No matter how much better life, in general, tends to get when it comes to technology advances, it never seems to be enough for many people. As soon as the latest product is announced, not even released, the internet is abuzz with what the ‘next’ iteration may provide, or people will immediately commence to tear apart the newly announced product, identifying all the flaws and omissions and complaining that it’s not good enough for them. Internet photographers (or just insert your favourite forum) seem to be the worst of the lot for never being happy with what they have. It’s not even a matter of the grass being greener on the other side, people complain about the paddocks they can’t even see.
Now I’m as much an adopter of new technology as anyone else, perhaps more so, but up to a point. It’s not technology development and improvement that I see as an issue, it’s the seeming need to always be seeking the next best thing, never being satisfied with what you have and making sure that every man and his dog are aware of that fact. Those who complain the loudest, usually don’t appear to make any effort to get the most of what they have and tend to blame the equipment for their lack of achievements, capability or ability to do something (like getting that critical duck photo). Manufacturers just aren’t giving them the features that they really need; however, when someone points out that they can get a camera that gives them the features they claim are lacking, they counter that they are just amateurs and can’t afford such cameras. There’s never a silver lining in the clouds where they live.
While my Pentax and Minolta cameras are still in excellent condition, they just fell by the wayside (as did my medium format gear, now long sold) as film purchasing, processing and printing simply became too expensive when I moved on to others things to earn a living, not because I wanted something better. Film is now all but forgotten, as digital changed the world. My first digital SLR was the Olympus E-1, back in 2004, and is still one of my favourite cameras for the style of images that it can produce. For the technically minded, it uses a Kodak CCD sensor, rather than the CMOS sensors that are used in all but medium format cameras today (though the latter is also changing). Yes, CMOS sensors brought in some great improvements; better high ISO capability, live mode sensors, video capability, but they also gave up something and that was an image style. That venerable E-1 from 2004 still produces images that have depth, colour and tonality that you just don’t really see in modern cameras.
But then came the race for bigger, better, faster cameras that could shoot black cats in coal mines, that had more pixels than anything before it and so on. First there were the megapixel wars, then came the format wars, then the video wars and now it seems to be the ISO wars, with the megapixel wars still lurking in the background. So, what was once a relatively stable situation in the film days, where photographers tended to hold on to their cameras (and most definitely their lenses), has become one of a constant need to change cameras and the ephemeral search for something better, even if not really required. However, the technology race that took flight, based on specifications alone, is something to which many succumbed and subsequently lost sight of the big picture.
In a way, digital cameras have created that situation because the cameras ostensibly incorporate the film, which can’t be changed, but that’s not a reason to always move on to the latest and greatest. It’s even more notable that those who are constantly changing, don’t even make the most of what they have; maybe it’s in the hope that with the latest camera, they will become better photographers. And I’m not just talking about those who change within their system, upgrading can be important, but there are those that keep changing camera brands, always searching for something better, something hidden in the mist.
Unfortunately, that constant search for the Holy Grail of cameras just doesn’t appear to work, if the regular posts on forums and reader replies on notable blogs is any indication. The better cameras become, and they have in so many ways, the less satisfied the users appear to be and demand ever more. Many moons ago, people used to buy products and not replace them for years, even decades, as while they kept working and adequately serving their purpose, there was no need to change. Nowadays, it seems that nothing should be kept for more than a year or so before replacement. Even if the products are good for many years, people feel they need to upgrade, to keep up with the Jones’, because the advertising says they’ll get better results, because it’s on the internet. Nothing seems to rescue these people from their misery.
It just never seems to be enough.