I wrote last Sunday about one of the dilemmas of "Stuff"—a nice stereo turntable I have that should be perfectly adequate for me but that I just don't love. It's a common enough dilemma. Naturally, I get questions all the time from people about cameras—which camera they should buy, whether they should upgrade, whether one decision or another is justified.
I was going to say that I go back and forth on this issue, because when I was doing more actual photography I was of the conviction that the camera was just a tool and that I was entirely results-driven. That was before I realized that simple, utilitarian, and often plain "tools" were what I loved. As I've ascended (?) into middle age, I'm becoming more tolerant of gearheadism. (After all, look at how many people experience their photography interest through the tools—for many, it's just cameras, and little else. And what's wrong with that? It's not hurting anybody.) I now tend to encourage people to find equipment they love, and can be proud of (in whatever way and for whatever reason), and enjoy using. Even to the point of jettisoning something that's "perfectly adequate" but that they just don't really love, in favor of something they feel good about.
I could go on and on and on about this topic, and you know how I can go on. But what's your take? Should you love your camera? And do you? Take the poll.
Featured Comment by George: "I am a director of photography (video and film) as a profession. I do a lot of photography as a hobby. Most of my cinematographer friends have the same passion for photography, also as a hobby. We were chatting about gear-lust and found that we are all very passionate about our still camera gear: one friend has a Leica M8 and $20,000 worth of Leica glass. I run a Canon system with 'L' lenses (and a Leica M6 with a mix of Leica and Voightlander lenses).
"We noticed that we have zero gear lust for film and video equipment. We buy whatever tool gets the job done for maximum profitability. There is no passion whatsoever. If I were to get a show that I would need a Panasonic HPX3000 HD camera on ($45,000), I would get one with zero emotion. It is a tool. Nothing else. However, I am still in love with the 50mm Summilux for my Leica I bought for $900 three years ago...because it equates with fun, not work.
"It comes down to if the gear is used for work, all the purchases are business purchases. You buy what you need for the job at the highest quality/price ratio your business can afford. For hobbyists, the gear you buy is a reward and a toy. Because it is purchased for fun, there is a lot more passion involved in acquiring it."
Featured Comment by Craig Arnold: "Photography is two separate but related hobbies. One is all about the equipment and the process, the other is about the aesthetics of the images you produce. Craft and art if you like. It is perfectly possible to be very good at (and indeed enjoy) one and not the other. Sometimes people are good at both.
"It seems to be a thing that follows gender too, it's much more likely to find a man who is good at the gear stuff and rubbish at the art, but the reverse is usually only true of women. And of course it's much harder to master the latter than the former.
"To whatever degree I can I try to enjoy and work at both sides, but simplifying the gear sometimes helps me concentrate on the art."
Featured Comment by Amy S.: "I voted 'sometimes it’s one, sometimes it’s the other.' I loved my Minolta SLRs, DSLR (7D), and lenses...and had to learn to give up some of that love when I switched to Nikon and bought a D200 last year. In giving up great ergonomics I had to treat the Nikon as a really good tool—that was highly functional although not lovable. It’s sort of like being in an arranged marriage. Over time I’m developing an attachment to some components (primarily the Nikkor 85mm ƒ/1.4D lens)—and maybe someday there will be a sort of love—but probably nothing like the relationship I had with my Minoltas. I’m now learning to use the very, very capable D300...but I can’t say that I love the camera. It’s an effective means to an end. Still, my preference is to use tools that I love. I’ll pay more for that luxury. However, it’s not always an option.
"I’ve loved my Macintoshes, though (128K, IIcx, G3 Pismo, 12" PowerBook G4, and Dual G5 PowerMac). It’s easy to be passionate about Macs. At work, the PCs are merely tools.
"Bicycles and cars are the same way. Some are OK for transportation...others I love. I’ve owned both kinds.
"If someone ever makes the DMD, I suspect I will fall in love with that camera."
Featured Comment by Al Benas: "Yeah, I love my camera (it is and has always been a Nikon, but that's not important). I am reminded of an old flyfishing adage about a "favorite fly." It's the fly you loved at first sight or tie; it casts better, drifts better, and it catches more fish, anywhere. Everyone's is different, so what's magic about it? Why, it's confidence. That love translates into confidence. You are comfortable with it, you no longer have to think about the mechanics of casting, stripping and 'playing.' Your right-brain takes over and you just become one with the water and its inhabitants. You just fish better.
"I don't have to think when I have my favorite camera/lens package attached to my eye. I can just see and react and, hopefully, create."
Featured Comment by Eric Ford: "I tend to go through three phases with new cameras. The first phase is the 'infatuation,' when I'm excited about the new gear and what I can do with it, and having fun just trying to master it. Phase two is the utility phase, when I know the camera so well that I don't think about it anymore, I think only about how to get the pictures I want. Not surprisingly this is when I'm generally the most creative and achieve the best results. The third phase is sentimentality, when the camera is showing its age or I'm itching for a new one, but I just feel all warm and fuzzy about the old machine and the memories I had with it, so I can't bring myself to sell, even though I should. That's the closest thing to 'love' I ever feel for a camera, but I wouldn't call it that."