#1276. Making the case for good enough (gear)

By pascaljappy | Opinion

Apr 03

Choosing good enough isn’t settling down. It’s wisening up.

Room with a view
 

I used to own a high-end printer, and never used it. Now, the replacement is a cheap A4 “large tank” 6-ink affair that produces visible dots and prints that would probably fade in a week, if left in the sun. And I love it.

An advanced (human) printer would probably scratch their head, wondering whether the greasy blob inside mine is quite right.

And I might similarly balk at the printer’s choice of slow, cheap, zoom lens.

View from the room
 

This line of thought seems neatly summed up by sayings such as “horses for courses”, or “the best camera is the one you use”, or 80/20, or …

But it’s just as naive and incorrect to think “If I can afford it, I’ll get the best in every domain of my hobby” as “I’d love model XXX but can only afford model YYY”. What we reduce to the sole dimensions of performance and cost hides a much more interesting gammut of options.

In order to optimise our spending and its impact on the quality of our work and our satisfaction with it, is to know where to go cheap and where to go all in. And that part is hard.

Striking gold
 

With no disrespect to Leica or Hasselblad, my personal n°1 spot for lens making goes to Zeiss. The other two are capable of making lenses that perform at least as well. In fact, I’ve yet to see lenses with more impressive MTFs than the XCD range that was released with the X1D. And this translates well to real life. At 200%, my X1D files are sharper than most cameras/lenses delivery at 100%. Hasselblad XCD lenses are sharper than anything else I’ve used, and not by a small margin.

But Zeiss know how and where to set performance sliders (resolution, CA, LoCA, distortion, flare, …) in order to create a more interesting aesthetic. While my XCD lenses are sharper than my Otus, the Otus produces a much nicer look. Recently, I’ve been talking with the manufacturer of an 18K cinema camera intended to bring digital tech to IMAX filmmaking. They confirm this, and told me that (some) Sigma Art lenses manage to use that resolution fully, while the Otus range doesn’t. In my experience, though, Otus-made images look nicer than those made with the ART range, or the XCD range for that matter.

That’s obviously subjective, but it’s a very deliberate choice by Zeiss. In fact, I believe their crazy expensive prime lenses, made for ARRI’s top of the line offering, aren’t as sharp as fairly affordable photo lenses. Since the cinema world has barely caught up with 4K, why should they? On the other hand, Zeiss has studied all the aberrations left in the lenses in order to ensure they create the most pleasing look for the filmmaker. Resolving power, on those 30 grand lenses, is good enough. Aesthetics are exceptionally good and consistent throughout the range. It’s not just about minimizing LoCA, but about making it show in pleasing hues rather than the unnatural green / magenta duo), for example.

Gold pockets
 

Laowa strikes me as another master of good enough. It’s not that their lenses have high enough resolution, or fast enough apertures, at a cheap enough price point to make a dent in the market. Rather, the Laowa designers seem to be experts at distributing resources where it matters most, rather than focusing on hype or lowering prices at all cost.

And that’s the thing with good enough. Whatever we do, there is a global envelope of available resources that cannot be stretched, and good design uses that envelope wisely, with a clear intention in mind: the sharpest possible, the most neutral possible, the fastest possible, the most aesthetically pleasing, the cheapest, the lightest, the most robust …

Say you’re Bernard Arnault and throw ten million dollars at a designer for the best lens ever. That financial envelope allows you to fit more into the design – using exotic glass, superpolishing, space age coating, cost-no-object machining … – but you still have to make compromises. Can the lens weigh 26 kilos, for instance? On more than one aspect, this lens will still have to be good enough. And inferior to other, far cheaper ones! Don’t believe me? Let’s park a Yaris and your Veyron in a busy car park’s tight spaces.

Pixel windows
 

Finding your good enough sweet spots is both challenging – a photographic version of “know thyself” – and fun. My recent obsession over the GFX100s vs X2D debate has made it very obvious that both cameras are good enough in some respects, too good for my needs in others and, sadly, not good enough elsewhere. Hence the difficult decision.

To my eyes, the X2D files just look a lot cleaner. But the GFX looks more film-like, whic is one of my goals. Both have too many pixels for my liking (too good), yielding terribly heavy files (not good enough), with the GFX a lot better in that respect. The X2D is recognised as having the better IBIS, but the GFX has the more interesting zooms, and is better with adapted lenses. I like the GFX’s platform approach and dislike the X2D’s system appraoch. And the X2D price just isn’t good enough.

At the end of the day, it’s the final images that matter most to me. In that respect, I just will not tolerate good enough and want the best possible colours and tonal range. So the X2D will probably win. If I buy anything, to begin with.

Back in Black
 

Likewise, dynamic range matters more to me than ISO ability. Human eyes are used to seeing pitch black but no human eye-brain experiences highlight clipping, which I absolutely loath. ISO3200 is plenty good enough for me. Others, less interested in cinematic suspension of disbelief and more in capturing the natural world, for instance, will feel the opposite way and will revel in 51200 and 10 bits of DR.

So, here’s the deal.

We tend to consider product selection in the light of the the polar opposites of absolute best performance and price. When in fact, choosing in a satisfactory manner is far more concerned with deciding what dimensions can be good enough and which you cannot, will not, negociate. It’s what makes you you, and your photographs yours. Give it good enough thought.

 

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  • Lad Sessions says:

    Pascal, Thought-provoking as always, and I thoroughly agree. A few years ago I started calling this line of thought “satisficing”, borrowing the term from Herbert Simon. I construe it something like “good enough given the situation and conditions.” There are all sorts of considerations re camera gear; you mention some, but cost is important to me, and there is also the time and energy of weighing options and drooling over possibilities. All are relative to person: what do YOU want, in your situation? Given that perfection isn’t an option for us mortals, it’s a matter of balancing different considerations.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thank you, Lad. Seeing things this way makes us more free, rather than more frustrated by limitations. I suppose that’s one of the many benefits of any type of introspection 🙂

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Exactly, Pascal!

    Looking at the ‘net from this direction I fail to understand why some debaters make disdainful comments about (soon to disappear) dpreview and similar sites (although parts of some sites deserve it!).

    “Good Enough” needs several such sites!

    The trick is, of course, to sift the facts from the hype and to regard press releases and similar as if printed on the first of April…
    😉
    [ No offense, Pascal, quite the opposite!]

    ( Personally, I was inoculated against advertising hype at the age of ten. When a fabulously looking toy submarine on a cereal package turned up as I emptied the package…)

    So when one’s gear gives problems at some new photo situation one already knows about possible good enough solutions – which inoculates one against quickly buying the first really good (and probably too expensive) gear one finds.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Closing down dpreview is a terrible decision. I agree that sites like that are needed.
      No offense taken, I understand what you are saying and totally agree.
      More people should be disappointed at a young age. It would spare them a lifetime of disillusions.

      Cheers

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        > “It would spare them a lifetime of disillusions.”

        Even – and really important – with politicians, methinks…

        Sigh…

        Well, anyway, Cheers!
        There’s always hope…

    • jean pierre guaron says:

      OMG, Kristian – I never liked breakfast cereal anyway – I might have freaked out completely if I found a submarine in it!

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Pete,
        If you didn’t find it, it would have a hard time navigating your plate avoiding your spoon…
        Anyway, I soon grew out of cereal – and it was never corn flakes!!

        Your photo,
        it looks very inviting,
        I think it’s how that little crowd looks as if it will enjoy going right in!

  • John Wilson says:

    This reminds me of the what I call the “Honda Principle” … not necessarily the best at anything; just the best all-round package of Very Good at everything. My favourite camera of all time is still the Rolleiflex which was my only camera for 17 years. The combination of the Zeiss Planar lens and Agfa CT18 film was flat out gorgeous … resolution be damned. Again, not “The Best” at any of the contemporary judgement factors; just a very satisfying combination operationally and aesthetically.

  • PaulB says:

    Pascal

    Interesting comments. For most of my life I have been one to chase “the best” items of what ever hobby I was practicing at the time, thinking the best tool would make up for my inability to use it.

    Today, I still suffer from this line of thinking to a certain degree. But I have learned that the best tool is one that you truly know how to use, rather than simply the most expensive or hyped item on the shelf.

    Examples of this are; I still lust for high megapixel cameras and high resolution lenses from Leica, and try to make images worthy of the equipment. But, I am more likely to travel with my Lumix G9 M43 cameras and lenses, and I am usually very satisfied with the images I make with them.

    The challenge of separating good enough from better, is having the experience to recognize when you are satisfied with what you have, that you don’t want to chase something better.

    Unfortunately, experience is the the result of use, rather than research.

    Good luck in your quest for a more film like digital camera.

    PaulB

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks, Paul. So far, my quest has only brought me closer to my X1D, I have to say 😉 But the IBIS in the X2D is tempting.

      We all suffer from the temptation to buy the best. It’s what I’m trying to resist at this very moment. Ultimately, though, I do believe we derive the most enjoyment from gear that’s not necessarily the best at everything (FOMO) but makes sacrifices in all the right places. My printer example is interesting and unexpected. Being a simple machine, it switches on in a few seconds. The previous one was a ponderous beast that required constant cleaning and maintenance. A real pain, that never got used, which only made maintenance matters worse. In this instance, less is definitely much much more.

      All the best,
      Pascal

  • jean pierre guaron says:

    Sorry, John – I’ve not heard of the “Honda Principle”, and nothing would persuade me to believe in it anyway, after we’ve had three Hondas and a bad run with all of them and an inexcusable attitude on the part of both the distributor who sold them to us and Honda itself, to the deficiencies we ran into.

    Throughout my life I’ve adopted a “three strikes, & your out!” principle. After that – plus jamais! – never again!

    Zeiss o the other hand I have adored since my third camera. The first was a discarded Kodak Box Brownie. The second was a Voigtlander Bessa II, because my father used to own one. And the third – very similar to the Bessa II, but the image was clearer – sharper – not so soft – and this was a Zeizz Super Ikonta.

    All three shot 8 frames per roll, 120 roll film. Zeiss was simply “the best” (although the Bessa II had a better shutter release action).

    And from there on – a succession of Zeiss products. Even my spectacles have Zeiss lenses!

    The SIGMA 50mm ART is a great lens. The results are stunning.

    But the Otus 55mm crowns the lot! The only thing missing is AF, and I don’t care – that’s more for wildlife, pet photography & sport photography, than my stuff. And I can cover those anyway, with other gear. In fact I prefer to – the D850 & Otus 55mm weighs too much, to use for pet photography, for a start.

    I like your comments on “good enough”, Pascal. I want to actually “take photos”, rather than “chase butterflies”. And how many times do I see comments from professionals – people whose income DEPENDS on “getting it right” – who are perfectly happy with a pixel range between 22 and 26. And laugh at amateurs, afflicted with “GAS”, who think they need to spend more to get more.

    As a matter of fact, this afternoon I checked on a “street shot” I took on the run a year or two back – as I arrived home, I could see in my mind the image I wanted to capture – raced inside, grabbed a camera with a 1 inch sensor and most of the settings left in a general automatic setting. Raced out, pressed the shutter button once, went inside and had dinner. Later, I “processed” it – not much – all basic settings, mostly correcting verticals.

    And during my absence these past 4 weeks in hospital, it’s now had nearly 506,000 viewings. Suddenly, simply by practice, I’ landed in the top of the tree.

    Maybe all I really have to do is circulate more of my photos, so other people can see them and pass judgment. Instead of hiding from the rest of the world, like any other introvert.

    Whatever – the moral of the story is, that shot certainly did NOT succeed on the basis of “gear”.

    Planning is essential, yes – but like I said, on this occasion practice covered that one. And the “eye” – in our heads, not in our camera bags, and it cost NOTHING – but that has to be trained as much as anything else.

    After that – you should be on a roll.

    “An outrageously expensive camera won’t magically allow you to start pulling off pro-level images; only a good photographic education will help you do that.” “Skilled photographers with basic gear will do a better job than someone with a nice camera.”

    • pascaljappy says:

      I’d love to see that photo, Pete 🙂

      Beyond the very true quotes at the bottom of your comment, we can also think of GAS as a creative pursuit in itself. Not just in terms making the most of our money in real-life benefits, but as a way to understand gear better and ourselves better. Some people absolutely want the best possible printer for example. I want the easiest one, because my best prints will always be handled by a lab, and my home printer is there for testing and fine tuning, before sending off to the lab. On the other hand, I’m obessional about file quality and ergonomics. So it’s interesting to better understand what the various sliders at our GAS-disposal are, and where to set them for greatest personal satisfaction.

      Cheers, great to have you back.

      • jean pierre guaron says:

        Away for 4 weeks – and the ink jet printer has head cleaning issues. DAMN — If you have one, you HAVE to use it regularly, and that generally means at least once a week.

        I can send you a copy of the photo – have to email it, dunno how to post it here as an attachment to one of these comments.

        Also just received a note from Google Guide, telling my that my review of the restaurant on the next corner is my most popular review on their site – the owner is thrilled. Pascal, you probably triggered this with a comment you made several years ago, about looking around for new projects, maybe in your own street. So I’ve been setting out to “review” all the shops in the street – costs them nothing, amuses me, gives me a chance to practice various forms of photography (especially after dark street, without flash, which I love doing).

        As to the shot of the place over the road – if only one in every thousand people who’ve seen that shot went to the restaurant – and they can ONLY see the photo if they see my review of the resto – that would be over 500 meals they’ve sold, on the back of a “grab shot” on a camera which is fairly ordinary, compared with (say) the D850/Otus 55mm combo.

        • pascaljappy says:

          You need to tell them that and ask for a free lunch 😉

          The interesting thing is that phone pics probably draw more people in than Otus photographs, because they look more “natural”, more “authentic”. Less of an advert, and more of a testimonial from the man on the street.

          I’d be happy to insert your photo in a comment, if you send it to me. I bought a module that should allow people to do so themselves but it appears to work brilliantly (not).

          Cheers

    • PaulB says:

      Pete

      Would you please post a link to your image?

      I think many of us would like to see it.

      Also, are you on instagram? I found a Pete Guaron, but there are no posts.

      PaulB

      • jean pierre guaron says:

        Sorry – not on Instagram – not a great fan of those social groups. Did open something on Twitter, to reply to some stupid politician, but I didn’t keep details of my Twitter account.

        Just now I asked Pascal if there’s a way to post the shot here, otherwise I can email it to him & he can do it.

    • David Murray says:

      I entirely agree that a basic camera in trained hands will yield a far better picture than a top-of-the-range expensive one. Look at some of the top photographers of all time: Annie Leibovitz started out with a Minolta SRT 100, HCB with a first edition Leica with a non interchangeable 5cm f3.5 (and preferred the 50mm lens all his life as a result). It’s surprising how many top professional photographers prefer simple, manual exposure gear.

      • pascaljappy says:

        Indeed, David. When the gear doesn’t get in the way of creative thinking, results are always better. But most photographers today want to play with gear, not make photographs, it seems. Which is perfectly fine, but needs to be acknowledged. Cheers.

  • Adrian says:

    On one of the Minolta/Sony websites, there was an interesting article written (I think) by long term journalist and photographer David Kilpatrick, who used Minolta for decades and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Minolta and quite a lot of knowledge-through-experience of many things photographic.

    The article was about lens “look”, and discussed the “Leica look” – which often referred to the “plasticity” of the colour and rendering (most often attributed to micro-contrast) and how Minolta aped it so well in the late 70s and early 80s that it led to working with Leica on the Lecia CL and CLE and a number of M mount lenses.

    He also discussed the difference in attitude between Leitz and Zeiss, and considered that Zeiss often designed for maximum sharpness in any design, but often without considering consistency of contrast and “look” between models (he believed that Minolta’s lens range at some times were matched for colour and contrast, so you could use them interchangeably on the same roll of film and get a highly consistent look). Certainly, Zeiss designs I have used (often third party manufactured) were “sharp” and contrasty, but I wouldn’t say ever seemed to look “the same”.

    I must admit I am biased because I was seduced for a time by the “Leica look” and Minolta’s reported success at understanding and copying it – their lenses never seemed engineered for maximum resolution, but rather for a “look” to the way they handled colour and contrast in that “liquid” was associated with Leitz. Zeiss always left me somewhat cold – which is exactly how I felt about their look.

    However, I suspect – in fact, believe – that most of the above was true historically, but that digital capture have in general driven the industry to design for “sharpness”, contrast and clarity because that is what customers look for and expect. Designing a lens range to be matched for colour and contrast is decided “old skool” since with digital those things are no longer fixed at the time of capture.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Very interesting points, Adrian.

      While my knowledge of both brands is far more limited, my experience with Leica is indeed one of lovely consistency, at least throughout each generation (Mandler, Karbe …) And Zeiss didn’t seem to function the same way. In Zeiss’ range, lens types had certain looks. Distagons looked liked distagons. Planars looked like planars. More or less, at least. That seemed to change in recent times, with the Otus look more transverse than related to a lens design. Ditto the Milvus and to some extent, the Loxia ranges. But, in both of these, older revamped models sat next to recent designs and there is a discrepancy there.

      I think digital started with a huge disadvantage compared to film. 3Mp was the norm initially. When 6Mp appeared, along with the promise of printing A3, I jumped in (not realizing how utterly terrible other aspects, such as dynamic range, were 😉 ) And so every generation got “better” than the previous one, until better was no longer of any real significance to anyone anymore, but the race continued. Today, for my use at least, the 100Mp in the Hassy X2D is actually holding me back from buying that otherwise brilliant camera. I mean, who on Earth wants to have to deal with 250Mb RAW files ???

      And it’s all a sad case of innovator’s dilema. Having risen through tech performance, manufacturers don’t know how to keep making progress in any other way, now losing huge ground to far more fun and interesting phones, on one side, and to more organic film on the other. But, we’re beginning to see signs of awareness of this dead end, and so there is hope that something more interesting is just over the horizon 🙂

      Cheers

      • Adrian says:

        All good points.

        I once saw a comparison of some photos taken with early generation Minolta lenses, and with some of their later generation lenses. There was a tremendous difference in how they looked, particularly in the greens. Some of the earlier AF lenses had a tremendous liquidity of colour, which was always attributed to an understanding of micro contrast, and related to their ability to understand and copy the “Leica look”. I think the idea of looks and matching “looks” in a lens range is mostly ignored and seen as irrelevant, which may be a pity. I don’t have enough experience directly with Zeiss, but do know that across their ranges a couple of decades ago, there didn’t seem to be any consistent discernible “look” – whereas there was for Leitz, so personally they would be my preference.

        Regarding “good enough”, this is something I’ve discussed in forums with the often rabidly adamant internet enthusiasts who insist that you simply must buy the most expensive camera with the most pixels to get “the best” pictures. I’ve long argued that many professional photographers (i.e. people who actually make their living from taking photographs) often use equipment that’s “good enough” because they need results that they can sell, constrained by the need to run a business which doesn’t involve a bottomless pot of money to constantly buy equipment with. An example would be Kirk Tuck, who at times photographed stage shows for his local theatre with m43rds or Sony 1″ cameras because for the clients needs they were more than adequate. In comparison, a certain type of internet enthusiast amateur spends money in what I refer to as “chasing rainbows” – buying the best in some adamant belief in the mythical power of certain expensive equipment to make the best pictures, regardless of their actual needs.

        As you know, I sometimes (quite often) use very modest cameras, and increasingly use quite modest “consumer” lenses, because frankly for “general” photography (i.e. nothing that puts extreme demands on the camera or the photographer) nobody is going to tell whether you used a camera and lens that cost £6000 or £600 (or less).

        I honestly believe that since the majority of photographers are male, the tendency for “chasing rainbows” is an adaptation of the “male collector gene”.

        • pascaljappy says:

          Couldn’t agree more, Adrian.

          I too think the lack of aesthetic consistency is a great shame. It’s one of the most valued factors in cinema lenses. And, as written multiple times on DS, I believe the photo world could do worse than take a few hints from the filmmaking world, which seems a lot more mature from an artistic point of view (although, to be fair, I see a lot of gimmicks in that market as well, less about gear and more about effects).

          Kirk Tuck is a good example and there are videos on YT in which pros explain why they have “downgraded”. Amateurs who can afford a lens they like are right to do so, it’s nice to have a varied market, but equating that with quality photography is obviously futile. As you say, very often, no one can tell the difference. And that is even more true when photographs are printed. There, the quality of the paper sheet overshadows 10 grand of gear for a couple of euros … Food for thought for the male collectors 😉 😉

        • Kristian Wannebo says:

          Adrian and Pascal,
          Your lens discussion is a little beyond me, but very interesting!
          In the 1960s to -90s I occasionally found articles in photo magazines about not forgetting the quality of Zeiss Jena lenses.

          [ From the then DDR and thus much cheaper. The (DDR) Praktica cameras sold, I think, for their Zeiss Jena lenses as much as for their low price.]

          Have you some knowledge about those lenses? I then used a couple and perhaps will again (I remember the non-distortion of the f/4 20mm (with adapter)), but still haven’t the experience to judge “looks”.
          – – –

          Adrian,
          Great expression “chasing rainbow cameras”!

          I have met so many camera shop owners telling about amateurs buying an expensive camera only to come back and complain about bad photos and having to learn that that was because they didn’t know how to use it!
          Perhaps such an experience is useful against continuing to chase the rainbow?
          – – –

          Thanks for reminding me of Kirk Tuck and his blog, I’ve neglected it for too long.
          He sure makes very good and even great portraits and has found enough customers that recognize that.

          Ming Thein once told a similar story, on a job at a wharf he changed to his pocket camera for deeper depth of field but the customer thought all were taken by his DSLR! He also mentioned that many customers judged the photographer by the size of his camera…

          • pascaljappy says:

            Hi Kristian, I’m afraid not, sorry. That lens is not one I have any experience with. WIth Leica, it’s easy, as they are very well documented. The compendium put together by Erwin Puts (available online in PDF form) makes for really nice reading and is super informative. There’s nothing as structured that I know of about Zeiss, but tons of reviews online. And I’ve owned an unhealthy number myself 😉 And reviewed many more.

            Cheers

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Hmm. I have wondering about that – “where to, next?” – for some time.

        Once the bar’s too high to jump over, how do they get more sales?0

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Next “lens” revolution?
    ( Sorry, just exaggerating…)

    Partly inspired by you, Pete!
    [ > “Hmm. I have wondering about that — “where to, next?” — for some time.”]

    For a start we have the first AI sharpening software…

    Being reminded of Kirk Tuck I looked up his latest post.
    Here a quote:
    > “I’ve now, at last count, had about 45 people email me links to a number of ads offering the following service: You take a group of selfies with your phone. You choose a style and a background you like. You upload these files to the service which puts your images into a source file which software deconstructs using standard face recognition techniques (space between eyes, height and structure of cheekbones, nose structure, mount structure, etc.) to build a “new you” from all the parts. The new you is enhanced, cleaned up, rid of scars, acne and rough skin. Stripped of your previous double chin. And output as a series of new “candidates” for you to choose from._ All for about $29. Turnkey.”
    https://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2023/04/battling-malaise-induced-by-recognition.html?m=1

    The post (& comments) is an interesting discussion about what AI *can’t* do, and also about the transition from analog to digital!

  • Jens says:

    A bit late to the discussion, however I’m glad I read this article – very enjoyable read.

    While I pretty much agree with the idea of choosing ‘good enough’ gear. I dare say it is the very professional approach and in a hobby I enjoy the silly / over the top part (in doses). To elaborate a bit more.

    To evaluate what is good enough you need to define your photographic goals first. It’s similar to engineering when you start with the requirement specification and translate these to the product specifications. Your description of the Zeiss approach of lens design for cinema seems like a perfect example and given that these products are pretty much exclusively aimed at professionals it only seems fitting.

    But I believe part of what makes a hobby a hobby is that we’re not bound to this logic. Obviously just going for the ‘best rated / most feature rich..’ product that we can afford isn’t healthy either. We get distracted by numbers way too easily and if these don’t translate to better pictures or more enjoyment we’re bound to be disappointed. Part of these aggressive discussions that happen online about gear is likely the desperate attempt to justify the ‘bad’ buying decisions. They didn’t translate to better picture, but at least some arbitrary test / number proves the ‘quality’ of the product. Similar it’s all too easy to take a look at a photo you like and be tempted to go out and buy the gear used, if the information is available. There are brand ambassadors for a reason.

    Yet there is a place for the ridiculously ‘well beyond good enough’ products in the hobby that break the envelope of available resources. At least I consider my purchase of Otus lenses in that corner. Even if I overlook the price tag, they are bulkier and heavier than I enjoy carrying around and the quality is excessive for my needs. Still it’s a purchase I’m very happy to have made since I have a stronger emotional connection to these compared to many more sensible purchases I’ve made. It’s a bit like going to a restaurant where you need to book weeks in advance and enjoy a multi-course menu along with a nice selection of wines. For various reasons this wouldn’t work on a regular basis and preparing a meal yourself that is healthy, tasty, well balanced and affordable would be the rational choice. On top of that I likely miss many of the subtle notes of this elaborately curated menu in the restaurant, still I wouldn’t want to miss that experience.

    On a similar note I was a bit annoyed at first that my new camera offered many features I didn’t really care for and that clutter the interface. I was complaining to friends a lot and felt like I paid for things I really didn’t want. And while this still mostly holds true – a friend of mine invited me for a trip through the woods and surprised me with a super tele lens he had loaned for me. Taking pictures of some wild animals was really fun and I started to appreciate features such as AF and burst speed. A few days later I bought the lens and it is a new type of photography I enjoy – it took me a few days however to realize I bought the wrong lens and at first I refused to admit it. Some mental effort was involved to go back to the store and exchange it for the ‘good enough’ lens – admitting to the employee at the store he was right in the first place. The image quality or results aren’t the main reason I enjoy that type of photography. It’s the whole package of going outside with a purpose and learning about animals with their behavior and habitats. Back to food analogy – it’s similar to refusing a new type of kitchen and sticking with things you know when you could order something that is not in your comfort zone. If we get the chance we should be open to it and give it a try. And pretending you only enjoy the finest foods while craving for a simple instant meal from time to time doesn’t help anyone either.

    Maybe by being a bit smarter and aiming more for ‘good enough gear’ we can afford to be a bit silly on purpose from time to time? And just re-reading my ramblings and your conclusion – I missed your point a bit.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Great comment, again, Jens. Thank you !

      As you say, part of the fun of practising photography as a hobby is our ability to go well beyond what is strictly necessary and treating ourselves. It would be a dull occupation if we couldn’t dream, wouldn’t it?

      I’m all for people dreaming, saving up, and buying that fantastic lens or camera. That’s what I did with the X1D and lenses, and it’s been a constant joy. What bugs me is when manufacturers hijack that dream and destroys its personal nature to realign it with quatitative facts that have little meaning to the sort of shooting most of us will ever do. It can only create disappointment, which is really not cool when some people save up for years. We need to know what’s going to serve us well and what won’t. After that, let’s go overboard and have as much fun as possible 🙂

      I can relate to your experience in the woods, although I’ve never had the chance to do anything like it. It feels like what you enjoyed is quality. Quality gear that allowed you to achieve a certain goal, even if it isn’t your day to day goal. And it’s fantastic that such amazing gear exists today !!

      My conclusion probably wasn’t clear enough, sorry. I’m just saying that, if someone can’t afford (or doesn’t want to haul) the latest ultra fast ultra hi res camera, it becomes important to know where to hold fast and refuse to negociate, and where it’s less important if you don’t have the best. Maybe fps is important to you, but the highest ISO isn’t. Maybe you’d love to have that great IBIS (like I would with the X2D) but other factors make you think you wouldn’t benefit from the camera very much. It’s really a matter of knowing ourselves, trusting ourselves and understanding what sort of gear will most make us happy. I know resolution doesn’t matter as much as dynamic range to me, for instance. And speed doesn’t matter at all. So I tend to prefer the X1D to the X2D, for instance.

      Hope this makes it more clear 😉

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