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Saturday, 31 March 2012


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Haha, very entertaining read! I figure that people argue about camera's more than they argue about hammers, etc, because hammers are essentially a solved problem. Cameras on the other hand can be incredibly frustrating, leading to people both slagging off the camera for it's bad points, and defending their camera so that they don't feel like they made a stupid mistake buying their particular tool.

(p.s. As nice as that hammer looks, I'd be very worried about spiking myself in the eye if I was using it!)

Great, Roger Cicala. Thats what I call really hitting the nail on the head...

Now I'll have to run down to Harbor Freight and look at the hammers!

Quite funny, especially after making a couple DPR posts this morning that fit right in there... He did forget the "everyone just needs to quit arguing and go drive some more nails" comment, I think.

Oh my God, what's wrong with us?

....and I can't wait for Hammerkina.
By the way replacement heads for the hammer are around 34 bucks,Too bad they don't make different sizes for people who need more than one lens, I mean nail size.

Boy did he hit the mark!

There's a certain level of arrogance to the whole idea that people that use tool type X don't argue about their tools like we do. I've actually seen quite real arguments about hammers.

I spent the morning photograhping a Habitat for Humanity Build. As the group assembled and a few speeches were made the two volunteers in front of me were arguing " politely" about the hammer they both wanted to use- taken from a big pile at their feet. Now if I'd have know about this post I could have photographed the argument! Should have anyway!

Carpenters argue about hammers just about as much as photographers argue about cameras.

Steel handles v. Wood handles v. Graphite handles v. etc., etc.

Smooth face v. Grooved face v. Crosshatched face.

Swinging one for 8 hours a day, makes one very picky about which hammer one uses.

And if you really want to start a discussion about hammers, talk to a group of Blacksmiths.


The funny thing is that there is plenty of room for debate about hammers and the situation parallels that of cameras; having used both professional- and consumer-grade hammers I can say that the latter are awful.

I suspect that heated internet debate regarding certain objects (e.g. cameras, guns, audiophile equipment, almost anything powered by an engine) occurs when those objects attract personality types that are (a) interested in details, (b) passionate and opinionated, and (c) comfortable interacting via the internet.

Internet fora can be civilised. E.g., when doing research prior to a torch (flashlight) purchase I came across the Candlepower forum and that seemed to be quite polite. Who wants to do a PhD thesis looking at what makes cameras geeks fight with bare knuckles while torch geeks chat pleasantly?

Now it easily could be a discussion between DIY buffs or construction workers about whether Bosch, Makita or Hilti make the best power tools. I've been party to endless discussions - usually with a few beers on board - on which brand of power tool got the job done, how long it lasted and how powerful it was. As important was the preference for battery powered, mains powered and the special operating conditions necessitating air powered tools.

Tig welding can also be as arcane actually, but all the welders got to wear soft hats that looked cooler, because they were welders, of course. I usually fell asleep after the first hour of in depth discussion.

I guess there's less need for the social outlet of an Internet forum on a building site. My power tools are all Bosch, the green type, but I hanker after the blue bodied Bosch, they just last longer, and can take dogs abuse, much more of a real tradesman's tool. I can never really decide who makes the best power tools...

So you think that carpenters don't go on and on about hammers? A moment spent with google would prove you wrong.




I don't know if it's anywhere close to chefs talking about knives or dog groomers talking about shears.


Carpenters argue about hammers. Been there done that.

So, with about two minutes of Googling, I was able to find a 8 page thread on the merits of titanium hammers.


I did a pretty light skim of it, but yes, I can confirm that physics is argued about within.

@ Nico: "because hammers are essentially a solved problem"
Yes that's right, but hammers are for solving problems. Yesterday I fixed my back door lock, properly, with one well placed blow.

Does Amazon sell hammers?

I'll take a crack at why people argue like that about cameras, and (not as much) about hammers. (And please excuse the off-the-cuff rambling...)

Photographers are fond of trying to break down arguments by saying that cameras are just tools and if they give you the output you want that's good enough. Usually, they don't really mean this, because that output is elusive; It could always be better or different.

If you're driving a nail, and you hit it with something that works, that's about it. There are some small differences in the tools - weight, grip, materials, etc. But basically, there is one clear goal to accomplish.

With photography, there are infinite goals that could possibly be accomplished. And you can accomplish each one in different ways with different equipment. So what the particular goal is really matters, as does the equipment.

This is true in, say, painting as well. But photography has a few things that everyone seems to strive for and never get - perfect focus, ideal bokeh, perfect depth of field, perfect tonal transitions, etc. Painting doesn't generally, although in small areas where everyone has the same goal, I bet you see some similar arguments.

One last thing - cameras are much more complicated than paint brushes or hammers. So it's more like arguing about cars because of the myriad models and features available. With cars, they'll all get you from A to B - but in various ways with various involvement. Much like cameras will almost all give you acceptable photos - but there's a lot more to it.

After reading the post, I had to click through to see if the hammer actually existed as you promised it did. I hope your site gets credited with my Amazon purchase for a hammer. I just sold 4 Leica lens caps on e-bay, so I can afford it.

Reading the reviews at Amazon was the best fun of the hour.

an excerpt:
"I'm not one that likes to slam anyone, or anything. But, I'm really doubting that this Tibone "15oz" hammer has the driving force of a 24oz framer. But, again, I'm a carpenter, not a test engineer."

That Hammertime is such a twit.

someone should start a pay-site, "Joyful Hammers".

Lightweights. Nobody tested it to see how it worked on brick walls.

Dewalt has a new hammer that's $60 - hits like a 28-oz framing hammer but only weighs 16oz.

Momentarily thought of that as egregious, then realized the hammer will outlive me, my grandchildren and most likely my grandchildren's grandchildren. Also that I'm going to hand over $2400 to my local camera shop on Monday when my XPro-1 arrives.

There is a big drawback to the Stiletto - it does not accept filters.

Wow. That looks like the Leon Trotsky Autograph Model.

Painters might not argue about brushes, but their approach is not always the best: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/if-the-impressionists-had-been-dentists

The article really nailed the banter on the forums. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

I could give you Patrick Demarchelier's camera, Hedi Slimane's camera, or Terry Richardson's camera and your photos wouldn't look like theirs.

I could also give you Eric Clapton's guitar and you wouldn't sound like he does.

The Magic doesn't come from the tool, but from the tool user ....

@Chuck Albertson, I love it. I wonder how many people got the joke?

What do you think about a hammertone finish on a Leica M9P?

There may be something deeper in the analogy. I'm not sure if it has to do with Riley's point that a camera's output is subjective and infinitely variable, while a hammer's output is measurable and less variable.

If you look at hammer discussions (or other tool discussions) it is much less about whether you CAN achieve a result with a tool, but how easy it is to use and how little you hurt yourself using it. Example, one of the merits of Japanese hammers (or that quoted deWalt hammer apparently) lies in the use of different steel types in the head. That makes the hammer both hard and flexible, and for the same driving force you get less vibrations in your arm. Same idea applies to handles. And less vibration hurts you less and increases your precision in hammering. Now, you could achieve more precision through experience, but it's always better to get there easier.

In cameras it's quite the opposite. Usability often comes last in the forum debates. And there's great enthusiasm for cameras that are either very heavy or very slow or very complicated to use - as if this didn't matter. But it does matter.

Ever since I moved from a large two story
urban home to a small 14th floor flat, my 50 year old wooden handle hammer has remained in the tool chest. No requirements for use of the hammer.

However, if I required the use of a hammer
have a non-working Nikon F camera body that will work probably just as well.

How one handles any hammer determines how tired one's hammering arm becomes.

That's why those new fancy hammers cost so much, they are intended as recreational toys!

Not something the average framer would use
on a job site.

Oh, painters do indeed argue about brushes. Back in the day, it was pretty much limited to hog bristle brushes (stiff and durable and relatively cheap) versus sable (softer and much pricer). Nowadays there are endless synthetic variants and natural/synthetic blends. You can easily spend over $100 for a high end Kolinsky sable brush. And aspiring amateur painters are just as likely to obsess over which brand and style of brush their favorite painter uses as amateur photographers are about the lens or camera body used by their photographer idol.
I recently read a comment on this topic by a widely admired painter. He noted with dismay that amateur painters spend lots of money and effort to learn from a master at a workshop, but their questions almost invariably are about trivial details of technique or material. Which brush did you use for that passage, which brand of paint. The really interesting questions, of course, are not about brushes or paint per se. They're about what you're trying to say, or how you see the world, and how to get that onto the canvas.

Now I'm hammered.

But …

Bankers argue about art and artists argue about money.

I hope Kirk Tuck has read the article - it might raise a wry grin.


this article is brilliant, the site you link to hilarious and very true, and I hope you make some unexpected income from the sale of TOP hammers on your Amazon link.

It neatly encapsulates why TOP is a daily read for me.

The Stiletto hammer you picture reminded me of a type of hammer my grandfather had many years ago. He was a serious carpentry hobbyist, and very skilled. He also had all sorts of specialist tools and instilled in me that every task had an appropriate tool. I think he called it a "Cooper's Hammer" (a cooper is the old english word for barrel maker). I can't find anything on the net about it, but in searching I did come across the Mid West Tool Collectors Association (http://www.mwtca.org/.) I had no idea people would collect old tools, but on reflection of course people will collect old tools, and there will be a website, association, fora, etc. Part of the wonderful world we live in!

Even a Stalinist wouldn't pay $219 for a hammer....


"The article really nailed the banter on the forums."

Good one.


Here's one from the world of angling, sort of:


"When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail"

But seriously, if you make a living pounding nails, $200+ for your main tool is a steal!

Thing is on most any construction site hammers are not as often used to pound nails. Most everything from finish to spikes is done with one type of gun or another. On house framing a straight clawed framing hammer like the one pictured is used to bang things in line and grab wood.

A smart framer or roofer will keep that claw sharp as it is also a safety device. See the residential guys don't wear fall protection. A panic swing of the sharp claw into wet or frost covered sheathing can stop a sliding fall.

All of the talk about carpenters, photographers, painters, etc. and their arguments on the internet forget one thing. These arguments are almost exclusively created by men. There is something in men, or at least in a lot of men, that obsesses over "the best" of whatever they are interested in. I've touched on this before in my comments here, but I am starting to get a real boys club vibe from so many hobby forums on the internet. Guys arguing over minutia has suddenly struck me as adolescent, testosterone fueled trivia. Seriously, when was the last time you saw one of these arguments between women? When was the last time one of these arguments actually made any difference to painting, carpentry, or photography?

Every time I see one of these arguments on the internet, I wonder why guys are willing to expend the energy trying to prove that their preferred tool is the best. I also wonder why so many men seem to care what other men think of their tools... Hmmm, never mind, think I just answered my own question.

HD: "…you don't use my Bluegrass serrated face hammer as a nail-puller…"

In an interesting first, a photography blog is now the leading result on a Google search for "Bluegrass serrated face hammer". That's bound to confuse some hardware enthusiasts from both groups.

(…typed as he whistles the Bluegrass classic "Nine Pound Hammer", which is included on The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Will the Circle Be Unbroken, bought as a CD based on Mike's recommendation.)

I've had my 16 oz. Estwing hammer for about 30 years. At the time I bought the hammer, I was using a Nikon FM. The camera is long gone, but the hammer is still in the tool box. I think those hammers cost around $30, and they are actually made in the USA.

Folks suggesting that we do Mike a favor when we decide that a high tech hangar slung on our belts will increase the MQ (manliness quotient) significantly -- I suspect that an Amazon purchase after you check models on the Stiletto or DeWalt sites will give a credit to Stiletto or to DeWalt, not to TOP. (Right, Mike? When you get done with the print sale launch, check Amazon for hammer revenues.)

So if you hunger for a hammer, check 'em all out, then COME HOME to TOP, then slam down the credit card at Amazon!


@mbka, when I'm choosing, for instance, kitchen appliances, power tools, (Mike had better stop reading here) even cars, the decider may well be the unwanted characteristics: noise, unreliability, discomfort, lifetime cost, pollution, safety hazard, etc. Because almost any respectable make will do an adequate job of the main function.

For real enthusiasts (Mike can start reading again) the functional differences may still be the decider. I think a lot of folk on TOP recognize that a camera's bulk, weight, cost or a bad user interface can trump superior image quality.

This reminds me of a joke from back in the days when all business computers were mainframes. I think it definitely parallels photography.

An IT manager calls in for service on his mainframe. The technician comes in, examines the computer and then takes out a hammer and smacks it. The machine springs back to life. The tech hands the IT manager a bill for $1000.

The IT manager says, "I want this itemized." So the tech rewrites the bill itemized as follows:

Hitting computer with hammer...$1

Knowing where to hit computer...$999

My son recently gave names to all of our hammers.

The two largest are called Brutus and Hercules and we now have a mallet called Off. Ideal for use on mobile phones.

The best hammer belongs to someone else...

If I had a Leica
I'd Leica in the morning
I'd Leica in the evening
All over this land
I'd Leica out danger
I'd Leica out a warning
I'd Leica out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

OK, not quite the hammer...

What about Nikon?

If I had a Nikon
I'd shoot it in the morning
I'd shoot it in the evening
All over this land

Not that much more plausible, hammers and Nikons don't permute that well.

The final strophe tells us what we knew: Leicas and Nikons don't exclude each other.

Well I've got a Leica
And I've got a Nikon
And I've got a song to sing
All over this land
It's the Leica of justice
It's the Nikon of freedom...

Glad Pete Seeger did have a hammer and a bell, after all.

You know, hammers can be pretty specialized. I have about 50 different blacksmithing hammers that I inherited from my grandfather, my Leica repair guy used to like showing off his special Leica repair hammers, and you can get Jaguar owners arguing about the best dead hammers. Copper? Lead?

The cool thing about hammers is that you can use hammers to make other hammers.
Alas, you can not use a camera to make another camera.

"The cool thing about hammers is that you can use hammers to make other hammers."

Hugh, you are a fount of interestingness.


Having grown up on a farm, I can truly tell you that the best hammer is the one you have with you. This is much more accurate that the camera saying, because when its raining and you are trying to get the hay in and you really need a hammer to get the haywagon pin in, well then.....

Mike: I can't believe you haven't stumbled on tons of Review and Forum sites that discuss the pros and cons of darn near every class of product imaginable. For instance, some weeks ago I felt a need to search for "mole traps reviews forums" on Google. That led me to: http://www.trapperman.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1442810.html

Happy ending, I bought some awesome mole traps. You are lucky that photography is an infinite topic.

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