A short heads up: this article contains swearing because for fucks sake, stop arguing about camera brands and stuff!
Dear >insert competing camera brand< users,
Signed, camera brand fanboy
For those who now think “I’ve seen him shoot a Sony, that goon knows less about cameras than John Snow about… well… anything”, let’s just say that I’m camera brand agnostic. I’m as much of a gear head as the next guy who’s into technologies so I’m in the constant cycle of buying and selling camera equipment. It’s basically like reincarnation in religion, but shot as a timelapse. You will change system before you got the time to become militant about your preference.
I’ve shot a bunch of Canons (500D > 5D II > 1Ds III), then got a Panasonic GF2 on the side (fucking hated that thing to the guts) because eventually you realize that “the bigger, the better” also entails “the less actually taking it out”. So I changed to the Fujifilm X100 as a side camera which was amazing in some regards but had no exchangeable lenses, therefore got swapped for an X-E1. By that time the Canon 5D III got affordable on the used marked so I sold everything and went for that. Eventually it got too big and heavy to use it as much as I wanted so I sold everything I owned from Canon, i.e. the body plus a whole bunch of their famous L lenses, to get the new X-T1 from Fujifilm. Terrific camera. But then a while later I realized I want the “fullframe look” (yes, bokeh-addiction, more on that issue later) plus the video function is only usable if you are really into moire (maybe for people who like these 3D pictures you have to squint at?). So to Nikon I went with the impressive D750. Got a NX1 on the super cheap to play around with when they left the camera business, then went extra tiny by selling my stuff and going to Sony. The a6300 gave me amazing results with horrific usability. By the time of writing this, I tried to overcome emotion for logic and am down to owning a Panasonic GH5 which does pictures and videos amazingly, it’s just that I hate the lens choice in combination with the tiny sensor. So, that would be that.
Of course there’s also the analog side of things. I’ve shot 135 and 645 film in color as well as black&white with rangefinders, SLRs and a Mamiya with waist level finder.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Whole internet forums (I know the plural is fora but oh well…) are full of trolls fighting the trench warfare of what the best camera is. You will find no paid brand ambassador as vigorously defending his camera choice as a “photography enthusiast” with 2, 5 or 10k € invested into a specific camera ecosystem.
Still for some odd reason we are always drawn towards glorifying our choice as the only sensible one. We declare it as better instead of just different and based on the tactic of “offense is the best defense” we yell down all other opinions.
Experienced photographers are more drawn towards getting the right tool for the job while hobbyists search for the best in everything. But there is no best hammer to paint a wall. So if you want to buy gear, really consider what you want to do with it. An ideal camera for landscape isn’t the same as one for sports, the (hybrid) camera best at doing video might be not so great for pictures, a huge and heavy professional camera might actually hinder your creativity because you just simply don’t take it along a lot.
In addition you really don’t need the best to create the amazing. For people interested in the technical side of photography it’s an arms race within a number game. How many stops of dynamic range? How many auto focus points? How many megapixel? How high can you push ISO? While all these things are factors in using the camera, they will likely not decide over the outcome.
Canon used to be the crappy one when it comes to the sensor. Mediocre dynamic range and banding when pushing the shadows. But there are thousands of stunning landscape pictures out there shot with these allegedly horrific sensors. Sony has the user interface from hell (well, yeah, they actually do) but the cameras will still give you amazing results because I don’t think I buy them to fiddle with the system all the time. It’s horses for courses but then in the end you can also reach the goal on a frigging donkey if you know how to ride it!
It is actually more likely that the deal breaker for your artsy visual endeavors is the camera ecosystem. Which lenses are available? What about the flash system? There are lenses for very specific applications like super-tele lenses with 500 or 600mm focal length. If you want to shoot architecture, you might want to invest into a tilt-shift lens. These considerations will probably bring you to the “best” system quicker than investigating with which system you could push an underexposed shot by 5 stops.
Over the last years, just like with cars, a plethora of secondary camera features emerged. A lot of things which are considered gimmicky when they appear on the market are later on a commodity in most systems. Don’t drink the kool-aid just because the dude with the Leica M tells you auto focus is unnecessary. Screw him, he’s probably just a lawyer or dentist anyway. In daily use, these small things can make a big difference. Ok, we all like auto focus, that’s obvious, but what about the less mandatory features? I’m hooked on having WiFi in camera to transfer pictures to my mobile phone (VSCOcam & Instagram workflow, biatch!) plus remote control, the hated EVF is way more enjoyable to me than the OVF by now due to WYSIWYG. GPS is neat to easily keep of track where the pictures have been taken. Last but not least we live through the whole “only hacks use auto focus” debate again with continuous auto focus during video recording.
The next time you might think about jumping into a heated online argument about Micro Four Thirds users being dilettantes with tiny sensors (and you know what women say about men with a small imaging sensor!), just consider that everyone’s needs are different and maybe his camera is his perfect camera! Speech is silver, silence is golden, so maybe be smart and just shut up, how bout dah?