The photography is awesome! It is an accessible art form embraced by millions of fabulous people. However, there are some things he should have gotten out of now. Here are my final six that we should drop in 2023.
1. Full-frame equivalent discussions
My word, hasn’t that been beaten to death? It’s the weirdest thing people are still discussing, and it’s both tedious and ridiculous. Some proponents of the 35mm full-frame sensor look down on smaller sensors the same way medium-format photographers did when David Bailey first started shooting with a Pentax S3 DSLR. It’s snobbery. Each system has its advantages and disadvantages, and to suggest that one is better than the other is as ludicrous as saying that Porsches are better than Land Rovers are better than 18-wheeler trucks. (I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining this analogy.)
But there is more than that. As a photographer writer, I feel compelled to include the 35mm equivalent of lenses from other systems. Yet using a sensor size as an arbitrary standard by which lenses should be judged is nonsense. If you put a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera, you’re not saying it’s equivalent to 80mm on a medium format camera. Why should we compare crop factors to any other system, especially one that has a minority position in the market, such as full frame?
If I shoot with my OM-1, I choose the right lens for the circumstances. I can’t even think of what lens would be suitable for my 35mm or medium format cameras. Likewise, when I take a 35mm camera, I choose the lens that best suits what I’m shooting with. To say that this lens and its settings on this system are equivalent to those on this system is meaningless drivel.
For those who regularly shoot with Micro Four Thirds, we choose the right lens and learn how to use the camera differently than when we use a 35mm camera. Photographers with APS-C cameras will do the same. Comparing camera and lenses like this is pointless, because all major brand cameras take great pictures once the photographer has learned how to use them.
Let’s drop the idea of equivalents and talk about the much more practical field of view. Include the depth of field at a subject distance of 1 meter at the widest aperture of the lens. That’s what’s useful to the photographer, not what a different system does with those specs.
2. NFCs are dying, thank goodness
In the UK in 2016, a man made headlines for selling 580ml (1 pint) bottles of English fresh air to wealthy people in China. They sold for £80 (about $96). NFCs are like that: money for nothing. At the start of 2022, the news was full of NFC discussions. Like cryptocurrencies, they were the next big thing to make people rich. They seemed to be nothing more than the Emperor’s new clothes. People were paying huge sums for what was worth nothing. As the bottom plummets – so do cryptocurrencies – the gullible are left naked.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sold his very first Tweet for over $2.9 million. A few years later, it was put back on the market. It was only bid up to $280. The cost of NFT’s high initial values was only driven by hype; it was people’s fear of missing out.
3. Buy the latest camera because it’s the latest camera
Over the past two decades, this fear of missing out has also driven camera upgrade sales. People have realized this now, and it is a contributing factor to the decline in camera sales.
Think about the camera you have now. Can it take great pictures? Is it enough for what you do? When the next upgrade comes, do you need it?
Sometimes there are innovative cameras that break the mould. Last year, the handful of models with stacked sensors did. I bought the OM-1 at $2,199 because it was a significant leap from what was on the market before. Cameras like this and other pro models like the $6,949 Sony Alpha A1 and $4,498 A9 II, $5,999 Canon EOS R3, $5,496.95 Nikon Z9 $ and the $2,499 Fujifilm X-H2S attracted buyers because of this improvement. But most upgrades in recent years have only brought minor changes to specs, especially the number of pixels on the sensor.
Most cameras on the market now have more than enough resolution and image quality for photographers. Most tune-ups are fairly quick. Shutters can record more frames per second than we know what to do with. Higher resolution is beneficial in some niche markets, like astrophotography, but most sensors far exceed the specs we need. If you doubt it, forum posts from 2009 show photographers successfully producing A1, 40″ x 60″ and 50″ x 40″ prints from a Canon 1D Mark II with an 8.2 sensor megapixels.
If your needs have changed and you want to upgrade from a hobbyist camera to something professional, or you need something smaller and lighter to carry around with you than the monster hanging around your neck, then the exchange makes sense. But, buying the latest version of what you have now, unless it comes with useful and innovative features, will cost you money that would be better spent on a new lens.
4. Fake Online Photography Degrees
Again, this is something I mentioned in an article recently. There are companies online that sell photography courses, which is good; it’s a great way to learn. However, some claim to sell accredited qualifications by calling their courses ‘degrees’. If you are planning to enter the industry, these certificates are meaningless.
Here in the UK there are nationally recognized National Vocational Qualifications, or NVQs. In Scotland they are called SVQ. These are assigned to levels one through eight. One is equivalent to a high school diploma, level 6 to a full bachelor’s degree, and level 8 to a doctorate. Disreputable organizations name their internal photography certificates similarly, which are not worth the paper they are written on. There are no regulations to protect the unsuspecting.
I recently had a client come to an advanced techniques workshop with me. I always check their experience beforehand; on this occasion he told me he had a level 4 diploma. When they arrived it soon became apparent that they did not understand the relationship between the exposure settings of their camera. Their diploma was a certificate of attendance issued by a poor quality training provider. This happened several times.
As I mentioned in my last post, it’s well known in the industry that those who consistently spout negative comments on forums aren’t very good photographers. If they spent as much time improving their work as spitting bile online, they could leave a legacy that positively impacts the photographic world. After all, it’s just photography and it’s not worth the stress and heart attacks they’re preparing for. As the saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with an opinion. For example, this article is just an opinion, and I suspect some will think the Canon EOS Rebel T100 is the best beginner’s camera ever built. I arrive there. I will be happy to hear and respect your constructive counter-arguments.
What’s worse is when people step in with uninvited criticism of other people’s work. I don’t use Facebook daily, but I had a reason to visit recently. There was a post from Fstoppers appearing in my feed. He highlighted an article that seemed interesting. Below the post was a comment from a reader, and someone had responded by criticizing his photography. I looked, and the photograph of the woman was fabulous. What was amazing was that the person making the nasty comment was at the same time promoting a photography business. What harm had he done to this company?
Would I ever write about this company and give them publicity? When we see uninvited snipers on creative work, whether it’s a photograph or an article, it always says a lot more about the person making those comments than anything else. This is what damages their reputation the most and can prevent them from being retained.
6. The Canon EOS Rebel T100 DSLR and other cheap plastic cameras
If you have one, I’m sincerely sorry.
Of all the cameras I handle, the Canon EOS Rebel T100, known as the 4000D in Europe, is probably the worst I have ever handled. I feel sorry for those who spent their hard-earned wages on this appalling, flimsy, sparsely specified dump fodder. Besides its rickety construction, it is difficult to use. It’s not because it’s complex. No, its poor quality and cluttered LCD screen and small viewfinder, which doesn’t even have a diopter adjustment, make framing difficult.
Additionally, it only has nine focal points. Shooting a dismal three frames per second, you’ll have missed your pet turtle’s action shot by the time that camera slug finally acquires focus. It usually comes with the equally crummy and bland EF-S 18-55mm III lens.
I was going to mention other cameras from other brands that are just as bad, but this one is in a class of its own. If you want to buy a camera to deter a beginner from photographing, this is the one for you.
This camera might be the ultimate example of corporate cynicism towards its customers. It’s there to hook new photographers to the brand, so they need to get up to speed quickly. It doesn’t matter if it hurts and discourages others along the way.
On the bright side, owning one of these cameras will make you work hard to get great photos. If you own one and get great images, think about what you could get with a decent camera.
For less money, you can buy higher quality professional cameras from online retailers, albeit slightly older.
I know some of these opinions are controversial, and you can disagree with me if your opinion differs. There are other things you would like to see relegated to history instead. It would be interesting to hear them in the comments.