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Thread: Piece of heart

  1. #11
    BradS's Avatar
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    I'm with the OP. I've always looked at the Leica (and similar) prices and thought I'd have to be able to earn a living with it to justify that kinda cost. What does the new Leica with a 50mm Summicron lens go for these days? Upwards of $5000? If I added up everything I've spent on camera gear in my whole life, I don't think the total would be close to that. And I have had and, still have, a lot of gear.

    Then there's the constant anxiety of breaking, dropping, or getting it lost or stolen...A few months back, I dropped a Nikon 28mm AIS lens on the concrete and dented it pretty badly. I beat myself up for days over a dented lens that I bought used for less than $250 and it still worked perfectly(!). Can't imagine how I'd feel if I so much as breathed on a Leica wrong.

    I've got nothing against people who lay out the big money for Leica and Hasselblad gear and I really do believe that in the right hands, the cameras are capable of producing superior results but, that ultra-expensive gear is just not for me.

    Now, if I were a pro wedding or portrait photographer, I'd be all over the Hasselblad system!

  2. #12
    jd callow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jovo
    As a cellist, I can make even a begining student level instrument sound pretty good. But students can't. They do, however, play much better on better equipment.
    This is very true. As a painter it is far better and easier to learn how to paint with quality paints, brushes, etc... then it is to learn on crap and relearn once you you step up in quality.

    *

  3. #13
    bobfowler's Avatar
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    My favorite photography quote:

    "Skill in photography is acquired by practice, not by purchase"

    - Percy W. Harris
    Bob Fowler
    fowler@verizon.net
    Some people are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

  4. #14
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I also agree with Jovo about musical instruments. I had a pretty lousy first student trombone and struggled with tone problems for years, and solved those problems much more quickly once I had a better instrument, as well as a few different teachers. When I eventually sold the old student horn, I could make a pretty good sound on it, but to learn what it felt like internally to make a good sound, I had to have a horn that I wasn't fighting to begin with.

    If the camera inspires you to make better photographs and you can afford it, then why not? Eventually you'll come around to being able to work with whatever camera you have handy, and you'll find other things to inspire you.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  5. #15
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    My teacher said, "Spend as much as you can afford on as little as you need."

    SO, I bought a Leica when I was 19, which was a massive sacrifice. It was a challenge to do a lot with a 50 mm lens, and the process transformed me. I became, in time, a photographer.

    Ansel Adams used to say that given adequate talent, motivation and guidance, it took 15 years to master photography. No different from playing a fiddle.

    I know for a fact that in 1970, the cost of a Leica ( about $750, with a 50 summicron ) was a lot. But it's about the same today, corrected for the change in the value of money. OTHER cameras have gotten cheaper for lots of reasons. But a handmade camera, like a Nikon F2, would be breathtaking today as well. ANY thing done by hand is expensive. Perhaps handmade things should be the standard by which we measure goods.

    SO, "could high prices of Leica equipment (or any other) force one to honestly examine him/herself as photographer? "

    Absolutely. Should it ? Of course. Spend as much as you can on as little as you need.
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

  6. #16

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    I've taken, to a point, DF's approach. When I was finishing college my old Spotmatic was giving out. I had spent the winter TA'ing for a NY photographer, and saw the local pros at the gallery shows, and asked them for their opinion on an appropriate camera. Not too expensive, but more rugged than a Spotmatic. The consensus (other than George??? who maintained that i should cut the BS and buy a 'blad, because I would in the end anyway) was the Nikon F, which hadn't become a collector's item yet. It was enough money at the time, but I still have it and have put a few hundred rolls of film through it since then, even though it did need a major rebuild a few years back.

    The real advantage to me of the F, versus something then current, such as the F3/F4, Canon F1, or Pentax Lx, was that it came pre-scuffed. It was also priced so that with only moderate pain, I could afford to replace it if necessary. Therefore, I never worried about where it went, and I used it freely, as a tool.

    So, I'd personally say buy the most rugged piece of equipment for which you pay a price that won't make you baby it.

  7. #17

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    I am sorry but you didn't understood me.

    I know that buying expencive equipment can not make you better photographer by itself. I was talking about next:

    You are photographer and you have your gear and use it. So, after a while you got some money and decide to buy something you dream about for long time. Or you started to save money to buy that expencive dream equipment. Now question is: Honestly looking at myself as photographer would spending that money be stupid or good decision. Not would it make you better photographer, but are you photographer who will "justify" use of such expencive equipment. Price of equipment serve only as argument to look at yourself and to honestly answer yourself to question am I or am I not photographer I would love to be. Am I folling myself and think about myself something that I am really not. In photography sense.

    Not will expencive equipment make me better photographer.

    Can high price of equipment help us to be that honest to ourselves?

    My question is something like next conversation:

    "Ok I need to pay few thousands for equipment. Let see is that wise considering myself as photographer".

    Answers:

    1. Yes, I am good photographer and that investment is wise.

    2. No I am not good, but I will buy it because I want it.

    3. No, I am not good, so I will not buy it and I will restrict my photography to hollidays snapshots and not invest in that equipment.

    Something like give to ourselves those kind of honest answers.

    Answer "I am good but I won't buy it" is irrelevant for what I was thinking...

    My answer is: Even if maybe I am not photographer who will have best use of expencive a equipment sooner or later I will get my dream equipment. Because love does't have rational reasons. But, this really force me to seriously look at myself how good photographer I am, and have I chance to improve myself. And to honestly answer to my self that question however that will ruin or not picture I have about myself as photographer.

  8. #18

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    Just buy it. It sounds to me like you will increase your enjoyment of photography and probably your comfort level when you go out and shoot with the Leica. I think when you are comfortable with the equipment you select, you will be more free to concentrate on making images and becomeing a better photographer.

    I have a friend who is a woodworker. He spent almost $1000 dollars on a set of 6 hand ground wood chisels from Japan. He even admits that a set 1/4 the cost would probably produce the same results. But he was smitten by the quality and beauty of the tools. He is also accomplished enough that he felt his skills justified such a purchase if for no other reason than as a reward for his years of learning and efforts. Sometimes you see something and you just have to have it if you can swing it financialy even if it does not make rational sense.
    "Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
    Robert Adams

  9. #19
    MikeS's Avatar
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    Here's my thoughts on the matter:

    Everything is relative. If you're a professional, and you're going to be making money with photography, then you should probably buy the best equipment you can afford.

    If you're not a professional, and photography is just a hobby, then it gets slightly different. First off, how much you can you spend for a camera? Well, if you're either rich, or have a very well paying day job, where you can buy the best, and not feel the difference financially, then why not buy the best? I mean it doesn't matter how good or bad you are, it matters how much you will enjoy the equipment! As an example, I have a Linhof Technika 4x5, a camera many consider the Leica of large format. Does it make me a better photographer? No. In fact, I've been looking thru my photographs, and some of my better pictures were taken with a much less expensive camera. But, I enjoy the quality of the camera every time I use it!

    If on the other hand, money is tight, and buying a higher end camera would put a financial stress in your budget, then by all means buy a less expensive camera! As others have said, great images can be made with disposable cameras, or Leicas, etc.

    So, it all boils down to: If you buy the expensive equipment, will you enjoy it more than if you bought the cheaper equipment? Only you can answer that question.

    -Mike

  10. #20
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    We're all different. Having my Leica, and being compelled to shoot one lens, for a long time, helped. Being impoverished to your craft is good. Having 8 camera bodies and a trunk of lenses, pointless. The Leica is a cranky, difficult tool. It is only a camera, and makes no comforting purring noises. It goes click, and that's the end of it. But its great company when you're out shooting.

    There is an ocean of misunderstanding about what makes Leica transformative. It is not about sharpness. It is about the directness of your vision. The old, accepted, and intentional way of working is simply this: learn to see what the camera sees, and when the shot is ready to be made, lift the camera to your eye, shoot, then lower the camera. It isn't about zooms, and tunnel vision. It doesn't shape your vision, it serves your vision. And if you don't see, or don't want to see, it's photo jewelry.

    If you are interested in learning how to shoot 36 good images on a roll of film, great. If you want to have to sell all your photo gear to buy a lens and a camera body, great. If you want to become a better photographer, and the challenge of it is symbolized by the camera, do it.

    Answer this one: phone rings, and you learn that in 5 minutes you're leaving on a round the world trip. What one camera do you pack ?

    If you say Leica, great. If it's, "OH, my Nikon, 3 zooms, and a Hassie and some flash gear...", it ain't for you.

    Best luck
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

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