Technology is not without its downside. Internet -- that great lowest common denominator of human
discourse -- has freed people from the consequences of face-to-face
debate, thus fostering behavior that once would have been severely rebuked.
It was not always thus.
Back when I was a little kid (about the time the
dinosaurs were roaming the earth), a different set of standards governed
behavior and deportment, at least in the rural South, where I grew up.
You did what you were told, you didn't sass your elders, you spoke when
spoken to, you didn't say "bad" words, if you made a mess you
cleaned it up, you got ready for church on time --
and behaved while you were there -- and you never complained about
anything, because if you did you got a stern lecture about how all the poor
starving people in China would be grateful for one tenth of what you
On top of that, you had not the slightest suspicion that the way
you lived would be considered to be borderline poverty by the rest of the
The reward was, of course, that you got to roam the
woods and hills with your pals on your own and to explore nature and have
fun in a way that city folk never could. You became independent,
self-sufficient, self-reliant and able to know when to keep you mouth shut
and when to open it -- usually when you wanted more black-eyed peas at the
supper table, supper being the last meal of the day, not like today, when
everyone has "dinner" at 7 PM, rather than at noon, like they properly
should. And if you crossed the line defined by Mother, Grandmother,
and even Great Aunt, out would come the dredded "switch" -- which stung
like the dickens on bare legs.
Which led to another lesson for callow youth -- remain
silent, keep your own counsel and never let your elders know what you were
thinking or doing. Being a blabbermouth would only lead to
embarrassing questions and was sure to get you into big trouble, possibly
even supper without dessert. One
eventually learned, assuming there was something between the ears besides
cotton, that one could garner favorable attention through deeds rather than
by shouting "look at me" repeatedly.
Irritating Internet Insinuations
Which brings us to today.
It seems that somewhere along the way, the passing of the dinosaurs gave rise to the Internet, and with it
the "tyrant lizards" were replaced by entitled, loud-mouthed narcissists who self-evidently never got
a dose of the switch -- else they would surely exhibit a little more
self-restraint. And who, having gotten loose from the dark recesses of
their perfervid imaginations, thence found their way into photography forums
pretty well wrecking the language as well as basic civility in the process.
And that is pretty much the origin of grumpy Grandpa's gearhead gripes -- the
opinings of those self-same new generation Internet scourges who make the
online experience so much like an old style Wild West verbal brawl. My personal pet peeves, related to photography, are listed below
-- in no particular
order, and as an open ended list. There will undoubtedly be more. .
People in gear
discussion forums who insist that gear discussion be terminated and
everyone go out and make photos. As if they didn't when they weren't
discussing gear on gear forums. And then there are people who
conflate artistic creativity with gear capabilities -- typically
deriding interest in new gear with the comment that it won't improve
one's images. In the artistic sense, no, of course not. But
as an enabler to expand imaging possibilities (e.g. with more
resolution, faster frame rates, better tracking capability, better
dynamic range, etc.), more is often better. Dealt with
Photographer or Gear?
People who insist
that any camera a pro uses is a pro camera, thus violating a fundamental
tenet of information theory. For the relevant math lesson, consult
What is a Pro Camera Anyway.
People who harp on camera company A, B or C's failure to
create the "perfect" all-purpose, something for everyone camera -- the
high resolution and high frame rate
unicorn. Never mind the fact that technology places
constraints on the total capacity of the image processing pipeline
(pixels per frame x frames per second). There will likely always be a
tendency to optimize products for particular markets and users, which
means, colloquially, "horses for courses." Follow-up at
On the other side of the coin, some protest
vehemently over the inclusion of video features in "stills" cameras.
Let us have a less expensive camera that does only stills, they say.
Of course it never occurs to such people that now that the
technology has moved on to include video in cameras it might
actually be more expensive to deliver video-less cameras due to a
potentially limited market and the need for a separate production
myopically (and sometimes hostilely) assert that their needs are the
only valid ones, or who attack others’ purchases to justify their own.
Or, who insist
that their brand is plenty good enough despite obvious shortcomings
compared to other brands.
Or, who seize
on some obscure feature misssing from the brand they want to deprecate
in order to elevate their own brand. Examples of this abound.
One of the most popular, and most egregious, will suffice.
The "must have the last word" people -- you know the type; nothing will
shut them up other than not responding to their endless effusions.
(Such people are usually called "trolls.") They doggedly cling to (sometimes) outrageous opinions despite
repeated, well-reasoned rebuttals by just about everyone. These
people rarely present facts, but rather claim
ex cathedra that their opinion (or
point irrevelant to the case at hand) constitutes irrefutable
proof of their claims.
Close cousins of those above are
people who just as doggedly nit-pick every post, quarreling with or
amplifying ad nauseam the most minor of details, as if the entire original post is
somehow flawed or discredited because it wasn't written as
comprehensively as a 10,000 word lawyers' brief. Or Internet
tems of service and privacy policies. Or, perhaps, as a patent application,
wherein one claims the world in gory detail but then settles for a few grains of sand.
Self-centered and entitled people who reply to a post containing
tantalizing information from a knowledgable anonymous source with, "Post
a photo or it didn't happen" -- as if they are the sole and ultimate arbiter of
all information. This comes down to a question of trust and
reputation. What kind of reputation does the publisher have and
how often have they been proven right in the past. Often these tidbits come from insiders who
can only say so much, because revealing the source would cause the
problems, as well as forestalling any future releases.
Technically illiterate people
who demand photo gear features that violate the laws of physics, e.g. 600mm
f/2.8 telephoto as light and compact as a 50mm f/1.8 lens -- an
impossibility since the front element alone would have to be 8.4 inches
People who use
"tilty-flippy" as a description of articulated rear view screens, thus
establishing infantile babbling as the common mode of Internet discourse.
People who sidetrack
serious forum photography discussions with lame attempts at humor or
references to other domains (cars, computers, wine, audio gear, movies, just about anything irreleveant to the discussion at hand,
posts that then spawn dozens of one-up responses in a similar vein, each responder thinking themselves comedic geniuses for their inane and childish
And, on a personal note, unrelated to Internet -- a great annoyance
in the field is
people who shatter my concentration to ask
questions when I'm obviously trying to make images, especially with my
big lens birding rig. Want more? Try
Donkeys I Have Known.
Camera Constructer Consternation
Not to be outdone by the Internet crazies, I have my own gripes with
And, this is the place to make them known, where some semblance of balance
can be achieved. Unlike the one-sided views one encounters
online, I readily acknowledge the flaws in the brands I choose to purchase
as well as the good points. I purchase the best compromise choices for
my own personal needs -- without insisting that everyone else must adopt my
This realistical viewpoint when purchasing products
manufactured for a broad audience is explored in
Personal equation. For instance,
while Canon has lagged
recently in some areas, their lens selection and quality is, and has long been, outstanding.
It is a major reason why I bought into the Canon system two decades ago, and
why I still remain there. But nothing is perfect, and some of their
decisions (and those of other manufacturers) have resulted in widely shared
criticisms. With that said, here is a
sampling, both great and small.
Canon's repeated failure to produce a superior autofocus tracking
system. Nikon has long been the leader in this category, with the
Sony A9 catching up fast. In particular, the 1D Mk III was a public
relations disaster. After Rob Galbraith's AF comparison test revealed
inconsistencies, Canon was forced to provide an update that made things
better but did not catch up with the competition. We shall see
what the 1DX Mk III brings to the table, but based on past history there
is reasonable grounds for skepticism.
Canon's failure to address sensor technology in a timely manner,
thus surrendering the technological lead to Sony. This has a
number of aspects, including long delays in moving to smaller feature
sizes, adopting on-chip ADCs, moving to backside illuminated designs and
stacked sensor construction, increasing sensor readout speed and
developing a higher image processing pipeline
capacity. This subject is covered in much more detail in
Canon's deletion of the DEP mode (depth-of-field priority) that appeared on the EOS 3
(film) and the original 11 megapixel digital 1Ds, but which, alas,
disappeared soon thereafter. A minor feature, perhaps, but for landscapes,
architecture and general photography, this capability was useful.
DEP allowed the photographer to first focus
on a near object and then a far object, and the camera would then select an
aperture and focus setting that rendered all within the range suitably
sharp. The only complaint I ever had was that Canon's choice for a
circle of confusion was a bit too large, which meant that I usually
stopped down one more step to achieve the effect I wanted. The loss of this feature is still
Sony's continued production of only undersized camera bodies
as well as other
ergonomic oddities -- are a detriment for some who might otherwise switch.
Sony has done remarkable things with sensor technology and mirrorless
in general. MILC cameras have changed the marketplace for good,
and Canon and Nikon are playing catch up. But the idea that small
and light are synonymous is flawed. Lighter is almost always
welcome, but a very small size, while welcome to many, can also be a negative
in some instances, particularly when wearing
gloves. A wider range of camera body sizes might better serve the
total market place.
Odd, I can't think of anything bad to say about Nikon. . . They
once trailed Canon in lens, sensor and autofocus technology, and in
doing so allowed Canon to become the number one seller of interchangable
lens cameras. But they've long since caught up in sensors (by
using Sony-produced products!) and their bodies are generally the highest
performing in the industry. Their lens lineup has grown quite
large, and with it quality optical performance as well. One
wonders why they are slowly losing market share to the others.
These are my personal gear gripes. Got a favorite gripe of
your own? Send them to
Grumpy Grandpa's Gear Gripes.
© 2020 Michael W. Masters
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