I have no idea what its like in other countries, but its now quite difficult to find somewhere to pick up a camera or a lens and try it out. Those wonderful little shops that every town had with film, chemicals and all sorts of darkroom gear, tripods, lights and sync leads are mostly all gone. Over here Jessops bought up many of them and now as a resource that was countywide, that has gone too. A few branches remain open but you can end up driving a long way to get your hands on the latest digital imaging wonder. I live close to Birmingham, Englands second city and until Jessops reopened there was just one shop in the whole city that sold and displayed cameras. To actually hold a Leica X Vario in my hands I drove 65 miles to a small camera shop in a Gloucestershire town and 65 miles back. Most times I just phone up or access a web site, give them a credit card number and a courier arrives with a large cardboard box the next day.
Cameras are now leaked or rumoured months in advance and pre-production models are sent to the usual suspects who shoot some horrible jpgs. pontificate about the camera, making sure of course not to offend the company that sent it, and move on to the next. Debates go on and judgements are made without anyone actually using or even seeing the camera they are debating. Some sites write reviews and make recommendations from press releases rather than hands on experiences. And there are the shills, employed by companies to trash anything that might steal sales away from them. So how in the midst of this, how do people make a judgement about what to buy?
Some don't bother. They just sign up to a fan club and stick with a brand come what may. And of course its not only Apple that want you to let them provide you with a whole tech wardrobe and to own your lifestyle in perpetuity. Javol! Some try everything thats new and have to have the latest. So we get to a stage where Canon release a new *00D camera and a review site decides not to review it because its virtually exactly the same as the previous model. Rumour sites talk up how x,y, or z is going to have everything we've ever wanted, safe of course in the knowledge that they know it won't be, which makes us even hungrier for the next rumour. Cameras and lenses are constantly talked up and end up being disappointments, and differences are exaggerated out of all proportion, when in fact most cameras and lenses are closer to each other than different and its very difficult to find a camera / lens combination above a relatively low price point point that won't take a decent picture. APS-C, m4/3, 'full-frame', are they really that different? And isn't whats in the rectangle rather than what created it the important thing anyway?
In my post Moratorium I wrote this.
'....and secondly because I'm wondering where to take the blog, or indeed whether I want to continue with it. Apart from responding to announcements like the Leica X Vario and posting pictures I've taken, I've been struggling lately to come up with anything that isn't, more or less, a recycling of something I've written previously. I've also been thinking about what I'm doing photographically and my pictures seem to be following the same pattern as the blog posts.'
I've pretty much worked out the answer to the photographic navel gazing, which is solved by the fact I need to make a living, but I'm still struggling with the question of what this blog achieves and if I want to keep it going as a personal diary, sharing experiences and opinions with those who read it. I haven't as yet come up with anything that makes me enthusiastic to keep it going and it is still a reaction to stories others dig up and a place to post some pictures I like. The first part of this post explains pretty much why I feel this way. I know I'm spitting into the wind and that mobile phone photography and gadgetry will win out against the making of photographs and appreciation of what creates them. I realise that its now all about style over substance and virtually the entire photographic internet is dedicated to gear and not photographs and I realise that digital cameras and technology will eventually probably kill off the art form I love and turn it from the creation and capture of special moments into the glorification of the mundane. But I can't help thinking back to when I started and the magic of opening that folder of machine prints and seeing if what I recorded matched what I felt at the time.
I live my life more on instinct, rather than by any worked out strategy, so who knows where this will go. In the next few days I may be buzzing again, but after a wonderful day cycling through beautiful countryside on a warm sunny day, stopping at regular intervals to take photographs, I know that is more important to me than which camera has more luminance noise at ISO 3200.
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