I was perusing the net at many oft visited Photography related websites, and came across this post on 43rumors.com. It basically shows some images of the upcoming Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens for Micro 4/3. There was certainly nothing wrong with the post, but the comments on the post had me scratching my head.
It wasn’t just that post, of course, but something I’ve seen and heard discussed at many times over the past few years, and it begs the question…are you a photographer or a camera enthusiast?
See, if you read the comments, there is one predominant theme. The discussion isn’t centered on things such as “Wow, I hope Olympus produces yet another great prime lens like they did with the 45/1.8 and 12/2.” or “It’ll be great to finally have a native fast telephoto lens for the system.” Or “it’s a focal length that isn’t useful for me.”
No. The predominant discussion is “I can’t believe it’s only available in Silver.” Ok…I sort of get it. Aesthetics are important to people, and many people (myself included) get some sort of pleasure when their gear looks good as well as performs well. This isn’t just true for photography, but any hobby. Audiophiles want speakers that both sound good and fit in well with the room. Car enthusiasts want raw power AND sleek lines. But a rather large portion of ‘photographers’ are increasingly getting caught up in how gear looks rather than making pictures. In that linked post, there were many people who actually stated that they would NEVER BUY an Olympus lens if it were only offered in silver.
And…that’s where these other parallels really become close. See, many car enthusiasts really just want a car that looks and feels cool, rather than performs. DRIVERS want a car that responds well and drives beautifully. I’d imagine aesthetics are a distant thought in importance. Similarly…camera enthusiasts may place a real premium on aesthetics. Photographers just want equipment that can better help them get the shot they have in mind.
Now, before everyone crucifies me for this, I do realize there are legitimate reasons for not wanting a silver camera lens. If you’re shooting wildlife, the silver color may notify animals of your presence. It’s a little more conspicuous. I get it. But let’s face it…this is not a birding lens.
Going more generally, I see a lot of photographers and budding camera buffs getting so caught up in either the looks of a camera or lens (“I really want a Canon WHITE lens!”) or the prestige of a brand (“look…it’s a Leica…I can’t take a decent photograph to save my life, but it’s a LEICA”) that they forget to focus on making pictures.
Look…gear is fun. And there is something intensely satisfying about using a beautiful and well crafted piece of equipment. But if a piece of gear has exactly the image making properties I need, but is really ugly? Well, then the aesthetics don’t really matter.
So…are you a photographer? Or a camera enthusiast? Frankly, being either one is just fine. There’s nothing wrong with being a camera enthusiast. Just make sure you’re honest with yourself.