Monday, August 24, 2009

Expensive Camera, Cheap Photographer

Have you ever watched someone take pictures? Have you noticed their fancy camera and their complete ineptitude with the camera? They don't use any features or don't change angles or try to get closer to a subject, but rather they stand in the same general area going "click, click, click" with the same exact shot.

I have to wonder why people spend so much money on a camera that they don't know how to use. Do people honestly think that a $2000 camera will make their poor photography look better than the $150 camera? Will the stock lens add anything that a good cheaper built-in lens wouldn't have picked up? I think it's all marketing. Or control... people think they will have "control" over their pictures if they have a fancy camera.

I've used the same point-and-shoot camera since 2002, and honestly, I bet I use the "extra" features more than most people. Still, the automatic setting is probably the most common setting I use. It's not that I'm lazy or that I don't want to take the time to figure out what aperture or zoom or light metering to use. The automatic setting on my cheap digital camera works really well! For more artsy shots, I know a few tricks with my camera to get the effects I want. Ultimately, I have a few limitations, but my camera fits in my pocket, so taking it everywhere means more shots more times and with pretty much the same results.

Another thing people don't realize is that a digital SLR camera straight out of the box is pretty much just as limited as a standard point-and-shoot camera. It's the add-ons that make pictures look better. The super-high-powered telescoping lenses and the filters (oh I love filters!) that make ordinary pictures look dramatic. Most people want the camera and none of the other things that cost extraordinary amounts of money (seriously, good lenses and studio equipment will set someone back tens of thousands of dollars).

And all that control that seemed so important in the beginning? It can be fleshed out in post-processing. I don't know anyone these days that doesn't edit their pictures in some small way before publishing. Between Picasa's super-simple fixes and snazzy Photoshop tweaks, a point-and-shoot camera's picture can look professional in ten seconds.

WHY, WHY, WHY?! do people spend so much money on expensive camera equipment when they have absolutely no business with anything other than a disposable camera? I want to take their cameras and pour sand in them. Or steal them and use them to their full potential...


Ian Oberst said...

Well, spendy SLR do have a few advantages. The biggest is the's bigger, which allows more light, which makes it a lot easier to take pictures in varied environments.

The second is that spendy cameras let you take photos in RAW, which is something some cheaper cameras don't have an option for. If you can't get your photos in RAW, editing them is tough, as lossy compression causes some very odd things to occur when playing with the photo's settings in post-processing.

But then again, I'd be playing with the settings, so I can't speak from a "stand in one place and *click, click, click* perspective.

Roger Chrane said...

I agree, some people are just seriously dumb and don't get it. They have too much money from mommy and daddy, and think they're going to become professional photographers. This industry is so brain-dead, it's not funny. Anyone can do it.