ARE YOU A PHOTOGRAPHER OR A CAMERA OWNER?

I cannot believe the fuss over the Sony A9. Sure it has all the specs. to keep gearheads happy for months. Assuming of course that the camera works without overheating and that bits don't fall off it. But it is ridiculously expensive. A Nikon D5 is cheaper and it's actually costs more than I paid for my Leica SL. And above all it's a Sony! Cheap mass produced plastic that's both ugly and difficult to use. Now I've tried a lot of the FE range, as ever tempted by the specs. and the pixels. But I decided after I sold an A7r II after a few weeks that enough was enough. No more soft corners on wide angle lenses because they use an APS-C mount, no more overheating video, no more ridiculously small bodies for their huge lenses, no more tolerating their overpricing and Minolta cloned lenses, no more ludicrous battery life. Plus I sold that Sony body to finance a Leica SL (Typ 601) which is in every way a superior camera. Made by a company that has been in photography for decades and will continue to do so. 

And yes that's all personal opinion and should be regarded as such. But for me Sony cameras are god's gift to those YouTube photographic "gurus". The Camera Store will love it, The Northrups will love it. They can bang on about the specs. for post after post. And video after video. Because this is all about camera ownership, technical and technological advance and absolutely nothing to do with being a photographer and creating images. 

Back in December I decided to buy a film camera again. Now in many ways I've never left film, scanning my huge stock of transparencies for stock libraries. But shooting on it again was a departure. And while film is having a bit of a revival, the reality of film sales increasing by 5% per annum means that it won't die, but any notion that film will even get close to digital camera use again is a pipe dream. However I was encouraged to find that I wasn't alone in feeling that the promise of digital photography has turned into gadget worship and applauding meaningless 'upgrades' and so called technological advance. And as I see it, the more digital cameras increase in complexity, the more photography as an art form goes into decline. 

And what we have is a group of camera owners arguing over trivialities as gradually less and less people feel inclined to go more into photography as a vocation and a way of expressing themselves. Hopefully that is a generational thing and when my generation, who are the worst culprits, eventually get too old to spend time arguing with others who dare to identify with another brand, perhaps we can get back to what this is supposed to be all about. Because I have to say that, with the very rare exception, I see nothing exceptional about a bunch of baby boomers in terms of pushing what can be achieved with a camera. Despite being perennially dismissed as total nonsense I also can't help but feel that 'Better camera means better photographer' is still the prevailing justification for what most of the sawdust heads on the photographic internet bicker about.

There was an old (somewhat cruel) distinction that was around in the 80's and 90's that went something like 'If your house was on fire the professional photographer runs back in to save their pictures. the amateur rushes back in to save their camera.' And again and again the photographic internet proves that it's all about bragging about your latest purchase and not about what you've actually created with it. For me, cameras aren't really that important. And since I've owned so many and discarded most of them, that should be obvious. A new camera gives me a different way of working temporarily, something different to explore and to a large extent that's the reason I've done it. As well, of course, because I can. But unlike the early days of digital when there were genuine 'advances' and a couple of years could mean a lot in terms of image quality, these days that has long ceased to be the case. 

Going back to the Sony A9, you would think that sports photography hasn't really existed before it if you read the Sony hype. But somehow the very best sports photographers seem to have managed to create great work in the past without all of this new Sony tech. Because the best photographic tools we have are our brains and our eyes. But then there's no financial return in stating that.