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Author Topic: It's not the Camera "rebuttal"  (Read 27711 times)
robertdfeinman
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« on: March 13, 2008, 03:20:25 PM »
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I have no disagreement with "Your Camera does Matter - rebuttal", but I think the discussion could be better clarified.

Most of the time when a person (usually a beginner) is asking about buying A vs B it is within the context of the type of camera and photography they envision.

These days that usually means a person buying a point and shoot or a digital SLR. I'm sure there is advice that could be given to those making such choices that would help them narrow their options.

It is the discussions where types of cameras are compared that lead to meaningless comments.

There is some value in discussing camera types in general when giving advice to those who are unclear about the type of photography they are planning to undertake. I use different cameras for different purposes even when the nominal subject might be the same. So a shot of a landscape made with a medium format camera will get me framing in a certain way and also lead me to certain subjects. While the same scene approached with my swinglens panorama will put me in a different frame of mind.

I doubt I would do anything different if I were using a 35mm RF or SLR for this type of subject. Street photographers seem to think otherwise.

So, to my mind, the choice of camera not only is influenced by the type of output I'm contemplating and the type of subject I'm approaching, but aesthetic considerations as well.

The problem seems to be that the question as to which is "best" is formulated imprecisely. When stated correctly sometimes it is a valid query.
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BFoto
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« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2008, 05:26:17 PM »
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Michael

Nice to see your rebuttal.

What i find a little amusing is the size of the lens he is holding on his home page.

Then, if you sift through all of his images in the galleries, and look at the gear he used, they are full on high end DSLR or medium format.

Moreover, read any futher into his site, and it seems he disagrees with his own view point in a lot of his writtings.

And, finally, read his "Recommended Cameras" list.
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nexus6
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« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2008, 05:48:45 PM »
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I do a reasonable amount of gig photography , which means action photography in low/difficult light conditions. I stared with and eos 5, great camera but not having any idea if i had captured "it" until the next day mean that i was always wanting to move to digital. My first digital was a sony 717, nice camera, but shutter lag was so pathetic that i bought a canon 10d as soon as i could. eventually i purchased a 70-200 2.8IS. there is no doubt that i get better and more consistent results with my current setup than i have with previous gear.
   I guess if your spending to much time on the forums or in the shops selecting gear rather than out shooting then you might have a problem. but thinking about gear is what i do when im NOT shooting. ( i also acasionally think about other things )
  SO saying that the gear is unimportant is a complete load of crap, its part of the overall equation. its value withing the equation can be argued forever, but its definitely there.
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johnpowell
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2008, 07:34:29 PM »
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I do read Ken's articles from time to time and find myself frustrated with his contradictions.  

Mind you, Ken is not an artisan in the same vein as Michael.  I quote Ken, "Inkjet printers went obsolete back in 2004. I still use a $99 Epson printer, but only for printing emails and, once a year, business cards."  He continues, "This is because today we can get much better prints on real, light-sensitive, chemically-processed photo paper at almost any lab including Wal-Mart, Costco and Target."

Point well taken for the amateur or volume shooter not concerned with the tactile quality of printing.  He is not a fine art photographer in many senses of the term.  I just do not get the satisfaction of looking a print from Wally World as I would when I print a large print on Museo, Arches or Hahnemuhle  papers.  Dont' even discuss B&W if you get your printing from Wally!

However, if the camera doesn't matter then why did Rockwell buy a D3 and D300 and then test it against his Canon 5D and labor over the minor differences?  

Why does it matter if the camera doesn't matter?  If the gear doesn't matter and the lowest form of the photographer is the measurebator (and I agree with Rockwell on that point!), then why does Rockwell spend so much time on his ridiculous tests of old lenses?  Do I really care what the lens sounds like when I shake it?  Sheesh.  The gear does matter specific to its intended purpose.  Photographers can be so full of shit.


I have to say that such arguments coming from a photographer who suggest that we all shoot in SRGB color space and that RAW is a waste of time and that resolution does not matter (I'll take that hi-rez D3 off your hands Ken, and gladly give you my old D1), I am compelled to believe that he is very narrow in his thinking!


Ken says, " I'm honest enough to admit that expensive cameras are merely for the convenience of the photographer."  Hmmm... I'm honest enough to admit that the more your pay, the better it gets.  There is NO comparison in image quality and print capability between the D200 in my shoulder bag and the Leaf 33 megapixel camera we use for product and architecture.  The 5D does not compare favorably with the Leaf.  They are just not in the same league.

I ramble... but I needed to say that agree with Michael's assessment.  Rockwell's reply to Michael's rebuttal misses the point.  Michael never said you cannot take a good photograph with a crappy camera rather it is the specific application which determines which camera should be chosen.

 It is funny that Ken admits that he takes thousands of lousy photos with expensive cameras yet seems to do well with the crappy cameras.  Who is the bad photographer now?
« Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 07:35:23 PM by johnpowell » Logged
Omar
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2008, 10:00:20 PM »
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I think I may be more of a target for Rockwell's writing than most readers of Luminous Landscape. I consider myself a rank amateur. Rockwell is merely trying to keep me focused on the right problems with my photography. I have a long way to go before a better camera will make a significant difference in my photography. Maybe a better lens for low light action shots of the kids?  

I'm just enough of a technical guy that I could spend all my time reading dpreview and never getting out and taking pictures. As Rockwell says, reading test charts is no fun. Get out and take pictures!

That said, he also highlites in many other places why a better camera will help you. His fixation on the full frame advantage is one example.

Finally, he clearly states on other pages that professional photographers do need the better camera, not necessarily to get better pictures, but to get the job done. I take that to mean if you have time to set up the shot, you can get it with a cheap camera, but the speed and better controls of the pro models allows the pro to get pictures that will be missed completely otherwise.

His writing style is much different than I'm used to. I've learned to read him like I was in a bar with him as he was bouncing off the walls about some topic or other. Fun to listen to, but not my only source of information either.
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gdanmitchell
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2008, 10:55:16 PM »
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It is not really worth our time to give too much consideration to what Ken Rockwell posts. In fact, I'll bet he's having a good laugh over all the hits this has generated for his "photography web site."

The way I look at it: While photography requires equipment, photography is not about equipment.

Dan
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2008, 10:59:28 PM »
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"Get out and take pictures" is good advice. But saying that "The camera doesn't matter" is just plain stupid. If he had said "The camera and the photographer's vision are both important", I would be interested.

I suspect his main intention was simply to tick off Michael. Unfortunately, he succeeded.
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degrub
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2008, 11:11:54 PM »
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i think i agree with Michael and Ken. Until i started learning how to see the image i wanted to create, the form, or dare i say the quality of the camera was not limiting my photography.  When i could not create the images i wanted with the "camera" that i had to work with, i had to move on to equipment that would allow me to create my image. So  Michael is correct when he says that the equipment does matter.  Equipment is an enabler in my book. It is not the craftsman. Alain Briot's essays on "Aesthetics and Photography" are a case in point.

i think the equipment is not limiting for many people as their needs are different. Which, i think, was part of Ken's point, however we  disagree about his presentation.

Best regards,

Frank
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Slough
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2008, 05:49:38 AM »
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I could not agree more, though I am a little surprised at the apparent anger and emotion in Michael's essay. But then again, he does earn his living from photography (and not just writing about photography), and hence has an informed perspective on the matter.
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David Hufford
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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2008, 07:07:39 AM »
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I suspect his main intention was simply to tick off Michael. Unfortunately, he succeeded.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=181305\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I doubt that since Rockwell's article has been up for years. I have no doubt that Ken likes stirring the pot, though. He has to as he seems to get more ad hominin attacks than most anyone.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2008, 07:08:38 AM by drichi » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2008, 07:26:25 AM »
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I doubt that since Rockwell's article has been up for years. I have no doubt that Ken likes stirring the pot, though. He has to as he seems to get more ad hominin attacks than most anyone.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=181377\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think you have to understand where Rockwell is coming from. In many respects I admire his chutzpah, and nerve as he has had the business nous and nerve to go full time as an online phography journalist which he clearly enjoys. He also probably does not care for Michael's opinion. And I don't mean in a disrespectful way. He earns money from web visits, and clicks to advertisers, and the market that he will target is the huge number of amateurs and novices who want a camera to photography family events etc. Professional/expert photographers make up a small market for him. So he writes in a style that addresses the 'great unwashed'. Now I suspect he does not care too much about accuracy, and instead aims for impact, to draw in readers. Whether or not that is the case I know not. In my opinion his web site is a bit like Las Vegas i.e. lots of glitz and bright lights. I happen not to respect the technical content of his writing, but that is my subjective judgement.

Yes a lot of people are rude about him, but I think gratuitous rudeness reflects badly on the writer rather than him. And anyway, it's not fair IMO.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2008, 10:24:53 AM »
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Yes a lot of people are rude about him, but I think gratuitous rudeness reflects badly on the writer rather than him. And anyway, it's not fair IMO.

Sure it's fair. If you are going to make statements online that are demonstrably false (JPEG/color management) or at least inaccurate and misleading (camera doesn't matter), you have no right to whine when you are taken to task.

The camera sure as hell does matter, and so does the lens and the skill and creativity of the individual who uses them. If the camera doesn't matter, then 8x10 film would be a perfectly acceptable choice for shooting NASCAR racing, and wedding shooters could go back to using pinhole cameras and ambient light only.

The choice of a Nikon D3 vs the Canon 1Ds-III might not make as much difference as some of the brand-fanboys might claim, but there are differences significant enough that in some situations Canon might be a somewhat better tool than the Nikon, and in other situations, the Nikon may be the best option. Such differences are worth analyzing and discussing, so that individuals can better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the respective systems, make a more informed purchase decision, and use their equipment to the utmost of its capabilities.

Saying the camera matters less than the photographer is fine; no camera can capture images of its own volition, or make up for the lack of a photographer's talent. But saying that the camera doesn't matter at all is patently absurd.
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dave230862
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2008, 12:21:55 PM »
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While we can't build a modern house with a stone axe, we could probably fashion a pretty good igloo with one, all other needs being met by appropriate circumstance.

I shoot with a D70 and have done so for a few years.  I'm patiently waiting for something with more megapixels and a little bit better glass to hang on it, but I'm amateur and have a tight budget.  Maybe next year.

Having said that, I'm pretty happy with my bang-for-buck factor and have had prints hung in galleries, sold them at auction, won high praise from old time, dye-in-the-wool darkroom guys for a select few that turned our particularly well.

Wheny my shot doesn't turn out to be what I hoped I'd captured, I don't blame it on the camera, lens, or my lack of expertise at Photoshop.  Will my absolute technical quality of photography improve when I do upgrade my kit, of course.  But I have no illusion that my current gear is holding me back.

When I do upgrade, I'm seriously thinking I might retrofit my D70 into a pinhole camera (seen it done recently with a similar Canon model).  

Horses for courses, folks.
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Ray
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« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2008, 12:43:12 PM »
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But saying that the camera doesn't matter at all is patently absurd.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=181427\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Is that what he wrote? The camera doesn't matter at all, period?

I think some of you guys are taking Ken's words too literally. He's just sounding off. I think there's another article on his site that claims that tripods are no longer required with modern digital cameras.

Such comments are aimed at people who might be persuaded to use a tripod without understanding the reasons why. They see a professional using a tripod and perhaps think that any use of a tripod in any circumstances will result in a better picture, just as some people might think that enabling MLU will result in a sharper picture whatever the shutter speed.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2008, 02:31:04 PM »
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Quotes from Ken:

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Your equipment DOES NOT affect the quality of your image.

This is obvious bullshit. Try using a webcam to shoot by candlelight, and I guarantee the quality of the image will be worse than if the same scene was shot with the same photographer using a Canon 1D-MkIII, especially if prints are larger than wallet size.

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Buying new gear will NOT improve your photography.

It may not improve it artistically, but it sure as hell can improve it technically. See above.

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3.) Advanced users may find some of the minor extra features convenient. These conveniences make the photographer's life easier, but they don't make the photos any better.

Yeah, extra features like faster and more accurate autofocus that can accurately lock on to and track subjects even in light too dim for decent manual focusing. Again, that won't necessarily improve your composition skills but it can certainly make the difference between getting a keeper and crap.

Rockwell's fundamental errors are his failures to acknowledge that the technical side of photography is as important as the creative/artistic side, and that some photographic tools are more suited to certain shooting situations than others. If you're shooting the X-games and need to capture a skiier upside-down in midair, a pinhole camera or 8x10 view camera aren't going to do the job.
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Slough
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« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2008, 02:52:12 PM »
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Sure it's fair. If you are going to make statements online that are demonstrably false (JPEG/color management) or at least inaccurate and misleading (camera doesn't matter), you have no right to whine when you are taken to task.

Hello Jonathan. Your postings are well argued, coherent explanations of why you think Ken is often misguided. There is nothing wrong with such honest debate. On the contrary. And in fact I agree with the points you make. But Google Ken's name, and you will find a lot of personal abuse directed at him, and that is not so nice. It also directs attention away from the key issue which is that Ken sometimes says very silly things. Describing the off camera ability of the SB600 and SB800 flash units as 'fluff' is bizarre and ill informed. One of the great beauties of the Nikon system is the Creative Lighting System, or CLS
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2008, 03:16:21 PM »
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I think people are trying to suggest you cannot take sports shots with a pinhole, and guess what..you are right. But I never saw any mention of that in KR's article.

We are not stupid, everyone knows that certain cameras have limitations. Quality of photos is subjective to a point...and we know that a webcam has bad IQ compared to even a cheap digi compact.

But I do see an over obsession with collecting gear, and flashing big lenses about etc..kinda like a parade. I dont think the article is insulting to those who have good quality stuff, it just puts things into perspective a little. We are all caught up in these tests and image quality. And I can tell you few people do give a damn about what lens you used, or camera. You might get asked by another photographer..but a normal person just wants to see the image.

Most of us have good stuff, and some have cheapo stuff too. That is life, if I need a fast lens, I go get one. If I cannot afford it, I buy an ebay one!

What the article is really saying is "worry about what really matters" and yes that is what you are doing, your ideas, your composition, lighting..and nothing wrong with that at all.
You dont need a D3 and pro lens to do sports photography, if you have it..its going to help, esp low light etc. And you can ebay a film SLR and cheap lens, and take good sports shots. (in good light)

My old man used to say, it's what comes out the end of the mincer that counts. It sure does. Good gear looks nice, good photos look nicer..
I do take my compact out sometimes, because its easier, it wont give the the quality of my SLR stuff, but its handy. And if I am up to it, it can be used to take good photos.

Some people are on a never ending quest for the ultimate image quality, 40mp + super high res lenses, this is all fine. But for some, what they have really is good enough to do the job. Its nice to have the right lenses for what you do, and decent gear, but its only a small part of the overall aspect of taking photographs.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2008, 03:22:40 PM by barryfitzgerald » Logged
Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2008, 03:30:48 PM »
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I think the people defending KR here on the LuLa forum are trying to suggest that Ken is urging an appropriate balance between equipment and skill/craft/vision/whatever. But nowhere in that essay does Ken say a thing about balance.

Reread the first quote Jonathan mentions: "Your equipment DOES NOT affect the quality of your image." That is a simple, clear, categorical statement. And whether it is addressed at "the masses" or at anybodey else, it is a sweeping generalization that is obviously wrong in the overwhelming majority of cases.

Read what he says, and not what you think he might have meant.
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2008, 03:38:51 PM »
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Reread the first quote Jonathan mentions: "Your equipment DOES NOT affect the quality of your image." That is a simple, clear, categorical statement. And whether it is addressed at "the masses" or at anybodey else, it is a sweeping generalization that is obviously wrong in the overwhelming majority of cases.

Read what he says, and not what you think he might have meant.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=181509\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


It is obvious to me, he is saying a fancy camera does not take good photos, you do.

When he says "Quality" of your image, he is not talking about IMAGE QUALITY, or PRINT QUALITY, he is saying "It wont make your shot better" the composition, the lighting, the overall impact of the shot. NOT IMAGE QUALITY

If we compare even cheapo stuff nowadays to the wetplates of yesteryear, compared to that..well..its light years ahead of it.
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Slough
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« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2008, 03:56:39 PM »
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Read what he says, and not what you think he might have meant.

I just thought I would quote a very sensible statement.
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