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07-02-2018, 03:25 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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Is great kit a mixed blessing?

I don't know if I'm just going through and end of mid life crisis, whether it's just the dilution effect so many images out there, or whether I'm just getting jaded - but I find fewer and fewer pictures on Flickr (I don't operate on instagram or others) that actually hold my attention.

One possible explanation is the number of training courses and many free YouTube How To videos, which tend to lead to everyone going to the same places and doing the same things - which is an issue, but I don't consciously do that, and I'm also finding my own images less interesting. ( )

I've also noticed that since being a regular browser of PF contributions, for better and worse, I've become much more kit aware.

What I am wondering is this: is modern kit so good that it's too easy to produce images that have an immediate impact, and does this too often stop us from going that bit further to produce something exceptional, meaningful - and memorable?

Any thoughts?

07-02-2018, 03:29 AM   #2
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LOL - I take your thought one step further. Having a great kit might actually generate performance anxiety - insert internal dialogue here "I can't take an exceptional memorable meaningful photo with what I have - what to do" .....
07-02-2018, 03:39 AM - 1 Like   #3
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I have great kit, but I know I'm not very good. No pressure here
07-02-2018, 03:46 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
I have great kit, but I know I'm not very good. No pressure here
ahhh the bliss of self awareness and maturity to be comfortable with it - now that I aspire to

Good kit or not, the message is just be true to yourself

07-02-2018, 03:46 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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I'm always conscious of not going on about this too much, for fear of boring everyone - but the most fun I've had from my photography in the last couple of years has been with my 10MP Samsung GX-10 (two of them, actually), and - to a lesser extent (and only then because of less use) - my Samsung GX-1L and Pentax *ist DL. After that, I'd say the Q-7 has been immensely good fun too.

As for lenses, I've become thoroughly ambivalent about razor-edge sharpness at 100% reproduction, and I'm far more interested in overall rendering. I've got some nice, modern, sharp lenses, some of which also render very nicely... but I'm happiest with my humble Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. And it's amazing what GBP 30 - 50 can buy in terms of vintage, manual lenses with absolutely beautiful and/or quirky rendering.

I like all of my kit, and I'm fortunate to have a fair amount of stuff to choose from, but if I had to give it all up tomorrow and keep just one of my GX-10s and the Tamron, that would suit me just fine. Plus, maybe, a couple of those old manual lenses, just to add a bit of variety

Like you, I've become more and more kit aware... but I'm less bothered about it now than I ever was.
07-02-2018, 03:50 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wild Mark Quote
Having a great kit might actually generate performance anxiety
Personally speaking, I only experienced performance anxiety about my kit when I bought my first camera - the sort of 'What does that tw*t who clearly knows nothing about photography think he's doing with an SLR?' variety. I sometimes feel a bit self conscious about those times where the weather or whatever turns against you and you're left standing with a tripod and a bagful of expensive kit and clearly nothing worth photographing, but he gear per se doesn't intimidate me any more

---------- Post added 02-07-18 at 04:03 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
I'm always conscious of not going on about this too much, for fear of boring everyone - but the most fun I've had from my photography in the last couple of years has been with my 10MP Samsung GX-10 (two of them, actually), and - to a lesser extent (and only then because of less use) - my Samsung GX-1L and Pentax *ist DL. After that, I'd say the Q-7 has been immensely good fun too.

As for lenses, I've become thoroughly ambivalent about razor-edge sharpness at 100% reproduction, and I'm far more interested in overall rendering. I've got some nice, modern, sharp lenses, some of which also render very nicely... but I'm happiest with my humble Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. And it's amazing what GBP 30 - 50 can buy in terms of vintage, manual lenses with absolutely beautiful and/or quirky rendering.

I like all of my kit, and I'm fortunate to have a fair amount of stuff to choose from, but if I had to give it all up tomorrow and keep just one of my GX-10s and the Tamron, that would suit me just fine. Plus, maybe, a couple of those old manual lenses, just to add a bit of variety

Like you, I've become more and more kit aware... but I'm less bothered about it now than I ever was.
I get that "I miss the hungry years" feeling quite a lot - my only problem there is the fear that a great photo opportunity will materialise and I'll only have a kit lens or the wrong focal length - so I carry too much and miss the opportunities by needing to sit down for a breather or faffing around changing lenses instead
07-02-2018, 04:14 AM - 5 Likes   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by ffking Quote
I get that "I miss the hungry years" feeling quite a lot - my only problem there is the fear that a great photo opportunity will materialise and I'll only have a kit lens or the wrong focal length - so I carry too much and miss the opportunities by needing to sit down for a breather or faffing around changing lenses instead

From where I'm sitting typing this, I can see six of my photos on the wall. Five of them were taken with the "wrong" lens; with focal lengths that I never would have chosen if I'd had more choice of lenses with me at the time. And perhaps that's exactly why these are the photos that have ended up on the wall: because I had to think differently and more creatively, thanks to only having the sort of limited gear with me that I prefer to carry.

I believe absolutely that much of the homogeneity of modern digital photography is caused by too much technical perfection in the gear that people are using.


Edit: And if there's one thing that nobody will ever say about my photos, it's that they're too technically perfect.

Last edited by Dartmoor Dave; 07-02-2018 at 04:19 AM.
07-02-2018, 04:18 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by ffking Quote
I get that "I miss the hungry years" feeling quite a lot - my only problem there is the fear that a great photo opportunity will materialise and I'll only have a kit lens or the wrong focal length - so I carry too much and miss the opportunities by needing to sit down for a breather or faffing around changing lenses instead
I started a thread a few months back asking about members who shoot with just a single prime lens all day. I've yet to drum up the courage for that, though I keep promising myself I'll give it a go. But I'll happily take just the GX-10 and Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 with me. I rarely feel constrained by that simple kit, nor do I miss many shots as a result... although it could be that I unconsciously look for shots that fit within the available fields of view, or move into positions that accommodate them. Since I use the lens so much, I've become so familiar with the focal length range on APS-C that I more-or-less know how scenes will be framed. I guess I need to become just as familiar with a couple of prime lenses so I can operate the same way with those (I'm almost there with a 35mm lens, so maybe that's a good starting point)

07-02-2018, 04:27 AM - 3 Likes   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ffking Quote
I find fewer and fewer pictures on Flickr (I don't operate on instagram or others) that actually hold my attention.
Definitely. Mostly because I'm a bit tired of seeing what could have been nice landscape images ruined by awful oversaturation and oversharpening. It could also be that I'm more conscious of what I think makes a good image.

QuoteOriginally posted by ffking Quote
Personally speaking, I only experienced performance anxiety about my kit when I bought my first camera - the sort of 'What does that tw*t who clearly knows nothing about photography think he's doing with an SLR?' variety. I sometimes feel a bit self conscious about those times where the weather or whatever turns against you and you're left standing with a tripod and a bagful of expensive kit and clearly nothing worth photographing, but he gear per se doesn't intimidate me any more
That doesn't bother me, really. I quite often (but less now than before) get self-conshious about taking out the camera of the bag at all, but it doesn't matter much which camera.

I must admit that I do wonder at times why some people buy top of the line equipment without learning how to use it. Out on safari with a Nikon machine gun and a huge tele lens - everything on Auto and the hood on backwards. Beebipp-chkchkchkchkchk-beebipp-chkchkchkchkchk...
07-02-2018, 04:30 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
I started a thread a few months back asking about members who shoot with just a single prime lens all day. I've yet to drum up the courage for that, though I keep promising myself I'll give it a go.
To be fair to myself, if I'm doing street I'll only take the FA31Ltd and if I'm doing 'tourist' I'll usually only take the 24-70 - but since I gave my son my K10D - which I used happily for years with the kit 18-55 and 50-200 combo and got some pretty decent pictures from - I've only used those expensive lenses - which is part of the reason for this thread
07-02-2018, 04:35 AM   #11
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I think you can't go far wrong if you keep thinking about the subject matter and the look and feel you want for it.

That drives the location, the gear, the setup, postprocessing, etc.

This may be very simple or very complex.
07-02-2018, 04:40 AM - 3 Likes   #12
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I am lucky to be in a position to be able afford the good stuff. And I'm big and strong enough to be able to carry plenty of it.

When I was a lad I shot a Ricoh KR-10 and cheap Sigma zooms (and back then they really weren't very good). I fully appreciate the quality of kit we now have at our disposal, but also understand that the art comes from the human on the other side of the camera.

We should enjoy photography for and of itself, and for ourselves. The standards of others don't really matter unless we want to make a living out of it.
07-02-2018, 04:41 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ffking Quote
I get that "I miss the hungry years" feeling quite a lot - my only problem there is the fear that a great photo opportunity will materialise and I'll only have a kit lens or the wrong focal length - so I carry too much and miss the opportunities by needing to sit down for a breather or faffing around changing lenses instead


I find it liberating to bring less. Often I will bring only the GR (like today), or the GR and the K-1 with one lens. Makes me more focused when looking for subjects.

QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
And perhaps that's exactly why these are the photos that have ended up on the wall: because I had to think differently and more creatively, thanks to only having the sort of limited gear with me that I prefer to carry.
That's my experience, too. Of course, sometimes I can't get the shot I want and curse myself for not bringing this or that lens...

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
I started a thread a few months back asking about members who shoot with just a single prime lens all day.
I think I missed that thread. Will go looking

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
it could be that I unconsciously look for shots that fit within the available fields of view, or move into positions that accommodate them.
That's what I find when having just one focal length to work with. It's as if I don't see things that don't fit. Doesn't happen all the time, of course, but much more often than it used to. Or maybe it's just that I've become more conscious of it
07-02-2018, 05:23 AM - 2 Likes   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
We should enjoy photography for and of itself, and for ourselves. The standards of others don't really matter unless we want to make a living out of it.
Just one rider - that's all true, but I also like looking at and learning from other people's great pics, and I want to see more of them
07-02-2018, 05:47 AM - 9 Likes   #15
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I find that photography is like bicycling -- it's a journey that one can do and enjoy even if others have done that same journey, too, and even if others have done that journey far faster on more expensive bicycles.

Maybe lots of others have taken the best possible picture of _______ but they aren't my own picture of it with my own vision of it. Moreover, the world creates new pictures every day with every sunrise, sunset, blooming flower, buzzing bee, and the bustle of the humanity. There are always new things to take pictures of and new compositions and juxtapositions waiting to be photographed.

I agree that it's a bit too easy to focus on the kit because it's the easiest thing to measure and change. Overall, great kit helps make great images just like a great bicycle helps make a great ride. But great cameras and great bicycles are neither necessary nor sufficient for a great journey. Whether with a camera or on a bike, it's just nice to be out seeing the world.
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