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Thread: Piece of heart

  1. #1

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    Piece of heart

    After writting mail to someone I started on Leica forum next discussion. But this can be seen as general, not only connected to Leica or any particular manufacturer:

    Please don't see this as complaining. I am war veteran and wounded in war. And got out without feeling sorry for myself or complaining to life or destiny. And all of you who had simillar experiences knows that after such experiences there is no many things which could shake such person and force him/her to whining about small thing such are things which can be bought or solved with money. So:

    I don't think I am very talented for photography. But I think lack of talent can be replaced with hard work. Then again, my job doesn't give me time I would like to have to dedicate to photography. Photography is something I just love, without need to be best. That make me to think next:

    I am one of those who are biggest oponent of Leica prices. But I think high prices have one advantage. That advantage is to consider next:

    If one need to spend few thousands dollars or euros for Leica set, he or she should ask him/herself "Am I photographer that good that spending that money would be justified considering results I will produce with that equipment? Would that be "insulting", to use best (and expencive) equipment to get, in best case, mediocre results?" That would be honest photography introexamining for everyone. And because one who ask and one who answer are same person, no fooling around would be wise...

    So, theme for discussion would be, could high prices of Leica equipment (or any other) force one to honestly examine him/herself as photographer?

  2. #2
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Good question. As a beginner, I always look towards the cheapest prices simply because too much initial investment could be a disaster. I've followed the same route with computers, a similarly inflated market.

    When I had my first computer, in 1993, it was a 1987 model, with no hard drive, 16colors screen and I made a big expense by adding a modem to it. Now if you're familiar with computer history, you'll recall that at that time the new kid on the block in the PC world was a 486. I had a 8086, which is insanely old now. Nevertheless, I hung on to it until 1998! I would print my papers on a dot-matrix printer, and managed to get on the Internet text-only.

    At that point, I had known a lot about computers to be able to squeeze every possible resource I could out of it. I went with a Compaq laptop that was one year old, and that was the newest equipement I had ever used. I burned it for five years, until it died. THEN I made the big jump and spent 2k$ on a PowerBook. If I had spent that same amount of money every 2-3 years, I would have learnt nothing, and wasted a lot of money.

    For photography it's the same to me. I started with the disposable cameras, but then I was mostly doing snapshots. Nevertheless it was cheap, and I could learn a bit about composition and thinking about an interesting angle. I got my first SLR this Christmas and then got serious about taking pictures. It's a Praktica so it's heavy and loud, but it's tough and was a leftover that cost me only repairs on it. I expanded my arsenal with a Yashica-D TLR, and now I can shoot both 35 and medium format on an equipement that is reliable, and gives me satisfactory results. I just got a free enlarger (same family circuit as the Praktica) so I can start setting up my own darkroom as well. All in all, I consider that I am not pushing the limits of my equipment yet, so why should I invest myself in an expensive purchase? I still don't know enough to consider spending a grand or two on photo equipement.

    Now, more on the topic of whether highly priced new equipement has a salvatory purpose on amateurs, I would say: yes, but that is incidental, not intended. I think the premium paid comes from the fact that the equipment can be pushed REALLY hard and far. It's like paying the extended warranty. And not just in terms of weather conditions, but also in the ability of a high-quality lens to give excellent results in a complicated light situation. Those situations may not be encountered by most amateurs, so that's why in a specific range of applications, it doesn't really matter that much what kind of lens you use, and a learner will get as much from his Tamron or his Vivitar than from a Leitz.

  3. #3
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    I'm of the opinion that owning a Leica (or Hasselblad, or insert your favorite pricey brand here) will NOT make you a good photographer. In fact, I think the camera you use is ultimately irrelevant to the finished work. When I was a photo editor, I could never tell you if a photographer was using Canon, or Nikon, and in MF if it was Hassy or Mamiya. Whatever! I just needed good photos to publish, and I didn't really care how they did it.

    I think a good photographer will make great images with just about any camera they can get their hands on. It's a tool. All that said, I happen to own a Leica (used!), and it really is a marvelous tool. I've been very happy with it, and it suits my vision. A Leica had been beyond my means for a couple of decades, but, nontheless, I still was able to make the photos I wanted with the rag tag small collection of gear that I've always had. The Leica's been a great addition, and I'm grateful that I was finally able to afford it, but some of my favorite photos have been made with gear I thought sucked (like zoom lenses, yuck). Go figure! I've made some favorites with the Leica, too, and more than a few crappy ones.

    If you expect the Leica to make you a better photographer, you should have your head examined!

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    In my opinon good photographers do not NEED the expensive equipment. Most of the people here make great work with very common, inexpensive equipment. I will buy a Leica or a "blad", when I get to the point that I NEED that equipment to move on or to improve as a photographer. Right now, its a waste. I am amazed with the images some people make using a Holga.....

    I wouldn't judge your worth as a photographer based on your equipment.

  5. #5
    blansky's Avatar
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    There are as many answers to you question as there are people to answer them.

    The cost of anything is tied to various factors. Handmade, quality of parts, how good the "system" is, does it have built in obsolescense, will it last forever are some things that can make things expensive.

    Does a beginner or hobbiest need a Leica, Hasselblad, Sinar etc?

    Some people get into any hobby, skiing, cycling, tennis, golf, and buy the best racket, best clubs, best outfits, best shoes/boots etc. They want to look the part and they think that this will help them to be accepted as not being a novice/duffer. They also think that this stuff will increase the speed at which they will excell at the sport. Does it work. Who knows.

    When I started in photography I bought a Hasselblad, because I heard and researched it to find out that it was the "best" medium format camera. It was definately a better camera than I was a photographer. BUT because it was so great and the system so good that it did enable me to get to be a lot better without having limitations on me due to the equipment. ALso the camera is 30 years old now and I still use it every day. Good investment. I think so. IF I had bought a cheaper system 30 years ago I would have had to replace it probably many times over.

    For that reason I have always bought what I thought was the "best" because I wouldn't have any limitations equipment wise and I could be ensured longetivity. When I don't buy the "best" I balance what I do buy with what are the advantages for me in not buying the "best" and compromising. Many times a compromise can be a very good decision, but it has to be balanced with your goals and your resources.

    Another thing I try to remember is the saying that "rich people buy things that increase in value and poor people buy things that depreciate".

    MIchael
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.

  6. #6
    Bill Hahn's Avatar
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    I agree with Suzanne.

    I bought a Leica out of curiosity, and it has allowed me to photograph in low light
    situations without flash (I dislike flash). But I had no illusions about it improving
    my photographic vision....

    These days, when I look at buying any piece of equipment, the question I ask is: "How
    will this lens/flash/camera/thingie give me more time to photograph?" It's *time*, not
    equipment, that's my problem (not to mention a lack of talent compared to more
    visual people).

    As for being insulted by producing mediocre results with good equipment, at this stage of my life I'm used to such insults....not only in photography...:-)
    "I bought a new camera. It's so advanced you don't even need it." - Steven Wright

  7. #7
    jovo's Avatar
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    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. I've often speculated that beginners should get the Strads since virtuosos can make almost anything sound good! (just a thought..no way would I surrender a really good instrument to a beginner.)

    One of the things I feel saddest about when seeing the photographic work our local district's high school students produce is miserable print quality. I believe a lot of these results come from really awful enlarging lenses...I think so because they look like the kind of results I got when I first began and all I had was the cheapo triplet that came with the enlarger. I also remember using a very poor quality TLR and had the same experience with the negatives. Good, if not necessarily the very best, quality equipment makes a big difference. I think beginners need all the help they can get.
    John Voss

    My Blog

  8. #8
    MenacingTourist's Avatar
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    Haris,

    A long time ago when I was starting to accumulate woodworking tools someone gave me the advice to "buy the kind of tools where you only cry once". A lot of what I got was better than I was but over time I have grown into them and have never been limited. My woodworking tools could easily be used by my grandchildren (I'm 35) if they so wish. I never think about how much it stung me to purchase that cabinet saw, but everytime I use it I'm really pleased with how it performs.

    I now use that philosophy with photography. So far so good.

    Good luck with it.

    Alan.

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    You don't need to use a Leica, Nikon, Hasselblad, or other "professional" equipment to take good photographs. Those who buy professional equipment need a camera which will stand up to constant daily use without breaking down. Most of us are not as demanding of our equipment. Of course, there is the Leica mystique but it would be virtually impossible to distinguish two photos, one taken with a Leica and the other taken with say a Bessa RF.

  10. #10
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    I take everyone's point about gear, and would agree with Jovo, that good gear can go a long way to helping a beginner learn this craft. I, frankly, wouldn't recomend starting with point and shoot. A good manual SLR, should serve that purpose very well for many shooters, and keep frustrating setbacks to a minimum for beginners. I would also agree that a pro should have a good system in place, that meets their needs.

    It seems, though, that a lot of photographers chase some magic bullet to improve their photography through 'better' gear. It's a distraction that can make you lose sight of your own vision.

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