Trust your own judgement, not the equipment fundamentalists.

Camera shrine

Writing for this site means I read a lot of other articles, and associated comments, on blogs and other sites. I have been struck by the fervent brand loyalty I often see. It seems that for many photographers their choice of camera is an act of faith, bordering on the fundamentally religious in its intensity.

All too often anyone who questions the absolute superiority of a manufacturers system can face abuse and have their judgement challenged, often aggressively. At the end of the day a camera is a man-made product with all the flaws that entails, so why do people get so passionate about them to brook no suggestion that other equipment may be as good or better in its own way.

In my long experience there are no major manufacturers who are producing anything but highly capable photographic equipment. From time each manufacturer has a "better" camera for some purposes (rarely all) until someone else overtakes them. Or a manufacturer excels in in one area in comparison to its rivals. For example, Canon is often regarded as having better telephoto lenses or better autofocus than Nikon who are seen as better with wide-angle lenses and its flash system. But from time to time the balance changes, one overtakes the other in some respect. It would be unaffordably expensive for most people to swap complete systems each time another brand makes marginal gains over the photographer's current equipment. After all both still produce excellent results in the right hands.

Are those who evangelise so strongly for one camera maker over another perhaps showing a lack of confidence in their own judgement? They seem to need confirmation that they made the "right" choice at every opportunity. But there are no right or wrongs on this matter, the decision is about what equipment works best for you and your photography.

Photography is at the core of the decision. If you don't take photographs, or only very occasionally, it hardly matters what equipment you choose! Trust your own judgement when deciding what equipment to use and then use it frequently and thoughtfully. If you are using equipment from a major brand then it is likely to be more capable than most photographers, myself included. Stick with a system and use it frequently so that it becomes second nature and you find ways to work within any constraints it imposes, that has always been necessary in photography. It is just that there are fewer limitations now. All too often today the photographer's technique seems to be regarded as unimportant, that it is something the camera should do. Refine one's technique to make the most of the equipment's capability rather than simply assuming it should do the impossible. Learn to work round the system's occasional limitations; after all great photographs, in most genres, have been taken with much more limited cameras than we have today. Indeed, I was a professional sports photographer and I used all manual cameras, low ISO film (rarely above 400), no autowind,  short and very slow telephoto lenses, and no zooms.

So ,above all in making your choice of equipment trust your own judgement, after all it will always be a compromise. Do not let others browbeat you for your decision. Only you know what is important to you.

After forty years I have switched from Canon to Fuji, but there have been times when I have been tempted by Olympus or Nikon, but the investment in lenses meant I could not justify the change. In making the change I have had to accept, for the moment at least, that the Fuji autofocus is not as good as that of the Canon. But I was not using the Canon as much as I should because it was simply too heavy, my neck and shoulders were protesting. As capable as the Canon is, it no longer worked for me, my circumstances and needs had changed. At times those changes have been difficult to face up to. I had to make a choice; find a lighter camera and continue being a photographer, or give up photography apart from family snap shots.

As they say the best camera is the one you have with you; I no longer had my Canon with me as often as I should. The Fuji now goes everywhere with me and I have been able to widen my photographic scope again. I recognise that the Canon is still a highly capable system (as are Nikon, Sony, Olympus et al), but so is the Fuji. It is just that benefits for me come from different aspects of that capability and the Fuji fits my photography lifestyle better now than the alternatives; that is my opinion which is all that matters to me. I recognise that my decision may not be the right one for you, you have different needs and priorities, the compromises you need to make are specific to you. All I can do is explain why I made my decision and let you judge to what extent my decision making can inform your choice.

So trust your judgement and do not be swayed by the system fundamentalists. Choice of camera is a personal, pragmatic decision based on many needs and compromises. It is not a matter of fervour and blind obedience to the true brand; there is no right or wrong; just what suits you best. You are choosing a man-made artefact, a tool, not a system of belief by which to live your life. And if you have the cash you can even change that decision as often as you like; you will be no worse, or better, person for the camera choice you make.


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