Now this is something that really irks me…
I first encountered it when I joined some Malaysian photography forums a couple of years back, there was a lot of “Wow nice pics, what camera did you use?!” – usually stated with horrible grammar and spelling.
I was a member of a bunch of more International forums too and noticed that I didn’t really see that so much, I got more involved in Flickr then and hardly ever saw it there – perhaps because the EXIF info is more easily available (EXIF show what settings and camera were used).
But then there are plugins for Firefox that can show you EXIF in pictures too (Opanda, FxIF, EXIF Viewer) if you really want to know what was used to take the picture, I think it’s more important for people to check the settings rather than the camera used.
But why do they care what lens and camera was used? How does it matter? If it’s more expensive, or a top-end camera does that mean I have less skill in taking a nice picture?
You don’t meet a published author and say “Hey I read your book, it was really good – what typewriter did you use?”
Wouldn’t that be considered a big insult?
It’s just a tool that achieves an end result, it’s not what makes the picture. Given a better camera makes it EASIER to take pictures in certain situations and certainly makes changing settings and start-up faster..but it doesn’t effect the exposure, composition, concept or understanding of light displayed by the photographer.
The sensor in a low end dSLR and a high end is often the same, the difference is the build quality of the body, the external buttons (high end cameras have a LOT more buttons) and the speed of processing/taking pictures (faster processor and bigger buffer).
The image quality (known as IQ) is about the same, the photographer is making the difference.
Lenses make more of a difference, but at web size (500-800) pixels a shot with a low-end kit lens (like the Nikon or Canon 18-55) and a high end f/2.8 lens at mid range aperture (f/5.6-8) are indistinguishable.
So really it doesn’t matter either, and that is why it irks me.
It’s one of the reasons why I stayed on Flickr more than the local forums, and then got tired of both and started Shutter Asia – we totally avoid any gearheads if possible (people who think buying the latest most expensive gear will give you awesome pictures and ALWAYS ask “Wow nice bokeh, what lens did you use?“) and we avoid any hero worshiping of ‘senior’ or ‘sifu’ photographers that take crappy pics but have expensive gear.
There’s an endemic in the photography scene in Malaysia at the moment, all you need to do to get praised is:
1) Take a picture of a pretty girl (doesn’t have to be that pretty)
2) Use a long lens with a wide aperture and get creamy bokeh (85mm f/1.8, 135mm f2/0, 70-200mm f/2.8)
People will worship you like you’re a God. You can have a crappy exposure, blown highlights, green whitebalance, bad composition (chopped limbs) but as long as you have the girl and the bokeh you are super kau pro photographer.
All you need to do is browse some of the famous photographers on Flickr and see they are using 3.2 megapixel compact cameras….yeah they can’t blow up their pics to 40″x30″ prints – but they still are making superb images.
Pick any brand, any compact camera and you’ll find superb images.
So please don’t insult people by asking what camera or lens they use, just appreciate their pics, give some feedback and constructive criticism if possible. The picture they took is pretty much possible with any camera and lens, it’s their skill and vision that made the image – not the camera.
Never forget that.