This is going to be a rant post, so if you’re not into that, feel free to go on your merry way and come back later after I’ve cooled down.
Pix•el Peep•ing, n.
- Closely inspecting a digital image with the intent to dissect its every flaw—and flaws in the equipment it was created with—even if such flaws would be invisible to any normal human in nearly any natural situation.
This is not a new thing, but Photokina just happened, which invariably sets off an avalanche of reviews and teardowns and intense analysis, and I’m not saying that that sort of work is completely without value, but, really, for the sake of the rest of us, just quit it.
As enthusiasts, or even as professionals, I know it’s fun to follow along with what the manufacturers are doing and get into spirited and good-natured debates with our friends who use different systems about why ours is the better choice for shooting X, or why theirs is terrible at Y, and even to spend a good deal of time on DxOMark and DPReview literally agonizing over every detail about a piece of equipment.
But seriously folks, these days, you literally can’t buy a bad camera. Instead of nit-picking and bickering and over-analyzing, here is something you could be doing instead: making photographs.
Cameras are so damn good these days that you probably have an altogether serviceable unit in your pocket right now, and I’m not trying to say that you should just sell all your gear and use an iPhone to fill your portfolio or anything, but seriously, the actual full-body cameras on the market today are all so great that if you aren’t satisfied with the images you’re getting out of them, you should take a step back and think about whether it’s the equipment that’s the problem.
Experience is your creative fuel. The only way to make your images truly astounding, truly timeless, is to gain experience. Your experience is always growing, always changing, and armed with an observant mind your work will improve many times faster through experimentation than through upgrades to your kit.
(The photo above was taken with my cell phone. I like it a lot. I’m not convinced that the image would have more merit if it were 40 megapixels in size.)
But hey, there’s good news. Experience is basically free. Compared to that new $3,000 mirrorless system (or whatever), experience only costs you some time and some energy, and you were going to spend those anyway. Do you own a camera with independent shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings? Do you know how to change them? Excellent, you already own the perfect camera.
Now, I know, if you’re quite advanced or specialized in some area of photography, like say you’re a professional sports shooter, or you’re a very avid astrophotographer, you’re going to have needs above and beyond “the manual camera I happen to have in my lap.” I get that. My point isn’t that you don’t deserve the right gear, my point is that most people already own the right gear but they love to obsess over what gear they think they should have instead of putting a little elbow grease into their craft.
So don’t be like those people. Read your actual camera manual. Watch some YouTube videos about composition or technique. Go take a photography workshop! Do something to expand your mind and your skills. You’ll know when you need to change your equipment, and it won’t be because DxOMark said so.
That’s my rant. But here is more:
- Read Your Photos Need More Life and Less Photoshop
- Watch Fro Knows Photo’s State of the Union clip from 7.5 minutes in, which inspired a lot of this state of mind I got myself into.
And hey, I’m going to be teaching photography workshops in Boston starting next spring (2019). I’d love to have you along, so if you’re interested in that sort of thing you can read about the workshops and sign up to be notified of early registration before anyone else on my workshop website, ArtPhotoWorkshops.