Robin Wong’s excellent video on Harsh Camera Truths is so on target. Cameras are tools, have improved so much in the past two decades, and we can all stop whining and shoot more to become better photographers. At Photoxels, back when review sites were pawing off their camera ratings in the unending elusive search for The Best Camera, we were telling everyone who would listen that there was no such thing as “the best camera,” only “the camera that is best for you.”
On the other hand, there is something to say about “whining” about better cameras and features. See, camera manufacturers do not include all the desired features in one model because, wanting to sell more and make the most profits, they understandably and reasonably target the biggest group of camera buyers — and leave the minority groups wondering why their favorite features were left out.
By whining/asking/wondering, we get the attention of camera manufacturers who cannot compete with the big brands and so have to differentiate their cameras somehow from the big brands. That is how we got autofocus, in-body image stabilization, stacked focus, focus bracketing, live composite, Eye AF, Interval Shooting, weather-proofing, etc. In smart phones, we got Filters, Portrait mode, TimeLapse, Slo-mo, Pano, etc. Drone photography became so much more affordable and easier.
We get apps like Vidoeleap and InShot that allow everyone to suddenly make video effects that, in times past, only “great” cinematographers could make using expensive equipment. Now, grandma and your uncle Bob can film, edit and whisk out a super-duper special-effects video on TikTok in no time: They can change clothes in a snap, reverse footage with a few clicks, and even make rain stop! So much fun, and they’ve just picked it up like that because the features are just a couple of simple clicks away.
Given, all these innovative features do not necessarily make us better photographers/videographers, where better is judged against such greats as Henry-Cartier Bresson and Edward Weston, to name only two. But then, extreme close-ups, HDR landscapes, slow motion video footage, cloud water effects, vertigo effect, interval shooting, astrophotography, etc. were also all somehow bunched under the “Wow, you must be a good photographer/videographer!” banner. Now, almost anyone with the right camera and features, and willing to spend a few fun and creative hours learning the process, can join that elite group once reserved for “great” pro photographers/videographers. These innovative and easy-to-use features have made everyday Joes and Susies into “better” photographers/videographers almost overnight, and even created new sources of income for some.
So, yes, you can use a basic camera and should take the time to learn how to be a better photographer. Many consumers, however, have no such interest, and yet somehow new easy-to-use camera features have made them “better” photographers/videographers. So, it’s all a matter of whether you want to be a better or “better” photographer/videographer. Most people looking at your pictures/videos will have no clue of whether you are now a really better photographer — or just a “better” photographer because the camera features allow you to be so. I pass no judgment either way, and rejoice at how more power has passed to the masses.
Whining does work. See, if every camera manufacturers target the same market segment (because their focus groups and surveys have found that these features are what the majority of photographers are asking for), then they build camera models that look similar to one another and all end up reaching into the pocketbooks of the same group of consumers. To increase the appeal of their cameras, they add a few of the outlying demands from whiners, and presto, their camera models now somehow rate a “better value for money” on review sites.
So, again, all Robin Wong says (and yes, I listened to all 16:46 of it) is right on target. Whiners who believe that more features will make them better photographers are wrong — and yet, right at the same time, as we can see all around us how easier-to-use features have allowed a lot of us (serious photographers and non-serious “artists,” alike) to take better pictures. Market research means that the majority gets the features they want, and so are happy; the minority, however, doesn’t and so have to fall back to “constructive whining.” Sometimes, that’s the only way we have to let camera manufacturers know that we exist as consumers and that incorporating some of the features we ask for can help differentiate their camera model from their competitor’s. And that’s a good thing — for everyone.
So, yeah, stop whining (negatively), keep whining (constructively), go out and shoot more, take the time to learn, and Enjoy Photography!
– The Photoxels Editors