There was a time not too long ago when photographers & videographers inhabited different worlds. They used different cameras and spoke a different language. Then the mirrorless revolution started and the boundaries blurred. Today, it would appear that all the talking heads on YouTube and other social media platforms only really want to talk about the video aspect of cameras while almost ignoring the photography aspects of any new camera (The new Canon R5 is a case in point. Almost to a man, there are a lot less women, they say something like ‘…the R5 I guess will be a great camera for a photographer but let me tell you all about its overheating problem whilst shooting 8K…’). Most digital cameras today are, well how can one put it? A bit boring. There really isn’t much more that can be added to help the photographer. Perhaps the biggest modern innovation has been image stabilization. Yes I know that today’s focusing systems are mind blowing; Yes the sensitivity of the average sensor defies the laws of physics and the incredible advancing of computational image making in smartphones is exhausting. But do any of these things really add to the basic idea of photography – to create an image that appeals to some sense of interest and perhaps aesthetic principles. When judged against these criteria I believe the answer is far from clear. It really is but no but yes but but yes but….
I guess the point I am making is that most modern digital cameras are not that much better at helping the photographer than many of the original ‘greats’ of the genre.
It is probably an age thing but I am not convinced by the move to hybridization in the camera world for the one undeniable fact that I am paying a significant chunk of change to use a camera that can export in 4:2:2 at a 10 bit rate. I have a theoretical idea about codec and lutz but that is it. I have two cameras that have little red buttons that I have never pressed and have no interest in pressing and yet I have to pay for the privilege for such features.
I understand that this is the world we live in but I wonder if all these struggling camera companies are missing a trick. Perhaps they might sell just a camera for the photographer by dropping all the video functionality – the menu system would be a whole lot simpler for one thing. I believe the only company that actually does that is Leica but they don’t really count because of the expense, notwithstanding the quality, of the product. I guess there is no one really interested in such an approach, least of all all the talking heads who have a business models built around the constant supply of new and pointless equipment. Maybe the ‘new normal‘ of a post/endemic covid might destroy some of this froth – I doubt it.
So as I start to think about buying a new camera I have to wade through endless reviews of the video functionality of this camera or that. I am not interested. I’m a simple old photographer who just wants something reasonably priced and simple to use. I’ll let you into a little secret. There are only three controls on a camera that I play around with: The aperture, focus point and ISO. When I get a new camera out of the box I set up the custom buttons to meet that simple need and that is it. I shot raw so all the crap about this company’s colour science is better that that companies just passes me by. I really am not that bothered about the ‘feel‘ of the camera in my hand as I rarely hold the camera for more that a few seconds between shots. I am able to make images that I find rewarding and that is all I want from a camera.
Boring isn’t it. Cameras are an important component of what makes me me but only in the same way that a master carpenter has a favourite tool he or she uses. The rest of the world judge the result and they care little for what tool was used. Now lenes are a totally different matter but that is a different rant for another day!