there is much less emphasis on subject matter, artistic vision, and even knowing the history of the art now than then.

I hope my 10 step cure for NAS/OAS lets me skip a generation of cameras:)


Mu-43 Rookie
Thank you for this post and reminder. I recently rented a Fuji X-T1 to satisfy my curiosity about the Fuji system although I have an exceptional (for my needs) µ4/3 setup with some amazing lenses. The X-T1 will go back to LensRentals this Thursday and I'll be satisfied knowing that I'm not missing out on anything. However, the time I've spent learning and toying around with the Fuji would have been better spent taking photos with what I know to be a great camera.

A quick Google search of "choice leads to unhappiness" reveals a lot of insight into how more choices tend make us unhappy with the ones we have made or, worse yet, leads to analysis paralysis. This, of course is the key that continues to drive consumption.

One of the first few results is a great book about choice leading us down a path of discontent:

And lastly, here's the link to Kirk Tuck's amazing article which has been linked here and numerous other places:

Again, thanks for the post.


Mu-43 Veteran
A complainer is someone who will always say the glass is half empty. A realist is someone who will say the glass is half full, and let's see if we can fill it a bit more.

I'm extremely happy with the current state of photo technology. I think it's better than ever, a golden age. But I'm a realist and can appraise when something could be better. To say that something could be better isn't the same as "complaining". Rather, it recognizes that past improvements have resulted from people seeking something better. If we applaud the current state of photo technology (as I do), we're applauding people in the past who sought the improvements that led to the present. So why not applaud people who now seek the improvements of the future? Are they complainers or are they people who can envision a better future? Their efforts will result in the improvements of tomorrow.

I don't think there's anything silly about asking for improvements. Statements about what people were able to achieve with past technology don't change that. Such statements always remind me of Monty Python's Four Yorkshiremen, a parody of a nostalgic conversation where four guys try to outdo each other with ridiculous tales of how poor and deprived they were in the past, punctuated with expressions of "but we were happy then".

Improvement in photo technology hasn't stopped and shouldn't. So I welcome forward-thinking conversations about what could be better, faster, lighter, easier, more accurate, more responsive, more consistent, more ergonomic, more reliable, etc. We haven't yet seen the photos that future photo technology will allow.