I had to learn my lesson. I had joined a studio with three other photographers, and I was the odd man out...I used a Contax and had only two lenses, and my three new partners all used Nikons and had maybe thirty lenses among them. And we'd all borrow each other's stuff, on an as-needed basis. I did want to be able to share the wealth if and when I needed to, yes, but I was also anxious to be able to do my part and contribute to the common equipment pool.
Paul, whose studio it was, shot with Darth Vader, a beat-up black Nikon F3 with a big motor drive. He kept talking about the then-new F4, so I parted with my lovely Contax (the last camera I was completely happy with, although that was partly because I didn't know any better) and bought a new F4. Paul loved using it. And the arsenal of lenses available to me increased tenfold in size. Mission(s) accomplished.
...Until I found I didn't really care for the F4. (Paul had named it "Luke" by then. Apparently Luke was the son of Darth? These names came from some movie called "Star Battle Galactica" or "Battlestar Wars," or something like that, don't ask me.) It was amazing, sleek and high-tech, and I was in love with it for a while, but it really wasn't my style—too big and brash and in your face. And it left a trail of spent batteries that Jack and Jill could have used to find their way back out of the woods with.
Nikon 8008. Photo by Seth Anderson.
The F4 had taken a week to arrive after I'd ordered it, during which time I'd rented an 8008 (N801 in the rest of the world). After a year with mighty Luke, I suddenly realized what I should have known all along—the 8008 was really the camera for me. It did everything I needed and it was a more convenient size, as well as being more modest, in keeping with my modest self. Paul was parted from his beloved Luke, and I bought two 8008's with the proceeds from Luke's sale.
Over the next few years I wore those cameras out. Loved 'em. They paid for themselves many times over.
Then I heard that Nikon was coming out with an upgrade...the N8008s. Now, to me, at the time, it seemed obvious what improvements the 8008 needed. There were several, although the only one I can remember now is that it needed a PC sync socket. You had to use one of these little doohickeys, or its ancestor, on the hot shoe.
I just assumed that Nikon would make all the improvements I thought were obvious.
Rude surprise: when the N8008s arrived, it had none of the improvements I wanted. It just had a few new features I didn't care about, such as a spotmetering function, for which I had no use.
I was so disillusioned I rashly went out and bought a Canon, an EOS RT. (By that time I'd contributed a view camera and some Hasselblad stuff to the studio equipment pool, and in any case I was making more than half my living by then not as a shooter but as a custom printer, using the studio's darkroom.)
So that's when, and how, I learned my lesson: never get your hopes up over rumors of new products when they're hull-down on the horizon. Why? Because you're always going to be disappointed. There's a good reason for that. Your mind is going to fill in all of the missing details with what you want, or need—or think is likely, or smart, or obvious. But what you need is seldom what the cameramakers want to make, and what you think is obvious, given your needs and tastes, is not obvious to everyone.
Note: If saying I learned my lesson seems at odds with other things you might have read on this site, well, I just said I'd learned it, not that I've always been able to take it to heart. Cheers, brothers and sisters.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Robert S.: "It sounds more like you learned your lesson, and then you learned it again, and then you learned it again, and then...."
Featured Comment by John McMillin: "As a Sony alpha user, I'm feeling forced towards an EVIL future. Not because electronic viewfinders will solve any problem I'm having with OVFs, but for their own marketing reasons. The optical VF SLR is a mature technology, open to only minor and incremental improvements. The EVF is a work in progress, with current flaws that are likely to improve as the underlying tech is perfected. Thus each generation of new EVFs will give a good reason for owners to trade up again and again. Not that anything was wrong with SLRs, for those of us who take photos, not video or high-speed motion studies. Sony just needed a different category of product to sell, since the SLR market was sewn up tight. Sony made excellent traditional DSLRs with the a700, a850 and a900, but the close-minded duopoly of Canon and Nikon users said, 'So what?' Then it made the first SLTs, and the blogosphere went wild. The illusion of progress is restored, which is vital for those who believe better cameras equates to better photos."