Hardware Judgment

There is the – rather arrogant – view amongst photographers, that you need the proper gear in order to get the right shot. I have suffered long enough from what I call “lens envy” – prior to my switch over to marky Mark – to be familiar with this notion. One little episode comes to mind: I was taking part in the first ever Flickr group meet-up in Dublin a few years ago. The meeting point was the Spire on O’Connell Street. I got there at the agreed time and skulked around the Spire, camera dangling from my neck. As I walked around the monument, I spotted a group of people who suspicously looked like photographers. Well, *obviously* looked like photographers, judging by the number of biiiiig cameras on display. And I noticed with amusement how, as they were scanning the passing the pedestrians for potential attendees, they immediately recognised me as one of them. But unlike the familiar sensation that women often experience when they meet men, the gaze did not settle on the chest, but on the camera on the chest. I was being appraised by my photographic hardware (as opposed to the underlying software??? *hahaha*) and immediately put into the category of “total amateur, uses only a 350d”.

Even though I was at the receiving end of photography arrogance for long enough, I admit that judging other photographers by their hardware rather than their images is temptingly easy. But so misguided. Granted – shooting with proper equipment gives better results. But sometimes you have to make do with what you have got. And the results may have their own aesthetic merits and may still be worth while. That just happened to me the other day.

I was assisting at a fashion shoot the other day. Cristian Turcan, the photographer, has a knack of finding beautiful locations for his shoots. This time we were in an antiques shop on Dublin’s Capel Street, called Renaissance Antiques. (Unfortunately this gem of a shop is about to close next week and relocate to Belgium. Check it out before it closes – it’s amazing!) Knowing that I’d be busy holding the reflector and moving the lights, I did not bother bringing my 5D2. Oh, how I regretted that! But in the absence of marky Mark, I used the camera on my iPhone to capture what I was seeing.

Chandeliers, shot with iPhone 4

Yep, this would have been better, sharper, nicer with an SLR. And it isn’t going to win any prizes. But somehow I find it amazing what a little camera phone can do for you. It definitely should not be dismissed, just because it is way below par in comparison with a proper dSLR. Neither should I only be judged by the crappiness of some of my images.

So keep an open mind, people. It’s in the look, not in the hardware!

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2 thoughts on “Hardware Judgment

  1. Danuta

    I must tell you , Sonja, that I am also tempted to invest (not even buy!) the 5D. But I remember many people that work I admire, tell me that unless you are shooting for a poster size images, sensor size has nothing to do with good photography. It's a Lens that matters. So, I am going to invest in good lens instead:) Camera must wait!
    I also love my little phone camera as it helps to catch moments I would miss with any camera!:)

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  2. Sonja

    Yes, I guess the lens is what matters. Plus, they remain even if you upgrade your camera body. Mind you, in my case the shitty little 18-55mm EFS lens was part of the problem that could only be solved by buying marky Mark :-D.
    Camera phones are a great invention. I snap away on my iPhone all the time – just for memories, I guess, but I still get the photography feeling, so that is what counts…

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