These days I have been getting shots from Pascal, comparing the output from his “Bigger is Better” Hasselblad X1-D with the formidable Zeiss Otus 85mm to that from Hassy glass on the same camera body. Also comparing shots from Dallas’ Nikon bodies and 4 lenses to my Sony-with-just-one-lens on our joint and delightful walkabouts.
I am struck by the importance very minor levels of relative performance take on in such comparos. The structured bokeh, the grain, the spatial presentation, you name it. Are we just running out of major differences, and having to resort to smaller criteria in order to justify our giving in to GAS and to our “boys like their toys” lust? I mean, are such concerns serious?
Obviously DS needs to come to the rescue of readers who have such impure thoughts and provide a gateway to their moral salvation while they continue to enjoy our joint hobby.
One thought furthered this theory: the sheer enjoyment I get from some pictures even if they are beyond weak from a technical performance/gear point of view. I unreservedly admire portraits by Gaspard-Felix Tournachon, better known as Nadar (1820-1910). Look at his portrait of Russian anarchist Bakunin. I would give all my pictures, past, present and future, in exchange for shooting just one picture like that. And s*d the fact that it is about as sharp as a 3000-year old rusty spear.
So, is it that, when one has a subject as strong as Bakunin, giving what I would call a “subject-led” image, then gear performance matters less? Whereas, if one has a crafted image, or “tog-led” image, then it matters more?
I then looked for analogies in the world of painting, and it reversed my line of reasoning. Think Renaissance painters, the infinite delicacy of their art, the undefinable I-don’t-know-what that makes the appeal of Mona Lisa, the countless shades of chiaroscuro. Isn’t that comparable to the minute differences due to gear that I mentioned in opening?
And next, think of a much more brutal (in all senses of the word) painting style, like that of Picasso’s Guernica. Does it rely as much on the minute and the infinitesimal? I rather think not.
Then I knew I could relax. Yes, we are harping on the very, very minor, and the cost can be quite, quite major. Yes, it is possible to make some very striking pics with very limited gear. In Nadar’s time, because nothing better existed, today with smartphones.
But if someone (or yourself) thinks you are overdoing this “gear-thingy”, just think of yourself as a modern-day Da Vinci or Rembrandt, and thumb your nose at Picasso and Klein!
PS: Pascal keeps getting requests for bike shots, even though it is my obsessive compulsive disorder and not his. He told me in no uncertain terms to incorporate one in my post so that he gets off the hook. Here it is.
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