While some might disagree, I argue it’s never a bad thing to add more features to cameras that make it easier for a photographer to get a great photo.
Last week, my friend Jeremy Gray from Imaging Resource shared a video from photographer James Popsys, who argues that cameras such as the Sony Alpha 7R V are making photography “too easy” and that the art itself will lose its charm if companies continue to pack more tech features into bodies.
Popsys compares the current state of photography to that of golf, where the companies that make golfing equipment promise that whatever their latest and greatest thing is, it ultimately will help a person hit a ball straighter and farther. He says that when he was a teenager, he thought that these manufacturers needed to be careful, because if their equipment got too good, it would make the sport too easy and people would stop playing golf entirely.
Basically, if your equipment is so good that every shot you hit is perfect, you’d eventually get bored. That’s what he argues the Alpha 7R V is doing.
I don’t understand this perspective. As a photographer, the part about getting a perfect photo is not something that I can grow bored with because each instance I take out my camera, something is different. No moment in time ever repeats itself exactly, so it’s not like I can just turn my brain off when I have a camera in my hands.
More technology in my camera doesn’t mean it is taking photos for me, it means that I’m just able to focus on the part of photography I care about rather than instead distract myself with all manner of other issues that get in the way. I care about composition, and the more a manufacturer can give me to let me do more of that, the happier I’ll be.
Autofocus that assures me that eyes are always in focus or that will grab onto a subject the millisecond it enters the frame means I’m free to look at everything else that is going on and make sure that is perfect, which means over time my work will continue to get better.
Just because something is in focus, doesn’t mean the photo is going to be good.
Recently I was testing out Canon’s new R6 Mark II, and because the autofocus technology in that camera is so advanced, I was able to capture a huge number of photos that, to me, were better than I expected because I was able to just trust the camera to grab focus on what I wanted and that left me to dedicate my brain entirely to making sure the photo actually looked good.
Popsys admits that he no longer shoots professionally and recognizes that if he did, he probably would have a different perspective on this issue, and I think that’s really important to highlight.
Camera makers are creating technology that reduces the chance of failure, therefore allowing a working professional to better do their job. That’s, at the core, the goal. So why on Earth would any professional whose livelihood relies on getting images ever argue with technology that makes the likelihood of their failure go down? They wouldn’t. Ever.
This idea that photography should be hard is absurd and is, to me, just the epitome of gatekeeping.
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Image credits: Header photo by Jaron Schneider
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