The Myth of More

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by DeeJayK, May 29, 2015.

  1. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    I just read an excellent blog post by Randall Armor (hat tip to PetaPixel for bringing it to my attention) which is ostensibly a review (non-review?) of the Fuji X100T. It's actually a lot more than that -- it's a sort of an epistle against the "more is more", "bigger is better", "newest is best" ethos that drives the purchases of so much modern photographic gear.

    The author's general sentiment that ANY modern camera is more than good enough for nearly any photographer has been written before, but Mr. Armor makes the case particularly well. If you've got five minutes to spare, you should go give it a read.
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
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  2. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    I think this surely applies to all of us. For example in my case, I keep drooling over the thought of the next iteration of the Ricoh GR/ Coolpix A or wondering what the RX1 or the upcoming Leica version of it would be like to use. But when it comes to someone of my photography skills, what real difference would it make to the images I produce if I didn't buy any of that gear and carried on using, say my m43 camera and a Pany 14? To be brutally honest, not much. Possibly what's being sold to us, as much as the image output of the camera is the experience of using it?
  3. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    I agree, but at the same time using different lenses is FUN and using different cameras is FUN. New and different gear helps me look at things differently and take more varied photos. You can take this argument and sell your entire kit and use your phone. That's not as fun.....

    I think one way to incorporate some of this thinking is to not feel like you have to take your whole kit on every outing, even if m4/3 makes it compact enough to be possible.
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
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  4. It can be fun for a while, but it can also become a creative black hole as the end result is often using different cameras to take the same old photos. When I saw myself falling into that trap I re-evaluted my approach to photography as a hobby and am now more focused on the results than the equipment, with the side benefit of that being less time spent on forums and review sites and more time available for other interests.
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  5. edmsnap

    edmsnap Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 20, 2011
    Edmonton, Alberta
    I also thought it was a very true article, with a caveat or two. In the last year, probably 70ish percent of my photo-snapping has been on my E-1 (which I adore). It may be over 10 years old and only 5 megapixels, but it's more camera than I'll ever be a photographer. The exceptions for me being low-light photography and using adapted lenses. In those cases, my E-M5 offers me distinctly more that is not a myth. A fair bit of what I shoot is in low light or with vintage adapted glass, so paying money for something newer than my E-1 was not me being duped by an advertising campaign or not understanding cameras. There have been some significant technical advances in very recent history... the question is just if they've been meaningful enough advances for what you shoot to justify upgrading.
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  6. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    " many of us believe in what I call the Myth of More, that photo fairy tale we tell ourselves about how if we just had more pixels, more features, more lenses, more gear, it will somehow make us more better at shooting pictures that are worth looking at."

    Words that probably apply to life as well as photography. I read recently that we tend to do what is easy rather than what makes us happy. The problem is that activities that make us happy--being creative, learning, achieving--tend to take effort. Thinking about, researching and buying new gear is easy. Going out at early morning or late evening and hiking up a mountain to catch the right light takes effort. But guess which one is more rewarding and makes us happier? I won't speak for anyone else, but I need to keep giving myself a kick to go do things and use what I have rather than wasting time thinking about what I don't have. I'm sure others are much more disciplined and motivated than I am and don't have the same challenges.

    Sorry for the philosophical interruption. Now back to your regularly scheduled new gear discussion. :)
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  7. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Aside from very specific types of photography, I agree with the author's sentiments. We all, myself included, have moments of G.A.S. where we tell ourselves that we need this/that when it's more an issue of want. Sure, I would love to have a Leica M240 along with a Leica M246 Monochrom with a few lenses but it certainly won't make me a better photographer. Just a $20k+ poorer one.

    Right now, I'm content with shooting with my X100T and EM5 II (and Ricoh GRD3) which provide me with all I need to capture the images I want. Truth be told, I could even "get by" with just either camera but I prefer working with at least two cameras in two different focal lengths. A few years ago, I decided to simplify by getting away from zooms and shooting only primes. It's actually quite refreshing and although it may sound cliche, it makes me more aware of my surroundings because I'm constantly trying to see things from a certain focal length. In that regard, I believe it has made me into a better photographer whereas before when I shot zooms, I would wait until the shot came to me instead of actively seeking the shot. This isn't to advocate primes or denigrate zooms, but rather a statement of how it affected me and only me. I really think sometimes we all need to just simplify our choices, stop worrying about the gear and go out and just shoot as much as possible. I find the more often I actively shoot, the higher the percentage of keepers that I tend to get.
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  8. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    It was a very well-written article, I quite enjoyed it. Of course, not everything can be done with a 35mm field of view like the X100T's, but you can get darn close.
  9. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Save the money chasing gear and use the savings to travel the world and take lots of pictures. That's what I'm doing. I'm in a much happier place.
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  10. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    I gotta say... it seems disingenuous to be using the very latest iteration of a high dollar camera while saying "gear doesn't matter". No, gear won't make you a better photographer, but gear can help you make better pictures. The Ricoh GR is a very different shooting experience and produces very different files than my m43 and P14. Both are good, but they aren't close because they are pointed in different directions. Both can produce excellent files, but they are very different in use and output. I think most photographers who have used both would agree.

    I'm not advocating GAS... and he is correct when he says "All modern digital cameras are better than they need to be, Anyone who tells you otherwise needs to have their head examined", but thats like saying "All modern automobiles will get you to work reliably for at least a decade, Anyone who tells you otherwise needs to have their head examined". Both true, but both miss the point if you are enthusiastic about either photography or automobiles.

    A year ago, when Michael Reichmann wrote about this in the context of digital having finally matured, it seemed like sincere food for thought, but I think this new trend of "gear doesn't matter" posts while posting photos taken with your brand new latest tech camera is just pretentious humblebrag. Let him write a "gear doesn't matter" post using his iPhone. Its very possible, and I would respect that a lot more.
    Last edited: May 30, 2015
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  11. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    I think it's more a case of settling into a camera that really "clicks" (ahh, there's that horrible pun) with him. The less is more philosophy is sort of a personal epiphany that I think hits us all at different times, and with much different cameras. Although the X100 does seem to get a lot of those epiphanies.

    I do think there's more to the author's sentiment towards the camera that is creating this feeling than what is strictly the merits of the camera itself. Which is fine, even should be sought after, since it makes a person want to shoot with it more.
  12. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    if anyone really believed this they'd be shooting a phone or a $100 compact.
  13. Itchybiscuit

    Itchybiscuit Photon Mangler

    Dec 10, 2013
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Personally speaking, I can't subscribe to the 'more is more' trend due to cost.

    IMO it doesn't matter what floats your boat, if you have the disposable income to spend on it, you'll spend it. My photography related purchases are usually along the lines of 'this might come in handy'. As an example, I bought a Vivitar 50mm/f3.5 Flat Field enlarging lens in an LTM mount. It was a couple of pounds and one day I'll screw it onto the front of my G5 and take it for a spin. Now that's my kind of GAS. Gear Acquisition is only a problem if you're spending more than you can afford.
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  14. ThereAndBackAgain

    ThereAndBackAgain Fighting GAS

    May 26, 2014
    North Devon, England
    "IMO it doesn't matter what floats your boat, if you have the disposable income to spend on it, you'll spend it."
    Agreed. I live in constant fear that when I die, my wife will sell my m43 kit for what I told her it cost.....
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  15. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    I have bought more gear; but they are used. They have saved my wallet, never let it abused. For my joy and happiness comes in the photos I made, I know my MORE used gear are getting well used. is my friend, she will let me buy more gear when my paycheque arrives on month's end.
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  16. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Does anyone actually believe, "that photo fairy tale we tell ourselves about how if we just had more pixels, more features, more lenses, more gear, it will somehow make us more better at shooting pictures that are worth looking at"?

    I see far more written telling people that better equipment will not make them a better photographer than people actually suggesting that better equipment will make them a better photographer. It is usually written by people who have lots of expensive equipment already, and who appear to be overly sentimental when it comes to the artistry of photography.

    The reality is that equipment can make a real difference to what one is able to produce photographically (which is why professional photographers and serious amateurs alike use sophisticated equipment), and it is not unreasonable to want the best equipment that one can afford for the particular sort(s) of photography that one enjoys.

    There is no great mystique to photography, and it is not so hard to learn about composition and lighting to improve one's photographic skill that all thoughts of doing so will be pushed from one's mind if one dedicates thought to one's equipment from time to time; indeed, in many cases, more sophisticated equipment can make it easier, not harder, to concentrate on the photograph that one is taking rather than the equipment itself: a good quality constant aperture zoom, for example, makes one think far less about lenses than having a series of fixed focal length lenses between which one has to change frequently, and modern automatic metering makes it far easier to think about the subject, lighting and composition than in the days when I used a purely mechanical film camera with a hand-held light meter and had to think explicitly about exposure for every single frame.

    Who ever actually makes the obviously absurd claim which is so oft-refuted that better equipment will make one a better photographer (as opposed to the distinct, and very often true, claim that better equipment can often allow one to take better photographs)? What is behind the so frequent desire to refute a claim that nobody ever makes?
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  17. Drdave944

    Drdave944 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    Many a fine idea has been ruined by poor technical performance.It is not that each scene sits there statically awaiting the photographer. For me the scene might not even be perceived until the photo is viewed and if your camera is up to it,wow! If you are in a studio with control of everything ,fine but if your equipment is not up to it in an environment you can't control, it fails.
  18. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    here is my opinion on this and your are free to disagree...

    A fine idea or as I may call it an 'interesting image' is rarely ruined these days by poor technical performance of the camera...only by poor performance of the photographer, a lack of understanding how the camera works or unrealistic expectations of the cameras ability.

    An interesting image is an interesting image regardless of whatever device was used to capture it. If its interesting people will look at it... if not ...well

    Now I do realise that there are genres of photography that do demand certain levels of technical finesse.. but we live in a changing world... and for most people the detail of a MF camera can now be done in a DSLR and the convenience of the DSR can be done in a mirrorless and the portability of a compact camera by a phone.

    most arguments regarding technical aspects of cameras are as useless as arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin

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  19. johnvanatta

    johnvanatta Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 5, 2014
    Oakland, CA
    I can see both sides on this matter. On one hand, I realized when I started posting about focus shift that many people really aren't evaluating equipment at the levels it is being produced to today. It really takes some care and a trained eye to see the difference between a good lens and an exceptional one today. The disconnect between being able to view everything instantly at 100% pixels and publishing 1200x900 80% quality jpegs online is indeed jarring.

    On the other hand, like many people here, I use an EM-1 and top notch set of lenses, worth thousands of dollars. Why? This picture is one reason. I stopped at this overlook at Koke'e, Hawaii well after sunset. My color vision was starting to fade in the dimming light. I didn't have a tripod, but there was a railing. So I put my hat on the railing, the EM-1 on the hat, and held it as still as I could. 1/4 second exposure, f/2.8, ISO 800, and I can still get the shadows pretty clean. I needed a quality lens, excellent stabilizers, and a modern sensor for this. Sometimes the gear does make a difference.

    2015_03_31 - 23836.jpg
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  20. Drdave944

    Drdave944 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    I have to agree. You don't have to look far to find discussions like that, that completely escape me. However a really good camera can make a roll of toilet paper look good ,as opposed to the image made by a lesser camera.
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