Do you want to listen to the music or the equipment – some thoughts on cameras


Dec 15, 2011
Bangalore, India
Sounds like an awesome strategy - I'll have to try it. My problem is I'm ruthless about selling stuff that's not getting used, so I never build up that much of an inventory...

I tried selling a few cameras I wasn't using and actually managed selling an RX100, a D700 and an LX5, but it was exhausting work having to put up with buyers (although well intentioned, the questions were myriad and detailed) and I'd rather just have the cameras sit in my cupboard till I decide to give them away or something. Though every once in a while I'll get pangs of remorse and then force myself to make pictures. Here's hoping this too is a phase and I get over it and shoot more often.
Aug 13, 2011
Sunny Frimley
Bill Palmer
The instrument is not the performance... Chopsticks played on a Steinway is still chopsticks. A camera is a tool and like all tools there are some basic rules: use the right tool for the job. Use a specialist tool where possible - a zoom lens is a convenient compromise, but then so is a monkey wrench. use the best tool you can reasonably afford, where "reasonable" means proportionate both to your frequency of use and level of capability. Don't buy cheap, for you will buy twice - I for one cannot afford to do that.

Above all use a tool that you enjoy to use, and that therefore inspires you.

1- I heartily agree, the greatest equipment is no replacement for descent skills. My brother bought a higher end Nikon with no idea how to use it. For years his photos were very substandard and not representative of what they could have been. He has gotten better, but what they could be and what he produced were far apart.

2- If you delve into any world far enough you will start to appreciate high quality content and equipment. A common debate in the audio world is the audio degradation of the MP3 format. When you listen to high quality content on high quality equipment you will notice the difference. I have a friend with a high quality home audio setup, (tens of thousands of dollars), and it is simply amazing. My simple home theater pails in comparison, yet I still can enjoy it.
Get the best you can afford and then enjoy.

Basically, become the best you can with what you have. Get to know what you own and get the best out of it.


Jul 15, 2010
I have very mixed feelings withe these constant comparison content vs equipment. many times it sounds like rationalizing on either side. Anybody with skills can shoot quality images with anything, especially some P&S and then there is the other side that one can only achieve greatness with a bag full of thousands of dollars worth of cameras. This just gets old, honestly the percentages may differ but there used to be an old phrase in fishing, "That 10% of the fisherman catch 90% of the fish". Sorry to say when is talking about great images something similar holds true, so one is righting in saying great talent can shoot with anything, but great talent can also appreciate fine quality equipment.
If one shoots just to make yourself happy, shoot what works for you and do not worry about what you should own or not, learn about what you do have and have some fun shooting


Jan 2, 2011
I agree with Bob that a lot of these discussions are rationalisations - "I spent all this money because it's the Best Tool for The Job (even though photography isn't my job)" ... "Buying expensive cameras is a waste of time because it's All About The Picture (but give me half a chance and I'd buy one like a shot)"

I also think this idea of the camera as a "tool" leads up the garden path ... it tends to support the idea that the "best" camera is one with "high performance" .. all measurable of course with ratings and pixel counts and noise thresholds and all that bollocks.

Whereas the truth of the matter is that people give as much weight in their choices to brand cachet, looks, feel and general desirability as to anything supposedly "objective". People buy a camera because they want that camera, not this camera, and much of the rationalisation that Bob refers to is about fooling oneself that one is making objective choices rather than subjective ones.

Now, to be frank, it really doesn't matter - in a consumer society where the people concerned have income to spare, and nobody goes without food or shelter because they buy a camera - whether you choose a camera just because you want one; but lets just not pretend otherwise ...

When I was a roofer (this is the early '80s), I spent half a week's wages on a hammer; Now I could have banged nails in with a rock, or a Nikon F probably, but I didn't.
Instead I chose to use a 16oz Estwing single-forged hammer with solid nylon grip.
Why? Because it was a very cool thing for a jobbing roofer to own, and I thought it looked cool, and I could. Still got one, actually. I can never find it though, and if I need a hammer I sometimes use a spoon or a book.

Is it time for my medication now, Nurse?

Ray Sachs

Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
No argument from me on any of that Paul - let's just stipulate here and now that this discussion is about stuff we WANT and LIKE, not stuff we NEED or we can't get by without. There are some pros here, but most of us shoot for our own pleasure, and even top-flite pros like Bob aren't hanging out on Serious Compacts to talk about their work gear, but their play gear. I'm just impressed that someone who does photography every day for a living still enjoys the basic activity enough to also do it for fun in their off time. I can't imagine being that into much of anything

That said, I'll claim looks don't play much of a part for me. If I was choosing a DSLR based on looks, I'd go for a black Df over the D610 I bought. I'd have probably never moved on from my X100 or EP-2 in favor of the XT1 or EM1, which I don't think are anything at all to look at. I think most of the stuff I buy has utilitarian (at best) looks. But it's still just stuff I WANT for my own mixed up combination of self-entertaining reasons. Since I bought an LX5 four years ago, not a single bit of it has been about need. And that arguably wasn't either, but if anyone would like to assume that I have any photographic needs at all, that would have met every damn one of 'em...


Jock Elliott

Hall of Famer
Jan 3, 2012
Troy, NY
I also think this idea of the camera as a "tool" leads up the garden path ... it tends to support the idea that the "best" camera is one with "high performance" .. all measurable of course with ratings and pixel counts and noise thresholds and all that bollocks.
Sean Reid of Reid Reviews had a couple of bright things to say in an essay on small sensor cameras:

To wit: He reckons that different lens/sensor/film combinations are in essence drawing tools, like different pens, inks, nibs, pencils, etc. Each renders in its own special way. A Leica delivers its own look, and so does an 8 x 10 view camera.

Further: "When one accepts that a photograph doesn't have to look a certain way, it becomes clear that there is no inherently superior kind of camera drawing and thus, by extension, no such thing as a hierarchy of photographic formats."

Cheers, Jock

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