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Saturday, 27 October 2012


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Um, the drawer-full of cool Pentax lenses I inherited from my Dad...

But seriously, “results” may not be a useful category. A key contributor to results is how likely you are to have the camera with you when the opportunity to get results occurs.

No. If the results were all that mattered, you would carry with you whatever camera you needed to, no matter how heavy or inconvenient. Consider William Henry Jackson packing hundreds of pounds of glass plates by mule into the High Sierra....


I don't see any poll or any link to said poll

I don't understand how a lens guy like you, Mike, is setting up a poll in which the available lenses don't contribute to "the result" but are a sort of warm & fuzzy feeling thing like buying the special limited edition silver version of your camera.

re: "choose cameras for reasons other than the results they yield—because of the system that's available for them, the lenses that are available for them"

I disable flash (Actually never installed it on this computer), and so the widget did not show up for me.
I find my Mac runs quieter (less fan noise), and longer on battery if I leave flash disabled, a yet I miss only a few things with it disabled.
Also, I presume this would not work it I were reading it on my iPhone or iPad (which I do sometimes), via RSS.

The widget does not work for me. Flash belongs in the dustbin of history, in any case.

I have a Canon 5DmkIII. Big bulky thing. I'd much rather shoot with my M9 or X-Pro 1, but for macros or fast action shots of the baby where continuous AF is necessary and a zoom helps, I will use the 5DIII.

Interesting post Mike, I think the advent of really good mirrorless cameras is causing a true paradigm shift.

I was always a "results trump everything" kinda guy, being an occasional second shooter for my father's Photography business and a keen amateur, so it was important to get the right results, bang on every time. As a pure hobby-ist I took the same view. Big canon, big glass, great results.

But, over the last year I was borrowing, pretty much all the time, a first gen. sony NEX5 from my office. The quality of shots from the wee pancake f2.8 lens were consistently pretty good, and of course crucially, it really could fit in a coat pocket.

Finally there truly was, for me, the combination of results that were "wow" enough, but I actually had something that I felt allowed me to live by the addage of the best camera being the one you have with you, with it actually being pretty damn close to the best camera full stop.

So, a few weeks ago, sold off all the big DSLR gear, and bought a NEX7. Have a 24mm zeiss on order, but loving using legacy lenses on it (50mm f1.2 AIS nikkor is my current fave!).

It's is taking some time to learn how to get the best results from it, the handling is awful compared to my old kit, but it is getting a lot more use, and the results are getting close to what I want. Fabulous.

Thanks. I just changed the language of the post to make that a little clearer.


can't see the poll widget. IPAD 2, IOS 6

I'm currently enjoying bird photography with an OM-D EM-5 and a Panasonic 100-300mm lens. Hardly the camera/lens combo for best results, but I wouldn't be able to afford (and wouldn't want to carry) a pro body SLR with a 500mm full frame prime lens. Even sliding down the scale to a top of the line APS-C and a 300mm prime would still be left at home more often than not. Now when I go out to walk to the dog I grab my camera bag and sling it over my shoulder. Or when I go to my in-laws place (with a great window that looks over a ravine with a river) I'll bring it along. I've gotten some really nice shots that way.

I "inherited" an early Canon DSLR and a couple of lenses, and I eventually sold that camera for a t2i and later sold the original lenses for a couple of Sigma lenses, including my favorite, the 30mm f / 1.4.

I'm a classic case of path dependence: had I realized that I'd sell all the original Canon gear I had, I probably would've bought a Sony A65. But because I didn't realize that, and because I'm financially constrained, I'm now using a t2i because of a decision one of my parents made about eight years ago and because of my failure to realize what kinds of things I most like to shoot and which lenses I most like to use.

I don't know how to answer. If a camera doesn't yield good pictures nothing else is important. But given that many cameras can make great photos, results do not trump all else. Handling, ease of use and reliability are important, but not equally important.

(OK, I'll having a few cameras I picked up just because they look cool, but those are more display objects than cameras.)

I originally picked Nikons because my friend had them. Having done that I never saw any reason to pick something else because fundamentally they do everything I need, and my iPhone now does everything else (used to carry a P&S too, but don't much anymore).

It depends on what you mean when you say "results." After all, "results" are more than just a matter of image quality.

Some cameras have poor ergonomics, so you end up fiddling with buttons while the guy next to you with a well designed camera gets the shot. Or you can't easily determine what your settings are and you end up shooting that daylight scene at ISO 1600 because you were thinking about composition, not checking the mishmash of numbers all over the screen. Or you miss the shot because you pressed on a dial instead of the shutter button because there are three "bumps" on top and they all feel the same to your finger. Or your camera is so "automatic" that you can't manage manual zone focusing, so you miss all those fast-moving street scenes because your autofocus is swimming all over the place while the guy next to you (who is zone focusing) nails it.

Does that count as "results?"

As I said on my "My DP1" blog a while back, when I decided not to get a DP1 because of the slow responsiveness, "getting the shot on a 1/1.7 sensor is better than missing the shot on an APS-C Foveon."

As others have said, I was sorry to see this was a flash based poll. I agree with the "dustbin of history" comment. I just happened to be reading this from my Mac Pro where I run Flashblock, so I enabled your poll for this instance. Normally I would have been on my iPad and it wouldn't have shown up, as others have commented.

As for camera selection, growing up I always dreamed of owning a top-of-the-line Nikon, but could never afford it. When digital came along, and I had some disposable income, I went with the Canon 10D. At the time, Canon was way ahead of Nikon in the DSLR game as far as I was concerned. I now shoot with a Canon 5D II, and while I envy, a bit, those shooting with a Nikon D800, I have way too much Canon L glass to consider switching.

Price has to be a consideration. If several camera systems give roughly equal (and all acceptable) results, then price matters.

I guess a history of rangefinders, and now a Fuji X100 puts me firmly in the second category. I would even sacrifice some of the image quality for something smaller and more immediate. Note that it would have to be both. There are plenty of smaller cameras, just as there are plenty of faster cameras. However, in a way this is still a striving for better results. The reason I don't get the results I want is that I don't bring the camera, and now with the smaller X100, if I bring it, it often isn't quick enough to capture the pictures I want.

I think there's a wide fuzzy area. For example, I could supply an African royal family with the cameras I have bought because they were a bit smaller and had a bit better sensors than the one from last year. So you could say the result drives that, but I also have a strong love for a Great Gadget.

I love great pictures, and I'm very proud of the ones of my own I really like. And I always dream of making even better ones, and think about how I can accomplish it. (Fast focus in the street for example.) But I also, now I'm better off than in my yoof, have a collection of cameras I never intended to use, mostly silver metal SLRs from the fifties through seventies. To me, a Pentax Spotmatic is a sculpture.

Results are, of course, important. Even the Lomo folks are consider their results important. But the process? The journey of what we do to get to those images on our screen? That for me is where the real fun lies.

I may not be schlepping a wagon load of wet plate chemicals and glass into the wilderness but given the looks my Rolleicord gets sometime you'd think I was. But in the end?


Good enough for me.

I fall into a couple of camps with this one...

My choice of Canon's Eos 1Ds DSLR was entirely driven by it being the only digital full frame with a 24mm Tilt/Shift lens at the time. I have always, and will probably continue to loathe the handling of the Eos System, but I'm now invested so heavily in the TS-E 17/24/45/90 set that I'm stuck with it. The 17 & 24II are both wonderful lenses though.

On the other hand my choice of film kit is purely aesthetic and tactile. The look of the Contax 159 and it's Zeiss lenses is almost perfect to my eye, what's more I can now afford some of them (though they are not cheap yet!)so I enjoy buying and selling them on the auction site, trying different lenses and slowly building a system.

Using an iPad... No widget visible...

Isn't your question a bit vague though?

Some could say "I put up with a Nikon 1 because I need the telephoto-reach and high framerate".
Others "I put up with a Lomo because that's the effect I need".

I myself put up with Sigmas DP cameras for the last couple of years, because I loved the images.
Now I got an EM5 and while I might not get the exact same image characteristics, it allows me to take pictures in very different ways than before.
So I could argue that I changed to the Olympus because those different results are everything that counts... :-)

Isn't the most important "result" that you're happy with a camera and you take it out to use it?

I can't find an answer that seems honest among those two.

Lots of the tradeoffs in equipment choice are between quality of the images captured, and probability of capturing the image I want. For those, I will favor probability of getting a usable image over quality of images that aren't what I wanted every time.

And also, it doesn't cover the other big limitation, money. Don't have a D4, don't have a D3s, even though they would clearly be better for the work I consider important. This falls in a somewhat different category from weight or liking for the UI or such.

I too think this might be a false distinction.

I answered results because I do tend to do what is necessary to get the results I want. That said, my camera is a small pocket camera (an LX3). Why? Because I don't have the money to buy an expensive camera, because I wanted a camera that I easily carry around with me. Because 'anything' is relative.

Can you spare us all the knee-jerk Flash hatred In the comments - people quickly forget (or never realized) how much that cross-platform, browser-agnostic technology pushed the boundaries of the Internet, and gave us not only dynamically-driven experimental and immersive websites, but also educational and gaming platforms, not to mention universal streaming video.
But no, my iPhone doesn't show the widget. Thanks Steve - we all know it was battery life you were worried about.

The two choices aren't really going to tell you much, Mike.

I'm sure that there are plenty of photographers who, given the opportunity, would choose to shoot with something like a Leica S2, or a medium format digital back, or a new Leica M, or a Nikon D4, but whose bank accounts only support a four year old pro-sumer DSLR and a couple of slow third party zooms...

Their hearts say choice #1, but their pockets say choice #2.

How should they answer the poll?

(BTW - I agree with the comments on Flash. It needs to go...)

Price, IQ, size, weight, primes

when I tried for the first time, the widget did not work (neither in Firefox, nor in Chrome). Now, on my second attempt it works.
Please stay away from Flash.

I choose cameras for their size mostly. I have large hands, so I'd rather have an SLR vs. a point-and-shoot any day. The poll works fine on my main PC, but I had to tap the widget on the NOOK in order to see it, and it appeared as if I couldn't post a message here using the NOOK. So, if there are two messages, please delete the other one.

To answer the poll, I thought of it like this: would I enjoy photography as much if I had camera which took wonderful photos in every situation, but I had to use the lcd on the back to take the shot? Nope, I'd rather use an SLR and look through the viewfinder, thank you very much.

I voted "other things are important to me," of course!

I voted, after some hesitation, for "results." But a lot of things like ergonomics and appropriateness fold into "results," right? And I've publicly admitted that I won't buy the new hot Olympus because of that fake pointy mirror housing on it. But all of that folds into "results." I think you take better pictures with a camera that you like, and that you handle naturally, and that becomes a friend.

I won't go on any extended rip on Leicas, but I've had both film and digital Leicas (the M8) and honest to God, when it came right down to results, with the M8, I couldn't see them...and that was ultimately the reason I got rid of it. I still can't see them, in examples I've seen from the M9. I really think Leicas are the cameras bought for "other" reasons; it's not the glass, not the results, it's the red dot and the prestige. (Although, there may be a very few photographers who are exceptions.)

Poll doesn't show for me. I'm on an iPad (about 1 year old) also if your widget is flash then off course it wouldnt work.

No poll on my iPad.

Everything that needs to be said about Flash has already been said, but I'd like to be a voice in the chorus: Flash eats CPU, crashes, and doesn't work on iOS. I've disabled it. Please don't use it.

"Why do you choose cameras?" You mean as opposed to, say, guns or model trains? I can't see the poll widget on my Linux system.

The answer to the question hinges on how you measure results. I could use a camera that would allow me to achieve technically "superior" results compared to what I actually use. But the format (aspect ratio) and viewfinder affect the way I see, and that affects my results much more directly. How would I answer this question, I'm a bit confused...?

"If the results were all that mattered, you would carry with you whatever camera you needed to, no matter how heavy or inconvenient."

That seems to be a rather 'arbitrary to the point of uselessness' distinction. Pretty much every non-larger format film photographers are making a compromise in terms of objective quality potential versus the ability to carry and use the camera, and process the images. By that standard, I didn't buy a small silent camera with extremely good high ISO performance because I like to take pictures of live performance in available dark and it seemed like the best camera available to get the results I wanted; I should have bought a view camera and paid to stage performances under high wattage lights so that I could get the absolute best image quality and was willing to do whatever it took to get it.

The two alternatives aren't really alternatives. There's no way to say that camera X - in a wide open comparison with all other cameras - gives you the best results without a consideration of the real world practicality of the camera, it's ecosystem, the conditions under which you'll be operating, and the results you want to achieve.

I voted to to abstain from voting since the question is wrong.

Results trump everything. However, results are a function of ease of use and lens selection (among other things) in addition to raw image quality.

I voted "results" but I assume this includes the handling, durability, focus speed etc because this is what can make the difference between the image and not the image.
Brand, prestige, looks etc are what I call "other things".

If a camera doesn't feel good, I'm not going to shoot it, no matter how clean its high ISO or wide its DR.

I'm amused at the current 50/50 split amongst voters; for no good reason I thought the result would be skewed towards "results at all cost".

I voted for results trump all.

BUT: That's in a broader sense. For example, I might pass on a camera that gives me better results for one kind of photo, but worse for others, even when that kind of photo is important to me.

My 1Ds, for example, gives a little better image quality for landscape than my K-5. But the K-5 travels with me a lot more often, so it gets more landscape pictures -- and so it might be said to get better results.

Nothing is simple, huh.

I've tried Safari, Firefox and Chrome, and it doesn't show-up on any of them!! I even enabled JavaScript, and it still doesn't work. BTW Flash is enabled.

Try a new widget.

To me, handling is just as important as IQ. And joy when using the camera is just as important as handling.

If I'm holding the best camera available but I have to dive in five levels of menus just to change the ISO setting, is not worth it.

I'm also not very comfortable with the all electronic feel of some cameras, I like the noise and mechanic of the bigger bodies. I'm 30 years old, but I guess I shoot like I'm 60.

No poll appearing here either, yet running latest Firefox with Flash & Javascript enabled (albeit sandboxed).

As for the question, I find it hard to believe that, today, there would be one single camera standing out from the crowd enough to be deemed the only means of achieving a certain type of result. In other words, and speaking for myself only, this kind of thinking appears to be something a photographer imposes on himself, and nothing else.

Over at ByThom he is talking about the lack of lenses for the Nikon DX format. One of the reasons I went with Nikon and the DX format back in 2007 is that I trusted Nikon to develop lenses for the DX format. They didn't. At least not what I am looking for.

For that reason I have only one additional lens besides the kit lens for my DX camera and I need to replace it but I will probably not select Nikon. Or I will wait until I need to replace my current Nikon camera and then chose another brand or at least keep an open mind when it comes to other brands.

Nope. No poll here, either.

Perhaps I'm being too literal, but if "Results trump everything else" wouldn't we all (or at least those of you who selected that option) be shooting with 20x24 view cameras? Truth is, we ALL sacrifice "image quality" for the sake of something else--be it ease of use, size, weight, cost, etc.

When voting I assumed you meant "sharpest lens, most pixels,that sort of pixel peeper measure. I'm more inclined to buy a camera that I like for its handling and size. That said I like a number of different cameras for different reasons and uses.

If we only cared about the end result, we'd all be lugging and shooting large format cameras.

For me results are all that matter, but getting the results I want depends on having a camera that has the mix of features that I can use to produce those results, which is why I seem to accumulate so many cameras.

If the question is would you use an ugly unfashionable camera if it did the job, or is looking like a proper photographer's camera part of the requirement, then I would go with the ugly unfashionable does the job camera.

Most of the fun to use aesthetically pleasing cameras I have owned produce so-so results. I would go as far as saying that generally the pleasure of using a camera is inversely proportional to the quality of the results. Of course there are plenty of counter examples.

Nothing to do with your widget but I want to give one answer at home and another at work.

No poll icon or other access shows for me

I wonder how many people who selected "results" are using m43 or smaller formats? A lot I would bet.

How could someone become accomplished as a photographer and yet hate cameras?

I wouldn't consider talking to a surgeon or an auto mechanic who bore an antagonistic relationship to the available instruments and tools.

If the tools don't get out of the way, if one is thinking about them to the point of hating them, then perhaps one's true calling is as an inventor.

I care about the way a camera "feels." I like the basic controls in a simple manner easily accessible for me to make my own decisions. This means that I want aperture control on the lens, and a shutter wheel on the top of the camera. And I also like a camera as a piece of well-crafted machinery.

My first camera was a Praktika with Zeiss Jena lens, then a Contax N1. I replaced the N1 with a Canon 5D as my first digital camera, which I sold for a Leica M8. I own quite a few cameras, but none have ever "felt" so right for me as a Leica, and I have never looked back.

No widget for me either....!

Results certainly trump aesthetic and ergonomic perfection, at least for me. I'm willing to heave 40 lbs. of gear including a pair of full frame D-SLR bodies, multiple lenses and a big tripod, because I've used all of it at one time or another to capture a treasured image a half mile hike from the car. This is not to say I enjoy being a pack mule, but the results are well worth it.

On the other hand, I confess an unseemly affection for the brutish weight and solidity of the Eos-1DSIII. It fits my large hands, that huge bright viewfinder suits my middle-age eyes, and the graceless lumpishness has grown on me. Those cute little mirror-less cameras seem too dainty.

I see an empty white box where the poll belongs.

(At a linux machine at work running Firefox 2.0.)

If you were to divide up the reasons with something like a pie chart, results would be the largest piece for me. I use a Mamiya 7 as my primary art photo/work camera because it allows me to carry around a lightweight camera that shoots large 6x7 negatives. The lenses are sharp and the camera is reliable. There's a growing amount of sentimental value attached to my camera body, given all that photographs I've taken with it that mean something to me.

I think many of us start mostly with results and end up overlapping more with other factors because of sentimental reasons, experience, hopes, ideas and so on.

No flash support on the iPad Mike. I use what I need to get results, for shooting sport it is my DSLR and heavy lenses. They rest of the time I am far more contented using my feather weight micro four thirds system. I feel it gives me better results shooting candid street and travel photos than i would get flashing a big DSLR.

I guess I *should* say that only the results matter, but if the camera 1) enables me to get the shots, 2) enhances my ability to get the shots, 3) improves the quality of my shots (e.g, low noise at high ISO), or 4) gets in the way of me getting the shots, then the *camera* matters. Otherwise, it's just a tool (however cool), just like a hammer. No one tells the carpenter "oh, what a great hammer you have" when looking at an award-winning house.

Results are the most important part when it comes to choosing a camera, of course, but I must confess aesthetics played a major role when it was time for me to choose my current camera, the Olympus E-P1. Although I'm quite new to photography, I had early exposure to photographic equipment through the 70's as an uncle of mine was a salesman for the portuguese Fujifilm and Minolta distributor. He actually sold my father a Minolta Hi-Matic 7S, which shaped my aesthetic preferences. I can say rangefinder-style cameras are my thing.
When I first saw an image of the E-P1, I fell in love instantly. I immediately decided I had to have one, but as I'm not frivolous I spent lots of time browsing the 'net in order to make sure it was a good camera before purchasing it. I wouldn't have bought it if I had found it wasn't a good camera, though: image quality is what matters the most. Yes, it tends to blow highlights and it has no viewfinder or provision for one, bar the little VF-1 - but it's the most gorgeous digital camera I've ever laid eyes on! As it stands, I have a very satisfying blend of aesthetics and image quality.

I guess I would like to have a "both" button. Like Softie wrote, I still use 8x10. Why? Because of the results obtained. That said, however, I love fondling my Leica M6's and the results here ain't bad either!

Results are very important, but in my estimation, results are more based on how you use the camera than what camera you use, assuming that the choices are similar in technical capability. Nikon? Canon? Pentax? Take your pick.Glass is comparable, features, usually similar. You make the photo, not the camera. In my case, 'other things' were dominant, once Exakta was no longer viable (I still miss the waist level finder for low level and macro work, and while I don't miss film, my Pentax 67 still is in occasional use). EXisting equipment, cost, ergonomics, and other factors make the choice for me, given a set of somewhat similar options.

There are people who like photography (I always think about Giacomelli and his old equipment for that category), and there are people who like cameras (any of us looking on DPreview). Must of us have a mix of that. I like to think I'm more on the side of photography, but I also love to watch and handle mi M3, even if I haven't shoot a single roll in it since 2006.

"Pretty much every non-larger format film photographers are making a compromise in terms of objective quality potential versus the ability to carry and use the camera, and process the images."

But I didn't define "image quality"; you just did. I only said to get the results you want. Which could be anything.


I just bought a Nikon 1 V1 (Adorama clearance priced) and the 10mm f/2.8.

It's a results thing. I can carry the V1 around and, with the 10mm lens, shoot in close quarters. I just don't have the equivalent angle of view or compact package in my D90, no matter what I do.

So I've got a better and more flexible camera than my smartphone, that's easy to take anywhere. I shoot more. That's results.

Re: The Poll Widget

I check in on an iPad a lot, and the poll widget is a large blank spot on the page. It must use Flash. It's not a problem, I'll check it when I'm on the Mac later.


I like results and I am getting more catholic in my camera usage with the more cameras I have. Leicas are my mainstay, but I too adore the shape of the Pentax Spotmatic and with the 55 Super Takumar I have taken some fine shots. One shot of my daughter, a favourite shot, I was convinced must have been from my M5 with the Zeiss C Sonnar, I learned later from filing the negatives was from my mother's old Zeiss Ikon with a scale focus 45mm Novar Anastigmat. I know pros with dependable Canon EOS's who nearly always use an M9 at the weekend. I often refer friends to your Letter to George, which helped me past the X-Pro 1 to the M9. I have not been disappointed. But I did go on and buy two more lenses.

Mike, I am constantly delighted by your erudition, your diversions, especially but not only on Sundays, and the high level of editing of your site. You have referred me to that extraordinary critic Vernon Hill, and I got in early on the Life Work offering and for these and other insights I am very grateful. This thread with its correspondents' classical allusions and quotations shows the company you are keeping, but you are not merely primus inter pares.

the poll you propose is far too simplistic.

i choose cameras due to a combination of several things. results are what it's all about ultimately, but the results are a synthesis of what I see, how a particular camera allows me make the exposure, and how a particular format and lens renders the light. ergonomics, responsiveness, feel ... all these things play into it. how a camera looks it probably one of the smaller factors but it plays here also—good looking tools that work the part make me feel good, and how i feel about the tools does affect how i work with them.

for me, there is no simple answer. i know what i like in a cameras, i can recognize it very quickly, but it cannot be articulated in such simple terms as you propose.

Vernon Lee that is. I can't find the thread on her now.

Option B, but only because when I have a camera that feels good in my hand and that I like using do I take photos that I'm happy with. I have an LX3 and a 645n and I take better photos with the 645. Yes, of course when I'm visiting Rome I don't have my Pentax with me, I have the LX3, which skews my results a little, but the process of taking the photo is about half of the enjoyment (the other half of course being the resulting image and the quality thereof

I find it telling that many think results=image quality. I guess that explains the fascination with "full frame" cameras and larger.

For me, results=a great photo. So yes, sometimes that means knockout IQ, but other times that means getting the shot without causing a stir, other times that means a camera with reflexes as quick as your own, and other times that simply means a camera that your willing to take with you to breakfast.

Instead of photo-bombing the comments section with what I think are suitable examples, I've expounded on this point further on my blog:


In theory form must follow function for me, but life is not so clear cut. The perfect balance for me was my OM4. I got great results from it, it was portable and Ijust loved the feel and heft of it.

At the moment I've got a substantial kit based on a couple of Canon dSLRs. The images that the lenses and cameras produce are great and for paid work it is what I use. The problem is that I hate the black jelly mould aesthetic. For my own work I much prefer my EP-2, it feels great in the hand, it is very portable and I'm able to get a very good A3+ print from it. I even use it for shooting video and happy with the results I get there. I also really like my Pentax 645, it takes a bit more effort to use, but again I like the feel of it and enjoy the experience of using it.

I didn't vote as I'm using my iPad and couldn't see the widget.

I'm accessing TOP on my (detested) iPhone, as my (despised) HP laptop died suddenly last week. I can't see a poll widget using either Safari or Opera. Just thought I'd let you know.

A new Asus arrives next week, but I'm stuck with Jobs' Revenge for a while yet...


Results used to be the only thing--everything. But, in the past few years, other considerations have become more important. For example, after trying numerous digital cameras with a smaller than 35mm size format, none ever had the results that met my standards. But with the advent of the Olympus EM-5, I found a camera that "mostly" meets my IQ standards but is lighter, smaller, more versatile and more fun. So, results slightly takes second place to convenience and ergonomics.

Still no widget!

I try my best not to let the camera get-in-my-way of doing something creative. Not always successful, but I do try.

Many famous photos have been slightly out-of-focus and unsharp, but they are still loved by many. Technically perfect pix that say nothing to me are not my cup of tea. Inspiration trumps technique/gear. Always.

I am inclined to believe that really great photographers don't care about either the equipment or the end results: They care about the process of seeing.

I am thinking of Vivian Mayer with her simple TLR and her thousand rolls of undeveloped film discovered after she died. Also, I know Freeman Paterson (now 75) has always used inexpensive 35 cameras, lenses and reversal film. When he was interviewed on the radio and asked about the difficulty of caring for his huge archive of slides, he answered that it didn't bother him, by the time he had released the shutter he had done everything he cared about; the physical slides were only of secondary importance.

Second time this year I've answered this question. The first time was when I sold off my Nikon gear to buy M43 gear.

Results are important - but only so far as they do not impinge upon my ability/willingness to actually schlep the gear.



"Results", well, I'd say digital cameras got solidly into the territory where I didn't have a prayer of getting limits-of-the-hardware results around the Pentax K20D.

Another couple generations of hardware and that might be true of everybody. (A few more and the camera will start arguing with you about composition.)

But, anyway -- if the limiting factor on the results is me, not the camera, picking the camera for the results is pretty silly.

I'm wrong again. Not only can't I predict how many comments a particular post will generate, but I thought this poll would be about 30 / 70 at best. Whoops!

Anyone want my picks for tomorrow's NFL slate?

Sometimes "other things" are necessary just to enable the chance to get the shot. My weatherproof E-5 will sure come in handy when out shooting Sandy. (Soon to be arriving hurricane for those not in the Northeast U.S.) I've got other gear, but there's only one rig I trust when out for hours in pouring rain or driving snow.

Hi Mike,
Sadly, the poll widget remains invisible to me. I'm on Windows 7, running Firefox 10.0.8, with NoScript and Adblock Plus. I've allowed the relevant widget, and the browser believes it to be present, but won't display it.


No poll here (UK based, W7 64 bit, no joy in Chrome or IE8)

My answer however is both (or should I say one of each).

Sometimes I need a truck, but for fun it's nice to have the 2 seater sportster as well. My DSLR is the truck and my CSC is the sports car.

For years, I've been held hostage by the 35mm Summicron v4 I've owned since 1984, and purchased used. I can't seem to separate myself from this lens, and it has resulted, in recent years, in my shooting with the M8, and now and then an M9 demo. What am I to do (that doesn't involve the expenditure of unreasonable amounts of cash)? Today I spent some time at the one local photo equipment emporium that is still extant [other than "big box" stores), quite prepared to pay our near 10% sales tax to support local business, and couldn't even imagine myself not shooting with gear that allows me to enjoy, and employ, the way this lens draws...Norm Snyder www.normsnyderphoto.com

The best results come from the camera that pleases you and is in your hands.


I could get better results with a full-frame and medium format digital. Or large format film. Instead I shoot APS-C and smaller formats. I have to like the the camera first and foremost. That doesn't mean I can use it more effectively, I just have to like using the damn thing.

The poll widget shows on my Safari browser.

Until recently, I purchased only Nikons, both for quality and because I had an investment in lenses, which I suppose puts me in the second category. But it's also true that the best camera in the world is the one you have with you when you see a picture you want to make. So, last month I purchased a Sony DSC-RX100. I'm still getting used to the lack of an OVF, but wherever I go, it goes, also.

FYI, my iPhone and iPad don't show the poll either...but my 2 cents worth: It's all about the results for me, BUT - my first camera was a Pentax SP500 (for 5 years or so). Next a Nikon FM2 (20 years or so). Then a Leica MP (last 12 years). I love the feel/action of the Leica. There is no Red Dot on this model. None of my friends are in to photography and no one I associate with knows its a "famous" brand. Looking over my photographs, since my first taken in the 1970's, no brand of camera stands out from the standpoint of "best photos". The Leica does feel the best, if you're into machinery (I am), but ultimately it's really all about that print in your hand.

Hate to pull a Bill Clinton, but I think we have to define what "results" means. If it is strictly about image quality then yes, I sacrifice results for other features. I could get better results (IQ) with a D800 than my current camera, but since I have no Nikon lenses I'd be in a bit of a pickle!

For me it's about getting the job done. IQ is generally good enough for me with most modern bodies, I think. I love my little x100, but when I need to shoot an assignment and nail the shots the hefty canon is the only option. But the little x100 is great for less serious work, and it's wonderful to hold - very satisfying - so it's got it's place as well.

Images are the final result and depending on what you do wih those images, and how you capture those images, you'll need different equipment. But all this is moot if you don't have a good idea, a goal, an eye and the desire to make work that matters. Nobody pixel peeps James Nachtwey photographs.

But I didn't define "image quality"; you just did. I only said to get the results you want. Which could be anything.

The problem is, your question lumped darn near everything except for image quality into the 'other than results' category;

"If you'll grant me that many people choose cameras for reasons other than the results they yield—because of the system that's available for them, the selection of lenses and accessories that you might buy one day, the way they handle, their technology, their recency (they want the latest thing), their capabilities (for instance, they want a camera with a certain package of features), their prestige, their looks, their history, who else used them, how handy they are, how pocketable they are, how pleasant or easy they are to use, how much their friends admire them..." (Emphasis mine).

So while you didn't explicitly say 'image quality' it was the only thing left on the table to describe 'results'. If you want to be inclusive of all factors, the question has no meaning. If I bought a camera for no other reason than the fact I like holding it and it makes me happy, and thus I actually use it and I'm perfectly happy with the output, then on what basis are we to parse, quantify and separate the purchase decision into for results/not for results categories? If 'results' is simply a case of being happy with the output, then 'results' is entirely subjective, and the answers are garbage from an informational POV because most people couldn't answer honestly even if they wanted to (because people can, and usually do, rationalize darn near any feature that they just happen to want in terms of how it will make their output better). So again, I think the question as structured isn't particularly illuminating.

I'd say that results are indeed all that matter, which is precisely why I voted for the other answer: because if I hated the camera, I'd most probably not carry it around at all times, and would then get far fewer results. Which are all that matter :)

(If I understand correctly your earlier reply to Tim Bray, you may disagree with this - but in that reply you used "inconvenient", whereas in the post you used "hate", which is something quite different, and which is what I'm referring to here. I will put up with inconveniences - not camera is without some, given that they're all designed by someone other than us - but if it is idiosyncratic enough that it will make me actively dislike using it, then, no.)

I don't see your widget using Google Chrome. However, although I suppose I could claim that I don't much care about the size of a camera if it will give me the results that I desire, until it was stolen I did for years use a Mamiya 7 instead of some larger camera.

Results trump everything for me, everything... except my girlfriend! I recently wanted to change from a Canon 5DII to the new Nikon 800D. In no uncertain terms she told me no, and I know I would have regretted it. I now have the 5DIII... but I still want that Nikon.

Can't see the poll with Firefox or Safari. Maybe it's a US only thing?

Can't see the poll on iPad, but you can put me down in the results column.

I shoot 8x10 as my main camera now. 4x5 and 2 na-quarter for snapshots. I would have to admit though, I do love my Hasselblad just for its own sake sometimes. It's a beautiful and well conceived photographic tool, even in this digital age. And also looking at the "viewfinder" on my big cameras!

I tend to use what ever camera is best suited for the job at hand, and sometimes the camera that best inspires me if that makes any sense. If I am shooting sports, its my Nikon D300 with a telephoto lens....if I am shooting my landscapes I tend to use my 4 x 5 view camera, although a digital camera would do just a well.

Results to me and my type of photography don't include the best technical image quality available in photography. In fact, I'd say that is down the list of important things.

So I will say the results, meaning being able to photograph what I want, the way I want, and that the camera is capable of recording that in an efficient manner, is probably most important.

To help me do that, it has to get out of my way, so function, ergonomics, and all that contribute to my being able to get the results I want. It also helps, that if I am buying a different brand, that I have lenses that I will be able to continue to use without much trouble and that I will not have to study and fight for a month to learn the new camera. (OK, the latter is a fantasy.)

Nowadays, politics also enters into my choice what while some of the discriminatory statements/criminal actions taken by certain camera company executives, and even the attempted censorship by a major camera company of a photographer at its own photographic exhibition. These are important to me 'cause I live right where that sort of stuff affects me (Japan), and I don't wanna hand any more of my cash over to such people than necessary.

But in the end, results as I defined above matter to me most. The other things contribute as they allow for those results.

If technical image quality were the most critical factor to me, I might carry around an 8X10 or the Hubble telescope, but if I get the results I want, I am not compromising.

Maybe I didn't understand the question.

Sometimes ergonomics equals results and sometimes it's portability that produces results. Or in another instance it could be resolution that produces the desired result, ect...

I imagine that those lucky few photographers who live without budget constraints still sometimes get the feeling that they left the right camera at home in the closet.

If it wasn't a combination of things we would all be shooting full or medium format, and our children would be shoeless because of our lens purchases.

Funny you should ask, because I've been pondering this question lately. The Olympus EPL1 that has been my personal general-use body for almost two years has become frustrating: I want a dial--preferably two--for faster adjustments in A mode and the option to shoot in full manual mode with all-auto lenses. And I wouldn't mind a stop more usable sensitivity, either.

I've thought about going back to DSLRs, both for the controls and the slightly better default image quality, but the idea of lugging around those chunky bodies and larger lenses, and losing compatibility with most of my lenses, are serious turn-offs. In other words, it seems that image processing and quality are close to sufficient for me, and that what I'm hankering for is better (for me) ergonomics.

On the other hand, the recently more affordable older Sigma DPs are intriguing, and those are all about results trumping usability and versatility.

Video is another complicating factor. I'd like video capability, but bodies designed for stills, despite what these cameras bring to the table in terms of IQ, are ergonomically horrible for shooting video in any serious way, so how much is that feature really worth? Here, again, it seems that factors other than results are important to me.

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