Thursday, April 3, 2008

Does The Camera Matter?

Michael Reichmann makes his living selling landscape photos (that he prints he himself) and books (that he does not print himself). He has an website detailing his ever evolving equipment that he uses or might use. I have been reading his website for about 4 years now.

Mr. Reichmann got wind of an online article "Your Camera Doesn't Matter" by Ken Rockwell.

Mr. Rockwell, as far as I can tell, is a photography enthusiasts that makes lots of his money not from selling photos. He also likes to put in old lens on new cameras and see what happens. And he details it all in his website, naturally.

Mr. Reichmann has issues with the idea that cameras do not matter, as he explains it in his rebuttal (his word) "Your Camera Does Matter".

Lately, Sein Reid has aired his view that, "Yes, It Matters", of course he means the camera.

Mr Reid makes a living by creating painstaking reviews of instruments of photography posted in his subscription only webiste.

Of the three, Mr. Reichmann and Mr. Reid makes better photos.


Mr. Rockwell article is what I would refer to as a rant.

Mr. Rockwell rants at people who purchase expensive instruments of photography and does nothing but argue about it's technical specifications. He refers to them as 'measurebators'. These sort of individuals also like to argue amongst themselves about the technical merits of their expensive purchase.

Mr. Rockwell also states that, for most part, it is not the egregiously expensive instruments of photography that matters. It is the user of the egregiously expensive instruments of photography that matters. It is not the Nut in the camera but the Nut behind the camera.

Mr. Rockwell's position, basically, is: shut-up and take pictures!

Mr. Reichmann, after reading his rebuttal twice and risked being labeled as having 'sub-optimal reading skills', misses the point of Mr. Rockwell's article. And the cartoon atop his rebutall rather supports Mr. Rockwell's point.

I do think Mr. Reichmann over-reacted to Mr. Rockwell's article.

Towards the end of his rebuttal, Mr. Reichmann rightly pointed out that one should choose the proper tools for the intended job. That is correct. But that was not Mr. Rockwell's point.

Mr. Reid, on the other hand, illustrates the point of how pros in different field prefer one tools and materials. Concert pianists do prefer one brand of piano, often preferring only ONE piano that follows them on concert tours. These concert pianists often allow only ONE piano tuner to tune piano/s to be used. Some writers like a particular brand of typewriters (typewri... what?) because of the key action, the sound, probably even the smell.

Mr. Reid goes on to point out that several legendary photography pros changed their preferred equipment to suit a different approach or style. That would be correct too. Concert pianists know not to use a concert grand when playing chamber music in a... chamber (oh, anything smaller than a concert hall, a library, a music room), because it will overwhelm the sound of the rest of the ensemble.

I do think Mr. Reid reply was not really an answer for or against Mr. Rockwell's central thesis.

Mr. Reid reminds us that legendary pros can be like divas and act accordingly, with enhusiastic verve as they flout their eccentricities upon us hapless humanity.

One has to remember who Mr. Rockwell is. He is a consumer photography enthusiasts. He does not bother with RAW so he takes photos in JPG. He likes to push saturation and color. He dislikes tripod. He likes IS/VR/OIS because it is faster than a tripod. He espouse 'good enough' equipment. Not that he eschews more expensive and esoteric instruments of photography. But likes 'good enough' stuff.

Mr. Rockwell likes to be instantly gratified, have big portions all at low costs, at the same time.

I don't think Mr. Rockwell is a good photographer.

But he is a better photographer than the types of people he dismisses in his article.

Personally, I agree with Mr. Rockwell, shoot photos with that damn camera instead of stroking it like a phallic object. And that any camera is better than no camera.

I also agree that virtuoso, of any field, using substandard instruments, will outperform amateurs with the best instruments.

Passion, genius, skill, talent over hype and equipment.

And I still canot understand why Micahel Reichmann reacted the way he did.